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Improving (by replacing) the Internal Combustion Engine

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by ChristianT, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. ChristianT

    ChristianT Newbie Orthodox

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    Considering the ever-decreasing and limited amount of fossil fuels in the earth, and the harmful effects of using the ICE, it'd be wise for us to start implementing "cleaner," more sustainable, accessible resources.

    As idealistic as my basic, quick guess as to some good replacements may be, I believe they would be much better (and free) than fossil fuels. My basic design idea would use solar, kinetic, and electric energy to power a vehicle. The concept would use solar panels of some quality, a battery to hold excess electric energy, a generator to convert that electric energy into kinetic energy (rotating the wheels about the axle), and a method to collect some of the kinetic energy from the rotating axle as more electric energy to store in the battery.

    Be advised I have zero training in Physics or mechanical engineering, but what are some advantages, disadvantages, and criticisms of my concept?
     
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  2. Ketzerei

    Ketzerei Newbie

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    I have a good criticism of your concept, and that is that there are already cars like that.

    People just aren't buying them. They're expensive, high maintenance, they take a long time to charge, solar conditions are highly variable, recharging stations are few and far between, are inefficient...

    As gas prices go up and electric cars get cheaper and better that will change.
     
  3. ChristianT

    ChristianT Newbie Orthodox

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    That was good. And to go off of that, perhaps the gas-cars : electric-cars ratio will turn out as private (school, business) computers : personal computers did, as they become more reasonably priced, more people will be willing to actually buy one.
     
  4. Desk trauma

    Desk trauma Atheist Capitalist Supporter

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    While increased usage of electric cars would reduce the amount of petroleum used in the US it would not lesson the amount of fossil fuels burned for energy it would only change where they are burned.

    If we switched to 100% electric cars, a wholly impractical switch with current tech, we would have to build more generating capacity to meet that need. With the expense of and resistance to nuclear plants that leaves coal or natural gas.

    [​IMG]

    Electric cars are, largely, coal powered cars in the US.
     
  5. Sophrosyne

    Sophrosyne Let Your Light Shine.. Matt 5:16

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    There is nothing that is really free, that is the problem of it all as people "think" solar and wind power and tidal generation is free but there is cost in researching and implementing these power types and the return on them is sometimes not as high as people think, the upkeep can be prohibitive and the initial investment can be sometimes insurmountable.
    The advantage of internal combustion is cheap fuel, ease of storage and transport of fuel, and power generation that is available 2/47 with no restrictions.
    The alternative power sources rely on the sun being available or upon weather in such as solar, wind, and tidal generators, even a hydroelectric damn needs a continuing source of water upstream to feed it so in a drought situation power generation has to be reduced.
    Solar power isn't enough daily to do a huge amount when it comes to a vehicle, that is if you had a standard size SAFE vehicle that is comparable in use to combustion engine versions you could cover it with solar panels and probably not generate 1/10 the power you could use a day IF you had sun out more than average hours without interruption. As far as getting power from the vehicle in motion, you need to study basic physics in that energy is conserved it either exists or doesn't and you don't get it from nowhere so if you are taking energy from an axle moving it will slow the vehicle down that is moving till it stops it which if the vehicle is being powered by a source of energy it will require more energy to keep it going from the energy drag upon it. For the most part mechanical based energy transmitting systems (that use energy to make work and work to make energy) lose power converting (typically into heat given off) such that each time you convert from mechanical to electrical you end up with less power than you started with. To store and release energy from batteries also has a loss associated with it. It takes perhaps 20% or more energy to store it in a battery than it ends up with in some cases the loss can be 50% or higher and batteries can self discharge over time also (but better ones typically slow enough that daily use losses are negligible).

