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A Gaseous Future : Which vehicle technologies have the most promise to replace the gasoline engine ?
National Review ^ | 09/27/2007 | Henry Payne

Posted on 09/28/2007 9:27:36 AM PDT by SirLinksalot

Detroit – With gas prices over $3 a gallon and violence roiling the Middle East, the political drumbeat for oil alternatives has never been louder. President Bush has vowed to “change how we power our automobiles,” and a newly elected Democratic Congress is demanding drastic increases in auto fuel efficiency aimed at achieving “oil independence.” Quick to reflect the public mood, auto companies are touting gas substitutes and predicting the twilight of the gas engine.

But I wouldn’t bet on the twilight of the gas engine just yet.

At this year’s Society of Automotive Engineer’s convention in Detroit, one forum debated the question: “The Gasoline Engine Is Dead. Or Is It?” Siemens executive Michael Crane answered matter-of-factly: “For the foreseeable future, the gasoline engine will continue to dominate.” At present, Crane pointed out, gas powers 90-percent of autos on the planet with its fossil-fuel cousin, diesel, feeding most of the remainder. Only in Brazil and South Africa, where governments have dictated national alternative energy programs, has that supremacy been challenged.

Gasoline’s 100-year reign is no fluke: It offers high energy density per pound (125,000 BTU/gallon) at low production cost, with a manageable supply infrastructure. And gas engine technology is ever-advancing.

Today’s gas engines are near zero-emission vehicles. “If I mow my lawn for one hour,” says Crane, “I’d produce more emissions than if I drove a new car from New York to Los Angeles.” So clean is Ford’s Durotech engine, for example, that it meets California’s zero-emissions standard along with the celebrated Toyota Prius hybrid.

Still, auto insiders anticipate domestic politics and continued high gas prices will force major vehicle fleet changes. Don Whitsett, of auto supplier Aisin Corp., predicts a “greater mix of fuel technologies.” But what might those technologies be?

Hybrid gas/electrics. Automakers estimate that increasing mpg targets by 40 percent, as the U.S. Senate wants, may increase costs by $5,000 per vehicle. That cost calculation is based on building more hybrid vehicles, which combine a gas engine and electric motor and have shown some promise in the U.S. market, with the advertisement of 40-percent fuel economy gains.

“Because of their two-drive system, hybrids are relatively expensive,” says Whitsett, adding that hybrid fuel economy hasn’t lived up to the hype. The EPA concedes that its mileage estimates for hybrids have been exaggerated by 25-percent. For example, under revised figures for the 2008 model year, the Prius mpg rating will drop from 56 mpg into the mid-40s. This means hybrid fuel economy will be on par with new – and much cheaper - “clean” diesel technologies on their way to the U.S.

Clean diesel. Diesels are why Aisin’s Whitsett says “hybrids are not the ultimate answer.” Using turbocharged direct-injection technology, modern diesels are significantly cleaner – and faster – than soot-belching diesels of yore. And because clean diesels are both cheaper than hybrids and 30-percent more efficient than their gas-powered peers, Whitsett believes that diesel’s U.S. moment has arrived.

Indeed, in Europe – where gas costs $7 a gallon - diesel power has captured over 50-percent of the new car market (though – attention U.S. senators - automakers are well shy of a decade-old government goal of 25-percent fuel mileage reduction).

Still, hybrid and diesel are oil products. To attain true “oil independence,” alternative energy advocates say, transportation must run on biofuels made from crops. In the U.S, that means corn-based ethanol.

Ethanol. Thanks to a loophole in fuel economy regulations that grants credits for ethanol-capable vehicles, many new U.S. models are “flex-fuel” vehicles, meaning they can run on gasoline or E85 ethanol (gas mixed with 85-percent ethanol). But at just 84,600 BTU/gallon, a gallon of ethanol goes only two-thirds as far as a gallon of gas. Ethanol also absorbs water, handicapping development of ethanol fuel’s infrastructure because it cannot be shipped by pipeline.

Sugar-based ethanol. While biofuel faces hurdles in the U.S., it boasts a 40-percent market share in Brazil thanks to state-imposed mandates, an equatorial climate, and huge sugarcane production (30-percent of world production).

Unlike the U.S., where corn must be fermented into sugar ethanol (a hugely energy intensive process that, by some estimates, consumes more fossil fuel to make than a gallon of ethanol saves), Brazilian E100 ethanol is inherently more cost-effective because it comes directly from sugar cane.

Furthermore, according to a 2005 World Bank study, Brazil subsidizes sugar ethanol by $1.20 per gallon (the U.S. corn ethanol subsidy is 51 cents), and mandates that all gas contain at least 20-percent ethanol (the U.S. mandates 5-percent). In order to make up for ethanol’s 30-percent per gallon energy deficiency, Brazil taxes a gallon of ethanol 30-percent less than gas and bans the use of diesel-powered cars.

