Post-Gasoline Peek
June 5, 2008, 8:51 pm
Filed under: innovation, special, video | Tags: , ,

There will be an end to oil. Period. Probably sooner than any oil goon or speculant would like to publicly admit. Support or deny this thought, it’s inevitable. If the latter, I guess you’re part of the ‘I-will-be-long-gone-by-then’ crowd. Or just plain ignorant.

The moment is near that we really need needed to decide to do a complete overhaul of our infrastructure, has actually passed. With which I mean, everything. Because all that we produce, package, transport, eat, use, throw away is based on Black Gold (just as a reminder). So you’ll understand the car industry and market as we know it is just part of the problem.

But I’ll stick with that for now, because I want to share something with you in that area. The last few years we’ve been bombarded with ‘green’. Good and bad. As bad as ‘greenwashers‘ like Shell and BP. Japanese car manufacturers have been ahead of the curve with hybrids, but they only make a dent in the US market, as Europe has far more fuel efficient cars. But even that won’t hold up in court, so to speak.

The production and maintenance of hybrid cars take up even more resources than usual. Other alternatively fueled cars are hydrogen cars. The technology works, the benefits are great (no end-of-the-line pollution), but it needs…right, a big revolution in infrastructure.

Which brings me to the antagonist of this post: BMW. This car manufacturer has invested hundreds and millions of rock hard Euros in hydrogen technology, and it has paid off, they are basically leading the pack. A few years ago, through my work, I got involved in this project, as I became a member of their Club of Pioneers, a community blog for hydrogen car enthusiasts and professionals. Great stuff, promising too, but not so long ago I thought: “BMW has been pushing hydrogen technology for over a decade, lobbied European legislators and policy makers, but it hasn’t moved, really. And the clock is ticking.”

VentomobilThis evening I went back to the Club, and found an interesting set of posts about The Ventomobil, basically a wind driven car. But hold on, NOT initiated by BMW, but students that were challenged by their professor to participate in the Dutch Aeolus Race in August of this year. You know, similar to The Solar Challenge, but instead with wind as propulsion. One of the students explains:

From then on, this idea never lost its hold on us. We found out all about the precise conditions of participation for the “Aeolus Race” in Den Helder. Of course, no windmobiles were allowed to participate in the race which were powered by a sail or something similar. The energy had to be won from rotating components. The vehicle had to be able to drive against the wind without tacking – and as fast as possible! A windmobile that fulfilled these requirements could, theoretically, also negotiate road traffic without endangering other traffic. The big question, however, remained: How could we achieve something like this?

Indeed. I encourage you to read and watch it all. Here’s one of the project’s videos:

My ulterior point of this post is that these innovations and developments will also be beneficial to infrastructural challenges. Wind power, solar power, man power (yes!). And I’m happy I got to rediscover this blog, that it’s about more than just pushing the hydrogen envelop. Ultimately, with so many (obvious) alternatives at hand, we can finally get innovation to work for our survival, not just our entertainment.

It appears we often just need to take 2 steps back and work from the roots of nature. 

4 Comments so far
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I am a firm believer in peak oil. I don’t think we will run completely out in the next few centuries, but the amount available will be limited and very expensive. My biggest beef with hydrogen is the amount of energy it takes to produce. There are many things that we are going to need more than an automobile for personal transport. I would rather see the hydrogen used for buses. We (especially in the USA) have some serious infrastructure issues to address.


Comment by 2whls3spds

Your beef is my beef, exactly. Hydrogen’s output is great, but the input needed is incredible.
I’ve heard many experts on the subject of energy infrastructure say that we really should have started (and we could have started) at least a decade ago. Just looking at the speed of the ice caps disappearing, I think we’re in even more trouble.

Comment by amsterdamize

I get so frustrated with the hybrid cars. OK, they 60 miles to the gallon or something. I had a used Mazda 323 in 1995 that got 45 miles to the gallon. These hybrids are not a significant enough step forward. We’ve got to keep searching.

Comment by Charlotte

indeed, Charlotte, as we like to say: “It’s only a drop on a hot plate”. Uhm..quite fitting actually! 🙂

Comment by amsterdamize

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