View Poll Results: what will replace gas/petrol for cars?

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  • electric

    44 34.65%
  • hydrogen

    59 46.46%
  • other

    24 18.90%
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  1. #41
    The Insane Reeve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yilar View Post
    I'm gonna go with electricity. Unless they invent some way to make hydrogen a lot more efficient (and not blow up like a zeppelin). I don't see that happening and because everyone can "produce" electricity they are gonna chose that so they don't have to be dependent on foreign nations for fuel.
    The combustable nature of hydrogen doesn't freak me out any more than the combustible nature of gasoline. There are other issues with Hydrogen.

    1) It's not much more environmentally friendly than Natural Gas, since the best way to create the hydrogen involves using Natural Gas. It's a medium for storing energy, not a source of energy.

    2) Storing the hydrogen on the vehicle is difficult to do, since Hydrogen is the most diffuse gas in the universe. Compressing it isn't easy and in order to store compressed hydrogen on a vehicle, you need very large very heavy and expensive cylinders.

    3) Our filling stations would have to be modified to be able to compress or store compressed hydrogen, which, again, is difficult and expensive. The delivery fleet to take the hydrogen from the "refineries" to the gas stations would also have to have this capability.

    4) The membranes used in the Hydrogen fuel cells are currently made out of Platinum, and are very expensive. In addition, the membrane degrades pretty quickly over time, needing to be replaced after about 3 years, which is a very expensive replacement. Also, as the membrane degrades, we lose power, causing the car to perform more poorly as time goes on.
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  2. #42
    I'm going to say other, in particular LENR...which i suppose would make the running of things like cars electrical.

    This has been going about for a while now and has growing interest again in mainstream science, since it now seems that many people are getting results with it to varying degrees...NASA are interested and so is the US military.

    http://www.e-catworld.com/

  3. #43
    Titan Themius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darsithis View Post
    I'm quite confident that you'd need far more than 30sq miles of solar panels to power the entirety of the United States. Maybe a big city, but not a 4000mile-wide country
    I don't know... there are some VERY effective solar panels that are also VERY expensive and don't get much funding hence why they're so expensive...

    I don't get all the excitement of hydrogen. Fuck hydrogen let's invest more in electric. Hydrogen still pollutes. It's 50% cleaner than just gas but really we are aiming for little to nothing so ELECTRIC!~
    Last edited by Themius; 2012-08-14 at 03:53 PM.

  4. #44
    Really, the answer is electric, but only for certain cars. Surprised to see so many hydrogen answers. Why do I think this?

    1) Electric engines are much more suited to cars than combustion engines are... fast on/off, better torque curves, "refill" at your house, its easy and efficient to engine brake, pollution is all at one spot and easier to deal with (the power plant vs spread out over a big area). The problem is powering the engines, which is a BIG problem.

    2) Gas/diesel will never be replaced in our lifetimes for big vehicles that have to travel long distances. Why? because gas/diesel is so much more energy dense than any other fuels. Hydrogen is in theory more energy dense, but you have to pressurize it so much to get enough of it to be useful. You would have to compress hydrogen to 10,000 psi for it to be as energy dense as gasoline. 10,000 psi is -huge-. Air tools is a garage run on 90 psi. A full scuba tank is only 3000. Compare having to pressurize an explosive gas that much to just having to have a gas tank that doesnt leak. Yes, everything has risks, but a big 10,000 psi tank on your car? if that ever ruptures you are dead. Gasoline / diesel are just -that- good, which is why we have used them for over a century.

    3) We are not running out of fossil fuels. Current world reserves are enough to power the world for the next century easily, even with crazy growth.

    4) Our current batteries arent that good at all. Per kg, gasoline / diesel store more than 25 more times the amount of energy that the best Li battery can, and about 50 times the energy that the best Li-ion (current best battery in cars) can. Our battery technology needs to come a -long- way, and it hasnt been progressing that fast in the last 20 years.

    5) Recharge / fill up. Gasoline wins here hands down. Rapidly charging batteries is a very mixed bag, and there is no hydrogen / electric infrastructure in place. Sure, big cities could "easily" put up a few stations, but nation wide adoption? That would cost an outrageous amount, and wouldnt happen fast, especially considering that either option requires more advanced any expensive technologies at the fill up stations. Currently all you need is a tank and a pump.

