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Taylor95 02-18-2019 11:26 PM

The Slow Death of the Internal Combustion Engine
What I often see touted and inferred online by many journalists, politicians, and governments, is that the future is going to be fossil fuel free. Electric powered transportation would be used to move the masses. It will be a new green revolution, one that will succeed the oil and coal dominated revolution that started over a century ago. I see this in governments promising to ban gasoline and diesel by a certain year, by politicians who conjure lofty environmental goals and dub them as "The Green Deal", and by others who genuinely see the environment is worth protecting and believe that gas and oil are the evils we are waging a war against in this era.

Here's why I think that will never happen.

1. There must be diversity in our fuel sources.

While the percentage of gasoline cars will certainly decline with the rising popularity of EVs, it will never go away. I don't think it is possible for a population to produce enough electricity to support 100% of its vehicles to be electric powered. If each car traveled 1000 miles a month, that would amount to about 30-40% of what the average house consumes. Then add to that additional electricity that would be consumed by electric tractor trailers, farm equipment, and other commercial vehicles. That amounts to a substantial burden on our already strained electrical grid. It would take a complete overhaul of it to support such a system. Keeping gasoline around would not only ease the burden on the grid, but also limit our dependence on a single system.

2. Electricity cannot be stored efficiently.

It would require massive battery capacity to store electricity. What would happen in our all electric utopia if there was some sort of natural disaster? What if an area was cut off from power for an extended period of time? In today's world, fuel and supplies could be trucked in. Electricity cannot be trucked in. That would effectively limit the cleanup, rescue, and repairs that could be done. But wait... what if something could power a machine to generate electricity?

3. EVs are not powered by an ICE

I love working on cars. So do millions of other people in the US. The internal combustion engine is complex, and that makes it fun to work on. I think there will be a lot of resistance in the car community if gasoline was to be banned. The simplicity of electric motors would limit the amount of tinkering that others could do to it. Don't get me wrong; I'm sure I would love the instant torque an EV would provide. However, it is not an internal combustion engine.

4. The ICE is versatile

It has changed much in the 100+ years it has been around. Now we enjoy things such as forced induction and variable valve timing. This versatility has contributed to its survival, and will likely continue to do so.

5. Biofuel

I read that the US throws out enough plant waste to power about half of its vehicles if it were to be converted to biofuel. That is huge. It would be far more sustainable to use this waste to power vehicles than to whisk up electricity from solar or wind.

6. Lithium-ion batteries

I am very much a doubter when it comes to these batteries. They are bad for the environment, their cost is high, and they can catch on fire. Not to mention they can also explode. Gasoline also burns, however that is located towards the rear of the car, not underneath my feet.

oil pan 4 02-18-2019 11:53 PM

The "new green deal" sounds like the 4th grade special needs kids science project.
Eliminating fossil fuels might be possible if the base load were replaced by fissile fuel but the useful idiots calling for the end of fossil fuels are terrified of anything nuclear and have no frame of reference for the scale of how much energy the United States uses.

Punishingconsumers is not the answer.
Replacing coal with nuclear power is about the only thing that can make a meaningful different with out forcing energy poverty onto millions of people.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 02-19-2019 12:32 AM

The need for a diversity of fuel sources, and the neglect of biofuel feedstocks, are two reasons that make me agnostic about any prediction of an end of the ICE. Sure we could go fossil fuel-free, but not fuel-free at all. Well, even if we consider the last iteration of the ICE to be a microturbine (which by the way is more fuel-agnostic than most of the reciprocating engines) powering a "range extender" for an EV, turning it basically into a serial hybrid, it may be actually even more beneficial regarding the environmental impact, since it would allow the usage of certain raw materials as feedstock for biofuels instead of leaving them simply rot away releasing compounds which in the end may become more harmful.

oil pan 4 02-19-2019 07:54 AM

The plant waste could be used to replace good portion of synthetic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizer uses huge amount of natural gas.

