Thursday, October 18, 2007

Further proof that the ICE is just a really bad idea

"Biofuel: is it a greenhouse gas, gas, gas?"

This post on Grist, with some very good follow on commentary talks about the costs of producing biofuels from current crop sources, and the estimated Green House Gas (GHG) impact. Seems like pretty much a even slate at best, and a slight loss at worst to use biofuels from new crops. I think there may still be something to the recycled fryer oil, depending on what has to be done to clean the oil to make it suitable for use in engines or even a generation facility.

I think it supports my thinking that the Internal Combustion Engine(ICE) needs to be phased out as much as possible in favor of vehicles for most that store energy produced elsewhere at a much higher efficiency. Of course, realistically, that isn't likely to happen in my lifetime. So how do we get higher fuel efficiency? Lighter, smaller vehicles, breakthrough technologies to use all that wasted heat.

I've been seeing a lot of commentary that increasing fuel efficiency will simply increase the number of miles driven, as the cost of each mile goes down, or stays constant as prices rise. I wonder if this is a conscious thought on the part of society in general, or a byproduct of cities sprawling and commuters being willing to accept longer drives in order to have a nicer house, larger lot, etc. and subsequently need to drive more to get to the store, post office, church, coffee shop, etc.

So, in additional to changing how the vehicles operate, we need to convince people to drive less. How to reduce usage of vehicles? Make fuel cost more. $3/gallon doesn't seem to be much of an impact. How about $4 or $5 or $6? Make carpooling/vanpooling work or how about shuttle services to supplement the existing public transit routes to cover schedules and destinations that public transit doesn't.