    The one major issue is COST... manufacturing cost to the consumer, replacement costs of battery systems, and the cost of trying to generate the extra electricity from somewhere that electrical vehicles will pull of the power grid. People think they are helping the environment 100% by getting an electric vehicle but if the power plant burns fossil fuels to make the power to charge it then it isn't that cut and dried.
    You could even say if the vehicles and parts end up not being made in the US then they will be made in China and will have to use more fossil fuels to transport them overseas using combustion engines on freighters to get here.
    The major drawbacks on electrical vehicles are the initial high cost of them, the high cost of replacing the batteries, and the limited driving range of a 100% electric vehicle (no hybrid). Other drawbacks are smaller size, danger of battery damage in collisions and downtime needed to recharge batteries plus paying for a hookup at home to charge one quickly.
     
  6. ChristianT

    ChristianT Newbie Orthodox

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    So solar power is out of the question?
     
  7. Desk trauma

    Desk trauma Atheist Capitalist Supporter

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    As a replacement for current needed generating capacity with current technology, yes it is.
     
  8. Ketzerei

    Ketzerei Newbie

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    Solar power is not very practical at all.
     
  9. Sophrosyne

    Sophrosyne Let Your Light Shine.. Matt 5:16

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    Solar power is not cost effective, it tends to have to be subsidized in order for it to be implemented (people are bribed via tax returns to adopt if). If you look where there is a lot of solar power being used you will almost always see huge subsidies behind it and when those subsidies stop.. people stop buying into it.
    If solar power was cost effective we would see people buying up desert lands cheap and putting out huge solar farms but that just isn't happening.
     
  10. leftrightleftrightleft

    leftrightleftrightleft Well-Known Member

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    I read an article in a science magazine (Scientific American?) that had a hypothetical situation where you cover a large area of the Sahara in solar panels and it would still only give enough power for Europe. To power the United States on solar would involve covering a large chunk of the land area in solar panels which would cost trillions of initial installation plus trillions in upkeep, plus loss of agricultural land and wildlife territory.

    As to your original post. It would be nice to get rid of the ICE but I feel like a more effective use of our time is investing in effective and efficient mass transit and cutting down on suburban sprawl. If everyone took transit to work and walked to get their groceries, that would cut down on fossil fuels in a big way.
     
  11. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    What excess energy? There isn't enough sunlight hitting the average car rooftop to power the large loads and number of people we lug around on oil. Solar cells simply don't harness enough of the sunlight per square meter of rooftop to do drive most modern cars, let alone have excess energy to run them overnight.

    HOWEVER... I agree with you. We need electric cars, but wind and solar are intermittent and unreliable power sources. So, to keep the electricity grid ticking over reliably, we need a good strong baseload NUCLEAR grid to do somewhere around half to two thirds of the work. Renewables can do the rest.

    Also consider that the average European uses half of the oil of the average American, and that this is because of clever city design and an emphasis on public transport. America is too individualistic. If we designed more attractive and effective mixed-use cities, our energy and climate predicament would be easier to solve with the nuclear & renewable mix we'll need to switch to as climate change becomes ever more apparent, and as peak oil starts to drive up oil prices globally.
     
  12. BluhdoftheLamb

    BluhdoftheLamb Guest

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    This is silly though. Natural gas co-generators can be used to make existing facilities so much more efficient as to be able to do away with coal completely.
     
  13. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Around 70% to 80% of current American driving could be charged by the EXISTING off peak electricity. You guys, like us Aussies, use so much electricity during the day that demand then trickles down to a tiny fraction of that demand at night. Most EV's could be charged off this extra capacity at night. Indeed, with Vehicle-to-Grid cars (V2G) that might be able to sell power back to the grid during times of peak demand, at a premium, a massive EV market might even help spread the grid's load and help prevent 'Gold Plating**' of the electricity supply system.

    **Gold Plating is the Australian term for the massive over-development of the grid to cope with peak demand on the 2 or 3 highest days of demand per year, usually the hottest. I'm no engineer, but the story goes in the daily newspapers that Gold Plating could be though of as every time someone buys a large airconditioner you can add another few thousand dollars to the cost of gold plating the grid to cope with that on the days of peak demand. If many of our cars can supply local electricity straight back into the local grid, it may help reduce the cost of gold plating.
     
