We're almost there: super fast recharge batteries!
We're getting there: nuclear + super batteries + small super efficient biodiesel engines = green hybrid biodiesel-electric cars >> 250 miles per gallon, range 200 miles on a small tank full of biodiesel.
We've posted in the past about rapid-recharge battery technologies using nanomaterials. NEC and Altair Nanotechnology have been making the most noise about the development, but it looks like Toshiba may end up being first to market. The Japanese tech giant announced today a new generation lithium-ion battery technology which can be recharged to 80% in one minute, with total recharge taking a few minutes more. That's not all:
The excellent recharging characteristics of new battery are not its only performance advantages. The battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging, and can operate at very low temperatures. At minus 40 degrees centigrade, the battery can discharge 80% of its capacity, against 100% in an ambient temperature of 25 degree centigrade).
The Register and Tech Japan have summaries, but the Toshiba press release actually has some interesting details, including this graphic:
While Toshiba plans to roll the battery technology out across the spectrum of uses, they have identified transportation systems -- hybrid-electric cars in particular -- as their first target. This is probably for reasons of cost, but as we've discussed, this application makes a great deal of sense. The key limiting factors to how much a hybrid-electric can rely on its batteries for power are how much they store (energy density) and how quickly they can be recharged (via regenerative braking, the gas engine, etc.). If the Toshiba system lives up to claims, the new batteries would be an improvement in both characteristics, and hybrid cars would be able to be more electric than ever.
Toshiba notes that the battery technology has another 'green' characteristic: the fast recharge means that less electricity is lost during the charging process, which in turn means that less electricity is required.
See Toshiba's press-release.
Why they are the future
In 2003, MIT's Lab for Energy and the Environment produced a study [*pdf] in which it compares the total lifecycle energy efficiency and greenhouse emissions of the following idealized automotive technologies: internal combustion, hybrid and fuel cells.
Diesel hybrids turned out to be much better than either gasoline or gasoline-hybrid cars, and highly competitive with the best hydrogen fuel cell systems (even assuming optimistic fuel cell vehicle development). But the best hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will require entirely new hydrogen production, storage, and fueling facilities. Reformed-gasoline fuel cells (which are more likely to be used, as they would not require the wholesale replacement of fueling stations) fared much worse.
So realistically speaking, the future belongs to hybrid biodiesels, not to fuel cells. The investments needed to kickstart a complete hydrogen automotive economy are gigantic, compared to a hybrid-biodiesel economy, for which you need virtually no new investments. And if MIT says so, we believe it to be true.
How much biodiesel?
All surveys suggest EU citizens no longer want to support blood-for-oil wars. They also want a clean future, because they don't like cancer and painful, premature death. (Unlike our brothers at the other side of the pond).
So we've covered a scenario in which we replace all horror-diesel with anti-terror biodiesel.
Conclusion (the fifty-fifty Euro-Africa scenario):
So the gentle Europeans launched an ambitious biofuels program. The EU wants to replace 20% of all petroleum consumption with biofuels, by 2020. (See the EU's final directive on biofuels for transport -*.pdf).
The hybrid biodiesel car would contribute tremendously to achieving this goal. Let's see why, by making some basic calculations and projections.
1. Clean diesel cars are a tremendous success in Europe (and in the rest of the world, except in the US). Today, over 45% of all cars in Europe are clean diesel. Between 1994 and 2002 they conquered a spectacular 23% of the entire car market and the EU projects this trend to continue at a nice, albeit slower pace. And so, by 2020, clean diesel will dominate the car market, with a share of over 75%.
2. Let's now see how much diesel we're talking about, knowing that it has knocked dirty, polluting, inefficient gasoline out of the market.
Today, total diesel consumption (for cars, not heavy duty vehicles) stands at roughly 155 MT per year. By 2020 it will stand at 200MT/year.
3. We already know that clean diesel engines are between 30 and 40% more efficient than dirty gasoline.
Knowing that hybrids are even more efficient, spectacularly so, a hybrid diesel will be anywhere between 100 and 200% more efficient than the ordinary diesels we know today. In short, we will need to halve the EU's projection for 2020, if we stick to the conservative estimate.
Voilà. We're now talking about a total diesel consumption of 100MT, if everybody were to drive a hybrid-diesel.
4. So now we can calculate how much biodiesel crops we would need to plant to replace a big chunk, or all OPEC-Terror-diesel.
:: Canola: Assuming we want to replace all Terror-Diesel with a pure Anti-Terror biodiesel based on canola, and we know that the crop yields about 1MT/hectare (a conservative estimate), we would need exactly 100 million hectares. That is 1 million square kilometres. We have 20 years left, so we'd need to start planting 5 million hectares of canola each year. Theoretically, that's feasible. But the EU doesn't have enough land, so we'd have to look elsewhere.
:: This alternative is so-called "Afrodiesel", which is biodiesel produced from high yielding oil crops in Africa (or any other tropical region). These oil crops, like palm oil, have 10 times the yield of crops cultivated in the Northern Hemisphere. If we were to couple our biodiesel consumption to development aid in Africa, we'd be doing a good thing.
:: So suppose we launch an Afrodiesel scheme, and we outsource half of all biodiesel production to Africa, we'd need only 5 million hectares of oil palm plantations, roughly 50 thousand square kilometres of land. This is not a fantasy. This is extremely feasible. (Of all arable land in sub-saharan Africa, less than 15% is used today).
-we need 5 million hectares of oil palm plantations in Africa
-combined with 50 million hectares of canola in Europe.
Knowing that a B20 biodiesel blend already reduces diesel-Greenhouse gass emissions spectacularly, we can think of a 100% Afrodiesel scheme as a truly feasible option.
:: However, the EU's official target is only B20 by 2020. This can be achieved by planting a mere 2 million hectares of oil palm.
This is extremely feasible.
You, reader, can take it from here. Do you want to continue supporting death, tyranny, terror, cancer, pollution, global warming and poverty (since each time the OPEC-Bush-Terror cartel increases oil prices, millions of people get poorer)?
Or do you want a long, happy, healthy life, by not supporting terror and war, and by supporting poor African farmers instead?
The choice is yours.
All projections in this text are derived from this EU document: Impacts of Increasing Automotive Diesel Consumption in the EU. [-*.pfd file.]
A good discussion about the potential of hybrid biodiesel cars
Diesel Hybrid Electric Cars Now! Text taken from Worldchanging.com.
Plausibly Surreal – Scenarios and Anticipations
How come nobody sells a hybrid diesel car?
For those of you familiar only with the sooty smoke belching from older big-rig trucks or the foul smells from 1970s diesel cars, the question may come as a surprise. But modern diesel engine design coupled with the much-cleaner types of diesel fuel increasingly available (particularly "biodiesel") make diesel vehicles a surprisingly environmentally-friendly choice. Diesel-hybrid-electrics would be an obvious positive development. So why don't we see them?
I suppose the answer varies depending upon where you are. In the US, the diesel fuel available in most locations remains the old, dirty, high-sulfur variety, so a hybrid diesel actually wouldn't be a significant improvement in emissions; once low-sulfur regulations take effect in 2006, this may change. In Europe, where advanced-technology "clean" diesel autos are one-third to one-half of the auto market and growing, some diesel cars already get mileage roughly equivalent to hybrids, so I suspect there's simply less demand.
The irony is that diesel hybrids could be far more efficient and clean than anything now on the market, without any leaps in technology. The combination of modern clean diesel engines, Prius-style serial hybrid-electric systems, and biodiesel/vegetable oil fuels could provide amazing mileage, cleaner air, and vastly reduced petroleum dependency. Comfortable, powerful sedans could get upwards of 80 miles per gallon and be carbon-neutral.
(More in the extended entry...)
It's certainly not that diesel hybrids are somehow impossible. Diesel-electric hybrid buses are available and have been rolled out in (among other places) Seattle, Washington and Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands. As for autos, Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler each built prototype diesel hybrids a few years ago which got mileage in the 70-80 mpg range. But the automakers opted not to produce them, as the cars couldn't meet strict air pollution rules while running on the sulfur-laden American diesel.
Combining the power of diesel engines with the efficiency of hybrid technologies can have terrific payoffs. Last year, MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment produced a study (PDF) comparing total lifecycle energy efficiency and greenhouse emissions (including use, production, fuel production, and eventual disposal) of idealized advanced internal combustion, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. Diesel hybrids turned out to be much better than gasoline/gasoline-hybrid cars, and highly competitive with the best hydrogen fuel cell systems (even assuming optimistic fuel cell vehicle development). But the best hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will require entirely new hydrogen production, storage, and fueling facilities; reformed-gasoline fuel cells (which are more likely to be used, as they would not require the wholesale replacement of fueling stations) fared much worse.
It's particularly notable that the results in the MIT study were based on the assumption that the diesel fuel would be petroleum-based. One of the compelling aspects of diesel engines is their ability to run on biodiesel, a fuel which does not actually contain any petroleum. Biodiesel is synthesized entirely from plants -- usually soy in the US, and canola/rapeseed in Europe -- and is therefore carbon-neutral: the soy/canola grown to create biodiesel pulls from the air the same amount of carbon the eventual combustion produces. Biodiesel is available both straight or in mixes with regular -- and, up until recently, somewhat less expensive -- oil-based diesel. These fuels are referred to by the percentage of biodiesel in the mix, from B5 (five percent bio) all the way to B100 (straight biodiesel); B20 is a relatively common mix. A variety of companies supply biodiesel around the world; adventurous types can even make biodiesel at home, using vegetable oil.
(Vegetable oil can be used to run diesel engines directly, although doing so can be somewhat risky. SVO, or "straight vegetable oil," can gum up the engine at lower temperatures, so there are SVO-conversion kits available for diesel vehicles which use a small amount of regular diesel or biodiesel to warm up the engine first. This is one way that hybrid technology could really show its strengths: a hybrid-SVO could warm up the SVO with an electric heater while running on batteries at lower speeds, much like the current Prius does. Such a system could easily use regular diesel and biodiesel, as well.)
European automakers are testing the water to see if American buyers, long ago turned off by earlier diesel technology, would be willing to give diesels another chance. The carmakers may want to wait for a couple of years; the 2006 change-over to clean diesel will make diesel vehicles much more attractive. The manufacturers should take advantage of the wait to license the Toyota hybrid system (as Ford did earlier this year) and integrate it with their advanced clean diesel engines. Stylish sedans coupling the power of a diesel engine with extreme fuel efficiency better than anything coming out of Japan -- dealers wouldn't be able to keep them in stock. Posted by Jamais Cascio at June 3, 2004 05:40 PM
I love this idea. In the forums I've seen online, diesel enthusiasts and hybrid enthusiasts seem to always be at odds. There's no reason why we should be. A diesel hybrid would resolve that divide.
When I hear the word "diesel", I automatically think carcinogenic and mutagenic particulates in the exhaust. Which is why I hate being stuck behind a diesel vehicle, be it a truck, bus, or Mercedes 300D.
I admit I'm completely ignorant of biodiesel and so-called "clean diesel". What kinds of carcinogens and mutagens are present in these forms of diesel? What studies have been made to show either a total lack or dramatic reduction in both? (I would assume that "clean" means non-cancer causing, but maybe I'm wrong there too.)
When I hear biodiesel I think, argibusiness looking for new markets.
How can I learn more?
Clean road diesel (also known as ultra low sulfur diesel) is limited to particulate density of 30ppm, less than 10% of particulate density of standard road diesel; future efforts can bring that down to 15ppm. The EPA has more info on clean diesel. Studies by the Australian government show a significant reduction in harmful emissions with ULSD. The DieselNet site has more info, but some of it is only available to paid subscribers. It has good links to material from other sources, though.
The production of biodiesel in large enough quantities to sustain a transportation network would certainly involve agribusiness. But agribiz is not the sole catalyst for biodiesel research; as I indicated in the post, the carbon-neutral nature of biodiesel, along with the simplicity of its production, make it a much more sustainable fuel resource. Biodiesel.org has some info, but they do seem to be allied with big ag. Journey to Forever may be more to your liking.