Liquified coal. In the 1970s, coal-rich South Africa – under pressure from international anti-apartheid sanctions – made a significant state investment in coal-to-liquid gas technology. Today, the method feeds 38-percent of that nation’s transportation fuel demand.

The process has received considerable interest from the U.S. coal industry, given America’s status as the “Saudi Arabia of coal.” However, liquefied coal is expensive (a refinery costs twice that of a traditional gas refinery), and, despite their oil independence rhetoric, America’s greens and their political allies have snubbed the technology because coal is dismissed as a “dirty” energy source.

Electric cars. General Motors has been headlining international auto shows this year with the introduction of its Chevy Volt concept – a so-called “plug-in hybrid” that differs from gas/electric hybrids because only the electric motor drives the wheels (the small gas engine charges the generator). This means the Volt can travel 40 miles on electricity alone, while gas hybrids switch to the gas engine over 25 mph. But bringing the Volt to market by GM’s 2010 goal will require huge strides in lithium ion batteries, which currently catch fire or explode when the battery is under duress. Such drawbacks, obviously, are unacceptable in vehicle transportation

Ultimately, GM is designing the Volt platform to take a hydrogen fuel cell, the fuel many see as the long-term fuel solution. For now, however, hydrogen’s infrastructure costs keep its potential out of reach

At the dawn of the twentieth century, gasoline bested steam and battery power as the central source of power in transportation. Now, a century later, transportation power faces fresh challengers. But, short of massive government edicts, oil will likely remain king.

— Henry Payne is a writer and editorial cartoonist for the Detroit News.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; gas; oil; vehicle
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To: SirLinksalot
Indeed, in Europe – where gas costs $7 a gallon - diesel power has captured over 50-percent of the new car market

I just got back from a trip to the UK where I rented a diesel VW Jetta. I'm very impressed. It was smooth, fast and quiet. As nice as my wife's Infinity I30. We drove it hard for two days solid and had nearly a half tank left when we returned it. I may have to buy one, if they ship anything similar to the US (with left hand drive, of course).

21 posted on 09/28/2007 9:44:49 AM PDT by narby
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To: SirLinksalot
Re: Hybrids
Published on September 27, 2007

"When GM first announced their efforts of producing a hybrid system for their Troop Carrier class SUV’s the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon their estimates were for a modest 25 percent gain in fuel economy. After more testing it seems their modest estimates were too modest and that the real fuel savings has leapt to 50 percent. That would mean that this road behemoth would average around 21 mpg in the city; which is right there with the Camry. …Not so behemoth like."

"The complete EPA rating for the Tahoe/Yukon Hybrid will be 21 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Those may not be the same average leaps found from other hybrid models, but when you consider the gasoline variant of those SUV’s gets 10 mpg in the city that is a colossal improvement. By comparison again to the Toyota Camry that 21 mpg in the city is 2 mpg better than the Camry V6 achieves."

http://www.ridelust.com/can-the-new-gm-yukontahoe-hybrid-really-match-the-camry-in-fuel-efficiency/

22 posted on 09/28/2007 9:46:17 AM PDT by LZ_Bayonet (There's Always Something.............And there's always something worse!)
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To: Para-Ord.45
America’s greens and their political allies have snubbed the technology because coal is dismissed as a “dirty” energy source.

I don't care about greens.

Use coal. It is clean, getting cleaner, and the end result will be as clean as anything.

23 posted on 09/28/2007 9:46:57 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain And Proud of It! Those who support the troops will pray for them to WIN!)
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To: SirLinksalot

24 posted on 09/28/2007 9:47:25 AM PDT by Gator101 (Don't taze me, Bro!)
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To: NVDave

Hydrogen cumbustion (aka ICE), not Hydrogen fuel cells. More efficient, follows the popular “fuel up and drive” idea of the gas station. Already many working prototypes. Here is an article excerpt.

Hydrogen Cars:

Hydrogen cars come in two main varieties, fuel cell vehicles and internal combustion engines (ICE). Most hydrogen cars being developed today are fuel cell vehicles using proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology as these will be, by all accounts, the cars of the future.

A few of the manufacturers, however, are using hydrogen ICE technology, seeing this as an interim step between today’s gasoline or hybrid cars and tomorrow’s PEM cars.

In fact, the hydrogen race car, the BMW H2R is both the fastest hydrogen car to date and a hybrid car as well. The BMW H2R uses an ICE powered by either compressed hydrogen or gasoline.

The other hydrogen hybrid currently touring the concept market is the Mazda RX-8 with RENESIS Hydrogen Rotary Engine. The Mazda rotary engine lends itself well to hydrogen with less backfiring than traditionally converted ICE vehicles.

