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Just Drive, She Said
Author: BobR    Date: 01/16/2008 13:26:33

And then she told me "Just shut up
And keep your eyes on the road"
"And just drive," she said
- Stan Ridgway


As we continue to push mass transit as a big factor in our greenhouse gas equation, we fail to take into account our country's love of the automobile. It's not just that it's an expression of who we are - it's an expression of independence. It's the love of liberty (or the idea of liberty) that drives (sorry for the pun) our love for our cars. Since we will never be able to get rid of cars, we need to make them run as cleanly as possible. How do we make a perfect car?

First - let's start out with the current state of affairs. The most promising future seems to be the hybrid. It gets great gas mileage, and runs on gasoline - for which there is already an entrenched infrastructure for fuel distribution. What improvements can be made to this design?

One being considered by Toyota already is to use only the electric motor for the first 40 miles. This way no gasoline is used at all until the battery is discharged a certain amount. If this is combined with the ability to plug it in to recharge, it's possible the car would never burn gasoline at all for owners that have a shorter commute.

What other changes could be made to the hybrid? Two immediate changes come to mind:
  • Recharge Only: The gas engine should only be used to recharge the batteries, never to power the wheels directly. This is how diesel trains work.

  • Diesel gas: Speaking of diesel, those engines use less fuel then typical gasoline engines. That's why in most European cities, the vehicles are mostly diesel. Changing the gas engine to diesel would increase the mileage even more. They could even configured to run on biodiesel!

But what can we do to create the "perfect" car, and just how feasible is it? The goal should be "no petroleum used in the car at all". So:
  • Bio-plastics: All plastic parts in the car should be made from bio-plastics. These are plastics made from vegetable oil instead of petroleum. The technology is already there for some types of plastics.

  • Standardized power connectors: How long have we been using the cigarette lighter as a power source? It's stupid that this hasn't changed yet. The cigarette lighter was NOT designed to be used as a power plug, and as such, it does not do a very good job as one. Cars should also contain an AC power plug too.

  • Standardize devices to 12VDC: A little off track, but why can't all personal electronics standardize on 12VDC as an external power source? Most devices have these "wall wart" AC adapters that convert 110VAC to any number of AC/DC values. If they were all 12VDC, they could all just plug straight into the car power port described in the previous item. (credit to Douglas Adams..)

  • Car is 100% electric, no gas: The car should be powered by electricity only, with no petrol used at all

Whoa, wait a minute on that last one. How can we make that work when the country is so large and some people need (or want) to drive longer distances than can be accommodated on a single charge? The reason we are still using gasoline is that when we're on a road trip, we can pull into a gas station and refill in about 5 minutes.

A few months ago, I posted a story on our message board about a new technology that was being patented for a high-capacity capacitor. The short version, is that the capacitor stores electricity directly, rather than as an electro-chemical potential. If it can be made small enough, it could be used as a replacement for the battery in an electric car. An electric car company (Zenn Cars) thought it was promising enough to buy up the capacitor-developing company.

What may really push this battery replacement into reality is the fact that they recently got a contract to develop these for the military. This is sort of a "back-door" funding boost for the research needed to make these a reality. If the military wants this technology, it will happen. This may be one of those cases where the military pushes a technology that transcends to the civilian market.

Why are these capacitors the key? As mentioned before, one of the benefits of gasoline is that a car can be refilled in about 5 minutes. These ultra-capacitors can be recharged quickly as well. There are other power technologies that can be recharged quickly (like fuel cell, or biodiesel), but the problem is - there is no infracstructure in place for them.

Electricity, however is already there. Every gas station in the country already has electricity. All it would take would be to add some "electric pumps", with price meters, so the customer can be charged (sorry for the pun) and the station owner earn their keep. There's a company that's already planning to build charging stations, so everything is falling into place.

Imagine driving your electric car cross-country, and the charge is getting low. You pull into a "gas" station, recharge it in about 5 minutes, and continue on down the road.

This could happen within 5 years. No more gas-fueled cars.

Imagine...


203 comments (Latest Comment: 01/17/2008 04:07:37 by livingonli)
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Comment by velveeta jones on 01/16/2008 13:39:08
Okay, I'll entertain......again. But I'm gonna have to start charging soon!





Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 13:47:00
Quote by velveeta jones: Okay, I'll entertain......again. But I'm gonna have to start charging soon!
I'll help you there!

Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 13:52:20




Rachel is making me Smaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhht!



Paul on with her right now about Michigan, and how the war and veteran's issues are being swept under the rug...something ridiculous like less than 5% of all news so far this year has been about the war, vs. 50% or better about the presidential elections...





Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:01:11
IT seems as tho the war has all but been forgotten, these days.



At least you would think that by watching ALL the candidates.



Looks like it will be a rough day on the market.

Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 14:02:20
Aaaand here's one of our offerings at AthenaCafe today:



Market Deli:

Hot Rachael on Marble Rye with Swiss Cheese, Spicy Mustard, and Fresh Cole Slaw Served with Potato Chips...



:thud:



Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:07:46
I love the mac book AIR!







Comment by m-hadley on 01/16/2008 14:09:47
Mornin' Everybody,

I am spittin' mad this morning - not one question or mention in last night's debate from/about Natives in America. You'd think that in all that talk about yucca mountain nuke dump somebody would have mentioned the Western Shoshone on whose homeland the dump is located. I heard talk about absent African-American fathers, Hispanic workers, and even a few passing references to Asian-Americans, but not one mention of the original Americans. What's up with that???

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:10:40
:rofl: Don't Block the Shot!

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:13:30
Quote by m-hadley: Mornin' Everybody,

I am spittin' mad this morning - not one question or mention in last night's debate from/about Natives in America. You'd think that in all that talk about yucca mountain nuke dump somebody would have mentioned the Western Shoshone on whose homeland the dump is located. I heard talk about absent African-American fathers, Hispanic workers, and even a few passing references to Asian-Americans, but not one mention of the original Americans. What's up with that???
Not one question? That is ALMOST stunning.



ALMOST. I came home in time to see just the last half hour. I certainly hope Edwards had some more speaking time than the little that I saw.







Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:19:08
eew... Willards hair was mussed? That means someone ruffled that greasy magey head of goop?

Comment by livingonli on 01/16/2008 14:20:26
Good morning everyone.



It must be nice to live in that little bubble like Bill-O does.

Comment by BobR on 01/16/2008 14:21:03
Sorry for the delay, but today's bloggie post is up.



FourFreedomsBlog apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the delay...



Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 14:23:49
Quote of the day:



No wonder Americans hate politics when, year in and year out, they hear politicians make promises that won't come true because they don't even mean them - campaign fantasies that win elections but don't get nations moving again.



Bill Clinton, Detroit Economic Club, August 21, 1992

42nd president of the United States (1946 - )





Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 14:25:11
mitt's bad hair day:



http://www1.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/475379/2/istockphoto_475379_bad_hair_day.jpg


Comment by livingonli on 01/16/2008 14:29:32
Mommy! Fix my hair!

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:29:56
:clap: BobR!







Comment by m-hadley on 01/16/2008 14:42:10
Sweet Jesus I Hate Chris Matthews who now has apparently transfered his man-crush to Hillary Clinton - No gender-bending there???

mfhadley



Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:43:18
Momma it's not WHAT you say, it is what you are not saying. I am very very happy to hear that likes Edwards!!!

Comment by BobR on 01/16/2008 14:43:41
Quote by m-hadley: Sweet Jesus I Hate Chris Matthews who now has apparently transfered his man-crush to Hillary Clinton - No gender-bending there???

mfhadley



Was that over the top, or what? He was practically grovelling...

Comment by shelaghc on 01/16/2008 14:44:50
I wish I could listen today - I have so few days left to hear an actual radio with Steph and other progressive radio.



