Thermography shows the efficiency of the Nissan Leaf

Friday, January 4, 2013 12 comments
I borrowed a Fluke Ti 25 Thermal Imaging camera...and got my geek on.  These cameras are fun to play with since they let you see the world in completely different way.  These cameras "see" heat...or more specifically, the infrared spectrum, and display how hot things are with different colors, i.e., blue is cold and red is hot. 

For example, I took this shot of my shower head right when the hot water was starting to flow.  The hot water shows red and the everything else shows blue.  The scale on the right side shows the hottest (103.8F) and coldest (76.8F) temperatures the camera captured with a color scale in between.

If you didn't ask for it, Heat = Waste

The whole point of a car is to move people from place to place.  Unless you need heat to keep you warm along the way, any heat the car makes is wasted energy (fuel).  Why?  Because heat doesn't directly power your wheels...it's a necessary evil in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) that relies on explosions to work.

Given that conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 20% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels, it follows that when gasoline is $5/gallon, $1 goes toward getting you to your destination and $4 goes to heat the earth.  Stupid eh?

EVs, on the other hand, convert about 60% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels.  That's a 3x efficiency...and EVs can recover even more energy with regenerative braking.

"Seeing" Efficiency in Infrared

To "see" how efficient the Nissan Leaf is, I drove my car for 15 miles on an 85F day.  I did not turn on the climate control.  The first 13 miles were at high speed (65 mph)...with the last few miles spent driving at 45 to 35 mph to get home.  The whole trip took about 30 minutes.  Once I parked in my garage, I jumped out of the car and started taking these cool pictures.