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As the oil price has risen more and more threads seem to reference it either in terms of the impact on our economy, our future way of life, house prices, inflation and so on.

I thought it may be interesting to have a thread where articles, ideas, thoughts etc, concerning the future development of the car/engine and alternatives to the petrol/diesel engine, can be discussed.

I'll start with a few links that have been posted recently. I know there are some very knowlegeable people on this site in the energy area so hopefully they will join in. I am not one of them. I am simply interested in how alternative energy is/will be deployed in the auto industry in the future.

I'm happy to say at the outset that as far as the UK, and probably many areas of Europe, and perhaps even urban areas in China, the Far East and South America are concerned I believe there is a future for alternative energy driven motorcars, and we appear to be at an exciting time on the cusp of these new developments being deployed to the market. Even in the oil obsessed US I can see a future for such technology. Perhaps even more reason for them to develop and adopt it.

Please add your own examples and thoughts as you come across them.......

Mercedes developments....

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/motor...icle1314732.ece

Electric bikes, scooters, cars in California

http://www.zapworld.com/

Danish electric vehicle project

http://www.greenbang.com/2750/project-bett...ars-in-denmark/

Israeli electric vehicle project

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8...1705518,00.html

Shai Agassi's EV battery car project

http://www.projectbetterplace.com/

This video is well worth having a look at I think

http://shaiagassi.typepad.com/the_long_tai...etter-stor.html

Edited by Red Kharma
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As the oil price has risen more and more threads seem to reference it either in terms of the impact on our economy, our future way of life, house prices, inflation and so on.

I thought it may be interesting to have a thread where articles, ideas, thoughts etc, concerning the future development of the car/engine and alternatives to the petrol/diesel engine, can be discussed.

I'll start with a few links that have been posted recently. I know there are some very knowlegeable people on this site in the energy area so hopefully they will join in. I am not one of them. I am simply interested in how alternative energy is/will be deployed in the auto industry in the future.

I'm happy to say at the outset that as far as the UK, and probably many areas of Europe, and perhaps even urban areas in China, the Far East and South America are concerned I believe there is a future for alternative energy driven motorcars, and we appear to be at an exciting time on the cusp of these new developments being deployed to the market. Even in the oil obsessed US I can see a future for such technology. Perhaps even more reason for them to develop and adopt it.

Please add your own examples and thoughts as you come across them.......

Mercedes developments....

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/motor...icle1314732.ece

Electric bikes, scooters, cars in California

http://www.zapworld.com/

Danish electric vehicle project

http://www.greenbang.com/2750/project-bett...ars-in-denmark/

Israeli electric vehicle project

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8...1705518,00.html

Shai Agassi's EV battery car project

http://www.projectbetterplace.com/

This video is well worth having a look at I think

http://shaiagassi.typepad.com/the_long_tai...etter-stor.html

Interesting stuff, but where are we going to get all the extra electricity from? If we don't start thinking about extra generation and conservation elsewhere, then when everyone plugs in their car the grid is going to crash.

I can forsee a world with electric cars but only as long as car usage is less prevalent than it is now.

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I think that personal transportation, bicycles aside, will soon cease to be considered as essential.

Not really much point in debating alternatives to fossil fuel powered conveyances as replacements will not be affordable.

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"The Air Car! A French company, Motor Development International, based in Nice, created an

engine that runs on compressed air. This technology has been licensed by India’s Tata Motors (TTM) and

Tata will have MDI’s OneCat ® economy 2-seat model available for sale in India late in 2008.

An American startup company, Zero Pollution Motors, based in New Paltz, New York, will bring this

technology to the United States in late 09 with a vehicle called the Air Car ® that will seat six. Prototypes

will do 96mph, and can be “tanked up” –recharged with compressed air- either from a gas station-style air

pump (like the one you use for your tires) or via a plug-into the-wall electric compressor. The Air Car®

prototype reportedly will go 1000 miles once its compressed air tanks are full."

http://www.theaircar.com/

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I think that personal transportation, bicycles aside, will soon cease to be considered as essential.

I agree, once Peak Oil starts to bite, we will realise that driving [and flying] are the most trivial of the current uses of oil.

