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How about Dimethyl Ether liquid fuel from renewable electricity?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:35:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if you make that near 100 %, you still lose about two thirds of what's left simply by putting it into a combustion engine.

And even besides that, a fleet of personal vehicles has horrid energy efficiency under every conceivable fuel infrastructure. Personal vehicles are useful for certain specialised transportation tasks, but they are atrociously inefficient for anything resembling bulk transportation of anything (commuters, cargo, anything).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless you can use renewable-sourced Dimethyl Ether to produce hydrogen for fuel cells. Provided hte whole process is energy efficient.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:55:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, lugging around a half to a full ton of junk along with your freight (loading or self-loading) is a waste of energy no matter which energy regime you're operating in.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand your remark. If liquid Dimethyl Ether can be used instead of gasoline or diesel to produce hydrogen on an as-needed basis, as in the Volvo project you just have to carry liquid Dimethyl Ether.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think JakeS point is that trams, trains and buses are always more efficient then cars for mass transport, because they actually utilize that it is mass transport. Nothing in particular to do with the engine, it is the vehicle weight/passenger.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was addressing the first part of his comment, where he discusses Migeru's suggestion about Dimethyl Ether, which can be used in mass transports, too.

I certainly agree about (electric) buses, trams and trains being the rational solution. I think a society based on individual ownership of a car is definitely unsustainable. Actually, I chose not to own a car and I use public transports instead.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 10:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't always have large-scale centralised modes of transportation. You need small-scale decentralised ones as well. The latter route actually makes far more sense from a transportation perspective than from a power generation perspective.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course you'll always need small-scale decentralised transportation options. But only for small-scale, decentralised tasks.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three good reasons to regularly drive a personal vehicle:

  1. You are a cripple, crone or infant who is physically unable to walk or ride a bicycle to the nearest bus stop.

  2. You have to transport goods that are too bulky and/or heavy to fit comfortably in a wheelbarrow or a bicycle trailer. This is most commonly the case for craftsmen and people who are moving furniture - very few everyday non-work related tasks qualify.

  3. You live in an area of insufficient population density to support a viable mass transit system.

The vast majority of trips are simply not efficiently done with cars. Not even if those cars ran on magic pony piss, since they'd still be noisy, they'd still take up space and they'd still kill people.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 07:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And part of these needs can be met by shared cars/vans/trucks systems like AUTOLIB'.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 08:17:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably, yes. But right now I'm gunning for the low hanging fruit. The argument that cars are overused does not hinge on whether carpooling is a fruitful endeavour or not.

After all, it is not impossible to imagine that the reason carpooling works at the moment is that our present automobile fleet provides ridiculously excessive capacity. If the only people who had cars were the ones who actually needed them, there might not be enough slack in terms of cargo capacity and passenger space to enable carpooling, unless you deliberately designed your city planning and business practises around it. Which may or may not be worth the bother.

Now, I do think that carpooling will be worthwhile, even in a low-car infrastructure. But unlike cornucopians, like Julian "copper can be made from other metals" Simon, I like to accompany my policy recommendations with some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic showing that I'm at least in the right ballpark. And I just don't have the information to do that on carpooling.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 09:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... place during the transition, vehicles to support that existing carpooling will be among the "essential needs" for private transport vehicles.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. But the whole thing is heavily path-dependent. If we start applying the full power of modern industrial society towards building rail, then we could easily transition to a low-car infrastructure in a short enough time frame that self-organised carpools won't have time to show up.

Of course, we could make it a matter of policy to organise and incentivise carpooling during the transition. Which is an excellent idea, but not required for the transition to work.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 10:40:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... it was a short-hand for organized systems backed up by cellphone/internet front ends, as opposed to self-organized carpools.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 04:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, thanks to eurogreen, I've got an answer to my question:

Volvo Plans Hydrogen Generators for Boats Kiss Diesel and Gas | FuelCellsWorks

Powercell has developed a Fuel Processor, protected by patents, which converts, ethanol, biogas, DME, methanol, propane standard grade diesel or gasoline into hydrogen used to fuel the fuel cell system.
...
The generator from Powercell is superior to existing automotive and marine APU (auxiliary power unit) based generators with respect to emission, noise, cycle efficiency, size and weight. Main characteristics are: - Emission levels - generates electricity with zero emissions of CO, NOx and particulates. - High fuel efficiency and reliability, with a lighter and smaller system. - Fuel flexibility - diesel, ethanol, biogas, DME, methanol, propane, gasoline and others - Increased customer comfort level - reduced noise, smell and emission levels.


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 02:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the fuel cells. Since existing battery electric is already workable for the vast majority of ranges of actual private transport vehicle needs, which are local in character ...

... and the majority of transport tasks where it is not suited are not efficiently done by private transport vehicles anyway ...

... would the most effective private transport vehicle be a local range battery electric, with range augmentation in the form of a hydrogen, ammonia or direct carbon fuel cell?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:09:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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