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Old 17th May 2011, 23:28   #31
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Default re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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For starters you can try this.

thanks, but I was looking for recent developments, not a small write up on basics
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Old 18th May 2011, 00:01   #32
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Very informative discussions.

I feel that Hydrogen, Biofuel, All Electric technologies will be fringe technologies in the foreseeable future because of their own economics when compared to commercial feasibility of shale gas (methane or CNG). US and Russia has enough shale gas deposits to run all their power needs for next couple of centuries. Even recent discoveries in Chota Nagpur Plateau promises several hundred times of KGD6 reserves. As we know CNG conversion is one of the most simplest things to impliment in terms of scale, economics and cost.

If the question comes where all these shale gas deposits were hidden all this while, the answer is that deposits were known. The technology of lifting methane from shale deposits is very new. It involves specialized drilling and fracking fluid deployment which has some environmental concerns, but that can be taken care of; since the world's hunger for a cheap fuel is far higher.

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Old 18th May 2011, 00:11   #33
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Default re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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I read somewhere that the technology had major problems. The range was insufficient and air pressure wouldn't maintain itself.
That's what I meant when I said they are still stuck in R&D. They do have some working prototypes and Luxembourg has certified the vehicle for use.

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For a hybrid it may work (regenerative braking etc. - without and electric powertrain) but I don't know the size/weight of this so don't know whether hybrid is viable.
As long as the technology is mature and the products work and proven to be stable, it would be easy to find applications. Say for example the airpod can only run a max. of 40 miles with a top speed of 30 mph. Then in the "environment friendly" Europe (and possibly all over the world) all golf carts would be made with this Technology. But it seems like the Technology is still not mature.
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Old 18th May 2011, 08:34   #34
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Default re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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Very informative discussions.

I feel that Hydrogen, Biofuel, All Electric technologies will be fringe technologies in the foreseeable future because of their own economics when compared to commercial feasibility of shale gas (methane or CNG). US and Russia has enough shale gas deposits to run all their power needs for next couple of centuries. Ed fracking fluid deployment which has some environmental concerns, but that can be taken care of; since the world's hunger for a cheap fuel is far higher.
As things stand today, your line of thought seems credible. The politico-economic power structure is indeed weighed in towards the ICE block powered vehicles.

The wildcard here is the issue of global warming and the catastrophe it has the potential to unleash. The controversy surrounding research in this area has not helped the cause of greentech. If indeed it can be scientifically proved beyond reasonable doubt, that global warning has the potential to cause a catastrophe of the proportions as is being suggested by some greenies, then irrespective of all other factors including availability of fossil fuel supplies/reserves(in whatever form) the future prospects of ICE blocks is not so assured. Why? There will be punitive taxes on combustion based power sources for vehicles if not an outright prohibition .

The other factor that most people are not willing to consider/aware of, is China. The fiscal impetus being provided to greentech in China is very substantial. At the end of the day it is all about the economies of scale and costs. If courtesy the expansion in universe of EVs' in China, costs (purchase/conversion and operating) of the non-ice vehicles/EVs' can be driven down to levels where they have a fighting chance to compete with ICE powered vehicles, then the relative disadvantages which they are perceived to suffer from will also not be perceived as negatively.

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Old 18th May 2011, 10:14   #35
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Default re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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thanks, but I was looking for recent developments, not a small write up on basics
Recent in this case would mean ~2007, as things kind of stalled after that. However, you can check Honda's website / articles for recent developments, as they are the keenest on the technology. The archives of Daimler would help you get directions too.
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Old 18th May 2011, 17:34   #36
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Default re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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The wildcard here is the issue of global warming and the catastrophe it has the potential to unleash.
I agree with what you wrote.

However CNG is cleaner than burning heavier hydrocarbons like petrol or diesel.

Moreover to make electric or solar vehicles we need to burn energy to make batteries, solar cells etc. Further, for recharging we need to have adequate power sources which comes mostly comes and will continue to come from thermal power plants. Lets say alternate energy sources like wind and solar becomes a significant contributor to the grid, still one needs to burn energy to make solar cells and windmills. Small costs, but costs nevertheless. So if someone does mass/energy balance, it doesnt not look too rosy, as much as greenies tries to convince everyone.
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Old 20th May 2011, 00:16   #37
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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Moreover to make electric or solar vehicles we need to burn energy to make batteries, solar cells etc. Further, for recharging we need to have adequate power sources which comes mostly comes and will continue to come from thermal power plants. Lets say alternate energy sources like wind and solar becomes a significant contributor to the grid, still one needs to burn energy to make solar cells and windmills. Small costs, but costs nevertheless. So if someone does mass/energy balance, it doesnt not look too rosy, as much as greenies tries to convince everyone.
I think it's a very relevant question you hint at. Is the energy spent / pollution created in making electric cars and components like batteries less than the energy spent / pollution created by your average petrol / diesel car? There is for example the debate sparked off by an editorial written by a college student claiming that it is for environmentally damaging for Toyota to make their hybrid car Prius than it is to make a hummer. The debate continues.

