A University of Michigan researcher thinks we can triple the fuel economies in our petroleum-powered vehicles in the next 25 years. All we need to do is replace horsepower with brainpower.
John DeCicco, a lecturer at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at Michigan, isn't bearish on alternative fuels or electric vehicles, but he argues that the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon footprints and keeping fuel prices from swallowing us whole is an evolutionary progress in the combustion engines that already make up our transportation paradigm. That means placing efficiency above power, and adopting smarter electronic systems for our automobiles.
In a study published for The Energy Foundation, DeCicco identifies emerging trends within the automotive world that are already pushing buyers away from raw power and toward other amenities, like Bluetooth connectivity, on-board Internet, and other IT amenities that enhance the customer experience minus the big block V-8 engine.
As cars grow friendlier from a passenger standpoint, they should also grow smarter under the hood. For one, reduced engine size and overall mass is an easy way to increase efficiency – DiCecco's math says for every 10 percent reduction in weight, you get a 6.5 percent increase in fuel efficiency – but the inertial recovery of regenerative brakes on hybrids can push that efficiency higher. Add in an optimized powertrain and efficiency increases further.
Moreover, some concept cars have been experimenting with lightweight body materials like composites, increased aluminum and magnesium content, and carbon fibers that further reduce weight without reducing size, meaning we can keep our leggy sedans while still pushing up efficiency. Layer that with better aerodynamic designs, reduced tire drag, smarter transmissions, and leaner, lighter engine blocks – a real contributor to mass – and pretty soon you've got a smarter power source pushing 20 percent less weight (780 pounds for light fleet vehicles, or 30 pounds per year over the 25 year horizon).
Materials have to be safety rated, technologies proven, and – perhaps most importantly – customer appeal retained. But as DeCicco sees it, there's no reason why a persistently evolving suite of improvements can't hit an average fleet efficiency of 52 miles per gallon by 2025 and 74 miles per gallon by 2035.
Such technologies would allow the existing energy scheme to persist, albeit more efficiently, while nascent tech like biofuels and all-electric vehicles can come into their own at a reasonable pace (we also need time to upgrade our energy grids before shifting to an all-electric economy). Drivers would have to give up some of the get-up-and-go they've come to expect from generations of American muscle cars, but the savings – according to DeCicco's models – would be vast.
For more details on how we get there from here, download a PDF of DeCicco's study.
Leave my horsepower alone!!!!! Leave it aloonnneeee!!!!!!
lol j/k aside, I bet if we can curb traffic (no pun intended) we can save a huge amount of gas and hinder pollution.
I do not disagree that we should seek and get greater efficiency from our various modes of transportation - from bicycles to passenger jets. With respect to autos, I have concerns about safety, especially during a transition period from two-ton cars, to one-ton cars not only from the standpoint of the two types colliding but also, controlling them under windy conditions. I am certain however, those things will work themselves out over time and lives.
Now then with regard to the statement: " but the savings – according to DeCicco’s models – would be vast."
Gasoline savings? Why save gasoline, what inherent value does it possess? Is gas like gold, a store of value?
No, petrol is useless for any other purpose than burning it and there seems to be plenty of petroleum around for petro-chemical feedstock. As far as I am concerned, burn it, burn it all and once it is all gone, perhaps then we will stop seling our national security and our economy, to oil rich nations. Depleting the resource sooner rather than later will force us to accelerate conversion to greater fuel efficiency and alternative clean technologies than will positively impact numerous industries and the economy as a whole.
Highly doubtful under any scenario. The transition from one technology to another will be massively expensive - in capital terms and to the end user.
The average price of a Ford in the US is already more than $30,000. The Chevy Volt, a transition vehicle, is currently priced at more than $40,000. The long term benefits are clear but short term, 20 or 30 years, not so much.
Money only has value for what it can buy. Saving it for the sake of saving it, is at best cautious and at worst pessimistic about the future. Any farmer or rancher will tell you that money does literally grow on trees and, that you have to spend (risk) it to make it.
