Future Transport: Electric, Hybrid, Hydrogen or Bio?

In 2020 the number of cars in the world is expected to reach 1.1 billion, based on the current annual increase. For years the buzz has been about what will replace the petrol/diesel engine in the future. What will finally condemn them to history in this increasingly environmentally conscious world?

For many our current vehicles will be replaced with electric cars, and there are already some models on the market. Some experts believe the future lies in hydrogen-powered cars, which are infinitely cleaner. There are people who swear by bio-fuels and the hybrid, but what is the most realistic alternative?

In my opinion, electric cars are a non-starter for several reasons. Firstly, they do not have the range and sustainable speed of the current power plants, and the battery banks are large, heavy, expensive to manufacture and dispose of. World-wide, the national power grids could not hope to handle the huge demands made upon them by a billion cars that require regular battery charges. Imagine any country, where millions of electric cars would be plugged into the mains supply every night to charge the batteries for the following day. There isn’t a national system in the world that could cope with such a demand. It would require massive investment in new power stations all over the world, which in turn would cause more pollution. It is fairly certain that to minimise any environmental impact they would all need to be nuclear, which then provides a massive headache and poses the problem of what to do with huge amounts of spent nuclear fuel rods. No, I think our attention should not be distracted to this non-starter.

Many believe in hybrid cars where the vehicle has both petrol and electric power and doesn’t need an external electrical supply. This would go a long way to reducing the environmental emissions for a while, but it would not get rid of them. There are claims by the manufacturers that a 40/60% saving on petrol consumption is possible. These vehicles are still dogged by the battery manufacture and disposal problems mentioned earlier. They are not the answer, but could be a stop-gap until a real alternative comes along.

Another major commodity in the equation is hydrogen power, but this too has its drawbacks. It is clean, easy to produce and its only emission is water, but, it is highly explosive. When mixed with air, the result is a highly inflammable gas and when heated, say in an accident where the vehicle catches fire, the result is a major explosion. These traits do not really make it a safe candidate to replace the petrol/diesel engine either.

Bio-fuels have oft been quoted as an alternative, but they too are not practical. There are already areas of the world where a shortage of many crops exists because farmers have turned over their land to growing the plants required for bio-fuels. No, bio-fuels as a replacement would mean many having to choose between keeping the car on the road or eating.

There is however one alternative that is cheap to run, has no effect on the environment, and any and all waste is extremely good for the roses. The horse!

Whichever way it goes, not much will happen for a long time to come because most of the patents for alternative power sources seem to be owned by the petrol companies, and they are not likely to want to see advancement in this field until the oil runs out.

May your journeys be short, and safe!

Roy.

One Response to “Future Transport: Electric, Hybrid, Hydrogen or Bio?”

  1. Quality Information Thanks!

    I have bookmarked your site, if you get a chance please take a look at our site http://www.bio-partners.co.uk there is some more information you may find useful in our members area!

    Warm Regards,

    Dougie

    Like

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