So I think it is a great thing to ask this question. One should not take things that are thrust on us as being "environmentally friendly" for granted. ( A lot of bull**** is actuallly shoved down our throats in the name of 'going green'). We should always questions. But we should be extremely careful in answering them. Honestly, I haven't seen too many convincing scientific articles on either side of the debate.

But my very very very layman guess is that electric cars would be a better choice than our present fossil fuel based vehicles because:
  1. The cars themselves don't release pollutants - this makes at least the local area clean form air pollution.
  2. Electric cars are relatively silent - let's not forget about noise pollution.
  3. If all / the vast majority of the cars in the world are electric it makes the problems (and thereby the corresponding solutions) centralized and enables the scientific community to concentrate on R&D on improving energy sources for generating electricity and making electricity transmission more efficient.
  4. Vehicles would be safer - no cars blowing up! (though this may make 15 Fast 15 furious a dull movie).
  5. Vehicles would be easily upgradeable as far as batteries are concerned. So like improving your RAM in your computer, you may be able to upgrade your car's range etc.
  6. Chances are that cost of operating an electric vehicles per km would be less than the petrol / diesel counterparts.

So it's not that electric cars don't have environmental costs - but they are much more reduced and manageable. And of course electric vehicles come with their own set of limitations and challenges (time taken to recharge a battery, need to setup an infrastructure of charge stations, being dependent on the likes of BSES etc. - imagine not showing up for work because there was a 6 hour power cut the previous night!).
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Old 20th May 2011, 00:31   #38
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

Sir, you make some excellent points, some of my points below:

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Originally Posted by vebmetal View Post
...
  1. The cars themselves don't release pollutants - this makes at least the local area clean form air pollution.
  2. Electric cars are relatively silent - let's not forget about noise pollution.
  3. If all / the vast majority of the cars in the world are electric it makes the problems (and thereby the corresponding solutions) centralized and enables the scientific community to concentrate on R&D on improving energy sources for generating electricity and making electricity transmission more efficient.
This is in fact related to your point number 1. With today's state of art electricity generation (even from fossil fuels) is more efficient then any car
  1. Vehicles would be safer - no cars blowing up! (though this may make 15 Fast 15 furious a dull movie).
May be not. Li-ion batteries (and any high energy density battery in future) can cause very nasty fires.
  1. Vehicles would be easily upgradeable as far as batteries are concerned. So like improving your RAM in your computer, you may be able to upgrade your car's range etc.
In fact in Israel there is a company that "swaps" your discharged battery with recharged one - you never buy a battery you rent it, and this way there is "zero charging time"
  1. Chances are that cost of operating an electric vehicles per km would be less than the petrol / diesel counterparts.
...
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Old 20th May 2011, 01:43   #39
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

Our talk about pollution is fine, but all of us (or maybe most of us) look at owning a vehicle from a cost perspective. Unless environmental loss is accounted for in the cost of the vehicle, it seems a far cry that anyone will switch from Petrol/diesel to any alternative fuel. Any alternative fuel will only be accepted by the end consumer once its production is consistent, availability is abundant and price is at par if not lower than the petroleum products these days(highly unlikely for atleast the next 10 years) provided new oil reserves are not discovered.

Then again in electric vehicles, there is a huge environmental cost in producing Li batteries. Not to mention that there are not enough Li reserves available to fulfill the need for all vehicles in this world. Further, recycling is not 100% efficient. Hence we need a new technology/material for storing electric energy.

Electricity in itself is not green as there is severe environmental loss in hydro and coal powered power plants the two main sources of energy. Hydrogen has its share of problems in production & storage. Bio Fuels puts the pressure on more essential commodities thus worsening the situation. Solar powered will never work as a vehicle is needed to work during any time of the day for as long as the customer wants. and what about people living near the poles, what would they do when the sun is not shining for months?

In the end the laws of economics come into play.

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Old 20th May 2011, 20:51   #40
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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I am also aware of a similar technology. RIL looked at it, had a couple of lectures and went to sleep. You can also make Carnuba quality wax!

I suspect the Alcohol fuelled buses in Reykjavik are a pointer. They use Alcohol for the fuel cells. FCs require Hydrogen so must have some catalyst in the cell itself to crack it. I have post the article. I think the buses went into service around 2004.

Not alternate fuels, but I also see a lot of promise in the jaguar concept of a Turbine / Electric Hybrid. A turbine is more efficient and has far higher power to weight ratio than and IC engine.
Not sure how many people have seen the top gear episode where James May drives a hydrogen powered Honda Clarity. Apart from all the tom foolery one thing that stood out was a comment from Jeremy Clarkson that said that even with drilling ocean floors, transporting tonnes of oil around the world and refining it in a nearly trillion dollar refinery infrastructure we did alright. Getting hydrogen to work is not much more difficult than that.