It does appear from the postings on most forums I read, that most people still don't GET IT. It is probably just that they think of petrol/oil is something that is purchased by car drivers so this is the only problem that needs a fix.

It is MUCH WORSE because oil & gas powers/feeds all of modern economic activity!!

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My first post:

I'm a great believer in cycling and have seen the number of cyclists nearly double in London over the last couple of years, which has made most drivers more 'cycle aware', so the roads feel slightly safer. “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”—H. G. Wells, 1904

The 'Air Car' has been pretty much dismissed as 'snake oil' over at The Oil Drum | Discussions about Energy and Our Future

but electric 'plug-in hybrids' could offer up to 150 mpg.

Red Kharma: One link to add to your list would be: AFS Trinity Power – A revolution in Fast Energy Storage™ featuring the Extreme Hybrid™.

Two SUV's built in 6 months by a team of engineers can go 40 miles after an overnight charge on battery alone and on long trips achieve 150 mpg, so could be readily bought up by one of the big manufacturers. Of course they could have had this or similar in production many years ago. With the big US car makers on the verge of bankruptcy it would almost be suicidal for them not to develop along these lines. Suspect Big Oil has killed the electric car in the past, and would not want to see too many of these in production.

The following page documents the principle: AFS Trinity Power – A revolution in Fast Energy Storage™ featuring the Extreme Hybrid™

1929crash: The whole point of overnight charging is that it uses unused capacity in power generation, that is necessary to keep the Grid going overnight, which explains why off-peak electricity is so much cheaper than peak electricity. It's things like air conditioners that can bring the system down, not overnight charging.

What's certain is that the high cost of oil is already having some positive effects, especially in the US where petrol being less highly taxed has increased in cost proportionally much greater than here, (despite being cheaper there), so this has had a greater impact there on the suburban lifestyle where people regularly commute 100 miles or more to work:

Ryan Avent: How high oil prices are changing America's way of life | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Of course the US response to Peak Oil is to try to grab it by force (Iraq), and to force the World to Starve as it devotes the growing of Corn for biofuels (responsible for 75% of the recent price increase according to the World Bank).

Edited by Pessimist
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1929crash: The whole point of overnight charging is that it uses unused capacity in power generation, that is necessary to keep the Grid going overnight, which explains why off-peak electricity is so much cheaper than peak electricity. It's things like air conditioners that can bring the system down, not overnight charging.

This is an interesting point. However, can we be sure that recharging will be confined to overnight periods? As I understand it, electric vehicles' main problem is their relatively short range, so if they were being used over and over again during the daytime, there would be a need for daytime recharging.

Even if we assume overnight-only recharging and adequate grid capacity, there is still the "upstream" problem of energy to produce more electricity. Power stations which would nowadays be taken off-line at a certain time would have to remain on-line all night.

Of course, the idea that we can have personal transport on anything like the scale we have now in a post-carbon era is a beguiling fantasy IMO.

Edited by 1929crash
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http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/07/laugh-at-high-g.html

With gas prices going through the roof and regulators requiring cars to be ever more miserly, Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term "fuel efficiency" with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets a stunning 282 235 mpg.

Volkswagen's had its super-thrifty One-Liter Car concept vehicle -- so named because that's how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers -- stashed away for six years. The body's made of carbon fiber to minimize weight (the entire car weighs just 660 pounds) and company execs didn't expect the material to become cheap enough to produce the car until 2012.

But VW's decided to build the car two years ahead of schedule.

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This is an interesting point. However, can we be sure that recharging will be confined to overnight periods? As I understand it, electric vehicles' main problem is their relatively short range, so if they were being used over and over again during the daytime, there would be a need for daytime recharging.

I understand that most people driving around town rarely do more than 40 miles and if they do, then the small petrol engine of a hybrid kicks in and charges the batteries. You could go longer distances even more efficiently by driving on and off trains that could take you city to city.

I don't think power stations shut off at night, maybe throttle down, but just maintaining availability of electricity requires energy to send electricity down AC power lines at high voltage and further losses occur when the voltages are reduced by transformers to 230 V. To turn power stations off would increase losses as electricity would have to travel further from those still running. (One of the reasons why microgeneration - smaller power sources closer together - makes sense).

