The fuel of electric cars – Ideas & suggestions
Hi there good to see you made your way here! I Assume you came from this video 🙂 If you haven’t watch it!
My original plan wasn’t to make this heavy video about electric cars, just wanted to visit a lithium mine. But the more I dove into it the more I became aware of the big footprint electric cars have. Just being in that massive lithium mine you could easily see this becoming a problem in the future, we already consume many resources and this whole market is just getting started.
So decided to fully dive into the topic and make a video about it to share with you guys.
Big problems like this can be approached in many ways. I usually think in long term solutions and short term. Short term is great because we can just start and implement it, damage control. Long term requires more thinking and understanding of the problem and really tries to go to the root. I believe both are crucial.
Here are a few things that popped my mind
– We could move closer to our work, saves a lot of time and transportation every day.
– Cycle to work and don’t waste that energy in the evening in the gym
– Sell your car and buy a motorbike if you travel solo.
– Share more rides with eachother
– Improve public transport, make it more convenient and easy to use
– Work on systems/apps/applications that make it easier to share rides
– Develop more smaller vehicles, most cars are driven by just one person a time.
– Rethink our transportation system. For instance : Nobody owns a car, all cars are public and you only pay for each ride. Car manufactures will sell less cars. But they might be able to fill that gap with maintenance and keeping the system running.
These are just a few ideas that popped my mind. Let me know your ideas or suggestions
Here’s some ideas that I’ve had:
Modular cars/motorcycles. If you drive alone, you take your driving module made for 1 person. If somebody joins, you attach their module to yours and you can drive together.
I think VR, as hyped as it may be, might also help in reducing transportation in general. I mean skyping, phonecalling, e-mailing, etc don’t come close to giving the same interaction as a face to face meeting. I don’t think VR is at that point right now either. But I see there’s a potential for creating a digital environment that makes you interact with somebody else far away from you. I don’t think it will ever fully replace a real life meet up but might come very close to teleportation useful in specific purposes.
My two cents.
India is the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world in 2018. I am not sure if you have heard this or not, but the Indian govt. is planning to shift to electric cars by 2030 which essentially means all the cars(Refer http://www.knowindia.net/auto.html for numbers) running in India as of now will end up in garage similar to those shown in video.
What if we try to convert those gasoline cars to electric cars? People have done this before and even posted YouTube videos. What is lacking is a set of tutorials and standardization of parts(similar to what Dave has done with precious plastic machines). This will help in reducing the carbon footprint by a huge margin. We don’t need a new chassis, body, interiors, tyre etc. for an electric car, just Motors, batteries and a few electronics. Sometimes, even different models from same manufacturers share common engine. So, the motor mounting part will essentially remain same.
A huge number of cars manufactured in India are exported too (0.7 million in 2018 alone). So it won’t just benefit people in India, but across the globe.
A longer term approach. Let’s begin with the energy source and how to harness it as efficiently as possible. I believe this would require Space Based Solar Power https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power
The issue with this is currently launch costs of the huge panels – at least until space elevator tech is available.
I was wondering if we should ponder making the panels in space. I have not thought this through or researched it yet. My initial thought is – prospecting the asteroid belt and sending the candidate rock into an elliptical orbit round the sun close enough to the sun to crystallize the silicon. Not sure what happens with impurities while in this orbit or as it cools.
Then robots would arrive at the object to begin cleaving operations etc. Semiconductor manufacturing in zero gravity and extreme temperatures both hot and cold depending on orientation may have advantages. Don’t know.
Is this idea worth pondering further?
Hey Dave, great to see you keep tackling big problems
electric cars are still better overall than petrol, if we switched all the infrastructure we’d be better off.
Other technologies could be cleaner, for example hydrogen. But they require heavy tanks and doesn’t make sense in cars. Will make sense in big shipping boats for example.
