Power for the future

It’s been a very busy octane fueled week for me with a motor show and the F1 circus just winding up here in Melbourne (I hope I never have to choose between gadgets and cars!) One of the things that had me thinking this week was the number of “green” cars that were on show and the varieties of methods used to get that claim. They all come down to either reducing the amount of fuel used or alternative fuel stratgies.

The low useage comes from efficiency in the use of petrol. Technologies like high efficiency diesels and regenerative power capture/return (hybrids) reduce the amount of petrol that the car uses. While this reduces emisions it is like cutting down from a 2 pack a day habit to one and a half. You’re still on the drug. Hybrids do give a good base for the developement of electric engine technology though.

Alternative fuel options come down to either electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars and biofuels. Electric a fuel cell cars are the technologies of the future. The issue they have today is that they are a diversion method, they still require the pollution to be produced somewhere else. Biofuels are the real swindle in the whole “green car” movement. While they are listed as cleaner burning, it doesn’t take into account the cost and polution of the growing, fertalising and land clearing involved in producing the plants used to make it. On top of that the production of biofuels often take the same resources that used to be used for food and have significant economic impact in this area.

To go slightly political for a moment. We are wasting our time argueing whether there is such a thing as human caused climate change. There is enough evidence to say that it is possible, there are alternatives to fossil fuels that will not run out and we would all be healthier not breathing smog. Alternative options just make sense. /political comment

There are some impressive new options being discovered in solar technologies at the moment, so the best option for the future car seems to be clear to be solar production of either electricity or hydrogen. Of the two hydrogen seems like it might have the edge, if only because there are tricky issues with batteries. Its also a solution that could easily be mainstrem in a 10-15 year time frame.

So maybe my next car might be something that looks a bit like this.