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Archive for November, 2017

Plastic Bags To Fuel: It’s For Real

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you may have seen a few posts by various environmental groups kicking up a big stink about the amount of plastic that’s floating around in our oceans – and justifiably so. You might have seen a few pictures of the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch (floating around in the North Pacific somewhere between Japan and the USA). A lot of it is in the form of polyethelene, which is not biodegradable – the only thing that breaks it down is sunlight, which is why we deal with it by burying it in landfills underground where the sun can’t get at it. There are literally mountains and islands of it out there.

At the same time, folk are looking around at the existing crude oil supplies and realising that they aint gonna last forever.  This, as well as the pollution issue, is one of the spurs driving the push towards hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and biofuels.

Plastic is, however, another petroleum-based product.  In other words, once upon a time, the lid of your coffee cup, your chip packet and your polar fleece top came from the same stuff that you put in your car to get to work this morning.  What if this process could be reversed?  What if you could un-refine the plastic and turn it back into oil that could then be refined the other way and used to keep our cars (and trucks and trains and ships and aeroplanes) running?

Well, they can do it.  A few teams around the world have come up with ways to take all that waste plastic and convert it into something that can be used as a fuel feedstock – for diesel.  I’m not a chemical engineer, so don’t ask me why most of the fun new technologies for producing greener fuel end up producing diesel rather than petrol (with the exception of ethanol, which plays nicely with petrol, as we’ve known for years here in Australia). Although one Aussie company called Foyson  Resources (aren’t you proud?) has come up with a way to get petrol out of plastic.

The technology for converting plastic back into some form of oil has been around for at least 10 years, with companies in Japan, China, India, the Philippines and the US all having a go at it.

The process they use is called pyrolysis.  Those of you with a smattering of Greek may recognise the “pyro” bit, which indicates that heat is involved.  Literally, the process means “separating by heat”.  It’s been described as a sped-up version of how oil fields and fossil fuels came to be in the first place.  Basically, the long polymer strings made up of lots of carbon, oxygen and carbon atoms  get split apart into shorter bits about 18 carbon molecules long.

OK, let’s ditch the chemistry and describe it simply.

1: Appropriate plastics are fed into the machine, usually after being shredded or chipped. Suitable plastics usually include polyethylene, polypropylene and a few others – but not PET (Recycling #1), which is easier to recycle.

  1. The shredded plastic is heated slowly and turns to a gaseous form. The exact temperature at which this happens can be anywhere from 250°C through to 400°C, depending on the pyrolysis plant in question.
  2. The gas is cooled to a liquid: crude oil. Bingo!
  3. Other gases keep going and have to go somewhere. With some pyrolysis plant designs, the gas is captured and used to heat the pyrolysis chamber. However, some of the gases can be a bit nasty, which is why the kibosh was put on a Canberra plastic-to-fuel plant last year.
  4. Leftover solids come in the form of “carbon black”. This can be used as a construction material or just like old-fashioned coal, which it’s practically identical to.

It seems to be early days still for the plastic-to-oil process in Australia, with the Foy Group (the ones who have got the grant to start a plant in Hume, Canberra) facing a few hurdles thanks to the possible emissions. However, given (a) the amount of plastic waste we all churn out and (b) the need to find good supplies of the crude for our petrol and diesel, I’m sure these hurdles can be cleared.  I’m picking plastic-to-petrol as The Next Big Thing for greener motoring – and it won’t require any changes to our existing vehicle fleet.

If you’re really, really keen, it is apparently possible to do the plastic pyrolysis thing at home and make your own diesel. This probably comes with a heavy cost in the form of the energy input needed to heat a home-built plant, with the result that all the oil you produce will then be used to run the generator or powerplant used to heat the pyrolysis plant used to produce the oil and round it goes. At least it gets rid of plastic bags…

I personally would not try this at home and prefer to either cut down on the plastic bags I use or send them to the recycling depot.  However, if you are keen and want to try, this page tells you how.   No guarantees and do it at your own risk! http://credit-n.ru/trips.html

