All posts by John Silvester

I, John Silvester have a strong interest in Science. My 'A' levels include Physics Chemistry and Biology, my degrees are in General Science and Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool. The first job I was offered after University was as a Scientific Officer in the Civil Service. I was to monitor pollution in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. The IRA blew up the laboratory before I started work there. I became a medical representative for an ethical drug company. A few years later I became a driving instructor and established 'The Berkshire Driving School' at Company's House, City Road, London, January 1974. Later that year I went to Bulmersche Teacher's Training College and gained a Cert.Ed. The following year I qualified and taught in Bracknell, gaining a post of responsibility. I continued my driving school. My business eventually grew so I had to give up Science teaching. Before the recession of about 1990 the driving school had two trucks and two cars in service. I am now a small driving school specialising in trailer towing and minibus training. Current projects include the development of a wireless link between trailer and towing vehicle, a simplified power connector between these vehicles, using GPS and a computer to monitor driving performance and a robot sailing yacht. Past projects have included various robotic projects such as a heavyweight robot for Technogames and Robot Wars. I have explained some of my projects on radio and appeared on television.

Teslas Under Fire?

A friend jokingly suggested that I might be worried that my Model S might catch fire.  I was not aware of this problem so took it upon myself to investigate the issue.

It seems that a small number of fires had occurred some years ago and this was caused by large sharp heavy debris in the road being flung up at speed and piercing the batteries.  However the car will alert the occupants so that the driver can pull up safely.  Unlike a petrol fire, the batteries will not erupt into a wall of flames.

This problem was solved by updating the software to increase the ride height and by fitting a titanium panel underneath the car to protect the batteries.  It was also retro fitted to older vehicles.

Samsung’s problem of their latest Note smart phones was caused by a school boy error – they forgot to account for the expansion as the battery charges.

Diesel Engines to be Banned from London?

Electric cars such as this Tesla hatchback  may become a familiar sight in London.

Reports today say moves are being considered to ban diesel vehicles from London.  This is because diesel cars cause 40% of the air pollution. I do not dispute the figures, but it would not be newsworthy if the headlines read ‘Diesel cars account for less than half the Capitals pollution. ‘

Banning diesel engines in London would bring an end to public transport on the surface and the tube network could not cope with the extra passenger numbers.  Eventually a tram or trolleybus network would be established, and  chargers for electric cars will be installed at many parking spaces.

The threat of change is a wonderful stimulus to development and the threat of combustion engines being banned from town centres will certainly stimulate  electric car research and development.

VW Cheating, is it such a problem?

The combustion engine is a compromise.

Twenty years ago great promises were made by the ‘Adiabatic Engine’ which would have been so fuel efficient that it would not have needed a cooling system.  About that time ‘lean burn technology’ was being developed for petrol engines. If those technologies were allowed to develop then 100mpg would now be the norm.  This would have slowed global warming and given us a little more time to persuade politicians that they should act on the problem.

Now the oxides of nitrogen are produced in nature and are found in higher concentrations over areas which have a propensity for lightning activity, such as over our remaining rain forests.   The oxides of nitrogen get washed into the soil and are recycled by the plants to produce protein.

The Environmentalists band wagon decided that nitrous oxide in towns is very bad since under certain weather conditions it can form a photochromic fog which is unpleasant.  Most of the time the wind will blow the nitrogen oxides away where it will quickly get washed into the soil.

Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to have the software on the car to switch on the devices which reduce nitrogen oxide emissions every time the  vehicle is in or around a town, and revert to the state which reduces carbon emissions when driven elsewhere?

Just having the software operate to reduce nitrogen emissions during testing yet reducing carbon emissions at other times is a step too far!