A quick google search reveals a report from the US Dept of Energy that 70% of light duty cars and trucks could be powered from overnight charging: here. If you add into the mix significant power from wind, solar, wave, then it might be possible to get that nearer to 100 %. And getting 100% of vehicles to plug-in hybrid would take quite a few years anyway.

We have the technology now to build dynamic demand control technologies into most energy using appliances as a lot of power is wasted by running the grid at anticipated maximum demand and then an extra margin. This technology could even out power consumption at times of peak demand to save considerable amounts of energy. For more info visit: here.

DC power lines into Europe from Africa could provide for all our energy needs (less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the World could produce enough solar energy to power the World). DESERTEC.

The technology exists, but the political desire and cooperation needed is not there. The Oil industry is a powerful force with political power and many of these technologies are not in their best interests. If humans were rational and intelligent then all the world's problems could be solved. The problem is we are running out of time to set all this up, as the days of cheap oil are coming to an end, and the kind of infrastructure we need for the future will take time, expertise, and energy to build.

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I understand that most people driving around town rarely do more than 40 miles and if they do, then the small petrol engine of a hybrid kicks in and charges the batteries. You could go longer distances even more efficiently by driving on and off trains that could take you city to city.

I don't think power stations shut off at night, maybe throttle down, but just maintaining availability of electricity requires energy to send electricity down AC power lines at high voltage and further losses occur when the voltages are reduced by transformers to 230 V. To turn power stations off would increase losses as electricity would have to travel further from those still running. (One of the reasons why microgeneration - smaller power sources closer together - makes sense).

A quick google search reveals a report from the US Dept of Energy that 70% of light duty cars and trucks could be powered from overnight charging: here. If you add into the mix significant power from wind, solar, wave, then it might be possible to get that nearer to 100 %. And getting 100% of vehicles to plug-in hybrid would take quite a few years anyway.

We have the technology now to build dynamic demand control technologies into most energy using appliances as a lot of power is wasted by running the grid at anticipated maximum demand and then an extra margin. This technology could even out power consumption at times of peak demand to save considerable amounts of energy. For more info visit: here.

DC power lines into Europe from Africa could provide for all our energy needs (less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the World could produce enough solar energy to power the World). DESERTEC.

The technology exists, but the political desire and cooperation needed is not there. The Oil industry is a powerful force with political power and many of these technologies are not in their best interests. If humans were rational and intelligent then all the world's problems could be solved. The problem is we are running out of time to set all this up, as the days of cheap oil are coming to an end, and the kind of infrastructure we need for the future will take time, expertise, and energy to build.

Post peak, routine personal transport other than bikes will be a past memory

A more probable electric vehicle

Trolleybus4120.Harvard.agr.jpg

post-10375-1215715267_thumb.jpg

Edited by Kurt Barlow
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Post peak, routine personal transport other than bikes will be a past memory

A more probable electric vehicle

I agree. And what's more, people do not really appreciate the amount of oil you need to produce a vehicle in the first place.

It's not just the energy expended on manufacturing processes. It's also the question of oil for petrochemicals to produce plastics and the like.

Edited by 1929crash
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I agree. and what's more, people do not really appreciate the amount of oil you need to produce a vehicle in the first place.

It's not just the energy expended on manufacturing processes. It's also the question of oil for petrochemicals to produce plastics and the like.

With schemes like street car I suspect ownership will fall over time particular in urban and suburban areas. People will largely rely on public transport and hire a vehicle on the occasions they need one

http://www.streetcar.co.uk/vans.aspx

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University of Birmingham have a big Hydrogen vehicle project going at the minute, they've just had the first Hydrogen fuel station in the west mids installed (maybe the first in the UK). Their vehicles are battery/fuel cell hybrids whereby you fill the hydrogen tank to power the fuel cell which continually charges the battery as you drive, so you extend the range and do away with the need to charge overnight.

This is the website:

http://www.microcab.co.uk/

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University of Birmingham have a big Hydrogen vehicle project going at the minute, they've just had the first Hydrogen fuel station in the west mids installed (maybe the first in the UK). Their vehicles are battery/fuel cell hybrids whereby you fill the hydrogen tank to power the fuel cell which continually charges the battery as you drive, so you extend the range and do away with the need to charge overnight.