The VW Lupo (a diesel) already has some elements of hybrid technology, including a continuous automatic transmission and electric motor for lower RPMs. From what I understand it gets around 80 mpg and is about the size of a mini cooper, and costs quite a bit less.
I wish they would sell them here in the US but the quality of our diesel is too low. In 2006 this is supposed to change due to federal regulation, so at that point VW and other companies could sell these types of cars in the US.
As far as the drawbacks of diesel are concerned, they have been taken care of. VW double-insulates the engine cage to make sure that noise is sufficiently dampened, and their are scrubbers on the exhaust to minimize the soot. And scrubbing the exhaust is unnecessary when using the high-grade diesel fuels. Test-drive a diesel and you will see that things have changed quite a bit. VW offers three diesel models in the US right now, all of which get about 40mpg city/45 highway: Golf, New Beetle and Jetta. The diesel Jetta also comes in a wagon version. They are all really nice cars.
Diesel engines are perfectly suited for hybrids.
Diesels operate most effeciently when run at a
constant rpm and in a given temp range, both of which fit the hybrid model very well.
For many years diesel trains have been driven
by a large diesel engine generating electricity to charge a battery bank turning electric motors to drive the train. It's the only way trains could get enough torque to start moving, but it is also exactly the model used by todays 2nd-gen hybrid autos. In a sense diesel locomotives were the first "hybrids".
Diesel engines are much simpler than gasoline engines, will burn about anything, and use
standard fuels which require much less refining than gasoline, and are safer to store and transport. And that doesn't even consider biodiesel. We could drastically reduce our reliance on petroleum by going the diesel hybrid route.
For those interested in the effeciency of diesel/electric hybrids at the locomotive scale, there is a nice simple overview at:
I am extremely interested in diesel hybrid cars.
Bio-diesel could forstall the ever depleating oil reserves said to be overwelmed by demand by 2016. Unfortunatly for us political preasure by lobying corporations will forstall reason.
News of a diesel hybrid is very exciting. I'd like to point out that it's not only vege oil that can be used in diesel cars. As a NZer, I'm excited by my government's move toward re-using our meat industry by-product - tallow - as a fuel. Even better than growing crops to produce fuel, is using a waste product that would otherwise be of little profit for the meat industry, and be an environmental problem to dispose of. Companies like ASDA in the UK are already using chicken fat from their cooked chickens to fuel their trucks, thereby saving money and tax, and helping the environment. There is so much opportunity to improve the environment while boosting business at the same time. I hope more people will cotton on to this soon.
I found the article extremely stimulating. I think its important to mention the aspect of diesel eletric hybrid motorcycle as well. I believe there is a company working on this product called the e-cycle
I found the article extremely stimulating. I think its important to mention the aspect of diesel eletric hybrid motorcycle as well. I believe there is a company working on this product called the e-cycle
Lawson, I wrote about the e-cycle earlier: Easy (and Green) Rider
A biodiesel-based, ultra-efficient hybrid-diesel automobile & transportation system would give a putative hydrogen economy a serious challenge, especially since the infrastructure changes required are far less dramatic, the necessary technology far less speculative, and the severence of ties to petroleum nations and industries far more complete.
I do not comprehend URL. Please explain.
I reside in Trinidad in the Caribbean and purchased a Mitsubishi 4WD L200 4 door pickup with 2.5L normally aspirated diesel and the only way they come here is with a manual trans.
For the past 5+ years the engine has been operating with a fuel mix of 25% dirty sulphur laden diesel and 75% kerosene - A1 Jet fuel. The exhaust is perfectly clean. You take a gasoline engine with the best tuning and this is cleaner.
I am interested in the bio-diesel technology because the cleaner the burn the happier I am for the enviroment. My mix requires nothing special. Kerosene may not be readily available in the US or other locations. Here, kero was cheaper than diesel but the price was raised earlier this year to make them equal at TT$1.50 per liter. The US$1.00 is valued at TTS6.30 to give a comparison or US$0.24 per liter. We drill oil and have refineries and ship the products overseas. That is our local price.
By the way, in all these years, nothing has had to be touched on the engine besides the replacement of the coolant pump 2 years ago. The mileage being clocked, hard miles in the boonies as well as highway, is 350,000 kilometers fairly trouble free with minimal exhaust pollution.
