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Thread: Alternative fuels for cars.

  1. #1
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    Default Alternative fuels for cars.

    In response to: A or B.




    As many of you are aware there is an epidemic involving gas prices in the United States. Additionally we are currently working towards new alternative fuels for these vehicles. They range from hydrogen, ethanol and electric.

    My question stems from the thought, if we where to switch to electric cars what would happen to the economy?

    I mean sure we would pay a fraction of the cost of gasoline, but what about gas station employees? And the companies themselves? Additionally how many people are able to work on electric cars?

    On the other hand if we where to switch to Hydrogen, could mom and pop store afford to replace their fueling equipment?

    Ethanol in the other hand though can be pumped out of existing fueling facilities, we have to grow enough corn to supply it, what would happen during a drought?

    If you take all of these into consideration are we really ready to make a transition? If not when?
    Also what about the people who cannot afford to buy a new car? What would they be left to do?
    I myself think that we are ready to begin a transition, but it should be taken step by step with electric cars. So that in a few years no there would not be any more gas stations, but instead I guess just convince stores that would have to compete with Wal-Mart.

    If you take into account the cost of using ethanol and hydrogen then electric seems a good choice. But then how would we have to alter the electrical infrastructure? Is that change, and adding to the already large load placed upon it worth the change to electric cars? What if the power goes out for an extended period of time? And should we start building nuclear power plants like the French, to offset the large demand that will placed upon it?
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  2. #2
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    You can actually run a Car with vedgetable oil. No joke!

    Using Solar power would just be annoying. If their was not much Sunlight during a cloudy day you would probably end up breaking down on the Motorway or something.
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  3. #3
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    Breaking down? more like run out of gas.
    That and the surface area needed for the energy to move a family car would be greater than the area of the surface of a tractor trailer.
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  4. #4
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    Indeed. Then I shall stick with my Vedgy Oil! ^-^
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  5. #5
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    Na, I don't think I want my car to smell like McDonald's. You know?
    But I would kill for an electric.
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  6. #6
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    I have seen those electric cars around here. Their head-lights look awesome.

    Anyway, in this day and age if you are caught putting Vedgetable oil into your car, or discovered doing it the Police will come and deal with you! XD

    Mainly because it is a lot cheaper and the greedy Government are not getting any profits from it.
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  7. #7
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    Not here in the States.
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  8. #8
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    No we will just liquefy coal until we of course hit peak coal.

  9. #9
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    I've got a bit of harsh reality with regard to a lot of alternative energy prospects, don't mean to crush anyone's dreams here this is just the view of someone who actually is messing with these technologies to see what works and what doesn't.

    Hydrogen is a Joke, nothing more.
    There are many reasons for this. I'll go over them one at a time.

    First of all, Hydrogen has such a low density it does not store well without requiring expensive and energy-wasting cryogenic devices, in addition to having a track record of nasty explosions ranging from the zeppelin known as "Hindenburg" to some of the recent NASA accidents that traced back to the fuel component handling system icing up and becoming brittle from the cold.
    From what I have seen of it, the average person would not be able to handle hydrogen easily at all, and it is too cumbersome and dangerous to be practical for a road-vehicle. In addition, storing it in a compressed gas cylinder would result in you having to replace three or four propane-tank (the big BBQ tanks, not plumbing torch ones) sized canisters every few hundred miles due to it's low energy density.

    Second, hydrogen has to come from somewhere. Right now, most hydrogen is produced from Natural Gas- fossil fuel. Making plastics tends to release free hydrogen as the monomers like Methane and Ethane are joined, this is presently the source of most commercial hydrogen gas not electrolysis.
    With present-day technology, using electrolysis as it is the most commonly suggested method, we would have to construct more nuclear power plants than have ever existed in the entire world just to supply the US fleet of cars at present consumption. And Solar power is too unsteady and inefficient at present to reduce this figure siginificantly.

    The third flaw with hydrogen, is the fact that it eats metals. Almost all common alloys and even some plastics become highly brittle when exposed to hydrogen gas, and this can cause explosions or leaks if care is not taken to prevent the hydrogen from bleeding through the use of polymer linings in the plumbing. I think Teflon works for this actually, though that won't work inside an engine where it is too hot.

    Ethanol, and other renewable alcohols
    Possibly viable, it is already commercially feasible at $3 per gallon to use Ethanol. However, many cars are incapable of consuming this without modification or special accessories- such as the E85 chip offered in some high-smog areas that allows the car to burn 85% ethanol instead of the 10% ethanol found in oxygenated gasoline.

