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.. overprojecting, very badly! I am going to just flat out state that the odds of an automobile manufactured in 2025 being a gasoline burner are approximately nil.

If we are considering the use of oil on time horizons greater than a decade, the primary determinants will be the development of electrict automotion and other alternatives to the combustion engine, and the extent of demand for oil from the manufacturing and chemical industry.

The very basic facts of electric driving is that electricity costs a very small faction of what gasoline does per mile driven and that electric drive trains are in all ways superior to combution engines - less costly to manufacture, more reliable, and better preformance at varied RPM. - the edges combustion engines currently enjoy are the energy density of gasoline, and the speed with which a gas tank can be refilled. Both of which will most likely be eliminated by advances in electricity storage technology - and approximately two days after the invention of the gasoline-equivalent battery, all manufacturers of combustion engines will be bankrupt, and oil demand will freefall to the level comsumed by industry for plastics and such.  

This, is, in fact a good reason for oil producers to maintain high production levels in the present- current demand levels are an accident of the technology we use for personal mobility, and when that technology changes - and it will, the only question is the exact date- the demand will vanish, and the worth of the oil still in the ground after that date will decline very sharply.

by Thomas on Wed Nov 10th, 2010 at 04:22:14 AM EST
I am going to just flat out state that the odds of an automobile manufactured in 2025 being a gasoline burner are approximately nil.

Petrol to hydrogen to electricity

Volvo is taking its C30 DRIVe Electric concept to the next level and adding a hydrogen fuel cell to extend the EV's 94-mile range, creating a hybrid hydrogen-electric plug-in. The fuel cell will add another 155 miles of range, but what's really interesting is the way Volvo plans on sourcing the hydrogen: from gasoline.

Rather than relying on the promised hydrogen highway to be built, Volvo is exploring the use of an on-board reformer to process gasoline into hydrogen gas. The fuel cell will use the hydrogen gas to power the electric motor when the C30's 24kwh battery has been depleted, more than doubling the vehicle's range without increasing battery size.

Creating hydrogen from gasoline may sound a little like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but the conversion process is about 85 percent efficient

A rather convoluted techno-fix that adds up to doubling the mileage you get from the gas... but it's hard to get around the fact that petrol (or more precisely, diesel) is, and will remain for a while, the transport fuel of choice because it's so energy-dense and easy to handle (I don't expect to see widespread hydrogen infrastructure in my lifetime)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:05:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't expect widespread hydrogen infrastructure ever, ammonia is just a much simpler way to transport and store hydrogen than H2.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:01:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ammonia reformers? And how much do they cost?

It makes sense to me that there are a number of coherent ways of fuelling fuel cells, and that none of them involve tankers or pipelines of H2. I suppose the mindset comes from the fact that Big Energy needs Big Infrastructure; because how the heck can you make a dishonest buck with an anarchic decentralised heavily networked uncontrollable fuelling infrastructure?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 03:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... Ammonia fuel network is direct ammonia fuel cells, of various designs.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 13th, 2010 at 12:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but it certainly looks like there are major physico-chemical barriers...

for the moment we are waiting for the then a miracle happens moment.

(Setting aside conspiracy theories... OK, the Lithium-Ion patent capture scam is a powerful narrative, but Lithium-Ion is too heavy and expensive to be the required breakthrough anyway)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about Dimethyl Ether liquid fuel from renewable electricity?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:35:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if you make that near 100 %, you still lose about two thirds of what's left simply by putting it into a combustion engine.

And even besides that, a fleet of personal vehicles has horrid energy efficiency under every conceivable fuel infrastructure. Personal vehicles are useful for certain specialised transportation tasks, but they are atrociously inefficient for anything resembling bulk transportation of anything (commuters, cargo, anything).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless you can use renewable-sourced Dimethyl Ether to produce hydrogen for fuel cells. Provided hte whole process is energy efficient.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:55:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, lugging around a half to a full ton of junk along with your freight (loading or self-loading) is a waste of energy no matter which energy regime you're operating in.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand your remark. If liquid Dimethyl Ether can be used instead of gasoline or diesel to produce hydrogen on an as-needed basis, as in the Volvo project you just have to carry liquid Dimethyl Ether.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think JakeS point is that trams, trains and buses are always more efficient then cars for mass transport, because they actually utilize that it is mass transport. Nothing in particular to do with the engine, it is the vehicle weight/passenger.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was addressing the first part of his comment, where he discusses Migeru's suggestion about Dimethyl Ether, which can be used in mass transports, too.