Car Review: 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan

Subaru‘s new for 2017 advertising campaign, Subaru Do, features the hatch and sedan version (starting at just under $25K) of their evergreen Impreza, in the same flaming red colour (one of eight for the 2018 Subaru Impreza range), so the prospective buyer can see the external difference between the two as they flick between them. What’s not so obvious is the refinement to the shape and certainly to the inside compared to the just superseded version. Private Fleet takes the red sedan, in 2.0i-S form, for a week after two weeks of the high riding hatch version, the XV.The interior changes are subtle; noticeable yet subtle, and it’s only when you have the previous and current version side by side that you see things such as a relocation of the armrest on the doors, the centre console storage bin (with two USB charging points), the redesign of the air-con and centre dash, even the sweep of the dash itself (with a lovely looking stitched style for the material) as it meets the windscreen glass. S spec also gets a sunroof with aircraft style overheard tabs for operation.You’ll get an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, set below the info screen as is traditional with the Impreza and its siblings (XV, Impreza hatch, Levorg, WRX)some obviously plasticky buttons (a slight step back from the indecisive touch tabs on the previous system), but there’s still room for a hard copy sound in the form of a CD slot. No DAB at the top end is an oversight, given the sheer variety of stations available.The plastics have a higher quality look and feel to them and the controls on the steering wheel have been redesigned for a more obvious yet stylish look. Even the seats seem to have a different feel. The seats in the S were black machine made leather, again with no cooling, and with all doors and sunroof shut, do not make for a comfy pew to plant the backside.Outside it’s tail lights and headlights, with the 460L boot and tail end receiving the C shaped LED inserts. It’s here that a slight oddity in the design manifests, with the reversing lamp in its own little section below the other lights in the cluster. It adds an awkward and unbalanced look to what could otherwise be an otherwise slim look as the trimmer cluster design would finish off the pert backside of the sedan nicely.

The headlights have been streamlined further, with the S getting LED illumination plus a chrome strip for an extra touch of visual class. The refinements as well has the overall profile, have the sedan looking more rakish and coupe like. It’s a tighter, cleaner, look with an overall more cohesive presence, including a slight reprofiling of the shut-line for the rear doors.The 2.0L engine is a willing revver and the CVT in the sedan, much like the XV, is easy to use, easy to drive, and works well. However, this particular transmission was somewhat indecisive and juddery. However, it’s worth noting that this behaviour was more noticeable when it was cold and hadn’t been driven. Manual mode, again, seems to make little difference in speed of change.

However, when everything is in synch, the 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm work to deliver an average fuel consumption around town of 8.4L/100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank holding standard 90RON unleaded, or a combined figure of a more reasonable 6.6L/100 km. We saw those figures in the real world.Ride and handling showed the sedan’s rear end somewhat less prone to the bottoming out as experienced in the XV yet still doesn’t feel as tied down as the front. What you get is more travel at the rear and when loaded up with a standard load of groceries, it’s on the bump-stops just that little easier. The steering lightens just a little though, thankfully ensuring you’re still in contact and being told what the front wheels are doing. With no weight in the back, it’s naturally more connected, with a small measure of sponginess the further left or right you wind on lock.

The all wheel drive system that underpins Subaru is noticeable for feeling like…a rear wheel drive car at some times and a front wheel drive at others. Never does it feel as if it’s confused nor confusing for the driver. Grip isn’t compromised either, thanks to Yokohama‘s brilliant Advan rubber, in this case a 225/40/18 set on gorgeous ten spoke alloy and painted wheels.The Eyesight system fitted to CVT equipped models is a ripper; not only can it sense a vehicle’s distance ahead of yours, it’ll activate an emergency sound if you’re too close and the computers sense you haven’t touched the brake. It’ll allow distance related cruise control and will also alert if the vehicle in front, when you’ve stopped, has moved on. There’s a swag of other safety features including Blind Spot Alert, parking assistance from front and rear sensors (not fitted to all models though), Hill Hold Assist, Lane Change Assist and more.

There’s seven airbags including the driver’s knee, and load limiting pretensioning seatbelts up front. Naturally it adds up to be a safe car to be in and comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating. That’s backed by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year warranty an option (talk to your dealer or broker) which is available to be transferred to a new owner within the warranty period.At The End Of The Drive.
There’s really not a lot to find fault with inside the Impreza sedan in 2.0Li-S spec, including a great price (at the time of writing) of $33K driveaway. No DAB, (a first world problem), no cooling in the seats (a must for an Australian market car), and a softish ride are more than balanced by good looks, great dynamics, useful economy, and a classy style & finish to rival other Japanese, Korean, and European competitors.

In fact, with the Impreza for 2018, Subaru can put this in the middle of that group and smile broadly, in full confidence it will more than hold its own. The sales figures reflect that for 2017, with the XV variant leading the charge whilst the sedan itself is up by 163% on a Year To Date basis, with 988 new homes for it in October, plus the brand itself celebrates its 34th month in a row of increased sales.

Here’s where you can go for more info and book a drive: 2018 Subaru Impreza range http://credit-n.ru/informacija.html

Should Motorists Complete First Aid Training?

It’s a topic that rears its head every now and then, yet continually the issue has been overlooked by authorities. We pay particular attention to the road toll, yet for some reason one of the efforts we could employ to mitigate this issue hasn’t warranted a national response. Why is first aid training not compulsory for every motorist, and should it be part of our licensing requirements?

When you put things into perspective, we spend a considerable amount of our lives driving from point A to point B. We may be lucky to escape accidents but the chances of seeing one, either take place or the result thereof, are far greater. And even though our cars have become a lot safer through technological innovation, poor driving habits and behaviours have crept into our society and created larger issues. The result has been a recent increase in the number of fatalities on our roads, although many of these fatalities have often been preventable, even after the accident.