    Biggest issues with Ethanol production is the amount of energy required to grow the source material and process it, dependency on climate and agriculture for it's raw material, and the fact that so far Brazil is the only one to really make any kind of reliable product from it due to the wastes of the sugar cane facilities there.

    Now mind you, Ethanol-based distillate was the fuel of choice for farm equipment built during WWII when gasoline was rationed due to the war. Many units capable of burning this still exist in serviceable condition, and can provide patterns for retrofitting modern equipment to do the same thing.
    In fact, I have personally driven a farm tractor from that time period that had similar models offered with a distillate fuel system instead of the gasoline one I drive when it was being manufactured. Allis-Chalmers WD45 in case you are wondering.

    The most notable difference is the carburetor design, however the engine block has a few modifications for better efficiency since ethanol is weaker per gallon than gasoline is.

    Vegetable Oil, and Biodiesel
    These are practical for the average mechanic to use, as just about any existing diesel engine can consume them with little to no modification. In fact, a former co-worker of mine drives a Volkswagon Passat TDI that he made some minor modifications to the fuel system to burn pure vegetable oil. Runs perfectly fine once it is warmed up, the only difference is it smells like McDonalds on the highway and if you floor it you leave a trail of soot until the heads catch up to you.

    Issues with this fuel with regard to it's marketability and longevity though mainly concern the energy required to produce the oils, oftentimes taking nearly 3/4 of the yield to run the tractors to grow the oil crop and the presses to gather it. Though some of the trash from these processes could be consumed in biomass devices and that energy used instead of the product to improve yields.

    Already though, given that it presently can often be had for next to nothing, it is becoming somewhat popular among green-minded people as a replacement for fossil-fuel diesel.

    Electric
    I dont like this technology, and though it would work fine for commuting a few miles a day to work and back, it would be utterly useless for long-run transit or cross country.

    The main problems that I am aware of with this technology are short battery life, lack of reliable charging locations, and low efficiency in the storage and conversion devices associated with it. Though if anything is to bridge the gap between a fossil fuel technology and a clean fuel, this so far has the most promise.

    Wouldn't catch me driving one though, I want something that has kick to it. And it is too cold where I live, I would find dead batteries after only a half hour at wal-mart in the winter.

    Steam
    Don't laugh, even a short-lived return to steam power in some applications like tractor-trailers may seriously reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and bridge the gap without the downfalls of electric cars.

    Steam has amazing potential in that it can produce peak torque at 0 RPM- you can actually run one with no transmission at all without hurting a thing. And unlike internal combustion technologies, steam can use just about anything as a fuel source. If it burns or makes heat in quantity, you can make steam with it. Distance is not a problem, with care in design I believe that it would be no more complicated than picking up a basket of firewood every 200-300 miles for the typical car, and because of it's fuel independence can burn just about anything available.

    Typically people think of huge locomotive-style devices when steam is mentioned, however these are as impractical now as they were back in the 1900s when cars were first appearing and some used steam power.

    The type of steam devices I am envisioning are along the lines of these:
    You might not expect it, but this innocent little 4-cylinder engine shows over 400 HP at a mere 2400 RPM on my drawing board, and could easily hit the 800HP mark or more if I increase the rev limit. Yes, you are looking at a render form of my prototype blueprint. It is missing a few pieces due to proprietary stuff I am researching the possibility of patenting, but that engine would in reality be no larger than the one in a compact car and have almost enough power to move a freight train.

    This was a previous-generation boiler to use with an engine like that, I may return to this layout and design due to it's promise of stability and the fact that the design calculations are easier to work with. Estimated 4 million BTU in a package roughly 48" to the side, it would have more than enough steaming capacity to run vehicles as large as a full-size pickup truck. I fitted it with a trifuel combination firebox of my own design, it should be capable of high-efficiency high-temperature operation on anything from garbage to hair clippings to premium coal.

    I have a newer boiler design on the boards that takes the form of a trash can-like shape. It almost would seem like the Mr. Fusion device seen in Back to the Future, standing roughly 36" tall with a diameter of 42". I am still computing values on it, but the core may be able to withstand almost 16 million BTU per hour passed through it. I probably won't be able to keep the fire hot enough to make that much though, and if I did I would need a really good feed water pump to keep up with the steaming rate.

    My object with these is to make a car which seems no different from an ordinary car, aside from the fuel source and a few of the controls using steam as the power plant. It can be done, there were viable steam cars back in 1915. They only lost out to internal combustion because the convenience of turn a key and go was lacking from the boilers at the time, something which is actually possible with modern boiler theory- I estimate the time from ignition to enough steam to move for the boiler I showed to be around merely 15 seconds instead of the hours many people assume they would have.