  14. BluhdoftheLamb

    BluhdoftheLamb Guest

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    Hey, what you're talking about is an equalizer. Here in 'Murica equalizers are guns.

    :D

    No, of course you are right, this is a thoroughly workable component of more sensible stewardship of the resources God has entrusted to us. And even if it "only" had a net effect of less than 10% of total demand? Still worth doing. That is a LOT of capacity. And it might prove to have a net effect closer to 30%. Couple that with renewables at 20 - 30%, natural gas co-generators and good use of modern nuclear technology and our carbon footprint could be a fraction of what it is today, with no sacrifice of service to anyone. (In the meantime if Americans actually turned off lights and gadgets not in use, that would make an immediate impact)
     
  15. QueSi

    QueSi Well-Known Member

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    No and yes, we could theoretically power the whole world with solar power, but after the installation there is very little labor needed. The problem would be the horrible amount of jobs lost. Check out this website, saw this program on tv a few years ago, proving that a large enough solar array in space could beam down enough power, wirelessly and safely, to power most if not all of the earth.

    http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/
     
  16. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    I'm all for space solar once we get a permanent settlement on the moon or asteroid belt. Then the solar PV can be manufactured on the moon and simply rail-gunned into orbit. But from earth? You've got to be kidding. There's simply no way to make the launch costs cheap enough. This might even be MORE expensive than trying to do land-based solar and back it up at night.

    TODAY'S NUKES
    The 3 biggest myths about nuclear power are that it is dangerous, expensive, and leaves waste FOREVER. Instead, the reality is that nuclear power is already one of the SAFEST sources of large scale power in the world, is the *only* AFFORDABLE way to cut emissions, and nuclear waste is now a FUEL that could run the world FOREVER!

    1: SAFE

    SAFEST YESTERDAY: Even yesteryears's old reactors have *already* demonstrated that nuclear power has the best safety record of any large scale energy system! As George Monbiot says: "Coal kills more people when it goes right than nuclear power does when it goes wrong. In fact coal kills more people every week than nuclear power has in the entire history of its deployment."
    George Monbiot – The Heart of the Matter

    SAFER TECHNOLOGIES TODAY: Today's Gen3.5 reactors would have *easily* survived the Japanese tsunami that took out their external cooling pumps. They not only have far better cooling systems, but even if all of those are destroyed in some freak accident, the reactor cores themselves have 'passive physics' built in so that they cool themselves down. For example, let's look at Neutron Leak. Neutron Leak turns the reactor fuel rods into a last-ditch safety feature. If ALL the 'external' cooling systems failed (and this would be remarkable!), the fuel rods would normally start to over heat, risking a reaction. But today's fuel rod technology means they can be designed to expand as they over heat. As the metal rods expand they leak the neutrons essential to keeping the reaction going. Neutron Leak means the reaction fizzle's out, and the reactor self cools. Even Homer Simpson couldn't break it!'

    SAFER TOMORROW: And as we move into Gen4 reactors there are more safety systems coming. Basically, Corporations realise that a melt down costs a lot of MONEY. They'd rather avoid all that, thank you very much! For more on passive safety systems, please read this.
    Integral Fast Reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    SAFER SITES: Nuclear Energy Parks could be cheaply* built out in the Australian outback safely away from any population areas. If some weird disastrous fluke managed to take one of these out, new reactors would be built 500 kilometres upwind and we'd quarantine a tiny fraction of our VAST deserts for a few hundred years. We'd hardly notice it. EG: I haven't been inconvenienced by the Woomera Testing Facility being off-limits, and it is twice the size of Tasmania!
    (*Power lines to a desert Nuclear Park would still be vastly cheaper than the power lines for a Renewable grid. Wind and Solar require a continent wide super-grid to bring the power from our coasts and deserts to where we live).

