Friday, June 20, 2008

Vehicle idea of the future

Vehicle idea of the future
Al Ritter

Because of my background as an ASE certified mechanic for the first half of my life, and my continued hobby of cars and racing, people ask my opinion of where I think cars of the future are headed.

There is NO question that gasoline powered vehicles are becoming dinosaurs and rather quickly. The carbon-based fuel creates pollution, and to be honest doesn’t yield much energy vs. its quantity. Ethanol MIGHT be a transitional fuel additive, but not from corn as your government might want you to believe. The government program to use corn alcohol has to end and end now.

The government has subsidized corn ethanol production through oil company taxes, and what a poorly thought out program it has been. Any car racer knows that it takes twice the amount of alcohol to produce the same power as the same quantity as gasoline, making it not only inefficient but the nasty side effect has been more pollution.

When compared to other plant lifes as a possible source for the production of ethanol corn fails miserably. The yield per acre of ethanol for corn is one of the lowest of all plant forms. Saw grass is one of the most productive for alcohol production, eclipsing corn by close to 10 times, without causing food shortages! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. I view ethanol and the normal hybrids being produced today, as being “transitional” vehicle forms.

I don’t say this lightly, each have their respective drawbacks. Hybrids you say? Yes hybrids with the technology available today are transitional, because they burn gasoline to power an electric motor (somewhat more efficient then a regular car, but not the answer for the future.) Alcohol in its present form isn’t the most refined form of fuel either, contaminants are common in ethanol, and another nasty byproduct is a corrosive element to it. This might not be so much of a problem for carbureted engines, but we haven’t had them for over 15 yrs, which brings us to another problem.

Fuel Injected gasoline engines don’t like the addition of alcohol in the fuel because alcohol attracts moisture as in water, and modern electronic injectors HATE water!
Where does this leave us?

My Opinion:
The only fuel that will totally make our country fuel independent is hydrogen. Eventually when the politics are removed from the equation, people will begin to understand that hydrogen IS the fuel of the future. Technology exists RIGHT now to separate hydrogen from water…….yes WATER! We are 2/3 of the way to this transition being a reality. A patent exists right now and was sold to create (I know this is hard to believe) a new George Foreman grille! You load water into a holding tank and an electric process separates the hydrogen from the oxygen creating a fuel to burn for the grill. The only thing that is the sticking point is the cost of the electric to separate the two. Even so, can you imagine what a vehicle that never needs gasoline could save you in annual costs? Not only can water be used but also SEA WATER!

A new concept car has been built as “hydrogen fuel cell” vehicle, meaning that it IS still a hybrid, but instead of gasoline it burns hydrogen, but it is a HUGE improvement to what we have now. The eventual ending point to cars will be one that can convert water to burnable fuel, but as of right now the hydrogen fuel cell car is the next step to total fuel independence, in my humble opinion………lol.


Anonymous said...

I recently read an article on this and saw it being "put to test". The
result are truly amazing, so amazing, I am afraid we will not see it . Uncle Sam
and the oil industry won't allow such a thing to happen!!

Anonymous said...

When you make your first hydrogen driven car, I'll be in the market, great idea.