Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Plug-in Hybrid Revolution

by Marcel F. Williams

General Motors yesterday introduced the production model for their new plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) which they believe will be on the market by the year 2010. The four door Chevy Volt hatchback will be able to travel up to 100 mph and will be able to run solely on its lithium-ion electric batteries for up to 40 miles before its gasoline or E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) engine kicks in.

The Chevy Volt can be fully charged in 8 hours using a standard household 120 volt outlet. But if you have a 240 volt outlet, a full charge takes less than three hours. On average, it will be six times cheaper per mile to drive the Chevy Volt on electricity than on gasoline. But even the Volt's gasoline hybrid engine will get 50 miles to the gallon. Of course, for those who drive less than 40 miles per day, they will use no gasoline at all.

However, General Motors will not be the only major automobile company coming out with a PHEV in the next few years. Toyota says it will also be coming out with it own plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2010.

A report from the Pacific Northwest National laboratory in 2007 has estimated that 6.5 million barrels of oil per day equivalent could be displaced if most cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans were plug-in hybrid vehicles. The US currently consumes about 21 million barrels a day of oil. So approximately 31% of our total petroleum consumption could be replaced or more than half of our oil imports. It would also equally reduce carbon dioxide pollution from petroleum use in the US by 31%-- if electricity generation in the US is eventually totally replaced by nuclear and renewable energy resources within the next 25 years.

PHEVs in the future could reduce our total fossil fuel transportation needs by more than 50% if they ran on methanol fuel cell technologies which are approximately twice as efficient as gasoline engines.

While the PHEV's would only be a partial solution to the problem of using fossil and foreign fuels in our transportation system, they still would be a big step forward that would allow future carbon neutral synthetic fuels from biowaste, nuclear and renewable energy systems to only have to replace 50% to 71% of our future transportation fuel needs. Now its time for the Federal government and state governments and the future president of the United States to step up and help this revolutionary transition to a new mode of light vehicle transportation.
Links and References

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory November, 2007


Jason Ribeiro said...

The coming of the Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle PHEV, along with nuclear power expansion helps complete a larger picture of energy security and show the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope GM can keep the price of this car reasonable. Meanwhile there are many current car designs available in Europe that get far better mileage than a Prius. Some of these cars are made by Ford and GM, and it's been said that they will not sell those cars here because they believe they won't sell well. If the Smart Car can sell well enough so it generates a waiting list, I see no reason why the Ford Fiesta would not sell well in America. Moreover, we must hold firm to this path, even if oil drops in price, the goal should of getting all cars to have as good or better mileage than a Prius should not waiver.

Marcel F. Williams said...

I also like Tesla Motor's Roadster electric car concept for the eco-minded wealthy. Infact, if I were wealthy, I wouldn't mind having one these darn things.

But the ultimate solution is to start producing carbon neutral gasoline, diesel fuel, methanol and aviation fuel from biowaste and aerocarbon extracting technologies combined with hydrogen via water electrolysis powered by nuclear, wind, hydroelectric and solar technologies.

Charles Barton said...

Interesting blog.

Jason Ribeiro said...

I've recently been reading about dimethyl ether or DME. This synthetic fuel has more energy per unit than diesel fuel and burns far cleaner. If nuclear can displace half of the natural gas now used to burn electricity, then NG could be converted to DME and used in our existing infrastructure with little changes. It could make a car like this emit even less, carry it farther, and reduce our foreign oil dependency as well.

Marcel F. Williams said...

Natural gas can also be converted into high octane gasoline by first converting it into methanol and then using the MTG process to convert it into gasoline. New Zealand did this back in the 1980's during the last energy crisis.

click here said...

Plug-in hybrid vehicles can recharge its batteries using the diesel engine and connecting to a common outlet. They are a type of vehicles that have had great success in recent years because they provide an autonomy greater than that of pure electric vehicles. Indeed, compared to pure electric ones are also more polluting and noisy. What do you think about this topic?

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