Car manufacturers and governments are trying to make you buy-in to the electric car hype. Personally, I don’t think it is going to work, despite the subsidies (by governments from your tax dollars) and the heavy advertising by the manufacturers (paid for by you upon a new vehicle purchase). There is a simple alternative.
How to store electricity
The storage of alternative (electric) energy, as from wind and solar sources is the real problem. Compared to gasoline or diesel, even the best batteries do not come anywhere close to the energy storage density of the liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Gasoline or diesel have a storage density of approximately 50 times that of the best alternative. So, why not make gasoline from wind and solar power rather than trying to store the electric energy directly?
In fact, the process of converting electricity to gasoline is very simple. It requires only limestone and water (and, of course, electricity).
The chemical reduction and conversion of coal to gasoline has been known and used for some 75 years. It was practiced large scale in Germany during WWII. Using limestone as carbon source, rather than coal, requires just another step in the process, also known for centuries. Upon heating, limestone disintegrates to lime (calcium oxide) and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is the same material obtained from burning coal.
The reaction of carbon dioxide and hydrogen at high temperature produces hydrocarbons., i.e. gasoline and diesel products. Hydrogen, of course, is available in unlimited amounts upon electrolysis of water. All that is needed for that is electric energy.
The nature of wind and solar electric power makes them very intermittent and unreliable energy sources. The main problem, therefore, is to find a storage system which can adapt to this variability in energy production and, simultaneously, is simple, cost-effective, and can make use of the existing technologies and infrastructure.
All the technology and processes required for the electricity-to-gasoline or diesel conversion have been perfected for many decades by now. So, why not use them to store highly variable electric power from wind and solar systems to make gasoline or diesel?
This approach does not require costly high energy density automotive batteries (not available), or superconducting transmission lines (not available), or any other new, as yet unavailable technology. Furthermore, in overall energy terms, it is no less energy efficient than batteries and does not require any change in gasoline stations, etc.
Copyright © 2011, Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser