Plug into what?

The American auto industry has indicated that part of the recovery plan involves developing plug-in electric and hybrid cars.  This is a brilliant strategy, because it absolutely minimizes the emissions of the vehicle.  Of course, there is the small matter of where the electricity is going to come from to charge up all those batteries every night.  Are we merely allowing the car makers to rob Peter to pay Paul?

We are going to have to accept that there are no viable substitutes for petroleum fuels, due to their portability, energy concentration, and cost.  What we need is new ways to think about extracting the energy from the fuel.  Detroit is in love with the reciprocating, internal combustion engine, one of the least efficient methods known to extract energy from fuel.

The turbine engine, which features continuous combustion, as well as only a single major moving part, is far more efficient at burning fuel, which means cleaner, as well.  Coupled to an electrical generator similar to those used in airplanes, electricity for movement can be generated.  Advanced computer controls could maximize efficiency, and motors at each wheel all could dramatically increase fuel efficiency and versatility.

Detroit must make a clean break with the past, abandoning the tried and true, and safe, for new technologies, new ways of doing things.  Just because none of the Big Three have ever built a successful turbine engine (That I know of,) doesn’t mean that there are no companies in America with the expertise to develop power plants for automobiles.

Over and over, America tries to fix problems by throwing money at them, while avoiding any significant change.  Well, significant change is coming our way, it would seem, and the only way to make it any easier is to try to ride the change, and maybe guide it a little bit.  We can’t stop what has already happened, but we can still affect what happens to us.

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One Response to “Plug into what?”

  1. sherry Says:

    We seriously need to get on with becoming energy independent. Utilizing alternative energy sources would not only lessen our dependence on foreign oil it would create cheap, clean energy, as well as create millions of badly needed new green collar jobs. This past year the high cost of fuel seriously damaged our economy and society. It destroyed every imaginable budget from national to state to the local school. While some are foolish enough to be doing the happy dance around the lower prices at the pumps they are totally missing out on the news that OPEC is planning to cut production and raise the price per barrel back up to between 75-100 bucks again. I just read Jeff Wilson’s new book The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now. you can see it @ http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com It would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric vehicle. The electricity to charge the vehicle could come partially or totally from electricity generated by wind or solar. One of the most fascinating facts in the book is that …If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv’s instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota. Why don’t we use some of the billions in bail out money to bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil? We must move forward as nation towards energy independence. Oil is finite, it will run out one day in the not too distant future.

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