So suggests a trio of research chemists who have spent their careers working in the fields of energy and electrochemistry in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
By the year 2050, most vehicles will need to be electrically propelled, with a battery to store energy or an on-board hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity, according to the scientists, who outline their vision of the future in a new book entitled “Toward Sustainable Road Transport.”
The book includes material on “state-of-the-art power sources and advanced vehicle designs now needed to meet the 80 percent reduction required in global emissions over the next 35 years.”
“Over the past 25 years, the auto industry has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from a 1990 baseline, which is less than 1 percent a year,” said Patrick Moseley, who wrote the book with fellow-PhDs Ronald Dell and David Rand. “Over the next 35 years, the industry will have to sustain the 2 to 3 percent annual reduction that it is now achieving. That’s a tall order.”
The global fleet of motor vehicles of all types, including two wheelers, is around 1.5 billion, of which one billion are cars, Dell said. This is expected to reach two billion soon after 2020 because of the rapid growth of internal combustion engine vehicles in China and India, “which is an understandable increase given the aspirations of these two enormous populations.”
Meanwhile, said Rand, “Automotive manufacturers face conflicting demands of customers for vehicles with ever-improved performance, safety and comfort – but without any appreciable increase in cost.”
“This is being resolved through advances in vehicle design and, in particular, through refinement in propulsion technology,” the author explained. “The trend is towards smaller internal combustion engines augmented by intelligent electrification with no decrease in power; this combination being especially effective in reducing both emissions and fuel consumption.”
The automotive and transport industries, meanwhile, have turned their attention to hybrid vehicles in which a battery powered motor-generator is combined with a heat engine to provide a more efficient propulsion system without subjecting motorists to “range anxiety,” according to the authors.
“Hybrids do not eliminate tailpipe emissions, but they do reduce them by making use of the hydrocarbon fuel more efficiently and, crucially, the vehicles do not suffer from the range limitations that beset [some other vehicles],” says Dell. “Hybrids are also in tune with progressively tighter emissions legislation, because there is a full range of designs available … with the least additional cost.”
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