    So yeah, I might seem a bit biased since I am a fan of the steam technologies and am pursuing that route myself, but that's the basic run-down of what I know of it.

    Anyway, check out the Abner Doble 1915 steam car sometime, his boiler is actually very similar to my Phoenix boiler. He had a traditional engine though, while mine is closer to an internal combustion engine internally.

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    I proposed the idea of using the blood of emo's, goth, and hippies. The emo/goth blood if full of different chemicals from the hatred/drug usage which is highly combustible. And hippies have so many drugs in their blood stream that it is super combustible.

  11. #11
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    Just remember what powered steam trains of yesteryear. Coal =D.


    Yeah I don't think much of hydrogen because there is no way to mass produce it. Scientists made a plant produce it in small quantities but they couldn't make it produce any reasonable amount of H2.


    Biodiesel is dead. There are no new projects to make it more appealing to governments to enforce.


    Ethanol. Thank you for bringing this up. People talk up ethanol with 'oh we just collect it from existing crops' which is so incorrect. You need a ridiculous amount of sugar cane plantations [what we use here] for an ethanol farm and the cost of irrigation in a drought ridden country is high.

  12. #12
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    Let's run our cars with the power of love!

  13. #13
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    I think electric is the answer, in a few decades we can find new was to produce it, aside from nuclear. then there is adding things like wind farms, and solar arrays, and even solar panels to the tops of houses.
    fission is not that far off I think 30 years from the last thing I read. so...
    the big problem with current technologies is nuclear power is the most efficient, but the waste is a huge problem. Ask France.
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  14. #14
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    No, no, no. If you make a steam car, no way in Erebus you can make it sporty and modern. If you're making a steam-powered car, then you will have to make it steampunk. I expect to see either:

    Battleship grays with big exposed rivets and a general trend towards "huge." Y'know. Like an SUV, only better.

    -OR-

    Completely handcrafted for luxury. Premium paints, gilt linings and accents, full leather bench-style seats. Like a '20's car, only better.

    Anyway, the problem with vegetable oil desiel is that it's not feasible for the entire population of the U.S. Right now, if you run on vegetable oil, you go around and take the garbage from a fast food resturaunts. I don't think that there are enough fast food resturaunts that use a large enough quantity of oil to fuel everyone's car.

    Skip alternate fuels, by a hybrid until we make somethng thats actually feasible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by demonplight View Post
    fission is not that far off I
    Dear sir I believe you mean fusion XD.

    Umm they are well on the way with fusion but I don't think it is going to be as useful and widely used as nuclear power plants. The current solution to nuclear waste is to bury it in a concrete bunker in a geological stable location for 1000 years. Australia is a great place and we will buy your waste to bury it in the middle of our hell hole. I'm not joking when I say this.

  16. #16
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    We are doing it in Nevada right now.
    and you are right. it is fusion
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  17. #17
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    Yes I can't remember where the facility is but I read somewhere that they are using magnetic fields to contain it. We are talking about cold fusion right? I just want to make sure we are thinking of the same project.

  18. #18
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    How about a Solar powered car?? No one mentioned that.

    Oh, Hi-deeki, imagine... your kind not eating raw fish! ^_^


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE38SKRT4ak



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MomijiTMO View Post
    Yes I can't remember where the facility is but I read somewhere that they are using magnetic fields to contain it. We are talking about cold fusion right? I just want to make sure we are thinking of the same project.
    Don't really know all to much about the cold one, I know about the "hot" one I guess you would call it. But yes I know that in the super colliders they are using electro magnetics to create fields to contain the plasma.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Opinionated View Post
    No, no, no. If you make a steam car, no way in Erebus you can make it sporty and modern. If you're making a steam-powered car, then you will have to make it steampunk. I expect to see either:

    Battleship grays with big exposed rivets and a general trend towards "huge." Y'know. Like an SUV, only better.

    -OR-

    Completely handcrafted for luxury. Premium paints, gilt linings and accents, full leather bench-style seats. Like a '20's car, only better.
    You can have the Model T in any color you like, as long as it is black.

    The prototype likely will be influenced by the steam punk style, since I am plotting to handcraft the whole unit at the machine shop I work at. We've got all the tooling and such to do it, though it would still have the fittings of a modern car inside too. Heck, I'll bet I could even make a working cruise control, and I am definitely putting in a CD player with a good speaker set. Also I like lots of gauges on my control panels, so I know exactly what my machine is doing at any given time. Don't think they will twitch like in Steamboy though, that was some seriously shifty plumbing they had in that castle.

