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Driving Environmental Sustainability
Author: BobR    Date: 2022-09-14 12:00:00

For the last week, the news coverage has been completely awash with Queen Elizabeth death porn, and TFG's legal woes. Sure it can be entertaining, but it's starting to wear thin. So for today, I am going to step away from the popular news, and step into something a little more "comfortable" - reducing our carbon footprint.

Wait, what? That's more comfortable?

Well, point taken... Still - here are a couple things to ponder. First, is moving away from our reliance on diesel-powered trains. Sure diesel gets more MPG (or KPL, for everyone other than Americans) than gasoline, but it's dirty; it puts out a lot of soot. This is why pressure washing cathedrals and monuments seems to be a non-stop thing in Europe.

However, Germany is taking a major leap forward, by introducing Hydrogen Cell - powered trains:
German officials launched what they say is the world’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trains Wednesday, replacing 14 diesel trains that previously operated on unelectrified tracks in the state of Lower Saxony.

The 14 trains use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity that powers the engines. The German government has backed expanding the use of hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.


Alstom says the Coradia iLint trains have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a maximum speed of 140 kph (87 mph). By using hydrogen produced with renewable energy, the trains will save 1.6 million liters (more than 422,000 gallons) of diesel fuel a year.

The hydrogen is currently produced as a by-product in chemical processes, but German specialty gas company Linde plans to manufacture it locally using only renewable energy within three years.

That is outstanding. The rail system in Europe is one of the best in the world, and this solves a problem where electric trains can't be used (or where it's cheaper to use these new cars, rather than try to electrify the tracks). I hope Amtrak is paying attention, but I doubt it.

The other are in transportation that could use improvement is with hybrid cars. The reality is that for some people, they just need to drive more than they can with a purely electric car, so a compromise must be reached. I have to wonder, though - why must they be so complicated?

The simplistic beauty of an electric car is that it simply has motors on the axles, and no transmission. We are way past the point of weak electric motors not able to provide enough "oomph" (the Tesla "insane mode" has proven that). So why are hybrid cars built with complex tranmissions where sometimes the electric motor powers the wheels, and sometimes the gas engine provides "assist"?

It seems to me the solution is simple:
  1. Design the car so only the electric motors power the wheels.

  2. Include a gas engine whose sole responsibility is to spin an alternator to help charge the battery when it starts getting low.

  3. Rather than a radiator, use a thermoelectric shell (such as a Seeback Generator) to convert the waste heat to additional electricity, getting the best fuel efficiency possible.

These 3 simple things would simplify the cars mechanics, making them much less likely to have problems, and lowering the TCO of the vehicle for the consumer.

Who do I need to talk to at General Motors?

5 comments (Latest Comment: 09/14/2022 16:10:12 by Scoopster)
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