Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Innovations in Automobiles

I would love to see a single seat commuter car on the market. The MILA is a step in the right direction, but it's hydrogen powered. Where the heck am I going to get hydrogen? Yes yes electrolyze water very good. But seriously, I want infrastructure. Until then give me a version with a small gasoline engine. That will stop me daydreaming about motorcycles for a little while at least.

A different inventor may have found a way to boost standard engine combustion efficiency. In effect he has a small device that uses the cars electrical power to electrolyze distilled water into hydrogen and oxygen. He then feeds the hydrogen into the intake system to enhance combustion efficiency.

It sounds interesting but it may be hokum. The writer of the article seems to have very little science and engineering experience. For instance:
Most internal combustion engines operate at about 35 per cent efficiency. This means that only 35 per cent of the fuel is fully burned. The rest either turns to carbon corroding the engine or goes out the exhaust pipe as greenhouse gases.

The H2N-Gen increases burn efficiency to at least 97 per cent, Williams said. This saves fuel and greatly reduces emissions.
It is my understanding that the reason cars produce so little energy is that even if the combustion process were perfect, you would still be producing large amounts of waste heat. It's the nature of the beast and you can't get around it because of entropy. I'm not sure of the chemical combustion process and what exactly his efficiency numbers mean, but I'm betting these values can only be reached by running the engine on pure snake oil.

The other problems is that all this "reduction of dangerous greenhouse gasses" seems to be omitting CO2, the greenhouse gas. You can't get rid of this one unless you stop burning things for fuel.

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