The story is a little old, but it was new to me and I figured many people here would also be interested.
The presentation is by Mr. Rutan, famous aviator and aerospace engineer. Here’s an overview. The full PPT presentation isn’t without flaws, but using longer term temperature and CO2 data, it shows how the presentation that Vice President Gore and other we’re all gonna die people has been selected for effect.
So, we are finally shown the new Chevy Volt last week. The key differences between it and all the prior cars are:
- electric drive train
- charging is performed by
- power outlet in your home
- on-board gasoline engine (1.6L turbo)
Why is this smart?
- The on-board charging method can be swapped out later with different technologies like solar, hydrogen, CNG, whatever.
- Electric motors have extremely long timetimes; basically, they don’t break and don’t require any maintenance
- Short trips are 100% electric
- The look of the Volt is nice, unlike other competitors. The Opal/Saturn version is interesting too. Opal uses a turbo diesel engine for charging.
I’ve written previously on car, home and hydrogen power solutions … a few times:
Total Home, Car Energy Components:
- Highly insulated home – being half buried in the side of a hill would really help with insulation. R-38 roof; R-21 walls ; Zero Energy Home is interesting.
- Efficient lighting and appliances
- Solar Panels (5kW for an average home) Boston, MA home
- Solar Power Controller (when all batteries and hydrogen tanks are full, push excess energy onto the electric grid for others
- Heat pump with ground source heating/cooling; sometimes called horizontal loop geothermal heat pump system
- Hydrogen Generation System – car and portable needs
- Power Inverter for AC power
- Hydrogen Storage System – a tankful for the car + 7 days worth for the household energy needs
- Electric/Hydrogen Car – ideally, most trips don’t touch any H2, just electric power is used.
- Car Power Charger
As an engineer, I’ve always been interested in efficient energy use. As gasoline prices increase more and more, I’ve become more interested in efficient automobiles. Between household and auto energy needs, and each of us trying to reduce our C02 footprint, it is clear to me that local energy generation is the only answer.
What do I mean by local energy generation?
- Within our house lots, each of us should create, store and convert whatever energy is needed for our homes, A/C, appliances, heating, hot water, and most importantly automobiles for daily use.
- there are exceptions where external energy needs to be provided, but generally we should each take responsibility for our energy needs locally.
- With local generation, there is no ‘’one solution for everyone’’. It depends on what energy is easiest to create locally.
Some things are assumed:
- natural gas will be used for central heating, unless another alternative becomes more efficient or is a common by-product of another necessary process.
- natural gas will be used for water heating, unless another alternative becomes more efficient or is a common by-product of another necessary process.
- wind energy isn’t a viable solution – I happen to live in the SE USA. Not much wind here.
- hybrid automobile is required – electric + hydrogen
- hydrogen must be produced locally (either convert natural gas or from electrolysis) from renewable energy sources.
- potable water is available
Ok, let’s lay out the solution:
- Solar energy and batteries are used for household energy needs [[THCE Solar House]]
- electric + hydrogen hybrid cars are needed [[THCE e + H2 Car]]
- Batteries and/or converted hydrogen will be used for non-solar power generation [[THCE Batteries]]
- Hydrogen will be used for portable energy needs, local storage is needed. [[THCE H2]]
See the [[THCE Components]].
A few months ago, I wrote in my [[Thoughts On Energy]] that locally created hydrogen would be needed to convert cars from gasoline to hydrogen, even for commuter-only cars. Seems I wasn’t the first to have this idea. A few articles:
- honda home energy station
- NY Times Article
- Business Week Article
The short version is they take natural gas in and provide these outputs:
- hydrogen for the car ($600/month lease)
- hot water for the house
- electricity for a normal house (4+kW)
Overall, about 30% less carbon is released than a normal house, water heater and car would require. C|Net did a very short story on this. I’d really like to see the natural gas not be the main method of conversion … perhaps solar panels & H2O could be inputs instead?
My only remaining question? Where to I sign up and how much does it cost? Sadly, the Honda FCX isn’t available where I live.
Toyota has a FCHV, but their trials seem limited to Japan.
What are US car makers doing?
Here’s a guy who decided to use Solar and Hydrogen similar to the way I suggested a few months ago.
Being elected President of the USA is serious, not a popularity contest like in High School. This seal reminds me of the honor required for this government office, in particular.
- Taxation – [[Fair Tax]]
- War on Terrorism – how do you negotiate with people that want you dead? You don’t.
- [[Term Limits|TermLimits]]
- Energy Policy – [[Thoughts On Energy]] Ethanol is a waste; Coal, Solar, Wind with government incentives; why isn’t drilling happening in ANWR, Alaska? Popular Mechanics Article
- [[Campaign Contributions]] – if you can’t vote in an election, then you shouldn’t be allowed to give money
- Health Care – More competition; posted costs for all work; less government interference; shopping across state lines and small biz/individuals placed into the same insurance "Group" so they don’t get screwed by insurance rates.
- Immigration – Fair is fair; no reward for breaking laws
[[Thoughts on Immigration]]
*[[Shortage of HiTech Workers in USA?]]
