This is the "Start Page" for our new collaborative group on Ecological Transportation. This is an initiative of Jeff Buderer and Sola Roof Guy (Richard Nelson) and we are looking for lots of people here who may not see Sola Roof as a main passion but who are serious about solutions for transportation that are sustainable and harmonious with Ecological Habitat?.
The idea is that if we see Sola Roof as a complete integrated whole systems approach then we need to address transporation issues and consider how they fit into the equation.
Eco Centre?/Ecovillage Transportation
Electric vehicles powered by hub motors in light, possibly three wheeled vehicles seem to one compelling, sustainable alternative to the gas powered car. In this configuration electrical energy is created or stored onboard. It is good to used stored electrical energy since this is especially clean - creating no CO 2? and no other pollutants - which on a mobile platform cannot at this time be realistically sequestered.
Its worth noting the electrical car is not a new technology. It was around since there have been cars but it lost out in to fossil fuel power vehicles. Recently in the 1990s California tried to force the Automakers to produce electric powered cars. However because their widespread concerns about the potential ramifications of a electric car based economy, it was allowed to fail. This is documented in the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car" which was recently documented by PBS’ NOW http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/223/index.html .”
Biofuel powered vehicle increases the level of complexity in designing and building the power train. More energy is also converting and processing the biofuel into a form that can be readily be used in a vehicle engine. However more challenging for global warming is the issue of how to design a biofuel power train that allows the CO 2? to be captured instead of releasing it into the atmosphere as a GHG. On the positive side, recent developments have allowed for the development of electric vehicles E Vs? that are extremely fast, can recharge in 1 – 3 hours and have a driving range of almost three hundred miles.
The Sola Roof vision of Eco Transport involves us charging our motorized vehicles while we are sleeping. This system to be most sustainable will use the same distributed electric power system that handles our daytime (active) electrical demand can be used at night (down time) to charge the electric vehicles. Such a system can be easily designed to use underutilized generating capacity - reducing cost.
Connecting such electric powered vehicles with stationary power plants that use biofuel and the CO 2? produced is easily captured and feed back to the cultivation of more biomass is key to this being a truly sustainable solution.
Over 50% of electrical energy is produced from coal at the very highest cost to the environment. Yet despite a common perception that E Vs? using electricity is made from fossil fuels would not be an improvement over the status quo, according to the economist, “several studies have shown that electric vehicles which draw their power from a grid that is itself half coal-fired (as America's is) produce less in the way of greenhouse gases than an average petrol-driven car.” The Economist article (http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=7218442) references showcased the new luxury EV that was debued in Santa Monica CA by Telsa Motors company started by the founders of Pay Pal? and Google.
Other RE Power Vehicle Options
Aluminum/air fuel cells - power vehicles by charging onboard battery banks. These fuel cells have the power density of petrol but are not explosive at all and are indefinitely recycled (recharged). Aluminum is the most abundunt metal at 12% of the earth's crust.
Super flywheels - hold an energy charge equal to that of petrol. They are not very heavy but spin a very high RPM (20,000) and use frictionless bearings and vacuum. They can charge and discharge for ever and are very practical systems for fast absorption of breaking energy and fast release of power for acceleration. The most efficient system would be to integrate the flywheel into one of wheel/motor units.
Supercapacitators - Usually not standalone systems their fast charge/discharge (also with very long life) capabilities can be used used in hybrid systems to provide a jolt of power on a hill when the batteries and engine are both maxxed out.
The idea of using conventional electrolysis to power vehicles still persists despite the fact that this process consumes more energy than it produces and so it makes no sense to power a vehicle this way. However free energy folks have discussed a modified hydrolysis technique which sends a spike of electricity to expand the electron bonds of the water molecules but does not completely break them into H and O. The resulting “vaporized water gas” is supposedly explosive and can be injected into an internal combustion engine as an alternative to gasoline.
Detroit would never deliver such solutions even though the technology is all available. However the technology is becoming within reach of a DIY solution for transportation. There are special interest groups working in this direction - for example human powered vehicle association and the tilting trikes groups.
Such technology should be of core interest to Eco Villages as it has the potential to be a beautiful potential cottage industry to sustain the development of these communities.
The Bottom Line: Electric motors are the most efficient way to power vehicles as compared to pressurized biogas, bio-diesel or alcohol.