This is the website:

http://www.microcab.co.uk/

Where do they get the Hydrogen from? currently its either extracted from nat gas, or water and electricity. Neither solves the ultimate problem of energy supply. At this stage Hydrogen fuel is little more than a party trick.

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Where do they get the Hydrogen from? currently its either extracted from nat gas, or water and electricity. Neither solves the ultimate problem of energy supply. At this stage Hydrogen fuel is little more than a party trick.

The problem with hydrogen is that it is so chemically reactive and light. That means that it is either bound up with other elements in a compound, requiring energy to liberate it, or it has escaped from planet Earth altogether.

I fear that barring a change in the laws of physics, it will always remain a party trick.

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http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/07/laugh-at-high-g.html

With gas prices going through the roof and regulators requiring cars to be ever more miserly, Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term "fuel efficiency" with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets a stunning 282 235 mpg.

Volkswagen's had its super-thrifty One-Liter Car concept vehicle -- so named because that's how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers -- stashed away for six years. The body's made of carbon fiber to minimize weight (the entire car weighs just 660 pounds) and company execs didn't expect the material to become cheap enough to produce the car until 2012.

But VW's decided to build the car two years ahead of schedule.

Incredible. Hats off to VW if it can really do 282 mpg! Having said that the current crop of 70-odd mpg cars that will carry 4 people is also impressive. But I imagine petrol efficiency is ultimately only a shorter-term solution.

DC power lines into Europe from Africa could provide for all our energy needs (less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the World could produce enough solar energy to power the World). DESERTEC.

I haven't seen or heard of this before. Thanks for posting. Some form of electrically powered cars appears to be where manufacturers are headed, along with more efficient internal combustion engines whilst oil is still viable.

Can the oil energy used in the manufacturing process be replaced/augmented by more electrical energy?

What about the oil derivatives used - the plastics and so on that have been mentioned. Can these be recovered from existing plastics or is that too energy intensive?

Those of you who don't see any future for "cars" - what do you imagine the manufacturers will do and when? Just scale down over time/shut up shop? Morph their businesses into something else?

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Thanks for posting. Some form of electrically powered cars appears to be where manufacturers are headed, along with more efficient internal combustion engines whilst oil is still viable.

Can the oil energy used in the manufacturing process be replaced/augmented by more electrical energy?

What about the oil derivatives used - the plastics and so on that have been mentioned. Can these be recovered from existing plastics or is that too energy intensive?

Those of you who don't see any future for "cars" - what do you imagine the manufacturers will do and when? Just scale down over time/shut up shop? Morph their businesses into something else?

Good point. Some oil based products will become very expensive, making the purchasing of electric cars the province of the ultra-wealthy. The rest of us may have to rely on cycles, walking and public transport, and the distance we travel in our lives may have to drop considerably.

Did you see "The History of the World Backwards" on BBC 4 (October 2007) by Robert Newman, who makes Peak Oil and the history of oil a basis of much of his humour? Search for Robert Newman on YouTube. I'd agree with him that to some extent that we will be forced to go back to technologies that we relied on before oil, (so going forward in history will be a bit like going backwards) but with maybe updated versions of sailing ships, steam trains, horses, cycling, walking. The trouble is that these forms of propulsion, energy available to agriculture etc (fertilisers made from gas, pesticides from oil) will not sustain the rapidly approaching world population of 9 Billion, so that is where the problems of the coming 100 years will lie, as a massive "Die Off" occurs, as even plentiful electricity (if made available by an 'enlightened' world leadership) will not be enough to replace all that products that oil and gas provided.

On the electric car front Gordon Brown has become a big fan of electric and hybrid vehicles: Gordon Brown: Motorists should switch to electric cars and learn 'eco-driving' - Telegraph. He is also pushing for nuclear power. Of course he may not be prime minister for very long, and even if he is saying the right sort of things, it will likely as not translate into any meaningful action (look at the true figures for CO2 under Labour including shipping and aviation). Btw watch the G Wiz crash test in the video in the above article at 40 mph to see how likely you would survive a crash in one of these vehicles!

Edited by Pessimist
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DC power lines into Europe from Africa could provide for all our energy needs (less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the World could produce enough solar energy to power the World). DESERTEC.