**[[Saxby Update on Immigration August 2007]]
- [[Education]] – School Choice
- Abortion – ProLife/ProChoice
- Tort Reform – loser pays to prevent lawsuit abuse
Ok, we all need energy. We need it for our homes, computers, refrigeration, radios … normal household items. We need it for our cars, our businesses, to pump water, to mow our yards and just to have fun. Basically we either need energy at a static place OR a type of energy we can take with us, portable energy. Energy is either kinetic or potential; moving or something that can be moved.
Fossil fuels are good because they are portable and we have 100+ years of experience handling them, but there are negatives. Agreed?
For simplicity, let’s ponder just on home and car energy needs. If we can create a plan that solves those two energy types, most of the other energy problems can probably be solved.
For your house, we use solar, geothermal and wind power to create electricity. On sunny or really windy days when excess power is created, that excess power is used to convert hydrogen monoxide, water, H~2~~O into hydrogen and excess oxygen. The hydrogen is stored in containers in your garage for "other uses." If your solar panels leave room for water heating panels, use them to heat your water for bathing, washing, AND heating your home during cold periods. Today, solar and wind probably can’t fully support your total energy needs, but even 20-50% would make a huge difference if most of us did it. Higher efficiency solar panels are on the way, but you still need a way to have power at night and on cloudy days that last weeks, so plug into the power grid anyway. Geothermal power isn’t an option for most folks, unless they happen to live near geysers. This energy is all about having a thermal gradient that can be leveraged to heat and cool some type of liquid. In most states, the power company has to pay you for excess power.
For your car, we need a portable power solution and works at night, for over 300 miles of travel, and can be replenished along the way in 5 minutes or less. Your house will create hydrogen for this portable power need. The fuel cell in your car can work, just like the Space Shuttle uses. A car with 300-500 miles per tank is needed with performance similar to cars in use today. If you like, an electric car can also work, but battery power cars generally can’t have air conditioners too and need 4+ hours to recharge. Electric cars today have a 30 mile range except a few models with 60 mile ranges.
Sound too simple? It is. there are lots of problems. Solar cells are only about 20% efficient and are very expensive. Recently there have been headlines for new solar cell technology with 40% efficiency. Great, when can I buy them? I propose a requirement that wealthy homeowners building new homes worth, say, over $700K (inflation adjusted), be required to install solar panels on the roof. This will cause many benefits beyond local power generation. As there is more demand for solar cells, greater efficiency in production and in the cells themselves will occur bringing the price down for everyone. Also, these larger houses require more energy just to exist, so think of this as a way for the wealthy to pay back on their overuse in a small way. Over the long term, their homes will actually cost less to run thanks to this surcharge. Al Gore, are you listening ?
Hydrogen created from anything other than solar or geothermal or wind power or some other non-carbon creating renewal energy source isn’t very smart. That’s a mouthful. Hydrogen, H~2~~, appears in nature, but only rarely and never in the quantities we’d require to drive cars.
The US Government should sponsor an X-Prize -like contest for the first solar cell with 85% efficiency and a 50 year lifespan installed in over (500) 2000 sq ft homes, say the prize is $30M US. That provides a highly efficient, reproducible, manufacture-ready solution for everyone and it creates a buzz in the industry.
Cars and hydrogen power? Why? Purely electric cars don’t have the distance needed for most households and can’t be recharged in less than 5 minutes. Hydrogen cars can. The key to hydrogen cars is local generation using electrolysis, storing the hydrogen and having water available. Storing hydrogen is fairly difficult – it is the smallest atom and slowly escapes from all containers. This means some kind of chemical storage device is needed – something like a sponge for hydrogen that will easily release it. Perhaps another Auto X-Prize is needed? The other key is to have these hydrogen generation at every house and business. Basically, if there is electricity, there ought to be a hydrogen power plant. Decentralization, that’s the key.
So you have some items to think about. Can it be done? Certainly. Popular Mechanics
Lastly, ethanol from corn is just crazy! It takes almost as much energy to create (need 1 acre of corn to power the tractor used to farm the 1.24 acres corn) than you get back from the ethanol. Stupid, stupid, stupid . Why bother? This is anti-GREEN. Just because you aren’t causing the CO~2~~ to be released, doesn’t mean someone else in the chain is. The only way using ethanol makes sense is if it can be created using either solar or wind, 100% renewable energy sources.
Article on Well to Wheel efficiencies. The total cost of getting the fuel from the ground and making a wheel turn are calculated. This article confirmed what I knew intuitively – we must use solar or wind energy to create hydrogen, converting other fuels into hydrogen is too lossy to consider.
Ok, so let’s agree all this can be done. Who might want to stop this? Well, who has the most to lose or would need to change the most for local power generation and non-petroleum power? We all need to watch those industries carefully to ensure they don’t stop the changes. We need to convince these companies to change – and risk the change – into creating we need for local power generation and support the early adopters. Governments should also take bold steps to encourage risk takers in these areas. Just look at what Germany has done for electrical power already.