    So whats the take home? Gas/diesel will not be replaced for a long time for most cars. You might be able to get an electric car to drop the kids at school and come home, and thats great, but for any serious distance / load / time, fossil fuels arent going away anytime soon.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamdwelf View Post
    Electricity, a 30sq mile solar panel even with how inefficent they currently are, could power the entire USA.

    Sun powered cars!
    I think the prohibitively expensive part of solar panels actually have to with making cost effective batteries for storing the energy. It's neat, and I'm sure someone in Japan will figure out how to make a polite and cost effective battery that compliments you while it plug your car in to it to recharge, but for now those suckers are EXPENSIVE.

    Hydrogen energy, in it's current incarnation costs a ton.

  6. #46
    While the energy generation of solar cells is pretty terrible, that is like the least of its problems. Even if you could make solar cells millions of times more efficient you could never generate even a large percent of your power with solar because when it was working the power would be wasted and when you needed it there is no garuntee it would be there due to weather, season, time of day. It is theoretically impossible for anything more than a small percent of our power generation to be solar without being stupidly inefficient and wasteful.

    And its even worse than that. If you look at the energy profiles of when people actually use power there are two big spikes in the morning and right at night, which account for a HUGE percent of the total energy we use. Which means that traditional power plants have to be able to ramp up their production on demand to meet these points, and then go back down so as not to waste power during the day. So getting the energy you need from a whole different collection of sources with different efficiencies at different outputs, and some which cant change their output, and some whose outputs change depending on factors you can't control... Well, it starts to get stupidly inefficient and expensive unless a very large amount of your energy is generated by a source that you can turn up and down at different times of day (or seasons etc) at a whole range of peak efficiencies.

    tldr: solar is going to be a tiny factor in our future power basically. It should be a bit since it is so clean, but most likely most of our energy will most probably be nuclear based.
    Last edited by Sylla; 2012-08-14 at 04:03 PM.

  7. #47
    Until they come up with a lot more cheap batteries that are really fast to charge (some next next generation supercapacitors maybe?), there's no way electric cars are going to be nothing but some niche in large cities. (Besides, is there any proper studies made on the environmental impact of current batteries in electric cars? Their lifespan is not that admirable and all the manufacturing process from the raw minerals to the battery ending up in the hazardous waste facility is nothing insignificant. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they produce more CO2 and all crap when all that are considered when compared to regular petrol powered car over their suitable lifespan. And when you add in the parts of the world that have cold winters. Low temperatures killing the batteries and the heating required...)
    Last edited by ifrah; 2012-08-14 at 04:03 PM.

  8. #48
    The Insane Reeve's Avatar
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    I still like my 3rd rail idea. It solves all the problems we've been discussing with electric vehicles, leaving only the issue of building the infrastructure/electrical grid/energy production capacity. If we could build highway systems, surely we could lay down a 3rd rail network.
    Well 1, 2, 3, take my hand and come with me
    Because you look so fine
    And I really wanna make you mine

  9. #49
    Btw, electric energy is kind of a silly option. Electric cars still burn fossil fuels more often than not. Where do you think the electricity is coming from? Probably a power plant that burns oil or coal.

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Drakain View Post
    Btw, electric energy is kind of a silly option. Electric cars still burn fossil fuels more often than not. Where do you think the electricity is coming from? Probably a power plant that burns oil or coal.
    yes but its much more efficient and cheaper to produce electricity at a power plant than in every single car.

  11. #51
    Titan Adam Jensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakain View Post
    Btw, electric energy is kind of a silly option. Electric cars still burn fossil fuels more often than not. Where do you think the electricity is coming from? Probably a power plant that burns oil or coal.
    Until we convert the power plants to a different energy source. Wind, hydro, solar. Maybe they'll invent cold fusion in the near future.

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  12. #52
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    Poll needs a radical re-do. Hydrogen shouldn't even be on the list. The problem with hydrogen is physics. It does not compress well. Therefore you cannot store it in a tank to use as a mobile source of fuel. Works great for buildings. Sucks for cars. There have been some really cool hydrogen fuel cells built that can run a car wonderfully. Problem is they require a block of platinum as a catalyst - which makes the fuel cell cost northwards of $100,000... Not exactly a "real world" solution.

