Tom and Ray on PBS' NOVA

Whether you believe in global warming or not is really IRRELVANT. The US has to, for economic reasons, reduce its fuel consumption and reduce imports in order to survive financially. The import imbalance is already affecting the value of the dollar; soon oil prices will be quoted in other currency, rendering the dollar to the sidelines.

The sub-prime meltdown proved to most of us that many Amercicans were living beyond their means. On a larger scale, Americans are living way beyond their means energy-wise. And, NO, there is not enough oil in the Alaska Widerness Reserve and off the coast of Santa Barbara to even remotely close this gap. The oil shales have potential, but there is not enough water in the West to extract oil from there in meaningful quantities. And yes, the Athabasca Tar Sands are in Canada, a friendly FOREIGN country that can nevertheless, sell its oil to anyone it wants.

Many posters act like persons who have maxed out their credit cards and are not modifying their lifestyle to come to terms with reality.

Tom & Ray proposed a gas tax to reduce consumption, as well as lower the greenhgouse gas generation.

Quite agree; there will be a gradual reduction in vehicle and engine size as expensive gas and the new CAFE standards take hold. Plug-in hybrids, and short haul electric cars will put a further dent in demand.

Agree that biofuels cannot make more than a 5-10% maximum constribution. Brazil is a unique situation with nearly 40% of its gasoline from sugar cane ethanol.

However, the poplulation growth will mean more vehicles, so total liquid fuel demand may only decrease marginally, but at least it won’t grow.

People will respond to a cold turkey change if it is forced on them by dire necessity. Rationig and forced recycling during WW II is a good example.

Much higher pump prices and massive investment in urban rapid transit will make a real difference. In other words, become more like Europe.

If you can’t wait until 8PM EST and you have a netflix account the NOVA program is available already!

When gas is $10 a gallon, you might be forced to move to a city to find a job. The jobs will go where they can be filled and the people will follow, just like during the Industrial Age.

It’s NOT being a skeptic…it’s being realistic. As I stated the ONLY way it will happen if it’s just ONE BIG CITY…If there are no cars then no one will live in the city…It will take DECADES IF NOT CENTURY’S for that to happen. I guarantee you’ll NEVER see it in your lifetime.

OK. I guess it was also IMPOSSIBLE the last time urbanization happened.

In the next 50 years I think cars will continue to use the internal combustion engine. The fuel will get more expensive, eventually crude oil sources for gasoline will become depleted to the point where converting coal to liquid fuel will become economically feasible and that will extend the life of the IC engine. The only thing that might change that is a radical development in electrical storage batteries that will allow them to either store a lot more dense energy, or recharge much more quickly, or both. Biodiesel, if it can be produced from sources that won’t impinge on food crops, may be a new source but that’s still using an IC engine. That liquid coal fuel could well be a diesel fuel, too.

Germany during WW II and South Africa under the Apartheit Embargo both made gasoline from coal using the Fischer-Tropsch process. With oil at $117/barrel and rising, this will soon be economical, but not environmentally friendly.

There are ways to make the process “clean”, but the total overall cost has not been determined accurately yet. At least the money would be spent inside the country, and create jobs and further economic activity.

However, burning coal in a clean power plant, and using the electricy in plug-in hybrids is more efficient for thsoe that can use a plug-in hybrid.

OK. I guess it was also IMPOSSIBLE the last time urbanization happened.

One has NOTHING to do with the other. In order for there to be NO INDIVIDUAL CARS…then we’d ALL have to be living in a city…You want to explain HOW that can happen.

I ran across a very interesting concept that is in the works in France and they claim to be coming to the US in 2010. The Air Car, a vehicle propelled by compressed Air. By using compressed air instead of batteries, a vehicle that runs on air, achieves over 100 gas-equivalent mpg and over 90 mph, has zero to low C02 emissions and seats six. Why wait to develop battery technology when all we really need is carbon fibre air tanks and the engine developed by Motor Development International. Take a look at If the technology works it could be an amazing development!!

