April 8, 2005
-- by Thomas Leavitt
[I couldn't resist. This is seriously cool. Not to mention the shivers of terror it must make run up and down your average oil mogul's spine. -Thomas]
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Posted: 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
(CNN) -- A Korean company has created a car engine that runs on air.
The engine, which powers a pneumatic-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), works alongside an electric motor to create the power source.
The system eliminates the need for fuel, making the PHEV pollution-free.
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Incredibly cool! No pollution! I hope this gets taken seriously and fully developed. I want one!
Posted by: MJ at April 8, 2005 6:29 AM
Umm, you still have to produce the electricity to charge the batteries. All the combo setup does is allow for short peak power production - nice but hardly the solution to all energy problems. Charging by plugging in the vehicle only transfers the pollution load to the electrical production grid.
The article makes no mention of performance characteristics. How far will the car go on a charge? How long does it take to charge? What sort of acceleration to the combo motor provide? How long after depleting the compressed air supply until it is recompressed? All important to know.
Posted by: jimBOB at April 8, 2005 7:44 AM
Generally, I agree with jimBOB's statements. As a note, though, the potential of cars running on electricity will be fulfilled when alternate sources of electricity (currently it's coal burning power plants) become available. Then it'll be non-polluting on the power source end. Remember, it still pollutes in terms of manufacting.
Personally, bio-fuel seems to be the most promising source of alternative fuel for transportation, right now. I heard Brazil already sells cars that can run on gas or bio-fuel. On top of that, it'd be extra creamy if someone could invent a bio-fuel-electric hybrid.
Posted by: Bribes at April 8, 2005 8:41 AM
That's brilliant! However the oil industry would crush any attempt by a company to manufacture and distribute those cars in the US.
All they need is a manufacturer. How about calling it the Kia Air Fart?
Posted by: Agitprop at April 8, 2005 9:01 AM
They're already sold and distributed in the US. (but starting in 2005, they're banned in California due to - get this: environmental regs).
The car is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI (diesel). It can run on petrodiesel, or biodiesel. California imposed a stiff tax against diesels this year (with an exception for trucks, of course). VW told California to go to hell, and pulled diesels from the market because of the tax. This tax was to deter diesel emissions. But people can still buy diesel trucks without the tax. Most of the trucks are not Direct Injection type diesel, so they can't run on biodiesel.
The big joke is - California's trying to woo the oil industry into producing Ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, which will permit diesel cars to run special emissions equipment that will allow them to meet California's strict emissions standards. But the oil companies are dragging their feet to bring ULSD to market, plus, it's going to cost about 20 cents a gallon more than regular diesel, availability will be low, at best. And cars with the special emissions equipment will not be able to run on non-ULS petrodiesel - without damaging the emissions equipment. So these cars will be very difficult to keep fueled, thus - of course, nobody's going to buy them. This screwed up regulatory market has utterly sabotaged diesel cars in California.
The kicker is: when I run my 2003 TDI Jetta on biodiesel, it meets the tough new standards, and biodiesel will likely be at a price lower than ULSD could be sold for. But then when demand for biodiesel increases, of course it's price will shoot up as well.
The regulatory approach of trying to get the oil companies to sell ULSD was fatally flawed. People are going to have cars, and there will be no advantage to paying extra for the car, and the fuel, if they can even find it. In a few years, we'll be lucky to be able to find gasoline, let alone regular diesel, let alone ULSD (which has to be refined exclusively from Saudi Oil).
Biodiesel is generally blended with petrodiesel, in varying proportions - so this increases flexibility, and therefore causes much less supply strain when one source or another is in short supply (like when a terrorist decides to blow up a pipeline, etc).