    New technologies are being developed to make batteries lighter, smaller, much more efficient, made of more common materials, and not wearing out and needing replacement. Batteries in the near future could be 10x better than the batteries of today.
    They've been saying this for 30 years, and yet... Batteries currently hold only about 0.7 megajules per kilogram. Gasoline holds over 47. Batteries will need to hold about 5 megajules per kg before they are a viable power source for a vehicle compared to gasoline or natural gas. FYI - dynamite is 4 megajules per kg. Current battery technology is improving energy density at a rate of between 1% to 2.5% a year. That in itself is actually quite impressive. However, when you are improving 0.7 Mj per kg by 2% a year, it will still take over 100 years for batteries to simply reach 2 Mj per kg. All the talk about the world being on the cusp of some miracle revolution in the battery technology is just untrue. Lithium air is a cool tech they are pinning a lot of hope on, but its technical hurdles are immense and nowhere near close to anything but "tech demo" stuff.

    You'd have to cover the entire state of Rhode Island in solar panels to supply the power needs of the United States - and you'd need a bank of batteries the size of New York City.

    And gas fracking is nowhere near the environmental boogeyman some people think it is.
    Last edited by The Riddler; 2012-08-14 at 04:14 PM.

  13. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Reeve View Post
    The combustable nature of hydrogen doesn't freak me out any more than the combustible nature of gasoline. There are other issues with Hydrogen.

    1) It's not much more environmentally friendly than Natural Gas, since the best way to create the hydrogen involves using Natural Gas. It's a medium for storing energy, not a source of energy.

    2) Storing the hydrogen on the vehicle is difficult to do, since Hydrogen is the most diffuse gas in the universe. Compressing it isn't easy and in order to store compressed hydrogen on a vehicle, you need very large very heavy and expensive cylinders.

    3) Our filling stations would have to be modified to be able to compress or store compressed hydrogen, which, again, is difficult and expensive. The delivery fleet to take the hydrogen from the "refineries" to the gas stations would also have to have this capability.

    4) The membranes used in the Hydrogen fuel cells are currently made out of Platinum, and are very expensive. In addition, the membrane degrades pretty quickly over time, needing to be replaced after about 3 years, which is a very expensive replacement. Also, as the membrane degrades, we lose power, causing the car to perform more poorly as time goes on.
    ty for all of that info. i know they had a hydrogen vehicle program going in DC, govt vehicles and buses, but i hadnt looked further into it. the fact that the program was functional was telling me that it was viable, but if you're right they still have more work to do to make it possible on a national scale

  14. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Reeve View Post
    I still like my 3rd rail idea. It solves all the problems we've been discussing with electric vehicles, leaving only the issue of building the infrastructure/electrical grid/energy production capacity. If we could build highway systems, surely we could lay down a 3rd rail network.
    ... Yes, there is "only" the problem of major construction on every highway / interstate in the nation, and the "small" issue of a live electric wire on the ground everywhere that we drive. PETA would go nuts because of all the animals that it would kill, and firemen / policemen would go nuts because every wreck is now an electrically charged disaster that they couldnt easily cut the power to without shutting down the whole interstate. Then there is the engineering problem with passing, "latching" on / off, cars that want to go faster / slower....

    Ultimately there are reasons why we dont do these things except in very specific cases (trams, subways) and even then most modern versions of those stay away from "3rd rail" setups.

  15. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Drakain View Post
    Btw, electric energy is kind of a silly option. Electric cars still burn fossil fuels more often than not. Where do you think the electricity is coming from? Probably a power plant that burns oil or coal.
    There is also hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind generation and less fossil fuels consumed by cars, leaves more (and less demand = cheaper) fossil fuels for generation.
    Last edited by openair; 2012-08-14 at 04:12 PM.

  16. #56
    Elemental Lord Masark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakain View Post
    Btw, electric energy is kind of a silly option. Electric cars still burn fossil fuels more often than not. Where do you think the electricity is coming from? Probably a power plant that burns oil or coal.
    Efficiency of scale still goes in the electric car's favor. A car engine is about 25% efficient at best. Even the old crap coal-fired boilers from the 50's that we're shutting down next year manage ~35%. The new-and-shiny combined cycle gas units manage over 55%.

    Quote Originally Posted by sillabear View Post
    While the energy generation of solar cells is pretty terrible, that is like the least of its problems. Even if you could make solar cells millions of times more efficient you could never generate even a large percent of your power with solar because when it was working the power would be wasted and when you needed it there is no garuntee it would be there due to weather, season, time of day. It is theoretically impossible for anything more than a small percent of our power generation to be solar without being stupidly inefficient and wasteful.

