Sunday, April 28, 2013
On Cars: what the future will hold
A lot of people wonder what the future of cars will be in the US. will we all be driving ethanol based cars? hydrogen cars? or what?
The most likely solution is what is already happening, what many families have already done. Its the most obvious solution that most Americans will take, the one your family has already taken, and many other families as well. People will drive smaller cars.
People are starting to, and will continue to drive smaller cars. We aren't going to turn into Europeans, driving tiny cars, but at the same time our gasoline isn't as expensive as theirs. the more expensive the gas, the smaller the cars will get. Since our gasoline in the US (post economic recovery) will likely be between 3 and 4 dollars for the foreseeable future, our cars will be smaller than they were when gas was in the 1.50 range. It is econ 101 really. Price goes up, people readjust to it.
aAs far as hydrogen goes. you'll be pushing daisies before that ever becomes useful, and as far as odds go, I feel the odds are about even that I drive a flying car, as I drive a hydrogen powered car.
There are various reasons that hydrogen is a fantasy, and people disagree as to what the biggest barriers are.I'd say the biggest reason is that hydrogen cars today, cost roughly 1,000,000 to produce. you read that correctly, by the way. 1 million. In addition, Hydrogen costs about 5.00 a gallon (with obvious conversions in a ratio of energy units, because you wouldn't be using gallons). also, there isn't free hydrogen floating around. its not an energy source, for all intents and purposes its a battery, creating hydrogen in a source that can be used for energy, requires energy. there is some possibility that hydrogen could be used as a battery, transporting energy from one location to another, for example the US could produce tons of wind energy in the great plains, but has little use of it there.. so generate electricity, use electricity to create hydrogen, then transport and use the hydrogen... even this is years off because hydrogen is a bitch to transport. transport it as a gas, and you aren't transporting much, transport it as a liquid, and well hydrogen is really unsafe to have it as a liquid.
Ethanol is just a way for congress to drop Billions of pork on farm lobby, ethanol from corn is a giant waste of time. in terms of burning potential you end up with less energy when you convert gasoline into ethanol (you don't really convert it, but you need to put energy in to get ethanol, and converting corn into ethanol is a negative energy product).. some say its positive but they are factoring in you get some food byproducts, which is true.. but from a fuel perspective, you don't gain any energy.. you can get energy from converting sugar into ethanol, which brazil does quite effectively.
Ethanol as corn masquerades as being for US energy independence, and god knows a lot of other things.. in reality its just a sweet farm subsidy.
As far as coming up with a real solution to our growing gas problems (and in a broader sense: energy usage). the best one is often the simplest. And a good one is pretty simple. Its electric cars and batteries. Now the answer isn't 100% electric cars, because that technology is years off, and implementing an infrastructure for that to be effective would take time. But making cars electric for the first 20 to 40 miles would do a great service to the air we breath, our pocket book, the price of gasoline, and our dependence on oil.
Most people only drive small short trips on a regular basis. they just go to work and back, etc. the majority of driving in this country is short trips like that. Put a small electric motor in the car, like the ones that are currently in the prius and modify it so that it can be plugged in and you reduce the amount of gasoline (drastically) that people are using.
Reduce the amount of gasoline people use and the price of gas goes down electricity is cheaper than gasoline, and electric motors are about 4 times more efficient than internal combustion engines using electricity instead of gas, would improve air quality.. even if the electricity is produced from coal
Posted by Conor Mccartney at 8:22 AM