Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gas Crisis

Gas is about to hit $3/gallon in my region. I remember not too long ago when gas exploded to over $4/gallon and there was a massive massive freakout. Europe and Asia proceeds to laugh derisively. (The Chinese Guy points out that gas is over $9/gallon where he lives, and he manages.) I think the best thing we can do is to develop alternative fuels, which reduces the demand and thus lowers the price.
* BioButanol
This is a chemical fuel that resembles gasoline, but is made of any vegetative matter modified by a particular bacterial action. You could put it in your gas tank right now.
* Ethanol
Drinking alcohol. Works as 110 octane fuel in your tank, but most cars couldn't handle more than 15%. Flex-Fuel cars can have up to 85% ethanol, and Brazil has cars that work on 100% ethanol due to their excess sugar-cane production. Nice work, Brazil
* Electricity
Electric cars exist that you can buy now. People complain about their lack of range, and the fact that they're a tad difficult to recharge, and the fact that they're expensive due to novelty factor. Still, one would work even for my long daily commute.
* Nuclear
It'll never work, there are still too many anti-nuclear kooks that insist that anything nuclear will at some point violently explode, destroying the entire city with it.
* Biodiesel
Change vegetable oil into diesel gasoline by removing the glycerine. Works in any diesel engine. The catch being: Only works in diesel engines that lack rubber parts. biodiesel has an annoying habit of leeching through rubber parts.

Any other ideas to power our cars? Cars use a lot of energy, and even advertise the fact. Cars measure their output in Horsepower, a unit of about 750 watts, that being the approximate power output of a strong draft horse. So whatever source you use, it'll need to be very portable, have a large power output, and not too expensive or strange to refuel.


KaiWen said...

Here in New York gas is $3.30 at cheapest. Richer areas Ive seen $3.90 or above. As you pointed out, American's take for granted how cheap their gasoline is. God forbid we should live modestly.

You forgot Hydrogen fuel cells. The technology is young, but it can provide all the power and range of gasoline without the pollutants. The problem is producing Hydrogen in large quantities. My Vison is using wind solar and geothermal power to produce hydrogen with electrolisis. That way the entire system is clean. But it will take money, time, and political will. I doubt America will have anything like this for a long time. I think I'll make a post on it later.

As for nuclear, aren't nuclear reactors too huge to fit in a vhelicle? Otherwise it seems like a good solution aside from peoples fears. Although there is a concern that someone could reverse engineer a cars reactor for mallicious purposes. TERRORISM!

For electric, there is great promise in the Nissan Leaf. Its all electric with a 73 MILE RANGE per charge. It is expected to be only $25,000 compared to GM's Volt which is $40,000. I am so buying it one day.

Another option is we can go back to using horses and buggies. That might be cool.

And thanks for following! Although its kind of pointless with RSS in all, but it at least lets you know people are reading.

Kris159 said...

People shouldn't really whine about gas prices, believe me, they're not that big yet for you Americans.

Mad Engineering said...

The thing about hydrogen is that hydrogen itself is expensive. Hydrogen in the form of H2 is a high energy state, and electrolysis of water literally can't be more than about 25% efficient. The fuel cell isn't 100% efficient either. Yeah, the idea of a car that produces only water as waste is tempting. Oil companies already salivate over the prospect of fueling the hydrogen revolution....with hydrogen from their own hydrocarbons.
There's also that minor problem that hydrogen is super reactive and explodes at the slightest provocation. Gasoline powered cars are already practically mobile bombs.
Electric cars are getting better, for sure. But they're not totally ready yet. Looking forward to them.

The Chinese guy said...

Gas is dirt cheap in the UK. It is the taxes which are uber! 79% is tax!

It means we drive around in tiny cars and all drive manual gear box cars (it's funny watching people from the US drive manual cars) Also we drive slowly.

Many dispatch riders are going over to LPG, it's tax deductable and the fuel is 50% less expensive. Problem is you can't accelerate on LPG and have to switch over to gas when you accelerate.

TwoYaks said...

People who say they don't know what Americans are complaining about have never been to the Alaska Bush. 9 Dollars for gas? That's almost giving it out for free, in some places around here! ;)

Electric could better if they had a system where instead of charging up, you went to a fill station that replaced the electrolyte solution. If you don't like moving uncontained solutions around, you could use hot-swappable canisters of electrolyte solution.

Of course that opens a host of other problems, but they're all 'minor' engineering issues. ;)

TCG said...

How about genetically engineered super hyperactive children with ADHD on a bicycle connected to a dynamo hidden inside the engine compartment. Cars will then run on greasy burgers and sugar! When you want to go turbo a twinkie (IIRC is a horrendous American junk food) is lowered in front of the hyperactive child.

Professor Preposterous said...

American cokelore likes to claim that twinkies have an infinite shelf life, as they are not actually food but actually some sort of chemical imitation of food. Twinkies actually have a shelf life of one month. They are a poundcake stuffed with whipped crisco, (a vegan grease substance made of vegetable oil) with sugar liberally added. You know, the sort of food that explains our growing obesity problem.
Sugar was recently proven not to cause hyperactivity in small children. Rather, excitement causes hyperactivity in children. So your device would have a glittering exciting toy that would grossly overstimulate the small child, and then extract energy from the resulting excited flailing. If they flailing slowed down, the small child would be fed until full and then given a different, also overstimulating, toy. Toys could be recycled after three to five cycles.

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