Taylor95 02-19-2019 10:44 AM

Nuclear may be a viable alternative. However, most people in my state (myself included) lean against it, as much of the nuclear waste produced in the US is stored in the great state of Nevada. But I admit that I have not done sufficient research on it. I would be more comfortable if they put it all somewhere farther away from the Pacific ring of fire.

Microturbines sound pretty intriguing. I have actually never heard of them before. Is it just a concept or have any been made?

Piotrsko 02-19-2019 11:46 AM

When you realize the majority of Nevada land is federal, and therefore "underutilized", the storage facilities for radioactive waste here make sense. Earthquakes? If you dont measure them they dont exist, or at least until the UNR SEISMO lab started building remote sensors. Dang the whole state is active. Oh well the stuff is too hazardous to move again.

The latest is secret shipments after a federal injunction was started.

Angel And The Wolf 02-19-2019 12:08 PM

A cheap method of splitting Hydrogen out of water would provide an alternative fuel for ICEs:
" Photobiological production of hydrogen involves using sunlight, a biological component, catalysts and an engineered system. Specific organisms, algae and bacteria, produce hydrogen as a byproduct of their metabolic processes. These organisms generally live in aqueous environments and therefore are extracting the hydrogen from water using their biological functions.

Currently, this technology is still in the research and development stage and the theoretical sunlight conversion efficiencies have been estimated up to 24%. Over 400 strains of primitive plants capable of producing hydrogen have been identified, with 25 impressively achieving carbon monoxide to hydrogen conversion efficiencies of 100%.

In one example, researchers have discovered that the alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, possesses an enzyme called hydrogenase that is capable of splitting water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen. The researchers have determined the mechanism for starting and stopping this process, which could lead to an almost limitless method for producing clean, renewable hydrogen.

The algae need sulfur to grow and photosynthesize. Scientists found that when they starved the algae of sulfur, in an oxygen-free environment, the algae reverted to a hydrogenase-utilizing mode. This mechanism of producing hydrogen from water has developed over millions of years of evolution for survival in oxygen-rich and oxygen-free environments. Once in this cycle, the algae released hydrogen, not oxygen. Further research is necessary to improve the efficiencies of the engineered plant systems, collection methods and the costs of hydrogen generation."

Burning Hydrogen and air is not pollution free, as there is, in air, Nitrogen, but carbon emissions would be absent. If a cheap way of producing and storing Oxygen could also be found, a Hydrogen/Oxygen engine would only produce water.

oil pan 4 02-19-2019 12:11 PM

Literally the worst thing that can be done with spent nuclear fuel is leave it in temporary storage.
Recycle it, and bury the unusable wast isotopes very deep.
There is enough depleted uranium in Idaho sitting in caskets to power the United States for something like 700 years sitting in storage. Mostly left over from uranium enrichment during the cold war.
Unlimited carbon free energy.

Hydrogen is stupid. I'm perfectly fine getting around with an electric vehicle.
I have put almost 13,000 miles on my leaf since may of 2017 and electric vehicles shouldn't even work for me since I'm out in the country, there are 0 public charging stations, 0 quick chargers and I don't have charging at work.

Angel And The Wolf 02-19-2019 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by oil pan 4 (Post 591478)
Hydrogen is stupid.

Hydrogen doesn't make sense if you can run your EV only from non-polluting produced electricity. Do you, or does your electricity come from hydrocarbon fueled (coal, diesel, natural gas, petroleum) generators?


oil pan 4 02-19-2019 12:53 PM

If you get a hydrogen powered car now or any time when natural gas is less that about $20 per million BTU all your hydrogenis going to come from natural gas.
My electricity comes mostly from coal and natural gas only about 20% of the electricity used in NM comes from wind.
But I really don't care. What I care about is the 7 cents a kwh base rate which makes my leaf cost less than 2 cents per mile to drive.
Why would I pay more for the same electricity?

My winter leaf economy is as low as 3.6 miles per kwh, when it's warmer I see closer to 4.5 miles per kwh.

A hydrogen car isn't going to come any where near 2 cents a mile even with cheap hydrogen made from cheap natural gas.

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