Every facet of modern life is affected by energy technology. Vehicles use a lot of energy and their energy use affects food prices. The next 100 years is going to one of many energy technology innovations. Lets looks through the lens of a 20 year vehicle cycle to see how things are going to change in the future :) Enjoy
A new vehicle is designed to last 20 years. From this point onward in history we are going to see vehicle energy technology improve with major base shifts over vehicle attrition cycles of approximately the same time span.
Prius Goes Platinum
Around the year 2000 the Toyota Prius started to sell to a broad global market. As the first widely adopted modern "Strong/full" hybrid, the Prius with its NiMH battery setup was the first real mainstream shift in vehicle energy technology.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system developed by Toyota highlights how the internal combustion engine alone is fundamentally weak in a mobile energy system that requires variable output power. To some extent continuously variable transmissions can improve even non hybrid vehicles, but in their more advanced forms CVT's can blend power from piston engines and electric motors.
Toyota used the Prius to show the world that hybrid technology is feasible, practical and appealing to vehicle buyers. Now millions of Toyota Hybrids are roaming the worlds roads achieving 40+ real world MPG's using regular unleaded pump gasoline.
In 2010 Nissan launched the fully electric Nissan Leaf. With around 100mi of city range and or 60 miles of highway range, the Nissan LEAF is the first modern affordable mass produced lithium battery electric vehicle.
It will be interesting to see how the Nissan Leaf depreciates in value over time as it ages, something that will give insight into how the "batteries" hold up over time. In terms of the rest of the drive-train, the LEAF's core (everything other than the battery) should hold up really well over time, and when the battery does fail, replacing it will be a good thing as the original batteries are recyclable and the replacement cells will likely be improved.
Tesla Model S
In 2012 Tesla Motors launched the fully electric Model S. With around 300 miles city range and 250 miles of highway range, the Model S is proving that a high performance long range luxury sedan is not only possible with electric drive technology, but that electric drive technology offers better performance, better handling, better acceleration, and superior environmental performance.
The Tesla Model S is the coolest car in the world! The economists might thing the future of vehicle transportation is something very different than what the Model S offers, but I think they are a little off key with their predictions.
Hydrogen Electric Vehicles
Around the year 2020 mass produced hydrogen electric vehicles will become commercially available from major automakers. When hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles become available this will represent a fundamental shift in mobile energy systems. Instead of burning the fuel, the fuel cell vehicle will "oxidize it" and make use of the electricity created to drive the vehicle.
Hydrogen for these vehicles will likely come from hydrocarbons because they are a rich source of economical hydrogen, but many experts claim that water will be the source of hydrogen if an abundant clean energy source can be exploited to split water into its component molecules, namely hydrogen and oxygen.
Remember that Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are essentially battery electric vehicles that get their electricity from a fuel cell that oxidizes a chemical fuel like natural gas to get electricity from the chemical reactions. A fuel cell is a chemical battery that turns potential chemical energy into electrical energy. Fuel cell electric vehicles will benefit greatly from the technical advancements made during the refinement of electric vehicle technologies as battery electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S continue to improve.
Around the year 2040 we should see the beginning of the slow phasing out of petrochemical liquid fossil fuels from the transportation sector. This will be a long gradual transition as superior mobile energy technologies displace petrochemical piston engine systems that are common today. "suck, squeeze, bang, blog" l twill become a song of a time past that fades away.
Around the year 2060 we should see internal combustion engines being phased out of mainstream applications. At this point fuel cell, hybrid, and electric vehicles will have been refined for many decades. The poor fiscal performance of gasoline and natural gas at this point in history will place market pressures on the mainstream phaseout of internal combustion engines. Essentially the cost of carbon fuel sources will make systems that use them less fiscally efficient to operate.
20 year reference scale
Vehicles are used as a reference example of time scale oriented shifts in energy technology because vehicles are very energy hungry machines. Moving a vehicle and its contents (passengers/ cargo) requires a lot of energy, especially vehicles made of heavy iron alloys like steel. Any meaningful improvement in human energy technology will be evident in vehicle power-train technology improvements.
Fuel and Food
Mobil energy technology has an essential role in agriculture and food production because of the machines, tractors, combines, trucks and transport vehicles used in agriculture. If you think carefully about food, you will realize that food calories are a derivative available industrial energy where foods are distributed over large distances by high speed refrigerated trucks and planes.
While the suns light turns seeds, soil and water into food plants that animals eat, restoring the soil and moving the food to where it can be consumed are very energy intensive processes. The cost of food is now directly related to the cost of transportation energy. As energy prices increase, food prices increase.
The transportation and agricultural sectors are complicated to discuss in a concise way. I focused on vehicle energy technology here because energy is really what we need to focus on in order to move forward (figuratively and literally in the case of vehicles), and it is this energy we need to move food, people, goods and resources that make the global economy function.