    Which is why you would have energy storage built into a primarily-solar system. pumped hydro has been in use for a long time. It's just not used that much as other options for peaking are generally cheaper.
    Last edited by Masark; 2012-08-14 at 04:13 PM.

  17. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by anothdae View Post
    Really, the answer is electric, but only for certain cars.
    1) Electric engines are much more suited to cars than combustion engines are... fast on/off, better torque curves, "refill" at your house, its easy and efficient to engine brake, pollution is all at one spot and easier to deal with (the power plant vs spread out over a big area). The problem is powering the engines, which is a BIG problem.
    This is also a big deal that a lot of people don't think about. Electric motors freaking rock for stop start traffic type situations, you would be surprised how much energy you would actually save from it if you live in high traffic areas. Traditional engines on the other hand are really efficient at keeping you going at a constant cruise once you are already at that speed, but terribly bad at getting you to that speed.

    That is kind of why I really like hybrid cars. You get the best of both worlds, and it is SO much more efficient.


    e:
    Quote Originally Posted by Masark View Post
    Which is why you would have energy storage built into a primarily-solar system. pumped hydro has been in use for a long time. It's just not used that much as other options for peaking are generally cheaper.
    Yeah, but you would need some crazy good batteries to store enough energy if solar or geothermal etc started getting even close to a large part of the overall energy. Imagine how big the reservoirs for the water would have to be in every single city, couple that with the area covered by solar panels and it is not going to happen any time soon.

    I am a big fan of the idea though, theoretically if we had super future batteries we could just generate energy whenever and however we wanted at 100% efficiency and just draw and charge the batteries as people drew energy. It would be pretty cool.
    Last edited by Sylla; 2012-08-14 at 04:16 PM.

  18. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by sillabear View Post
    This is also a big deal that a lot of people don't think about. Electric motors freaking rock for stop start traffic type situations, you would be surprised how much energy you would actually save from it if you live in high traffic areas. Traditional engines on the other hand are really efficient at keeping you going at a constant cruise once you are already at that speed, but terribly bad at getting you to that speed.

    That is kind of why I really like hybrid cars. You get the best of both worlds, and it is SO much more efficient.
    Thats why I see plug-in hybrids being a good solution for the time being, if you are just going around town, you are full electric, but if you need go long distances you totally can.

  19. #59
    The Insane Reeve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sillabear View Post
    While the energy generation of solar cells is pretty terrible, that is like the least of its problems. Even if you could make solar cells millions of times more efficient you could never generate even a large percent of your power with solar because when it was working the power would be wasted and when you needed it there is no garuntee it would be there due to weather, season, time of day. It is theoretically impossible for anything more than a small percent of our power generation to be solar without being stupidly inefficient and wasteful.

    And its even worse than that. If you look at the energy profiles of when people actually use power there are two big spikes in the morning and right at night, which account for a HUGE percent of the total energy we use. Which means that traditional power plants have to be able to ramp up their production on demand to meet these points, and then go back down so as not to waste power during the day. So getting the energy you need from a whole different collection of sources with different efficiencies at different outputs, and some which cant change their output, and some whose outputs change depending on factors you can't control... Well, it starts to get stupidly inefficient and expensive unless a very large amount of your energy is generated by a source that you can turn up and down at different times of day (or seasons etc) at a whole range of peak efficiencies.

    tldr: solar is going to be a tiny factor in our future power basically. It should be a bit since it is so clean, but most likely most of our energy will most probably be nuclear based.
    Unless we can get grid level energy storage for a low price. There's a TED Talk from a guy who thinks he can do it, using liquid metal batteries made with Magnesium and Antimony, two cheap metals, he can build a battery stack the size of a 40ft shipping container that can hold I think 2 MWh. It's not enough yet, but it's a step closer to making it possible to use intermittent power sources like solar and wind.
    Well 1, 2, 3, take my hand and come with me
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  20. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Reeve View Post
    Unless we can get grid level energy storage for a low price. There's a TED Talk from a guy who thinks he can do it, using liquid metal batteries made with Magnesium and Antimony, two cheap metals, he can build a battery stack the size of a 40ft shipping container that can hold I think 2 MWh. It's not enough yet, but it's a step closer to making it possible to use intermittent power sources like solar and wind.
    I have absolutely no doubt that if fossil fuels started to run out tomorrow and prices started to skyrocket, there would be fifty companies with amazing new prototypes within a year. We just have to wait and see what happens first, random big discovery or end of the world type fuel shortages.

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