I feel that even if hydrogen is not commercially viable at current oil prices it is a distinct possibility that prices of hydrogen energy might just become feasible within next 10 years, keeping in mind advancement in hydrogen technology.

I can't find the link to an article that promoted hydrogen energy that mentioned that right now we shouldn't be looking at hydrogen availability at earth level only. Within next 40-50 years mining on solar scale might be a distinct possibility even with leading space agencies scaling back exploratory missions (Energy companies might lead the way with them).

PS: I have paraphrased Clarkson... not the most team-bhp friendly linguist that guy.
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Old 20th May 2011, 20:59   #41
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

The choice between vehicles powered by ICE blocks and EVs' is to be decided using the criteria of which is the lesser of the two evils. All manufacturing activity has an environmental cost - period. Now the issue is are the pollutants released at the tailpipe more than the pollutants released at the stage of electric generation at the grid level. That is the choice.

Secondly let us not forget irrespective of new claims/technologies being claimed to be found on the fossil fuel front, there is a cost/impact of burning fossil fuels. Global warming has not been caused by the motoring community ONLY. However there is an impact attributable to vehicle usage, that's undeniable. Sooner than later costs will be imposed via surcharges/taxes all over the world.

Allow me to vent a bit. For those who are not willing to accept the idea of global warming and automotive pollution, I suggest you come down to Delhi. Forget scientific studies and all that jazz, the damn city is a god forsaken inferno. There was a time in about 1983 ,if I am not mistaken ,I had to go to a place called Paschim Vihar (Delhiites will know this place) from south Delhi. The place was desolate, not a soul to be seen leave alone a motorcar. Fast forward to today, I had the misfortune of driving 42 kilometres to the far end of Rohini because my daughter's law entrance exam's centre is there. All the way going there and back, roads were chock a block with vehicles. Is this progress? Sure! Does it have a cost? Yes. The cost is also environmental and the price will have to be paid. So even if one incurs the risk of being ridiculed as a jholawala types ( DU campus folks will know what I am talking about) , alternatives to the current source of power in vehicles will come to roost most likely by compulsion as we humans are victims of inertia and change is always looked at as a bitter pill.

Now let me make the bitter pill sweeter. . Look at the following link. This gentleman has converted his Passat to an EV. The Electric Passat . Why am I posting this? Just so folks realise EVs' are fun not just boring environmental point A to point B commuters. Hell an EV contraption even beat a super car from one of the revered names. I will have to find the link , If I do I will post it.
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Old 20th May 2011, 21:15   #42
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

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Then again in electric vehicles, there is a huge environmental cost in producing Li batteries. Not to mention that there are not enough Li reserves available to fulfill the need for all vehicles in this world. r as long as the customer wants. and what about people living near the poles, what would they do when the sun is not shining for months?

In the end the laws of economics come into play.

Li reserves are available. Some mines are not being allowed due to mining restrictions. Then there is the issue of ore not being of a high purity, but it is available. Also Li is not the end all and be all for non polluting (rather Less Polluting) vehicles. One of the oil majors , if I am not mistaken, Chevron is sitting on NiMH technology that they are refusing to bring to market. New battery chemistries are also being worked on. Battery Chemistries. Also please note as one contributor to this thread pointed out Fuel cells are also a possible viable alternative.
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Old 20th May 2011, 22:37   #43
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Default Re: Alternate Fuels - Any Major Technologies?

a classy cycle at you office, would be good for health wealth environment and your pocket,think again, have a cycle at your office or home use it to take it to near by kiranawala for buying milk and other household durables, etc, it works, you feel great and happy, buy a trek firefox or canondayle now even if you do not use it, after few years your kids can, so what a futuristic thinking.
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Old 21st May 2011, 01:27   #44
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Li reserves are available. Some mines are not being allowed due to mining restrictions. Then there is the issue of ore not being of a high purity, but it is available. Also Li is not the end all and be all for non polluting (rather Less Polluting) vehicles. One of the oil majors , if I am not mistaken, Chevron is sitting on NiMH technology that they are refusing to bring to market. New battery chemistries are also being worked on. Battery Chemistries. Also please note as one contributor to this thread pointed out Fuel cells are also a possible viable alternative.
Mining restrictions are there for environmental concerns only If the purity is not high, it simply means more area needs to be mined to get required quantity of Li.
and yes i was also saying the same thing that new development needs to be done to improve the present energy storage technology and NiMH is still far from it. Fuel cell again is fine but there is big problem in terms of storage and production.
Please read my post
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Old 21st May 2011, 14:00   #45
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Li reserves are available. Some mines are not being allowed due to mining restrictions.
I am happy you brought out this dimension of the EV equation. Here's some food for thought:

China has the biggest Li reserves in the world. They have total control over the entire value chain of that Li. The Chinese have publicly announced that they are way too behind the western counterparts to develop / improve ICE technology and so they aim to become the world leaders in electric powertrain.

Can you see the focus and the strategy?
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