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USA: Evcon 2013 report – with pics

EVCON 2013 is now history, it was pretty amazing. Lots of information. Started about 8:30 every day, David and I knocked off at Mid-night most days. After the class sessions, most would meet back at the shop to help work on Jack’s cars or someone elses that needed help.

Jack and Brian are great hosts, kept us well fed and hydrated. While at the shop, he had open door on the drink case as well as boxes and boxes of chips / munchies for all. He left his shop open for anyone needing work/repair or just some experience to come help work on an EV. There was all sorts of activities in there from simple turning of wrenches, balancing packs, installing components and A/C motor controller development. They even arranged for the temperatures to be unseasonably cool, the max being about 85F. A nice relief from our 100F days.

At EVCON, I met people from all over the world interested in EVs. About 1/3rd of the attendees were from out of the US. Anne K. came over from the Netherlands (EVTV Europe), we had Nick Smith and crew up from New Zealand as well as a small contingent from Australia. In talking with these folks, they have fuel prices from about $6.25 to >$8.00 per gallon. Many of them also had electricity rates in the 30+ cents / KWh (as did California !). That is >3X what I’m paying in Dallas. One of the guys from Montreal was only paying 4.5 cents/KWh because they had hydro electric generation. In New Zealand, they were using thermal energy from the volcanos to run steam plants for electricity. Shows the ingenuity of people all over the world.

There were 3 session that still stand out in my experience :

There was a double session (2.5hrs) on how Lithium Ion batteries work. It was shown how Oxygen is generated once a cell gets too hot, hence the inability of a chemical extinguisher to put out a Lithium Ion Fire (ie, use water). It was also proposed that the addition of Iron (Fe) to the formulation helped control fires. Seems the iron would “rust” in the high temperatures, consuming some of the generated oxygen reducing/eliminating fires. That is why Jack recommends LiFeOn type batteries. The implication was that a LiPo battery wouldn’t have the iron and would then have more violent reactions. The 787 Dreamliner fires came up.

As a demonstration, on Friday (“play day” at the airport) a LiFeOn cell was connected to a 12V charger to purposely over charge the battery. After 2hrs, the LiFeOn battery (yellow thundersky) finally went into thermal runaway. The vent popped open and it vented electrolyte. However, it did NOT catch fire, did not explode. At about 23:10 mark, you can see some footage of this. The case swelled well before any venting.
Also, the venting started as a small stream of vapor coming from the vent hole. However, with continued charging (at 12V), it accelerated into this picture below. The 12V was removed before the picture, however the venting continued since no effort to cool the battery was taken. The wires on it were just measuring the cell voltage, which dropped to 1.1x Volts.

After this, they put a LiPo battery on the 12V charger. It literally exploded and burned in a fire after about 1 hr. LiPo batteries are used in the RC hobby industry and they recommend charging outside. The LiPo blast wasn’t on the video, but with all the cameras there, I expect it to show up at a later date. The bottom line was that this was a nice demonstration that the principals from the battery session were on track AND that LiFeOn batteries are the best selection for safety/power/weight in our vehicles.

Another session I enjoyed was one by Erik Kriss ( where he did a very thorough job of describing how to plan/build an electric car. He showed that in an efficient execution, planning will likely take ~ 50% of the man hours. This may not sound intuitive, but I believe it IS the least expensive and most efficient way to do a conversion. He showed that with a minimum investment in measurement tools, you could go about planning your conversion on paper. With that as ground work and a guide, IF you actually proceeded with the conversion, it would take less time, you’d make fewer mistakes and have much fewer surprises.

When/If you found a hiccup in the planning, you could decide BEFORE buying the car/components if it would be cost effective / practical to design around the issue. Otherwise, you could move to another vehicle with only your time invested. For an example, he did a plan for the Factory Five 818 car. ( That looks to be a very fashionable looking ride and with the drivetrain he selected, it would be very sporty as well. In his plan, he didn’t use a donor vehicle because he wanted a “new” conversion. So he found / budgeted for new parts. If you used a donor car, it would have been less expensive, but it means used parts in the conversion. That is one of the tradeoffs that planning will expose. A very practical and well delivered session.

John Metric, a fellow Texan, brought his world record breaking Miata conversion. (1/8 mile @ 5.6 sec) He showed the science in selecting and evaluating components for his race car. He wasn’t just getting a bigger motor and sticking it in the car with bigger batteries. Lots of planning and calculations are going into that ride. I found that his process is well grounded and it was nice to see a scientific approach to building the next faster car. John is president of NEDRA (National Electric Drag Racing Association) and after going to the drag track with the electric cars, I think it would be much more enjoyable since there is no roar of engines out of the electric cars.

Although not a class session, an activity I found interesting was the running of various cars on the dynamometer. I had never seen one, and it showed the motor torque and HP . Several different varieties of motors/controller were run, so you could kind of bracket where you could expect your car to run. The owner started off by running his corvette on the machine. It stunk up the hanger with exhaust and stopped all conversation with its noise. However, I’m sure it made the owner feel like he had the system setup right and the sound was like an announcement to everyone that the dyno was open. After that, a few electrics were run. In turn the EV West BMW was put on the system, lots of discussion about the torque capability of the dyno. In the end, the electric beemer out stripped the corvette and I believe set the all time torque record on this guys dyno. I think the dyno crew was surprised. EV West Beemer on the dyno, before safety straps applied –

There was too much other information to comment more other than to say if you haven’t attended, you should consider putting it on your radar. You do NOT need to bring a conversion there, only about 1 in 5 guys had a conversion there. On play day, even if you didn’t have a car there, folks were letting other people drive their cars. Including the Tesla’s, Cobra’s, Porches, etc. They even did drag races with the VW bus and the Transit connect van.

That is the scoop from my shoes,

Mike Harris
From: pshf404@…
Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2013 15:04:32 -0500
Subject: [nteaa] Evcon video
Source NTEAA


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