Self driving cars will be a massive disruption when they are implemented. The need to own a car will decrease and ‘summon’ a car and pay only for the distance you travel will make more sense and be as convenient as getting a taxi and hopefully as cheap as public transport. The tech is almost there now we need the government support.
This is something I’ve also been thinking about, trying to use what we learned from Precious Plastic to do the same with ‘car waste’ (Precious Cars? :P). All around the world there are car cemeteries with valuable materials sitting there rusting. How could we create a DIY car recycling program? It’s not as ‘easy’ as plastic because it requires a big space to store and process the products.. Maybe car scrap yards run by volunteers or robots.
Pedal powered is great but won’t get you far or fast and in this day an age we want everything right now. If we had all the time in the world yes, if we didn’t have to work so much we could spend more time on this. A pedal powered car, a pedal powered train.. A fleet of cyclist couriers that deliver parcels and letters so effectively get paid to cycle. It’s so weird that people actually PAY to cycle when they go to a gym. (pedal powered shredders..)
Anyway I may be digressing but hopefully it will inspire some ideas, let’s see how we can solve this problem! 🙂
Great work Dave! I loved the photography on the first part of the video.
Well, I have some comments and a suggestion. There is a theoretic issue, what would happen if every car were electric and used battery?.. I think the footprint would be much more. Except for manufacturing, many of those batteries would be thrown in earth or oceans. However, it is said that batteries are able to be totaly recycled and if it’s true, after manufacturing a car, theoritically, you don’t need any more resources, so the car’s usage will be totally “green”. I am not sure, but that would be a solution on transportation. Also, a battery could be charged by wind turbines, an energy producer that can be made on low technology and footprint.
But generally, I don’t believe in batteries. Transportation is another consumable product, it’s difficult to be of no cost and no footprint. So, first it’s better to reduce it and stay locally! When you really need it, the perfect way I can think is this: fixed track vehicles(railway) powered by the grid on (really) renewable energy.
And never forget sailing !!
This link might be relevant, as an example of the way electric vehicles could have a smaller footprint:
And there is this article too:
But I agree that we do need to adjust the way we travel.
I guess that by converting petro/diesel vehicles – and extending their lives – it should at least reduce the amount of embodied energy required to otherwise scrap and replace all the existing stock. Vehicle manufacturers won’t like the idea – and neither will most car purchasers (who always like an excuse to get a newer, shinier, model).
However, the real need is to massively reduce the number of cars on the planet.
How will India be generating the electricty needed to power all these electric cars? The graph below (obtained from here) suggests it will be by burning coal.
A similar problem exixts in most countries of the world – as the increase in electriciy demand for electric vehicles will outstrip any projected increase in electricy generation from renewable sources.
Using electric vehicles only make sense as a way to reduce localised polution in large cities. But it won’t do anything to reduce global transport CO2 emissions. Only using fewer cars, and changing the way we move around, will help that.
Just came across this video which kind of shows the idea talked about above with the VR/AR. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d59O6cfaM0I imagine this more like a place where you can go to use this, instead of everybody having this at home. This would potentially solve the issue which you’ve struggled with before I believe @davehakkens : Being able to give a presentation and inspire people without flying there for that sole purpose. Still a long way to go before we’re at that stage though, but I think there’s something to it.
One alternative fuel for possible transport use, which I think deserves a little more thought, is methanol
It has a major advantage in that it is able to be burned in conventional internal combustion engines (it is used in motor sport, for safety reasons – as methanol fires don’t produce opaque smoke, and extinguishing is easier)
Methanol can be manufactured from the pyrolysis of wood (hence its alternative name of wood alcohol). Although currently most is made from methane gas
Being a liquid, it is easier to store than other secondary fuels such as hydrogen or electricity. And as it burns relatively cleanly, it doesn’t polute the local atmosphere so much with exhaust products
It does have its problems – but so do all the other fuel systems. If there was an easy alternative to petrochemical fuels, we’d probably all be using it already
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