GM Inside News Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,194 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is going Electric / Hybrid the answer?

Going Electric or Hybrid sounds like a great idea until one considers the large number of American families making less than $22,000 a year and those that don’t have the credit to buy a car using a loan. $22,000 income is about ½ what a new Volt is expected to cost and less than a new Toyota Prius. Families in this lower income and people with bad credit rely on well cared for used cars costing less than $5000. That means buying used cars with 120,000 to 200,000 miles on them, the exact time that any hybrid or electric vehicle would need new batteries. Replacing batteries at a cost of $4000 to $10,000 is not an option for these families.

So what kind of vehicle could low income people and those with bad credit buy that reduce the amount of CO2 put in the environment and reduce our dependence on oil? Used vehicles in good condition that run on Ethanol with 70,000 to 150,000 miles that can be bought for less than $5000 at any local retailer. When fueling the vehicle with Cellulosic or Algae ethanol, these vehicles use less oil and pollute less than a Toyota Prius and are able to run for more than 200,000 miles without any major repairs.

Cellulosic Ethanol, made from municipal and farm waste, will reduce the size and number of landfills around the world, consume CO2 and reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by the same vehicles that it is being made for. By converting municipal waste to fuel, the United States would produce enough Ethanol to replace ¼ of the gasoline currently used (Technology Review Published by MIT, 2007). Coskata, a cellulosic ethanol company, states that this can be done for less than $1 a gallon in a plant that will reduce CO2 output 90% from well to wheel.

Algae Ethanol is another available fuel source that can make positive impact on the earth. It is able to consume 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 to make 100 million gallons of fuel and turn the salt water needed to run the plant into drinkable clean water (Algenol Biofuels, 2008). Alganol, a company that produces Algae Ethanol, is currently able to use non-arable land to produce 10,000 gallons of fuel per acre a year and expects to increase the production to 40,000 gallons per acre in the next few years (Algenol Biofuels, 2008). If the 68 million acres of land that has been set aside for drilling oil were used for making Algae Ethanol more than 680,000 million gallons of ethanol would be produced (Algenol Biofuels, 2008). This is significantly more than the 142,350 million gallons of gasoline used per year (EIA, 2008). Using Algae Ethanol, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe that drove 900 miles would emit 0.4 tons of CO2. The Algae plant that made the Algae fuel for the Tahoe would consume 1.0 tons to produce the fuel the Tahoe needed for the same drive. This comes out to a reduction of CO2 of 0.6 tons. Algae Ethanol is able to consume the CO2 emitted by plants and vehicles like the Prius, making it easier for us all to breath.

Thanks to advances in production, corn ethanol now generates 1.36 Btu for every Btu of fossil fuel. This compares with gasoline at .81 and Coal at .98 for every Btu of fossil fuel. Cellulosic Ethanol is even more amazing at 10.31 Btu for every Btu of fossil fuel (Hofstrand, 2007). This high return in Btu, for fossil fuel used, has allowed companies like Blue Fire, Coskata and Algenol Bio-fuels to produce fuel for a much lower cost than gasoline.

Cost is the determining factor for most people when purchasing any product, including fuel. Currently it cost $2.86 to produce a gallon of gasoline (Chevron Corporation, 2008) with oil prices at $120 per barrel. Cellulosic ethanol costs less than $1.00 per gallon (Kanellos, 2008). This low cost of production means that without government subsidy the company can produce fuel that will save the consumer money. The EPA states that a 2009 Chevrolet Impala that is flex fuel capable will get 29 mpg with regular unleaded and 22 mpg using E85 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008). With an at the pump price of $3.50 per gallon for unleaded and $2.50 for Cellulosic ethanol, the average American who drives 20,000 miles per year would save $37.00 per year using ethanol. The financial savings would not be big, but the reduction in the number of barrels of oil used and the annual Tons of CO2 would be.

I do believe the best answer would be vehicles that are charged from solar panels for electric cars, but the reality is 95% of the world could never afford such extravagance. Continued research in battery and solar technology is needed to help bring the price down of both items as well as extend the life of batteries. Until these items are addressed, our country and our world would be better served with transportation that all financial classes have access to, Cellulosic and Algae Ethanol.