With this concerning trend already in motion, it’s time we also start to prepare drivers by training them to engage in reactive behaviour in the form of being a first responder. As it currently stands, the overwhelming majority of drivers and bystanders are ill equipped to administer first aid at an accident scene. In fact, in what should be viewed as a major concern, many wouldn’t even know where to begin. Even I know, that despite my former first aid training, it’s a moment you can never be entirely prepared for as shock sets in and time stands still.

Now let me clarify, bystanders and other motorists shouldn’t be expected to fill the void of professional emergency services personnel. However, in the event of an accident, every second matters. Early treatment can be the difference between life and death. And in the moments where emergency services personnel need to fight traffic to make it to the scene of an accident, those seconds are potentially ticking away.

Even in the absence of specific treatment, a bystander with composure to secure the scene, or calm the anxieties of those involved in the incident is an invaluable asset. These are specific elements to first aid training, which every motorist should be taught as part of their licensing requirements. Whereas drivers cover a gamut of issues concerning driving technique and etiquette, there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be equipped to administer first aid as a first responder in the event of an accident.

The course would be easy to include as part of our license tests, and it could also be renewed on a periodic basis along with our licenses. Several countries in Europe already adopt this approach, and if we want to keep up with the rest of the world, it’s time we start paying attention to the issues on our roads that really matter. http://credit-n.ru/avtokredit.html

Updates For Jaguar, Haval, Hyundai, and Citroen.

Heading into the 2018 market, a number of companies have released details of updates and changes to key models.

Haval.
The Chinese brand has been maligned for its safety factor in its vehicles however the H2 has been given a five star rating by ANCAP, the Australia New Car Assessment Program. Haval Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Smith, says: ““I would like to thank each and every one of the hard-working team of engineers at HAVAL for their efforts in so quickly developing a five-star car for the global market. Customer safety is paramount for the continued development of HAVAL as a global brand and this recognition by ANCAP is just reward for the company’s efforts.We will continue to develop our safety systems, with the introduction of key features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane assist systems in the next wave of HAVAL SUVs.”

Hyundai.
A substantial makeover has been delivered to Hyundai’s big medium sizer, the Sonata. The nose is now more aligned with Hyundai’s new corporate look, with a more hexagonal looking “Cascading Grille” and the headlights have a more slimline appeal. It’s perhaps at the rear, though, that the redesign is more obvious, with a complete change of look to the structure. Underneath there’s a 180 kW/353 Nm 2.0L turbo four in the Premium with the Active retaining the familiar 2.4L four potter, and a new eight speed auto in the Premium. The range has been streamlined, with Active and Premium the two variants available.Inside there’s an uprated eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a wireless mobile phone charging pad in the Premium, switches have been relocated for better ergonomics and piano black plastic has been added for a more premium feel.

2018 Sonata builds on its reputation for safety by featuring a host of advanced safety systems and technologies including Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Rear-view Camera with dynamic guide lines and four sensor rear Park Assist System (PAS) as standard. Premium ups that further with Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control and four sensor front Park Assist.Pricing starts at $30990 for the Active and $45490 for the well specified Premium, with metallic paint an option at $595.

Jaguar.
The iconic British brand has unveiled a new version of its superb flagship model, the XJ, called the XJR575. Powered by the venerable 5.0L supercharged V8, the machine will see the ton in 4.4 seconds thanks to the engine’s 700 Nm and 423 kilowatts. Built on the standard wheelbase XJ, the car will come in two colours, Velocity Blue and Satin Corris Grey. Pricing has not yet been confirmed for the Australian market ahead of the car’s expected Q1 release in 2018.

The XJR575 will receive bespoke sill plates, Intaglio and diamond quilted seating in a two colour range, an enhanced body kit, and and twenty inch diameter wheels.

The XJ range itself receives a huge amount of updates, including 4G wifi, an uprated ten inch touchscreen with customisable interfaces, plus extra safety programs such as Forward Traffic Detection and Autonomous Emergency Braking. There’s also a torquey (700 Nm) 3.0L V6 diesel available, complete with an astounding 221 kW.

Citroen.
The quirky French brand has released the quirky C4 Cactus for 2018. In the same vein as the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross variants, the Cactus, a compact five door hatchback, rides on a 2600 mm wheelbase and features 12 on-board driver assistance systems. It has unique styling also, with 3D effect tail lights, “Airbump” on the lower half of the doors, plus offers 9 external colours and four colour packs.

The C4 Cactus will also feature Citroen’s legendary hydraulic suspension, with a technology called Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and Advanced Comfort Seats. The car is due for the Australian market in late 2018. http://credit-n.ru/electronica.html