Here is a list of some of the hydrogen cars currently being shown off by manufacturers:

BMW H2R - has set nine international and FIA-ratified land-speed records for hydrogen cars and can use both hydrogen and gasoline with the flip of a switch.

Mazda RX-8 Renesis - rotary duel-fuel engine capable of using both hydrogen and gasoline.

General Motors Sequel - crossover H2 concept vehicle has a range of over 300 miles and will accelerate from 0 - 60 in 10 seconds.

Mercedes F600 Hygenius - H2 hydrogen crossover vehicle with emphasis on luxury for the whole family.

Mercedes F-Cell - Mercedes-Benz A-class vehicles are being used as company fleet vehicles by Deutsche Telekom and BEWAG/Vattenfall.

Ford Focus FCV - uses a Ballard 902 Fuel Cell and fleet evaluation vehicles have already been delivered to cities in the U. S., Canada and Germany.

Honda FCX - current concept car that Honda has announced will go into production in Japan in just 3 - 4 years.

Toyota Fine-S - built using some of the same technology from the Prius hybrid car.

Besides this list some of the other past hydrogen cars include GM HydroGen3, Hyundai Santa Fe FCEV, Reva Hydrogen, Toyota FCHV, Nissan Effis, Volkswagen Touran HiMotion, Toyota MTRC, Morgan LIFEcar, BOC Ech2o, Ford U Concept and H2 Hummer.

*****************


25 posted on 09/28/2007 9:49:00 AM PDT by Jack Black
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To: SirLinksalot

As a Northeast motorcyclist (Year round, at that) I can tell you that most people’s misery stems from their penchant to FLOOR IT whenever the light turns green.

The Full-Throttle SUV is connecticut’s state bird.


26 posted on 09/28/2007 9:54:26 AM PDT by Celerity
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To: Jack Black

DETROIT – With a cat-like predatory stance, forward-thinking freestyle door system and enough room for four, not two, adults to enjoy all its benefits, the Mazda RX-8 has set itself apart from the pack. But if the recently introduced RX-8 production sports car truly is unique thanks, in large part, to its rotary engine, the RX-8 Hydrogen Rotary Engine (RE) concept, showcased this year at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), takes “unique” to all new levels.

Featuring a fuel system that consists of a high-pressure hydrogen tank, the vehicle balances the needs of the driving enthusiast and the environmentalist with a blend of alternative power and the exhilarating driving experience for which Mazda is known.

As the auto industry turns its attention to hydrogen fuel as a gasoline alternative, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE offers a hydrogen-powered version of RENESIS—Mazda’s next generation rotary engine that was introduced last year in the all-new RX-8. By virtue of its smooth performance, compact size and impressive driving characteristics, RENESIS was named International Engine of the Year in June 2003.

The RENESIS Hydrogen RE allows the RX-8 concept to run on either hydrogen fuel or gasoline and capitalizes on all the advantages of the rotary to assure RX-8’s ease-of-operation and reliability.

The RENESIS Hydrogen RE incorporates an electronically controlled hydrogen injector system, with the hydrogen injected in a gaseous state. The system draws air from the side port during the intake cycle and uses dual hydrogen injectors in each of the engine’s twin rotor housings to directly inject hydrogen into the intake chambers.

Because it offers separate chambers for intake and combustion, the rotary engine is ideal for burning hydrogen without the backfiring that can occur in a traditional piston engine. The separate induction chamber also provides a safer temperature for fitting the dual hydrogen injectors with their rubber seals, which are susceptible to the high temperatures encountered in a conventional reciprocating piston engine.

Also helping to maximize the benefits of the rotary engine in hydrogen combustion mode, the RENESIS Hydrogen RE features adequate space for the installation of two injectors per intake chamber. Because hydrogen has an extremely low density, a much greater injection volume is required compared with gasoline, thus demanding the use of more than one injector. Typically, this can be difficult to achieve with a conventional reciprocating piston engine because of the structural constraints that prevent mounting injectors in the combustion chamber. However, with its twin hydrogen injectors, the RENESIS Hydrogen RE is both practical and able to deliver sufficient power.

In addition to the revolutionary hydrogen-powered RENESIS rotary engine, the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE concept benefits from improved aerodynamics and optimized tires and weight-saving measures. A fast-fill tandem master cylinder reduces brake drag and friction hub carriers help cut power losses.


27 posted on 09/28/2007 9:54:32 AM PDT by Jack Black
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To: SirLinksalot

Commercial Hemp!


28 posted on 09/28/2007 10:00:10 AM PDT by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: Para-Ord.45

You don’t have to beat the BTU/gallon ratio .... you have to be the cost per BTU/gallon ratio.