It seems like Sarkozy and Brown may have been reading my posts (delusions of grandeur) :rolleyes: :

£37bn plan to power EU with the Saharan sun | Environment | The Guardian

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Where do they get the Hydrogen from? currently its either extracted from nat gas, or water and electricity. Neither solves the ultimate problem of energy supply. At this stage Hydrogen fuel is little more than a party trick.

The Hydrogen is simply a mobile energy storage medium. You could feasibly produce it at plants on the coast using wave or offshore wind power as a source of electricity then pipe it wherever you like.

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I'd like to reinforce what some other posters have said: hydrogen is very much on a par with batteries and compressed air, it is an energy VECTOR, not an energy source.

Frankly I think there is an almost infinite supply of fossil fuels, plenty of coal, and according to many commentators, plenty of oil, as long as the price is right, and we don't mind ripping up some of the few remaining wilderness areas of the planet (which of course we won't).

A bigger problem is finding the air to burn it all in.

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hydrogen is very much on a par with batteries and compressed air, it is an energy VECTOR, not an energy source.
Agreed.
Frankly I think there is an almost infinite supply of fossil fuels, plenty of coal, and according to many commentators, plenty of oil, as long as the price is right, and we don't mind ripping up some of the few remaining wilderness areas of the planet (which of course we won't).

"Almost infinite" might apply in human terms to energy from the sun, but not to fossil fuels under the ground - even coal. If you're having a laugh - you tease you! Nearly all the oil fields in the world are declining in production and there hasn't been a major find for over 30 years. Time to get educated, start listening to those who were predicting Peak Oil many years ago, and the present economic crash. Try reading Shell Energy Scenarios as a gentle, but worrying introduction to the subject from an oil company. For 'Scramble' read 'more oil wars'. 'Blueprint', a planned global energy policy - unlikely? Increasing coal use will just make Climate Change worse.

The key problem is not the amount of oil and coal under the ground/or in oil shale, but the fact that the easy oil has gone. What's left is expensive to get out and takes more energy to get out of the ground. When it takes a barrel of oil energy wise to get a barrel of oil out of the ground and to it's destination then the game is over. Look out for massive problems over the next 5-10 years: The era of oil wars - Michael Meacher

The Long Emergency has started!

Edited by Pessimist
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Agreed.

"Almost infinite" might apply in human terms to energy from the sun, but not to fossil fuels under the ground - even coal. If you're having a laugh - you tease you! Nearly all the oil fields in the world are declining in production and there hasn't been a major find for over 30 years. Time to get educated, start listening to those who were predicting Peak Oil many years ago, and the present economic crash. Try reading Shell Energy Scenarios as a gentle, but worrying introduction to the subject from an oil company. For 'Scramble' read 'more oil wars'. 'Blueprint', a planned global energy policy - unlikely? Increasing coal use will just make Climate Change worse.

The key problem is not the amount of oil and coal under the ground/or in oil shale, but the fact that the easy oil has gone. What's left is expensive to get out and takes more energy to get out of the ground. When it takes a barrel of oil energy wise to get a barrel of oil out of the ground and to it's destination then the game is over. Look out for massive problems over the next 5-10 years: The era of oil wars - Michael Meacher

The Long Emergency has started!

No renewable energy source is infinite - the ability to capture renewable energy is constrained by the amount of available capital to invest in the technology of the day (PV, solar thermal, wind turbines etc). In that sense renewable energy is a very finite source which shouldn't be wasted - like any other energy source.

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Pessimist, notice I did caveat my statement, "if the price is right". I agree the era of dirt-cheap oil is over, however the current oil price is just as much a bubble as the housing bubble. Driven by speculators. If there's a shortage, it's a shortage of refining capacity not the raw material.

I'm not sure of the details but a few years back there was a "deregulation" of the oil finances, in other words licence for the City, Wall St et al parasites to rip off the real economy even more than they already were. The graph of oil price increases started then and has been up ever since, there's a surprise.

Most oil wells were capped after giving up 30-35% of their reserve. At the new higher prices it will be economic to go after the remaining two-thirds. Even in our north sea, about half the oil is still down there, and there are still unexplored areas.

Perhaps "almost infinite" gives the wrong impression, however I think the real limiting factor for fossil fuels is the greenhouse effect.

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