Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Some save the planet ideas worth considering, Gordon

I have in the past posted in my Dear Gordon spot some suggestions on how our government might lead the way in saving our planet (or at least our bit of it). One of which was to ban the production or importation of petrol/diesel engines and develop clean alternatives.
The following items are from gizmag emerging technologies magazine http://www.gizmag.com/ and from a favourite company of mine Nanasolarwww.nanosolar.com/nanoink.htm

Given the reluctance of the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers to sacrifice their existing markets by introducing electric motorcycles, the window of opportunity for small and innovative manufacturers to work with the Chinese manufacturing powerhouse to create pollution-free motorcycles that run at negligible cost is wide open. A new electric-only motorcycle manufacturer hit the scene this month in Thailand, moving the country ahead of many first world countries in the quest for sustainable transport. It borrows quite a bit from what has been before, but it looks the goods.

None of this is any good unless the electricity is produced by clean technology which is where Nanosolar come in;
I like this chart from their blog site: A comparison of the distance a car can drive based on either of the following forms of energy, each produced on 100m x 100m of land (2.5 acres):

Biodiesel 21000km
Bioethanol (wheat) 22,500km
Biomass to liquid 60,000
Biogas from corn 67,000

How come that biofuel does not really cut it? Electric cars are about four times more energy efficient than fuel based cars, no matter whether they are based on biofuel or other fuel. This is because any fuel engine mostly creates heat and thus wastes the majority of the available energy units. Combine this with plants not being very efficient solar energy harvesters relative to semiconductor based solar electricity, and the result is this huge difference.
In other words, it is clear that if the goal is to maximize energy efficiency, the end point to go after is all-electric cars everywhere. Moving all of transportation to all-electric would essentially cut in half our overall energy consumption while delivering the same distance.
My question is why are we not trying to develop and harvest this kind of technology here in UK? A couple of mountain sides filled with solar panels and a policy to ban petrol and diesel engines from a fixed date and we are no longer reliant on expensive foreign fossil fuel. Add to this the development of hydrogen fuel cells and we have lift off. So why are we dithering? And why are we still insisting on having 5% biofuel in our tanks?
Do you notice anything about the blog? Well it’s getting technical, I better go and have a lie down. Once I finished work propa I promised myself no more technical stuff. Back to jokes again soon I promise. I hope I represented gizmag & nanosolar well. I’m confused dot everything. I think I better ask my MP the minister for technical stuff. I don’t expect to be purchasing another car in the near future but if and when that day arrives it will not be petrol or diesel driven.

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