To start off with I own two cars. One car vehicle is very very fuel efficient, but the other car is the following:
My Jeep Wrangler is not fuel efficient, rides like a go cart, has horrible highway noise, and is not that comfortable to sit in. But when I was driving it in the South of France, and in Quebec this car was a godsend. I could drive over things, up mountains, go through a foot of snow, and turn in very very tight corners.
Making the Case On Why Electrical Vehicles That Use Batteries Will Not Work
So with the introduction of an all electric RAV4 I should be excited as I can have my 4×4 and be green. But NO, I just look at this car and think nice idea, but not ready for the prime time. When I lived in the South of France I did four wheeling in the following referenced area. The area does not look like much, but look at the area using Google Earth. This area is VERY VERY hilly… An electrical vehicle that uses batteries as its energy source has physics against it.
It is simple physics that calculates the amount of energy required when going up an incline.
The equation depends entirely on the distance that the entity has to go vertically. This is called the energy required to overcome gravity. When you drive on a horizontal surface you only need to overcome air and road resistance. Going up a hill you have air, road, and gravity. Gravity is the problem and you see how much energy is required by the following picture.
The space shuttle is tiny when compared to the rockets (which are mostly fuel) needed to power the space shuttle into space. If NASA could get away with less they would have a very long time ago. My point is that you can’t avoid gravity! It is simple physics.
This is why cars that use gasoline and combustion motors are the most efficient machine. For if you were to have the same performance for a 4×4 that goes up a hill it would need more batteries, which results in more weight, and thus needed more batteries!
What is the Alternative?
First off, we have lots of fuel, just not the cheap stuff that we are used to. But I think what will be the deathblow to battery powered electrical vehicles is the following technology:
The video is in Swiss German, but it talks to the researcher who created in conjunction with Paul Scherrer Institute the solar reactor. What was interesting in the video is that any, and I repeat any, fuel (gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, etc) can be created. In another article they expect to have their first industrial installation by 2020. That is only 9 years away! Not some pie in the sky future thing here.
What this Alternative Means
Step back as I have and think about the ramification. Solar energy, which is nearly limitless used in conjunction with CO2, also nearly limitless since we exhale it everyday allows us to create any type of fuel! I would say that this is as close to free energy as it gets. Sure with too much fuel production we might have global cooling, but the point is that we can drive our Hummer and be green! It will fundamentally change the way we perceive energy consumption.
This alternative also means something more importantly, namely energy security. Since every country on this planet gets sun it is possible that every country can be energy secure. It means that wind farms will become unnecessary, and geothermal will look silly. It means we just need the sun.
More importantly it means we don’t need to change our infrastructure one iota. We don’t need to rely on certain countries for rare earth minerals. We don’t have to worry about whether the electrical grid will collapse.We don’t need all of those toxic batteries.
The reason why I am very very interested in this technology is that all of these rare earth and green technologies will become obsolete. Of course you say, “but wait Christian we are talking about 2020.” Sure, but when are most of these rare earth mines coming online? 2013, 2015? They will have a maximum life of maybe 10 years?
Right now I am thinking that all of these electrical vehicles will become novelties, and not get anywhere. I can drive my Jeep without any guilt, and I can heat my house with oil. In other words I need to make zero changes to my lifestyle. So what do you think wins? Global warming that relies on technology and certain countries that are not quite ready? Or a technology that consumes CO2 safely and lets me make zero changes to my lifestyle? Answer, the zero lifestyle change.