If it’s a good trike, I will drive it. It doesn’t matter which engine gets 55 MPG.

I think flywheel energy storage may be a realistic alternative to batterys for energy recovery braking. Maybe something to make school busses, garbage trucks, UPS trucks, and other vehicles that have to make lots of stops on their routes more energy efficient.
Since it would only be asked to store the energy of a single 0-60 acceleration, it wouldn’t need to be make of exotic space age materials. Unlike a battery, it would have a nearly infinite cycle life.

How about electrified roadways? Sort of a high tech version of the way power is delivered to electric trains and amusement park bumper car rides. Now battery technology would not matter. These cars could also have a backup engine for roads not electified. It wouldn’t be simple, it’s hard to figure out how to provide a ground unless the road surface was steel.

Another idea, cities criss-crossed with high speed chair lifts like ski resorts use. Probably won’t happen because they aren’t handicapped rider friendly but wouldn’t it be a fun way to commute across town?

Or maybe not, if $10/gallon gas arrives along with $40/hour starting wages at convienience stores where the countertops have a “take a dollar-leave a dollar” basket next to the cash register.

It’s really not that amazing. Compressed air is an energy storage method, similar to a battery. An energy conversion process is still required to produce the compressed air, such as an IC engine, electric motor, fuel cell, etc. Additionally, compressing air is not an efficient process; there is significant heat loss in the compressor, which makes batteries a more practical and efficient energy storage method.

There are some current delivery type vehicles that use a compressed air system to recover braking energy. Same idea as the flywheel with simpler hardware.

When gas reaches $10 there’s going to be a MASS exodus to the cities…I don’t think so.

Cities will have to QUADRUPLE in size to accommodate everyone. And since in YOUR world there won’t be any personal vehicles we all better be living there or we’re NOT going to survive or live our lives in complete isolation.

Another point…there’s MORE THEN enough coal to be converted to Diesel in this country to keep us supplied for the next 2-3 hundred years. So we’re NOT going to run out just yet.

However, burning coal in a clean power plant, and using the electricy in plug-in hybrids is more efficient for thsoe that can use a plug-in hybrid.

Possibly true, but not necessarily relevant. People won’t switch to pure electric due to range issues, even if in reality there isn’t a range problem for 90% of their driving they’ll still want something they can refuel in minutes anywhere in the country. Plug-in hybrids will still use an IC engine of some sort. I’m sure we will see smaller, more fuel efficient, cars and various ways to squeeze more from a gallon of fuel as the price goes up. I’m just saying the IC engine will still be at the heart of them.

Again, some breakthrough battery technology could change that, but I’m not betting on it.

With a million sold by Prius alone, hybrids are out of the experimental stage, but could use further development and improvement. In the early 90s all three US car firms and several Japanese, developed mid size cars that got 3 times the mileage of a standard Ford Taurus. This was done with a diesel hybrid powertrain, very lightweight cosntruction and good streamlining.

So as a first phase, all vehicles will go hybrid, with plug-in hybrids developed for city driving and short commuting. A plug-in hybrid is probably not the best fora cross country drive with a heavy load.

Each family will own 2 types of cars; a frugal commuter and a family hauler; the hauler will also be a hybrid or diesel.

Agree; a pure electric car is a niche vehicle, such as the Tesla, or a modified golf cart. Most electric vehicles will be plug-in hybrids as soon as the price of lithium batteries comes down.

China is introducing (China only) a plug-in hybrid this year. It is made by a battrery company that bought a small car company.

I think the Car of the Future will be a moving target in the sense the infrastructure will have to be developed in parallel with the technology. Right now hybreds seem the best choice, but as battery technology and cost improve then “pure electrics” could move into the preferred choice. Eventually as hydrogen technology becomes feasible in the U.S. then that may become the best choice. This evolution could take 50 years or more. There could be regional choices depending on the driving habits and other factors. Right now I feel the country needs to commit ourselves to reverse the trend pervasive over the 20 to 30 years that bigger and more powerful vehicles are better.