Sunday, April 22, 2007

electric cars 3

I discussed the electric car with my gear head relatives tonight. Their take on it? It would be less fuel efficient and burn more carbon to charge the batteries on an electric car than to simply drive a regular automobile. Apparently, nobody's developed a good battery yet, and that's the problem. The motors are fine. But, until we have a good battery, the electric car won't be an improvement on a gasoline car.

They seemed to think that a hydrogen car would work well, simply because its emissions would be mist or steam. They think, and this is news to me, that it would be possible to create a car that would be fueled by water, separate the hydrogen out, burn the hydrogen, and emit water mist. I have no idea how you would separate the hydrogen out of water in an automobile. But, they seemed to think it could work. In fact, the impression that I got from the die hard gear heads in the family was that hydrogen is probably the best solution, especially in regards to emissions. I have no idea how readily available it would be.

So, it's hard to tell how the problem will be solved. Chinese automakers are working hard on it though. They believe, correctly, that nobody has the advantage as far as creating a clean energy car, so if they get in now, they can compete with every country in the world. They are trying to make a hydrogen car, but say the trouble will be in creating hydrogen filling stations. Ethanol is also an option, although (and I could be wrong about this) it's extremely difficult to make and consumes more energy to create it than it would save to burn it. Natural gas cars are also in the works, although here I think the problem is the same as with ''peak oil'' and I'm not sure just how much cleaner they are. The Chinese automakers seem to agree with the gear heads I know that hydrogen is the way to go.

The Chinese automakers have an incentive that Detroit doesn't- they can corner the market because they don't have to play catch up like they would with traditional automobiles. I think they're right, and it may well be the open market that solves this problem. Odd as it might be to think it, free market capitalism could well be used to save the planet.

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