Monday, July 16, 2007

Google Never Ceases to Amaze Me: RechargeIT

So here I am diligently reading the latest V2G research for my lit review when I come across the intellectual equivalent of finding Carmen Electra naked in my bed. Google's philanthropic arm,, has launched a program called RechargeIT, a plug-in hybrid car initiative working in collaboration with PG&E, EPRI, CalCars, and Prof. Willett Kempton, among others. Press release here.

This pleasantly shocked me for many reasons:
  1. Those that know me well are aware that I have a passion for website technologies. As such, Google is one of my favorite resources. Now I stumble across Google investing millions of dollars into my very own research topic: vehicle to grid hybrid vehicles. I love Google! Yes, that's right! I'm not afraid to admit that I LOVE the company founded by two Stanford PhD students.
  2. Besides providing basic information about the RechargeIT project, the website ( displays nearly live data about their hybrid fleet, including vehicle speed, engine RPM, battery charge, current, and temp. To help present this data, Google has clearly utilized their very own API's. They combined my two passions into one comprehensive marketing/engineering tool. Wow! Do they have jobs available?
  3. Google's list of collaborators is extremeley impressive. They have all the big names in plug-in hybrid / V2G technology. Moreover, they have pledged to invest $10 million in companies and organizations doing related work. Sometime later this summer they will publish a request for proposals. Why can't I submit a proposal? They gave Kempton $150K, which approximately funds one PhD student for 5 years. Maybe if they grant it to me, they will offer a job when I graduate. What a dream scenario that would be.
This is unquestionably the most awesome collaborative project I have ever come across. Let me know what you all think. In the mean time, check out this cool video:


Vehicle-to-Grid Support for BART

While working on my literature review, I came across the most intriguing technical publication. Eugene Nishinaga, Manager of Research & Development at BART, is proposing the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) to support the electric power demands of the BART system. For those not hip to the V2G concept, it's the idea of using a plug-in hybrid vehicle to charge your car's batteries AND using the car to send power back to the grid.

With that background in mind, here's the essence of Nishinaga's idea: BART buys bulk amounts of electricity in advance at a wholesale price. Sometimes BART has unused electricity and other times it doesn't have enough. In the latter case BART pays over three times as much for short-term demand power. Maybe this is why BART tickets are so expensive.

Nishinaga's solution is to send the unused electricity to charge V2G-capable vehicles in the BART parking lots and request backup power from these vehicles when demand exceeds supply. His calculations state consumers will achieve a $1,000 savings in gas and BART saves $260,000 per year. Those two factors combined effectively mean most V2G car owners ride BART for free. That's phenomenal, not to mention the environmental advantages! Maybe I should apply for a research position at BART after graduation.

If this ever becomes reality, Jovauna can stop complaining about the crowded BART parking lots and spend the extra dough on Starbucks.

Interested readers can refer to Nishinaga's presentation here.