Our energy technologies define what we are able to do with materials. Matter and Energy, the earth is made of materials that are endlessly recycled. For human use, materials must be recovered in very specialized ways, and doing so is extremely energy intensive.
Think of how vehicles are used in the commodity chains that connect the earth and materials to the goods and services that people purchase, consume and use. Even information is conveyed by energy. Think about how you are reading this blog? How much coal is being used to power and cool there servers that serve this content? What about the electricity powering your computer?
The Solar Solution
The only energy source abundant enough to power sustainable human civilization is the sun. Our energy technology of today is still heavily dependent on burning carbon (oil, coal, and natural gas), but these energy sources are finite and non-renewable. As we continue to spend from our shrinking carbon bank accounts the balances continue to decrease. Carbon energy is limited and the way we use carbon (burning it) is very dirty and toxic (releases toxic pollution that causes sickness and suffering). Carbon energy is unsustainable.
The globalization imperative to raise the human development index level in all countries does not fair well when we consider how much carbon would need to be burned wastefully to make it happen.
Carbon Energy is Careless
We simple lack clean energy technology, political capital and social cohesion needed to sustain such development safely. 7 billion people concurrently living exceeds our technology to allow "safe thriving" In order to live at such a scale today we are destroying the living systems in the world. Like a virus, the scale of human activity and the low technology in human development is causing needless destruction and loss of nature, natural systems and the very lifeforms that feed the human experience.
We cannot afford energetically or technologically to liberate 7 billion people into consumer materialism wealth. Our technology with carbon and renewable energy source can only sustain around 1 billion human lives if everyone is living very eco-friendly . We need to develop better energy technology if we are going to seriously address human poverty in a sustainable way that will allow many future generations to thrive, especially at the population scales we have today.
How many people have to die from breathing the emissions of coal power before society chooses to embrace something cleaner and more sustainable than antiquated coal power. Unfortunately with 7 billion people at applied technology levels, coal power continues to be economical. The high cost of low prices in the coal sector however continues to burden millions with the sickness and suffering that comes from breathing the funky toxic pollution that the coal sector emits into the air, water and land we all collectively share as resources :) Thanks coal power! Look at pictures of the air quality in Bejing China 2013 to see examples of why I am talking about.
We need to look to the Sun that God gave us for energy. The sun is a naturally occurring fusion reactor (safely located 93 million miles away) that freely emits all of the net energy we could ever need to sustain life on earth with a completely energy intensive sustainability oriented organic permaculture super-intelligent recycling civilization.
The trick to taking advantage of the suns abundant energy is solar thermal capture technology. Most of the suns available energy is contained within the thermal spectrum. Solar thermal is also better because all existing carbon and nuclear energy technologies are thermal in nature.
Replacing carbon or nuclear with solar thermal power is fairly straightforward with heat exchanger and heat storage technology. Industrial scale Heat storage is more practical than grid scale electrical energy storage, although the folks at AMBRI (liquid metal battery) hope to produce disruptive technology that creates cost efficient grid scale electrical storage solutions. We can combine these technologies as well, as is so often done in other systems and machines. Hybrid solar coal power plants for example. Or hybrid solar nuclear plants. Or hybrid solar hydro electric plants. Or Hybrid solar and wind plants. We can produce grid scale power with cleaner sustainable technology if we embrace the suns heat and light. The suns heat is the real game changer, both for climate change and for comprehensive solar energy capture technology.
Solar thermal energy will move us forward. When we combine all the sustainable energy technologies currently available, we can create "green" renewable energy systems capable of phasing out dirty toxic carbon energy sources as those "brown" energy resources are critically depleted.
Evil Greed Hinders Technological Innovation
We have what we need to move forward. The carbon energy sector is powerful and politically manipulative. The carbon energy sector has engaged in all sorts of evil measures to prevent society from engaging sustainable energy more completely.
Through an elaborate systems of international government bribery, disinformation, media control, and assassinations: evil people in the oil, coal and natural gas sector have held society back from developing sustainable abundant clean solar thermal energy systems. As the price of wind and solar energy technology steadily declines more people everywhere are recognizing the clear benefits of these superior green renewable energy technologies.
The Imperative to Develop Abundant Clean Energy
To continue moving forward in a sustainable way we must develop energy technologies that can continue powering industrial activity long after coal and oil are phased out of use. If we want to go intergalactic we need to develop solar energy technology for earth and portable fusion technology for interstellar exploration. We are finally starting to move forward. Free yourself with the truth!
Tesla Model S with Solar Super Chargers FTW
Organic Food Freedom ^^
VW Bring the XL1 Mainstream
Biggy Up to VW for the XL1 Project. I just wish they would make it much larger volumes, and sell it all over the world. 250MPG's US is amazing for a production car. Come on VW, pump it up! Toyota proved that efficient can go platinum, you can prove that 250mpg's can be achieved in a mainstream vehicle too. Come on VW I know you can do it!