    Basically, banning SAFE modern nukes because of Chernobyl or Fukushima is like banning modern aviation because of the Hindenburg.

    2: AFFORDABLE AND ESSENTIAL
    There are only a few places on earth like Greenland and Tasmania with enough geothermal or hydro to run reliable Renewables. The rest of the world has abundant wind and solar Renewables, but these should be called Unreliables because of their daily and seasonal variations. We need reliable base load power generation because *nothing* can store Unreliables cheaply enough!

    Dr James Hansen, the grandfather of modern climate science, says nuclear power is the only way we'll solve climate change. He says believing in renewables alone is akin to "believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy."
    Hansen warns not to drink sustainable energy Kool-Aid | BraveNewClimate

    If we listen to him on the problem of Global Warming, why not also on the solution?According to his peer-reviewed network 'The Science Council for Global Initiatives' (SCGI) the unreliable nature of renewable technology is not solved by any storage system as they are all far, far too expensive. They are hypothetically possible but economically impossible. Instead of Renewables they should be called Unreliables.
    SCGI - James Hansen

    Tom Blees (President of the SCGI) has made his book freely available in PDF form.
    http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/pdfs/P4TP4U.pdf

    IF something better comes along we can shift to it then. But we have to act now to prevent a climate catastrophe. We cannot let wishful thinking daydream our way to disaster. Renewables are too expensive. They're only cheap if ignore the coal-fired grid backing our systems. EG: If you stick some Solar PV on your roof and over 30 years measure the cost / output, it's wonderful. But that ignores the fact that the Solar PV is only giving you a third of your power each day. The rest relies on a coal-fired power grid. Then there's seasonal fluctuations where the solar input is really low on dark wintery days. Read Professor Barry Brook on the cost of trying to make solar and wind 'base load', that is, reliable 24/7. Unreliables might be technically feasible but they are economically impossible. Dreams and good intentions with renewables are not going to solve the Global Warming crisis. Only hard nosed, tried and true engineering solutions can save us.
    Renewable Limits | BraveNewClimate


    3: FOREVER FUEL
    Tomorrows reactor's will eat nuclear waste! Generation IV nukes are based on known physics from over 300 Reactor Years running Breeder Reactors. We have demonstrated the physics in reactors like the EBR 2. We know the physics and the engineering. We've already done this!
    Experimental Breeder Reactor II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (The EBR2 was one of the world's first Integral Fast Reactors, see below).

    GenIV reactors are slowly being commercialised. The only delays are in commercialising some cheaper systems and materials.
    Generation IV reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    General Electric's S-PRISM is being designed small and modular so that components can be put on a production line. This will become an assembly line, mass produced nuclear reactor! The components are then be trucked to site for fast assembly. Putting nukes on the production line will raise safety standards and sink costs!
    S-PRISM - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The S-PRISM is just one example of a whole category of GenIV reactors called the Integral Fast Reactor
    Integral Fast Reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Integral Fast Reactor's convert today's nuclear 'waste' into fuel. Instead of being a problem, nuclear waste is THE solution! Some countries already have enough 'waste' (unused fuel) to run them for 500 years!

    Nuclear power AND renewables can do the job. If we let nukes just have the majority of the base load share (say 60% or 70% of the daily requirements of energy on the grid) then renewables can probably handle the rest. Anything higher puts stress on the grid.

    Gen4 nukes are the forever machine!
    A/ We can extract uranium from seawater at $300 a kilogram.
    B/ This is about the size of a golf ball and could power your entire life, cradle to grave, on just $300 fuel! (Nukes themselves are the expensive bit, the fuel is dirt cheap).
    C/ As mountains rise and continents move the weather grinds uranium dust back down into the ocean faster than we could use it. This is how Gen4 nukes could run the world for a few hundred million years on the uranium in sea-water.
     
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