I certainly agree about (electric) buses, trams and trains being the rational solution. I think a society based on individual ownership of a car is definitely unsustainable. Actually, I chose not to own a car and I use public transports instead.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 10:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't always have large-scale centralised modes of transportation. You need small-scale decentralised ones as well. The latter route actually makes far more sense from a transportation perspective than from a power generation perspective.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course you'll always need small-scale decentralised transportation options. But only for small-scale, decentralised tasks.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three good reasons to regularly drive a personal vehicle:

  1. You are a cripple, crone or infant who is physically unable to walk or ride a bicycle to the nearest bus stop.

  2. You have to transport goods that are too bulky and/or heavy to fit comfortably in a wheelbarrow or a bicycle trailer. This is most commonly the case for craftsmen and people who are moving furniture - very few everyday non-work related tasks qualify.

  3. You live in an area of insufficient population density to support a viable mass transit system.

The vast majority of trips are simply not efficiently done with cars. Not even if those cars ran on magic pony piss, since they'd still be noisy, they'd still take up space and they'd still kill people.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 07:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And part of these needs can be met by shared cars/vans/trucks systems like AUTOLIB'.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:17:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably, yes. But right now I'm gunning for the low hanging fruit. The argument that cars are overused does not hinge on whether carpooling is a fruitful endeavour or not.

After all, it is not impossible to imagine that the reason carpooling works at the moment is that our present automobile fleet provides ridiculously excessive capacity. If the only people who had cars were the ones who actually needed them, there might not be enough slack in terms of cargo capacity and passenger space to enable carpooling, unless you deliberately designed your city planning and business practises around it. Which may or may not be worth the bother.

Now, I do think that carpooling will be worthwhile, even in a low-car infrastructure. But unlike cornucopians, like Julian "copper can be made from other metals" Simon, I like to accompany my policy recommendations with some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic showing that I'm at least in the right ballpark. And I just don't have the information to do that on carpooling.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... place during the transition, vehicles to support that existing carpooling will be among the "essential needs" for private transport vehicles.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. But the whole thing is heavily path-dependent. If we start applying the full power of modern industrial society towards building rail, then we could easily transition to a low-car infrastructure in a short enough time frame that self-organised carpools won't have time to show up.

Of course, we could make it a matter of policy to organise and incentivise carpooling during the transition. Which is an excellent idea, but not required for the transition to work.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 10:40:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... it was a short-hand for organized systems backed up by cellphone/internet front ends, as opposed to self-organized carpools.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 04:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, thanks to eurogreen, I've got an answer to my question:

Volvo Plans Hydrogen Generators for Boats Kiss Diesel and Gas | FuelCellsWorks

Powercell has developed a Fuel Processor, protected by patents, which converts, ethanol, biogas, DME, methanol, propane standard grade diesel or gasoline into hydrogen used to fuel the fuel cell system.
...
The generator from Powercell is superior to existing automotive and marine APU (auxiliary power unit) based generators with respect to emission, noise, cycle efficiency, size and weight. Main characteristics are: - Emission levels - generates electricity with zero emissions of CO, NOx and particulates. - High fuel efficiency and reliability, with a lighter and smaller system. - Fuel flexibility - diesel, ethanol, biogas, DME, methanol, propane, gasoline and others - Increased customer comfort level - reduced noise, smell and emission levels.


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 02:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the fuel cells. Since existing battery electric is already workable for the vast majority of ranges of actual private transport vehicle needs, which are local in character ...

... and the majority of transport tasks where it is not suited are not efficiently done by private transport vehicles anyway ...

