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Re: [CumberlandGreenRiverBC] Compressed air cars

From: Eric S.
Sent on: Saturday, June 7, 2014 7:20 AM

I'll amplify on what Doug said. It is helpful to use the terms "energy" and "fuel," and to distinguish between them. The two terms refer to very different problems, but it's easy to confuse them if you've never studied this. If you already know this stuff, skip the rest of this email message.

"Energy" usually refers to "energy source" -- i.e., from where do you get the energy. You might get it from special kinds of materials -- coal, petroleum, uranium, etc. -- that you dig up from under the ground (not renewable). Or you might get it from wind or solar or oxen (renewable).

"Fuel," or "energy storage," refers to energy that you store for a while, to use later. Examples are gasoline, batteries, compressed air, hydrogen. (Hydrogen is created from water by electrolysis, a process which uses energy; then later hydrogen is burned, a process which releases energy.)

Every use of energy requires a source; most uses of energy require storage. Most transportation requires some energy storage. A car equipped with solar panels and no storage would work fine on a sunny day, but would come to a halt at night or when the sun went behind a cloud.

Gasoline is a confusing case, because the storage medium (gasoline) is so closely related to the source (petroleum).

The "energy crisis" is really four different crises:

(a) Our society's chief sources of energy have been nonrenewables (such as petroleum and coal), and we're running out of them. We need to convert to renewable energy sources.

(b) Our chief forms of fuel (i.e., storage) have been based on nonrenewables -- e.g., gasoline based on petroleum. Actually, gasoline could become a renewable: scientists have recently figured out ways to synthesize gasoline from the CO2 in the air or in seawater. The synthesis process requires energy, but you could get that from solar power. However, achieving this on a practical scale may still be years away. (Using such a fuel would then be carbon-neutral.)

(c) Most of our sources and uses of energy have had all sorts of toxic wastes as byproducts -- in particular, nuclear wastes and greenhouse gases. We need to convert to clean energy.

Actually, there's a big overlap between these different crises, because it turns out that there's a lot of correlation between clean and renewable.

Eric Schechter
Is ecocide inherent in capitalism?

On 6/7/14, 6:02 AM, Doug Kalmer wrote:
 Where does the energy to compress the air come from? Compressed air is not an energy source, but just a carrier of energy. To provide enough compressed air for the entire US fleet would require an enormous amount of energy, probably electrical. Add to that the shorter range-here's a quote from the high tech and expensive Honda air car page-
"Powered entirely by compressed air and a pneumatic regulator system, the vehicle uses turbo vacuums and external air-flow to regenerate tank pressure for extended range and increased boost for an estimated 100 miles."
 and the inefficiency of compressed air to carry energy compared to batteries-
"A 2005 study demonstrated that cars running on lithium-ion batteries out-perform both compressed air and fuel cell vehicles more than threefold at the same speeds." 
A 2009 University of Berkeley Research Letter found that "Even under highly optimistic assumptions the compressed-air car is significantly less efficient than a battery electric vehicle and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional gas-powered car with a coal intensive power mix."
 Lots more info on why this is impractical at-

Doug- who has a 100% solar powered home, and wants an electric car

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