29 posted on 09/28/2007 10:02:43 AM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: Para-Ord.45
The energy content of diesel fuel is defined by the amount of energy stored in one gallon. The higher the fuel's heat of combustion, the more power will be derived from each gallon of fuel consumed. Energy content is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU) per gallon and is related to the fuel's specific gravity and the temperature range at which it vaporizes. The BTU content per unit volume increases as the specific gravity increases. The BTU content of a unit volume (gallon or liter) of diesel fuel is higher than that of gasoline, and the BTU content of No. 2-D diesel fuel is generally higher than that of No.1-D diesel fuel. The BTU content of No. 2-D diesel fuel is typically about 130,000 BTU/Gal.
30 posted on 09/28/2007 10:04:10 AM PDT by Red Badger (ALL that CARBON in ALL that oil & coal was once in the atmosphere. We're just putting it back!)
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To: narby

Jetta TDI diesels have been selling (the most efficient auto) in the USA for years until 2007. They’ll be back in ‘08 with a CRD (common rail). One of the most under told stories in the usa. Son’s got an ‘03, I’ve got an ‘05. Tiny engine easy to work on as well. Clubs across the US adore this little dollar saver.
see http://www.tdiclub.com
for more


31 posted on 09/28/2007 10:04:23 AM PDT by CRBDeuce (an armed society is a polite society)
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To: SirLinksalot

The article did not even mention using compressed natural gas or methane gas as an alternative.


32 posted on 09/28/2007 10:09:24 AM PDT by TexasRepublic (Afghan protest - "Death to Dog Washers!")
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To: SirLinksalot

One overlooked key to the whole thing is weight. Typical small cars in 1967 weighed 2000 lbs or less; today that’s more like 2600. A reasonable future for American technology should look increasingly like carbonfibre and other advanced materials, and decreasingly like steel.


33 posted on 09/28/2007 10:10:44 AM PDT by damondonion
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To: Jack Black

All very good, but it still doesn’t change the fact that in both fuel cells and hydrogen ICE’s, the result is H2O at the tailpipe, and given that water vapor is responsible for about 70% of all greenhouse effects, it will still come as a proctological inconvenience to the AGW hysterics.

The exact type of hydrogen combustion aside, there still remains the fact that hydrogen is not a viable fuel, because there exists no source of free H2 in nature. We have to manufacture H2 from something else, which (if we’re not using reformers and liberating H2 from CH4), require copious amounts of energy. Therefore, in the environmentalist nirvana, H2 becomes a lossy energy transfer mechanism, not a fuel.

H2 powered cars are the most recent incarnation of the same idea that spawned the battery-powered “zero emissions cars” of the 90’s: a hugely expensive and futile distraction.


34 posted on 09/28/2007 10:14:11 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: Jack Black

All very good, but it still doesn’t change the fact that in both fuel cells and hydrogen ICE’s, the result is H2O at the tailpipe, and given that water vapor is responsible for about 70% of all greenhouse effects, it will still come as a proctological inconvenience to the AGW hysterics.

The exact type of hydrogen combustion aside, there still remains the fact that hydrogen is not a viable fuel, because there exists no source of free H2 in nature. We have to manufacture H2 from something else, which (if we’re not using reformers and liberating H2 from CH4), require copious amounts of energy. Therefore, in the environmentalist nirvana, H2 becomes a lossy energy transfer mechanism, not a fuel.

H2 powered cars are the most recent incarnation of the same idea that spawned the battery-powered “zero emissions cars” of the 90’s: a hugely expensive and futile distraction.


35 posted on 09/28/2007 10:14:41 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: Slapshot68

“facts....like kryptonite to libs...”

mainly, because they march in lockstep like the good little nazis that they are. the more of them that bow to the lies, the more they gain inroads into policy decisions and “running” everything for “the children”. (their objective is power....nothing else.)


36 posted on 09/28/2007 10:19:58 AM PDT by ripley
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To: Revolting cat!

Horses produce methane gas...very bad for the environment.


37 posted on 09/28/2007 10:27:46 AM PDT by BubbaBobTX (I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.)
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To: SirLinksalot

Algae biomass....once cost and yields are changed.


38 posted on 09/28/2007 10:28:38 AM PDT by Rick_Michael (The Anti-Federalists failed....so will the Anti-Frederalists)
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To: SirLinksalot

bmflr


39 posted on 09/28/2007 10:34:11 AM PDT by Kevmo (We should withdraw from Iraq via Tehran. And Duncan Hunter is just the man to get that job done.)
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To: SirLinksalot

We must learn to harness the power of man.

40 posted on 09/28/2007 10:35:34 AM PDT by rlmorel (Liberals: If the Truth would help them, they would use it.)
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