    Dunno about the exposed rivets though. I'm going to use an existing car chassis as the reference, and it will be welds and bolts instead of rivets to hold it. The body will be relatively normal sheet metal construction for simplicity and so it is recognizable as a car and not some military-leftover tank. Though it will be tougher than an ordinary car, I'm tired of getting hit on the highway and want a look that makes people stay the heck away from me.

    If it does reach production though, it would end up more like a traditional car since not everyone likes steam punk.

    There's actually a serious techincal issue with steampunk though. Heavy iron plates and bare rivets are not only heavy and wasteful, but they are unappealing to non-steampunk fans, and are grossly inefficient when you are trying for fuel economy.

    As an aside, the original version of this system was meant for a school bus as it's chassis. Decked out in almost full steampunk, it had my workshop in it too. And if you used gasoline in it instead of alternate fuels, it would have made roughly 18 miles per gallon- better than some cars.


    I noticed someone mentioned Nuclear Fusion.

    Don't count on Coldfusion, unless we discover a far more efficient way to produce the Muons that catalyze it it does not produce a net energy gain because of muon half-life and creation trouble.

    The other methods usually involve either huge reactors that could fit entire cars in their working chambers such as the Rochester University OMEGA laser system.
    Last edited by Renegade of Life; 05-04-2008 at 07:50 PM.

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  21. #21
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    The thing about steam is that it would be more efficient to trans form the energy to eclectic with a turbine, then to use a piston for locomotion.

    Also in electric cars I would argue that new high yield compactors that can power a car for 300 miles, and recharge in 5 minutes will be use instead of the lithium Battery's.

    Also the fusion would be needed to improve the electric infrastructure of the United States to help bare the load of the Electric cars. As well as replace the coal and nuclear powered plants.

    It is often easier to transform the energy then to make it on the spot.

    Ehh We could always use wind up cars!
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  22. #22
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    All I can say about cold fusion is that a lot of projects are still ongoing. I would hate to think that the first experiments were bogus and I'd seriously like to see the entire research team hung for wasting our time and resources. Muons are way too fricken hard to make so yeah it isn't feasible.

    I was thinking of JET before anyway for that is where we will be getting anything useful from fusion. I do not understand what they are doing and I won't bother to try because I know that I cannot fathom what they are doing. I wonder what Eris knows =p.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by demonplight View Post
    The thing about steam is that it would be more efficient to trans form the energy to eclectic with a turbine, then to use a piston for locomotion.
    It is that detail that is why there are parts missing from the concept render I showed you guys. I figured out a way to get absolutely incredible efficiency from a piston engine while still having the capability to produce the insane power that a piston steam engine is capable of, and until I either patent it myself or find other patents already cover my idea (which would kill any hope of making more than just a prototype) I don't want to show off the details of it, especially since I can make the same technique work on an internal combustion engine.

    Steam turbines are actually useless for anything other than tasks like turning generators or high speed process equipment, as they have little to no torque.

    In a car, it is the torque that throws you back into your seat when you hit the gas. While I probably could turbine and then electric, that is more weight and complexity than I need, plus turbines are in reality no more efficient than a properly built piston engine is and you would have the losses of the electric system. And I can't design a turbine as easily as I can a piston engine, the math is way more complicated.

    A piston engine like what I intend to use direct driving the wheels or with something like a 5-speed standard. I should be able to light up the tires in fourth gear and might not even need a clutch or transmission at all- the engine will actually stop completely when I stop at a red light, and will start again just by my putting my foot on the throttle again to go without needing to be cranked or anything to restart it like the old locomotives could do.

    It's a fun project, I've been messing with this for almost 7 years already and it is finally almost complete enough to see it's first prototype.

    Here at the place where our love reached it's climax, I leave behind a broken heart torn to pieces by fate.

    Merry Christmas.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Chii Motosuwa View Post
    How about a Solar powered car?? No one mentioned that.

    Don't get me started on that FAIL tech. Seriously no one can get anywhere close to the theoretical yield and every time light hits the silicon it moves slightly and over time the movement in the once flat surface decreases the yield of the cell. =p

  25. #25
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    Haven't they started making electric cars? I think they have, barely anyone has them. I think the best substitute for fuel is to either electric or hydrogen since we have plenty of those right? As long as we can substitute the fuel, it would be nice. The main problem is what the people who sells the oil is gonna say about this. I mean they like the money they have selling fuel and if they find out that they aren't control anymore....well you get the idea.
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