The regulatory approach should have been to encourage biodiesel use and production, and manufacturers to use Direct Injection technology in their diesel engines. If we had done that, in 10 years time, we could completely replace about 80% of the gasoline market, some with normal petrodiesel, some with biodiesel. Emissions would improve, reliance on Saudi Oil would go down, and the production and burning of biodiesel is a closed carbon cycle - no net increase of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Plus - when you refine crude oil specifically for diesel, it's actually cheaper to produce petrodiesel, than the current more widely used method of refining crude to mostly gasoline, plus a few percent of petrodiesel - that causes the diesel to be much more expensive to produce.
Diesel soot particulate emissions, of course, are a separate issue - and it's been shown that zeolite filters are effective at removing the harmful particulates from petrodiesel burning. Biodiesel, of course, produces a tiny fraction of the particulates.
Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten at April 8, 2005 9:46 AM
This is precisely why I am a ardent supporter of the Apollo Alliance. (apolloalliance.org)
There are many, many ways to reduce our dependence on countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and Japan.
We have to start NOW to build the base we need to take back the leadership in high tech, environmentally safe industry.
BioDiesel is a start, but we would need a distribution system mandated and supported by the government for it to get off the ground. We would be buried in cobwebs if we waited for private enterprise to do it.
Also, nothing would be off the table to produce energy. Every system would be considered and only rejected if the risks were too high. Nuclear, perhaps not; legalizing hemp to provide oil for biodiesel, maybe so.
In addition to biodiesel, there are other industries that we can overhaul, other technologies that we can use that will not only reduce our dependency on foreign suppliers but provide much needed high wage employment for Americans. Also, these high tech industries are not tied to location like timber, oil, and coal. These industries can be placed anywhere in America, providing jobs where they need them the most.
All it takes is a commitment. And kicking that bastard out of the White House along with all of his cronies.
Posted by: David Aquarius at April 8, 2005 11:04 AM
About 20 or 25 years ago the news (that's when we had decent news reporting) showed a bus that was able to run on water. I believe that Oregon was going to use them to run their city buses. After that first report I never heard anything more about this. Does anyone out there remember this or know what happened to these buses?
Posted by: Jane Algozzini at April 8, 2005 12:11 PM
I was under the impression that the production of biofuels consumes a tremendous amount of real petroleum products, at least currently.
Posted by: ArC at April 8, 2005 1:45 PM
Has a link to an article in Rolling Stone. The title is "The Long Emergency"
40 years ago I heard the same comments. We used to get much better gas mileage than we get now and I don't remember ever having an auto that would not take me where I needed to go and definitely get up to 70mph, which used to be the speedlimit. Can every inventor be bought by big oil? Some rich citizens need to get together from the world over and work on our energy needs now -
Posted by: Nancy at April 8, 2005 2:40 PM
I read a while ago ana rticle in Harpers about the ASTRONOMICAL cost in petro-based fertilizer to produce bio-fuel. As measured in units of usable ENERGY, not dollars. But I really have no idea.
Do any experts here know if modern highly efficient automobiles (I'm a motorcyclist, so I know virtually nothing about cars) use regenerative braking? Also, do modern automotive fuel-injection computers modify operator inputs to enhance fuel efficiency?
Posted by: richard at April 8, 2005 5:40 PM
How'd they managed to get Karl Rove hooked up to fuel a car?
Posted by: carla at April 8, 2005 6:43 PM
Internal Otto-cycle (typical gasoline auto engines) combustion engines are extremely inefficient (converting only 20-25% of the combustion generated thermal energy generated into engine power... and even less into actually driving the wheels of the automobile [losing up to 50% of the remaining energy]), relative to electricity generated via a utility operated combined-cycle natural gas generator (for example), which operates at 50-60% thermal efficiency. Not to mention being vastly more polluting per unit of energy generated and used.
Plus, as someone has already pointed out, electricity drawn off the grid at least has the potential of being generated via renewable energy sources.
Thus, there is an inherent benefit, actually a fairly huge one, in simply shifting the power generation away from the vehicles in question onto the grid.
Posted by: Thoams Leavitt at April 8, 2005 9:55 PM
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