Money also springs forth from the minds of creative people. Withold or slow the pace of developing the fertile fields of Silicon Valley, and other technologicaly active centers, simply delays the positive, clean, future that awaits us.
Noble cause that I fully support but, misdirected. Currently produced vehicles are already low polluters. Trucks, busses, fleet utility vehicles, airplanes pollute far worse. And far more damaging to the global environment are the rapidly advancing economies of China, Russia, and India. Polution by US autos at the consumer level, is spit in the ocean compared to the industrial pollution caused by developing countries.
Moving from point A to point B, whether one is speaking at the societal, political, or technological level, is costly. So then, what exactly is the savings and over what term?
I would like to kindly direct you to this sight. It is by no means an exaustive list, but it was the first thing that came up on google and I think it should help prove a point.
Your rage against oil seems to flirt with the fanatical. There is nothing inherently wrong with oil, or burning it. The consaquences are what we care about. While I agree with your view of reducing pollution; it has to be financially sound for people to go for it, I would hope you don't let this anger cloud your ability to see more solutions that "burn all the oil"
"Burning all the oil" Is the exact opposite of what we want to do.
Our problem currently is that a massive amount of carbon was filtered out of the atmosphere by lifeforms, and burried into the ground. It has now become oil and coal and other hydrocarbons after being energized by intense pressure over a huge span of time.
Now we are releasing that carbon at a very fast rate, increasing the amount of relatively unharnessable heat energy on the planet which could be, and is, detrimental for ecosystems and our general quality of life.
The link I provided above is a fairly long list of modern day things that we use petrol for. Petrol is an oil. Plastic is made from oil, as are many other synthetic materials. In short, yes it is a kind of gold. Petrol and other oil-based products are at the heart of many modern conveinces, and a materials crisis is definately something we want to avoid.
People also see burning oil as bad, and say: "lets not use oil anymore". The reason we use it in the first place is that it that it stores energy chemically, at a massive density. To release that energy, burn it, introducing carbon into the atmosphere. One option that many do not look at is developing carbon filter ideas. Instead of getting rid of oil as a very dense power storage, simply counter-balance the use of oil by filtering out an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
I hope you can take a step back, and think about why you hate oil so much. I agree, its a problem, but zealos rage at anything to do with oil will not improve the situation. Critical thinking and innovation are, as you said, something we must preserve and promote to end massive crisis such as this.
Brilliant...lets talk about innovating technologies in the use of oil(global warming) and gas(fracking) instead of transferring to electric cars. That should keep a few parasitic rich families/investors going for another 50 years...Go Blue...
Insanity is expecting different results with the same input. I think as a corollary we also have:
Lets invest in technologies that we know are on their way to being obsolete and expect the future to be as non-damaging as the current resources of oil and gas are to our current environment.
"Trucks, busses, fleet utility vehicles, airplanes pollute far worse."
Airplanes yes. I have no idea what you're doing with buses in that list, because public transit is *massively* less pollutive per person moved. Other than airplanes, too, those will be the *first* to switch to electric. I mean, it's already happening, slowly.
And as the infrastructure is converted to electric ... well, that takes longer than replacing the fleets. In the interim, smaller, more efficient gas vehicles are an absolute necessity. (I want my T-25, now, dammit.)
I don't care about how much I pay for gas I still love my big block V8 and my supercharged V6. I don't mind at all if everyone else is economical, in fact I encourage it! Buy a Volt! It just means GM will be around longer so I can get my camaro and burn all the gas I can get my hands on. The less gas you use, the more I can.
25 years is too long for me!
Journalists need to leave science to scientists. There is no short term (25 years) replacement for petroleum use in transportation. People that believe that there is do not think, they feel. If you are mentally challenged enough to listen to them you deserve the world that Barack is striving to give you. Think cannibalism.
In 35 years, no one will use a car anymore as we will only sit in front of our 3D computers all day with virtual interfaces so comprehensive that we will never have to leave the house again - ever.
On another topic, please watch this:
Yes, we could , but the number of cars are more and more higher. That is the problem. The emission it is still the same.