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Response to HAB911 (Reply #9)

Mon May 21, 2018, 07:10 PM

10. The demise of the ICE is another one of those popular beliefs that is not connected with reality.

I certainly don't want to place myself in the position of endorsing the car CULTure.

This said, certain kinds of self propelled vehicles would be required in a civilized world as opposed to the one in which we live.

Examples would be tractors, delivery trucks (where trains are not available), emergency vehicles etc...

As it happens, electric vehicles are often less clean than are gasoline ICE vehicles. I often point to this paper that shows that air pollution mortality in higher in China for electric cars (but not electric scooters) than air pollution mortality from gasoline powered cars:

Electric Vehicles in China: Emissions and Health Impacts (Cherry et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (4), pp 20182024).

I discussed this paper at length elsewhere: China Already Has 100 Million Electric Vehicles

The fantasy behind electric cars is that electricity is inherently clean and this is not remotely true. Almost all of the electricity on this planet is generated from dangerous fossil fuels and the fraction of world energy so produced is increasing, not decreasing. Given the number of energy transitions involved in making an electric car run, along with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, an electric car under many circumstances wastes energy and thus is very capable of being worse than a gasoline car.

To the extent we need self-propelled vehicles, I think the paper by the late Nobel Laureate George Olah is the best description of the path to reducing the unacceptably high external costs of the car CULTure, not that the car CULTure as structured now can ever be sustainable.

The highly cited paper is here: Anthropogenic Chemical Carbon Cycle for a Sustainable Future (George A. Olah*, G. K. Surya Prakash, and Alain Goeppert, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133 (33), pp 1288112898)

Of the two fluid fuels Olah proposes, methanol and DME, DME is superior by far, as it is non-toxic and has a very short atmospheric half life, about 5 days.

DME used in a diesel engine, appropriately modified to account for lubricity and DME compatible seals and injectors would be far cleaner than any electric car ever could be.

DME is also a replacement for any type of device running on natural gas, on LPG, and possibly on spark engines. It also is an excellent refrigerant, heat storage medium (as a supercritical fluid) and a very useful chemical solvent that is easy to remove simply by pressure release. It is easy to remove from water and, again, has very low toxicity.

It can be made directly or indirectly (from methanol), depending on the nature of the catalyst by direct hydrogenation of carbon dioxide.

Hydrogen, which is useless as consumer fuel but very valuable as a captive intermediate can either be made by thermochemical water splitting or thermochemical carbon dioxide splitting cycles, the latter because of the water gas shift reaction. Many of these are known. My personal favorite is a variant of the ZnO cycle, the variant producing at one step, an equimolar mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen which would be very convenient for closed combustion (smoke stack free) of waste materials and biomass, thus affording concentrated carbon monoxide as a useful intermediate for fixing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make things like polymers and carbon fiber type materials.

These thermochemical cycles, although often proposed for useless and unworkable solar thermal schemes are easily adaptable to nuclear reactors, which is why whenever I dream of nuclear reactors, I am thinking of ones that operate at much higher temperatures than those currently in use, in some cases, "pre-melted" reactors.

These very high temperature reactors would have very high thermodynamic efficiency and would in fact produce electricity as a side product and not as the primary end product.

Thanks for asking. Have a nice evening.

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HAB911 May 2018 OP
Wwcd May 2018 #1
YOHABLO May 2018 #2
Hoyt May 2018 #3
napi21 May 2018 #5
KT2000 May 2018 #4
NNadir May 2018 #6
HAB911 May 2018 #9
LineLineLineNew Reply The demise of the ICE is another one of those popular beliefs that is not connected with reality.
NNadir May 2018 #10
HAB911 May 2018 #11
NNadir May 2018 #12
Jane Austin May 2018 #7
localroger May 2018 #8
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