... would the most effective private transport vehicle be a local range battery electric, with range augmentation in the form of a hydrogen, ammonia or direct carbon fuel cell?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:09:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
approximately two days after the invention of the gasoline-equivalent battery, all manufacturers of combustion engines will be bankrupt, and oil demand will freefall to the level comsumed by industry for plastics and such.

Yeah, because the battery / electric car manufacturing capacity will be built overnight worldwide, as well as the electricity distribution infrastructure for charging these batteries . And all the world's car owners will buy a brand new electric car within a week, too...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 07:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Recently in Sweden, there was i article in Ny Teknik - which is a weakly engineering newspaper - about enthusiasts who had bought used Citroën electric cars. Apparently you can buy the car, but the battery is on lease, and as in some cases the previous owners had violated the terms of the lease agreement by not servicing their cars regularly, the batteries were demanded back.

Somehow, I do not think this is the only problem there will be in a transition to electric cars.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And these delays will preserve the solvency of the combustion engine manufacturers, how, exactly?
Once an industry has obviously joined the ranks of the buggy whip manufacturers, capital crowds the exits and the remaining players end up running down under court administration to discharge as much as possible of their debts. Of course, a lot of these firms are subsidiaries of automakers that will be enjoying the sales boom of the century as people replace their gas gusslers with electron ditto*, so the wind down should be somewhat more graceful than usual.

*and then sales will completely crash and burn 5 years later when the world catches on that electric engines last more or less forever

by Thomas on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 12:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, the key to the future of the car as anything other than a privilege of the rich (much like horse-drawn carriages were), has to be a drastic shedding of weight.

As Jake points out, lugging around a ton of scrap metal everywhere you go is completely nuts, we can not afford the energy for that. Get it down to 300kg for a small family car, and we're perhaps back in business.

Over recent decades, cars have only got bigger and heavier. Safety regulations are a major factor, and need to be rethunk. I suspect that the major car manufacturers may be unable to make the transition, and will crash and burn, to be replaced by new players.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:28:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eh, this is actually not nessesarily true - Ligher cars would very strongly reduce the minium quality of batteries needed to give good preformance, but the supply of electricity is not a limit on how big cars we could use under an all-electric paradigm, because the total size of our electricity infrastructure will be at a minimum big enough to service average daytime comsumption, and there are no current zero-carbon solutions to that problem that do not end up also producing quite ridiculusly large surpluses of electricity at night. If your grid is all-nuclear, the marginal cost of running the reactors at full throttle at night as well as during the day is near zero, and a wind, wave, geothermal grid would by nessesity be overbuilt to a degree that would invariably result in very large amounts of spare electricity at night. which means that if you have a battery that can keep a 3 tonne limo going from dawn till dusk, everyone could drive one with a clean concience as far as fuel consumption goes (less so as far as embodied energy goes.. but then again, if the electricity supply is clean, aluminum bodywork suddenly has fuck-all enviormental footprint.)
by Thomas on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 05:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wake me up when we're there, Thomas.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:40:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
doesnt have to be free, just cheaper than gas. and gas costs a tonne.
by Thomas on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you could waste all that lovely electricity by lugging around scrap metal encasing self-loading bulk freight. But you'll want to use that night time energy to synthesise phosphates, thus displacing non-renewable sources of phosphates that are currently being depleted at a rate that would have them gone completely within the forecastable future.

Personalised transportation is optional. Synthetic fertiliser is not.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
if the electricity supply is clean, aluminum bodywork suddenly has fuck-all enviormental footprint.)

wasn't that red toxic mud catastrophe in hungary the other day the waste from alumimium production?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 07:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
everyone could drive one with a clean conscience

It would still be a stupid waste of energy, raw materials and work compared to mass transportation. And there would be even more traffic jams in big cities, wasting time and space and creating stress.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:26:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is now a good time to bring up my mass produced 900 kg all-aluminum car, with its 3.2 l/100 km demonstrated real-world fuel economy? Or the idea of short range battery-electric cars with traction power (like trolley buses) once you're out of your neighborhood? Or, bicycle paths in tunnels so they're not so miserable in the rain and snow?

There are lots of ways to skin the transportation cat.

by asdf on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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