Thursday, 15 July 2021

There's Life in the Internal Combustion Engine for years yet.

 The thing about ICE - petrol or diesel - is that they are an extremely ingenious way of of converting high energy density fuel into a rotary motion.  They are also very cheap to make and there is a whole infrastructure to support them.  They are also very light and nowadays relatively fuel efficient and clean burning.  Small turbo petrol engines are astonishing.  There are 1.2L capacity engines now used where in earlier times you's expect to see at least 2.0L .

If you want low fuel use efficient vehicles among your greatest enemies is weight.  The more weight you add the more weight you need to add.  Thusly by adding a one tonne battery pack to a vehicle you need to proportionally increase the strength of the structure, bigger brakes, heavier duty suspension and so on.  So all things being equal the lighter you make a vehicle the better.  This applies to all classes of vehicle and road vehicles.

So adding batteries to cars is a bit of blind alley because they are very heavy, have low energy density, very expensive (and as they use lots of rare minerals I very much doubt that they going to get cheaper), they take ages to re-charge (for which there is no infrastructure) and they have a limited life (a recent study said about 5 to 8 years / 80,000 kilometers - at which point the vehicle is effectively scrap value). 

An alternative to batteries is hydrogen fuel cells.  But these are also expensive to make and rather delicate.

Luckily along comes that Damn'd market thing. Given that we are being told (albeit erroneously) that CO2 is evil people have got beavering away - some of them in sheds (a very good thing - lots of good stuff comes out of sheds). And there are emerging some very likely superior to batteries ideas.

Exhibit 1.; (I have also heard that Jag is working on the same thing).

An ICE powered by hydrogen. Seems like a plan. The emissions, the by-product of combustion is water. As to infrastructure. You can imaging one of those roll on roll off container lorries delivering a contained of hydrogen very easily to an existing forecourt.

Exhibit 2. This outfit has a low revving (i.e. slow speed diesel) on the stocks which is clean.

Exhibit 3. - racing improving the breed.

Exhibit 4a.

Exhibit 4b.

Exhibit 5. I was speaking with someone who's son works in F1 as a power train engineer. One of the F1 teams is developing a two stroke petrol engine that revs to 24,000 (!) and is clean.

It's going to be easy to switch a petrol tank to an hydrogen tank (many people have already converted V8 Range Rovers to LPG) and crucially we can make LIGHT CARS (heavy cars being a particular hobby horse of mine). As long as the ecomentalist watermelons and the bonkers government can be nailed down the ICE is clearly not dead.



Mark In Mayenne said...

Hi Mark,
Batteries are not going to work long term, the electricity grid can't support everyone charging their cars overnight. It can barely support current cold Winter demands.

Hydrogen full cells plus electric motors are probably the lightest option, but currently expensive.

Hydrogen ICE heavier but well-understood tech.

View from the Solent said...

"It's going to be easy to switch a petrol tank to an hydrogen tank.."

Hydrogen will leak from all the existing pipework joints. Hydrogen molecules are tiny, those of petroleum and LPG are giants in comparison.
Then there's hydrogen embrittlement of steel.
Not forgetting that the energy density of hydrogen is low unless it's at high pressure.

You just can't stick hydrogen into an existing ICE vehicle.

Matt said...

Your making the mistake of thinking this is about the best for people. It's not, it's about pushing a regressive socialist/eco agenda.

Doesn't matter how clean the diesel or hydrogen will be as it'll be banned anyway.

Lola said...

VFTS Yep. 'cos I didn't mean existing vehicles. JCB have already done it. And I am ware of the smallness of H molecules/atoms.

Matt. Yep

MIM The issue with fuel cells is that they also use expensive materials and are delicate

Mark Wadsworth said...


Bayard said...

"Exhibit two. This outfit has a low revving (i.e. slow speed diesel) on the stocks which is clean."

Attach that to a generator driving electric motors in place of the gearbox and differential and a battery to take advantage of regenerative braking and you have a very efficient machine with great performance weighing very little more than a car with a conventional drivetrain.

mombers said...

"Given that we are being told (albeit erroneously) that CO2 is evil"
[citation needed]

Barman said...

Isn't the main problem with Hydrogen that it takes a vast amount of energy to manufacture it?

It isn't really a 'fuel' as such, just a method of storing energy like a battery but less efficient.

As Matt has said, it doesn't really matter about the technology or what people want - the polis have made up their minds that we should have electric cars and ICE based vehicles will be taxed out of existence...

... except they won't be out of existence, they'll be shipped to countries with lower standards. Here in Cyprus we get all of the dirty old trucks from the UK - IKEA delivers with a fleet of old ParcelForce vans!

Frank said...

When I was a young man, a 10 year old car was an old banger. Now, some 50 years later I see many 20+ year old cars most of which aren't rust buckets, ready for the scrap yard.

Technology has moved on, cars last a lot longer, yet we're heading back to the time when a ten year old car is worth only scrap value, this time not because the bodywork has fallen apart but because the battery costs too much to replace.

Then there's the other problem with electric cars: they still need power to move them. Wind and solar isn't going to cut it unless we cover the whole country with windmills and solar panels and we'll still need backup for when the wind doesn't blow and when the sun, inconveniently, hides on the other side of the world. The generating capacity isn't there at the moment and as far as I can tell there aren't the plans to generate the required amount of electricity by the time ICE vehicle sales are banned. The only viable, non fossil fuel electricity generation technology is nuclear and I don't see plans to build enough of those to bridge the gap.

Mark Wadsworth said...

MiM, I looked into that. People can charge their cars overnight, like you do with your phone. It would require a one-third increase in overall electricity generation.

M, the whole MMGW theory is based on a diagonal comparison (polite word for a Big Fat Lie). They use two quite different definitions of 'surface' and then pretend that these two physically and conceptually different and separate 'surfaces' (one being physically much higher than the other), should be the same temperature. So everything that follows from that is bollocks.

F, true! My cars are all 20-plus years old and drive absolutely fine.

Lola said...

Barman. Did you watch the Harry's Garage video? You use 'renewables' to generate the electricity to power the electrolysis to separate out the hydrogen. The hydrogen has much greater energy density than battery energy, hence it is much more practical for vehicle use.

mombers said...

@MW [citation needed] still. No links to your own blog though :-)

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, I explained it here.

IF you ignore land and oceans below clouds when calculating effective temperature,

THEN you must also compare that effective temperature with the average actual temperature of upper surface of clouds and land and oceans that are NOT below clouds (ignoring land and oceans below clouds).

IF you do this fair comparison, there is NO greenhouse effect at all (or it is within margin of error of all such calculations).

What it boils down to is that clouds are colder than the hard surface because they are higher up, which is a different effect.

Bayard said...

"Your making the mistake of thinking this is about the best for people. It's not, it's about pushing a regressive socialist/eco agenda."

It's really about the two things that politics has always been about, since it was invented a few thousand years ago: staying in power/getting re-elected and enabling those in charge and their mates to get rich without having to work too hard or at all.

ontheotherhand said...

Hydrogen Wenkel engine. A third of the weight

Bayard said...

"Hydrogen will leak from all the existing pipework joints. Hydrogen molecules are tiny, those of petroleum and LPG are giants in comparison."

Coal gas was a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Presumably all the hydrogen didn't leak out of the joints in the distribution pipework.

Lola said...

OTH - will there still be a rotor edge seal issue?