:::sigh:::::



Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:45:20
Quote by m-hadley: Sweet Jesus I Hate Chris Matthews who now has apparently transfered his man-crush to Hillary Clinton - No gender-bending there???

mfhadley

I swear to god, last night I thought he was suddenly in love with her!



Personally I think Tweety's ego was a little crushed with all the sites out there accusing him of his mysogyny.



AND... did anyone else notice that KO and Tweey were put in thier own corners yesterday?



Comment by velveeta jones on 01/16/2008 14:46:08
CARS!! Velveeta like de cars!



I'll take a '68 Charger RT and '69 Shelby Mustang GT350 :drool:

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:46:29
Quote by shelaghc: I wish I could listen today - I have so few days left to hear an actual radio with Steph and other progressive radio.



:::sigh:::::



:hug:



What the countdown down to now ?

Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:47:36
:yawn:



Good morning.

The good news is my ex finally gave me back my router, so now I can listen to Momma on my home laptop while working on my office laptop. Yippy!



The bad news is I think I am losing heart. I am trying to talk to people about John Edwards and why he would be good for this country and how he is the only one who can restore the equilibrium that has been eroded since the Reaganomics.

The nod their heads and give me the obligatory "uh huhs" but when all is said and done they say "Yeah, but it will be historical to elect the 1st black president."

People will continue to vote against their own best interests this year because it's more important that they help "make history."







Bobber....nice blog. Isn't it amazing how the technology is there and, because of GeeDubya, it's being wasted. F*ckers.

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 14:48:18
BTW M-hadley, not sure if you saw this, but iffin you'd like, you can pick a personal emoticon for your posts by going up to manage emoticons, pick one that you like and save it!



(you can change them too!)





Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:50:26
This caller is gonna spin out of control.

Comment by shelaghc on 01/16/2008 14:51:23
My kitties and I will be heading out on January 23rd - I'll be able to listen via the car radio. I'll get them marginally settled, then head back with two seriously conservative friends on the 25th.



26th (a Saturday) is packing the truck, cleaning and final moving day. So the last time I'll be able to listen to anything progressive outside of Thom Hartmann on a radio until I can get someone to invest in real fair and balanced radio.



Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 14:51:55
Just read the blog post...after having recently watched "Who Killed the Electric Car", I'd say I'm squarely in the demographic.



I have a four mile commute, and I try to ride my bike whenever feasible. Everything I need in the city where I live is within a 5-mile radius of me, and my family lives within 20 miles of me.



There is no *real* need for me to own a gasoline-powered vehicle, but can I buy an alternate-fuel car? Certainly not in this Commonwealth...we can't buy a new diesel due to the pollution regulations. (but there is a loophole, I can buy a 'used' one out of state and then register it here.)





Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:52:24
But, why Stephanie? Why is Obama a "better candidate?" She never says.

Because he's a good speaker? Because it will prove that "America isn't racist?"

I just want people to tell me why he is the best choice.





Comment by BobR on 01/16/2008 14:52:33
Quote by Raine: BTW M-hadley, not sure if you saw this, but iffin you'd like, you can pick a personal emoticon for your posts by going up to manage emoticons, pick one that you like and save it!



(you can change them too!)





It's actually under the "Set User Options" button...

Comment by m-hadley on 01/16/2008 14:53:24
Excellent comment although delivered in a rather overwrought voice. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy does discriminate against gays and that is in direct violation of most colleges' anti-discrimination employment policies - an excellent point that none of the candidates mentioned last night - hrrrumph!!

Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:53:43
It's because they are scared of Dennis. He is the Jiminy Cricket and they don't want to hear it.



Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:55:04
George Bush looks people in the eye and seemed like a "nice guy" and he's done a real bang up job!



Comment by BobR on 01/16/2008 14:55:19
Quote by starling310: But, why Stephanie? Why is Obama a "better candidate?" She never says.

Because he's a good speaker? Because it will prove that "America isn't racist?"

I just want people to tell me why he is the best choice.





He gives a good speech anyway. He was a bit fumbly in the debates last night.

Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 14:59:18
Clinton and Obama are appealing to people's fears that they will be viewed as racist or mysogonist if they don't vote to make "history." I hear it in people's "reasons" every day and it's starting to make me nuts.



What's Obama's health care plan?

Hmm...I am not sure.....



What's Obama's feeling about Unions?

I don't know. But, he probably supports them.



etc



etc



etc



Comment by shelaghc on 01/16/2008 14:59:25
I swear to god - they deliberately put people who are cancelling services into a loop where they *can't* talk to anyone!

Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 15:01:24
Quote by shelaghc: I swear to god - they deliberately put people who are cancelling services into a loop where they *can't* talk to anyone!




Ha!



You're probably correct.



Comment by livingonli on 01/16/2008 15:01:52
Quote by m-hadley: Excellent comment although delivered in a rather overwrought voice. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy does discriminate against gays and that is in direct violation of most colleges' anti-discrimination employment policies - an excellent point that none of the candidates mentioned last night - hrrrumph!!


I remember when "don't ask, don't tell" was touted as a compromise when Bill initially promised to end the ban on gays in the military, but then it ended up having no effect as the brass would conduct witch hunts to weed out anyone suspected of being a homosexual. "Don't ask, don't tell" maintained the status quo of the outright ban.

Comment by m-hadley on 01/16/2008 15:02:33
How's this - not too original, but Raine already has the martini =)

Comment by livingonli on 01/16/2008 15:05:37
Quote by m-hadley: How's this - not too original, but Raine already has the martini =)


Shh, don't tell wicked pam (aka Mala).

Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 15:12:06
Quote by m-hadley: How's this - not too original, but Raine already has the martini =)
Why you may have a too!



be still my heart, does our Blograrian lurve the MArtini's too???



Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 15:13:23
Quote by starling310: But, why Stephanie? Why is Obama a "better candidate?" She never says.

Because he's a good speaker? Because it will prove that "America isn't racist?"

I just want people to tell me why he is the best choice.



Excellent question! You know the newest spin I have been hearign this week is how similar the platforms are of Hillary and Obama.



So why is he different?











Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 15:14:51
PLEASE NOTE! I did some serious Cub reporting on the story yesterday!

Comment by livingonli on 01/16/2008 15:15:27
Rudy needs a sacrifice to the gods of 9-11.

Comment by wickedpam on 01/16/2008 15:17:34
Morning! :hug:

Comment by TriSec on 01/16/2008 15:19:24
Quote by Raine:
Quote by m-hadley: How's this - not too original, but Raine already has the martini =)
Why you may have a too!



be still my heart, does our Blograrian lurve the MArtini's too???







Hmm, m-hadley is new here and probably hasn't seen my recipe...



Which I decided too late to have one tonight with the Mythbusters, but it won't be made properly now.







Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 15:19:32
Quote by Raine:
Quote by starling310: But, why Stephanie? Why is Obama a "better candidate?" She never says.

Because he's a good speaker? Because it will prove that "America isn't racist?"

I just want people to tell me why he is the best choice.



Excellent question! You know the newest spin I have been hearign this week is how similar the platforms are of Hillary and Obama.



So why is he different?









Oh my goodness. . . he's black.



I've said it before and I'll say it again, if that's the ONLY reason you can give me for why you'll vote for him, do some research and get back to me.







Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 15:20:18
Oh dear. is in a state again today.



Comment by Raine on 01/16/2008 15:22:15
oh, btw, Glad you got your router back.. and please do not lose



That is why we are here for each other!



Did I tell you I am going to see John on Saturday? HE is speaking right here in Atlanta! FREE!



Comment by starling310 on 01/16/2008 15:25:44
Quote by Raine: oh, btw, Glad you got your router back.. and please do not lose



That is why we are here for each other!



Did I tell you I am going to see John on Saturday? HE is speaking right here in Atlanta! FREE!





Awesome!

Tell him to start talking more about Corporatism and Economics! LOUDLY!