Works Cited
Algenol Biofuels. (2008, September). Environmental benefits. Retrieved September 10, 2008, from Algenol Biofuels: http://www.algenolbiofuels.com/advantages-benefits.html
Chevron Corporation. (2008). The Price of Fuel. Retrieved September 28, 2008, from The Price of Fuel: http://www.thepriceoffuel.com/whataffectsfuelpricing/
Department of Energy. (2008, September). Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government. Retrieved October 7, 2008, from The Department of Energy: http://www.eia.doe.gov/basics/quickoil.html
Hofstrand, D. (2007, July). Energy Agriculture- ethanol energy balance. Retrieved September 15, 2008, from Iowa State University: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/articles/hof/hofJuly07.htm
Kanellos, M. (2008, April 7). Coskata CEO explains how to get to $1 a gallon ethanol. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from CNet.
Technology Review Published by MIT. (2007, January 19). Technology Review. Retrieved September 17, 2008, from CNet: http://www.technologyreview.com
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2008, September). Find a Car. Retrieved September 20, 2008, from www.fueleconomy.gov: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,787 Posts
nothing is the answer right now
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
No alternative energy is going to be the one size fits all answer. What IS the answer, is adopting ALL technologies to bring us to energy independence. Hybrid technology will work just as well with ethanol powered engines, as they do wth gasoline engines. Since the idea is to remove oil from the transportation fuel infrastructure, hybrids would help to augment the amount of oil that would be replaced with ethanol, and butanol fuels, as well as provide the requisite stepping stones for battery and electric propulsion systems for future hydrogen fuel cell applications. The entire big picture must be looked at, not just one tiny little section.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,019 Posts
Going Electric or Hybrid sounds like a great idea until one considers the large number of American families making less than $22,000 a year and those that don’t have the credit to buy a car using a loan. $22,000 income is about ½ what a new Volt is expected to cost and less than a new Toyota Prius. Families in this lower income and people with bad credit rely on well cared for used cars costing less than $5000. That means buying used cars with 120,000 to 200,000 miles on them, the exact time that any hybrid or electric vehicle would need new batteries. Replacing batteries at a cost of $4000 to $10,000 is not an option for these families.

First, battery replacement will be cheaper in 5-10 years when the first batch of Li-ion packs start failing.

Second, a poor family will still spend less on other types of maintenance. Simpler transmission (or none at all), less wear on the engine, brakes wear much more slowly, don't have to replace oil as often, etc etc.

The electric motor will basically be bulletproof and last at least a million miles.

I wouldn't be surprised if manufacturers start offering 150,000 to 200,000 miles on the powertrain warranty for electrically driven vehicles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
Yes! But the competition clock is ticking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,337 Posts
Thanks for that excellent posting and wealth of data. I too learn towards electric cars charged directly by solar energy from roof top arrays, plus some fuel cell cars with the hydrogen derived from water with solar-produced electricity or, better, biologically. In the meantime, we have a nice menu of options far better than fossil fuels to choose from as new techonologies evolve and are refined, such as a nex-gen E-Flex system with a fuel cell instead of an ICE.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
Diesel-electric with a direct-drive option.

Diesels are extremely efficient at a steady state operation.
On the highway use direct drive and a CVT or multi-speed auto to keep the engine at the peak efficiency. Use electrics for a boost of acceleration.
Around town, run the diesel at a steady state to charge the batteries as needed. Most of the soot from diesels comes from acceleration.

Of course diesel-electrics have only been in use for 60 years in locomotives!

This technology we have right now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
189 Posts
Hybrids are Hype-brids. period.

there is an answer, and we've had it for 50 yrs. only Americans refuse to hear it.

Its a simple answer, the Elephant in the room - which is invisible to so many Americans. Americans who are looking for that miracle cure, so they can have their space and the efficiency at the same time.

Physics forbids this, but ideologs ignore physics and so..........

Solution? - its what the rest of the ENTIRE WORLD has been doing for 50 years. Small cars. SMALL cars. Microcars.

Solution? - relax the crash standards here in the US, allow a company to make the next VW-type Beatle, something like the 2500 Tata Nano.

Also allow the *** Kei cars here (or make them here). import more alternatives to the over hyped and poor car the "Smart" Car.

make Manual tranny small cars with 2-cylinders - like most of Europe drives.

Fiat 500, Ford Ka, Toyota IQ...............................all of which are now going here to the States.


Drive those and more like them is the solution for someone poor like ME and for those who don't give a crap about "image" WRT to their wheels, but value efficiency and frugality is the moral and smart choice for a Citizen. The money I save then can go to more important things.

.............

but most of us here are still refusing to see that Huge Elephant of practicality. The solution which has always been here and always shall be here. the true question is if we will ever have the courage to see that Elephant or play Ostrich for the next 50 years.

peace.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top