From my addres you will realise that I am a friend of the enviroment using solar, wind and water as alternative renewable energy sources and encouraging others to do the same.
Hybrid-diesels are indeed a great idea within the umbrella of "each person should be moving 1,200-3,600 pounds of glass, steel, rubber and plastic everwhere they go". But personally I think that with current technology the automobile as the primary form of personal transportation is foolish.
Especially foolish when we could switch to something like http://www.skytran.net and get the equivalent of hundreds of miles a gallon, not have to deal with traffic, not have to deal with bad drivers, and not have to deal with the hassles of owning a car (insurance, maintenance, registration etc.) and get from point a to point b at 100 mph. And we could do this with directly with electric energy (the advantage being that we could generate this with [currently affordable] wind power, solar power and or tidal power).
Yes, we'll still need construction vehicles, delivery vehicles, emergency vehicles, rural vehicles, farm vehicles and some will want recreational vehicles, but that is a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of vehicles that are on the road every year. Most miles driven are sub-urban and urban, and an effient people mover is what is needed. Most commercial products could be delivered to within a couple miles of thier final destination by rail, just as fast and more efficiently than they are now.
The true cost of gas or diesel is easily greater than $5 a gallon (when federal corperate subsidies to oil companies and federal defence dollars used directly to protect US oil interests are included). Driving your car is public transportation (very, very expensive, very, very ineficient public transportation) in view of the cost of roads, petroleum subsidies, environmental damage, and loss of limb and life. Cars turn thier drivers into virtual supermen, allowing them to run at 65+ miles per hour for hours at a time while carrying extra thousands of pounds. Everyday there is evidence that people are not responsible enough to be those supermen.
While biodiesel, petroleum from thermal depolymerisation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization , and enzyme hydrolysis of plant cellulose http://www.purevisiontechnology.com/technology/hydrolysis.html all provide alternates to traditional petroleum ,there won't be enough to replace our currently wastefull usage. We need to begin moving as fast as we can towards sustainability now, that doesn't mean we must live less comfortably, but it does mean we need to think more about the consequences of all our decisions.
Locomotives, submarines and many other types of vehicles have long used diesel-electric hybrid technology in one form or another. When Chrysler showed the Dodge Intrepid diesel-electric hybrid a few years ago, I was impressed. Here was a full sized car that was getting better fuel efficiency than most small cars and was a lot more convenient to drive than other alternative fuel vehicles. The only things holding it back then was emissions, but now that we have low sulfur diesel being mandated by Washington that hurdle should be cleared, and extra cost. There was something like a $12,000 price premium tacked on to the cost of a base Intrepid and not many people would shell out that kind of money. Advances in technology since then should have brought the price premium more in line with peoples wallets now so this is the time, Chrysler. Let's get that Intrepid hybrid out of the vault, update the tech, and start putting them on the street!!
Biodiesel from algae, a long way to go
With rising oil prices and sustainability problems of mass biodiesel production (using traditional feedstocks), there has been renewed interest in producing biodiesel from algae.
The idea is not new. The nazis researched it in the 1930s, and after the first oil crisis in the 1970s, the EU, Japan, the US and Russia all launched extensive research programs into algae-derived biofuels. The results were disappointing. (Bioreactors in Europe and Japan proved to be too costly, the Russians found out they have plenty of oil and gas anyways and dropped the program, and in the US funds were slashed prematurely because of the cheap oil in the 1990s).
In 2002 a student from the University of New Hampshire (a Blue State in the US) posted an essay on the internet, projecting how algae-derived biodiesel might change America's dependence on OPEC oil. In it, he uses the extensive research which was carried out in the previous decades, and concludes that an algae-biodiesel scheme may be feasible in the near future.
Europe and Japan have already dismissed the idea, because of a simple factor: the lack of sunlight on their territories (algae need lots of it in order to be productive). In the US, the situation is different and in Southern states, there is some potential. However, as US government research indicates, a lot more biological research into aquatic species is needed before algaediesel becomes a reality.
It certainly remains an interesting topic for those who're researching alternative fuels.