Energy Transportation - Ideas

Innovations in Transportation
By Bill Kuhl
Innovations in Transportation
In this presentation I will address the following questions:
What are the major types of transportation?
What are the major types of fuel, what are the
How much fuel are we using?
What are the negatives?
What are some innovated ideas to improve
energy efficiency in transportation?
Importance of Transportation
Transportation is such an important component to our modern
lifestyle; relating to manufacturing, food supply, and leisure.
Types of Fuels
Gasoline - Ethanol (alternative fuel)
Diesel - Biodiesel (alternative fuel)
Jet Fuel
Natural Gas
About Oil
Crude oil was formed over millions of years from the remains of
plants and animals covered by layers of sand and silt. The process
was helped along by the heat and pressure in the layers.
Crude oil is pumped from the ground and then sent to a refinery where
it is separated into gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, etc.
** Fuel created from oil is Not Renewable, when it is used up it is gone. **
How Much Fuel are We Using?
The Oil Used in United States Each Day is Around 20 Million Barrels
If the barrels were lined up edge to edge, this could extend from Minnesota to
Oil Consumption in the World is Around 1000 Barrels a Second
For Every 1000 People Number of Car Owners
World Average is 111
US 760 Car Owners
China 10 Car Owners
One reason oil
consumption will go
India 12 Car Owners
Emerging countries such as China and India with large
populations but low percentage of car ownership will add
significantly to oil demand as they purchase automobiles
at an increasing rate.
Negative Aspects of Fuels - Pollution
The exhaust from a gasoline engine contains nitrogen
oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon
dioxide. If run in a contained area the exhaust is lethal.
Pollution from Diesel
Diesel exhaust contains some of the same pollutants as gasoline
but adds particulate matter and other pollutants.
Pollution in the Refining Process
Oil refineries give off a variety of pollutants and use a huge amount of
water. Many petroleum refineries use hydrofluoric acid in their processing,
which poses a great public safety risk both because of its extreme toxicity
and its propensity to form a toxic aerosol cloud when released.
Drilling for oil offshore presents additional risks for
Negative - Scarcity
Often oil must be transported long distances because not enough is
found where it is needed. This requires more fuel for the transportation,
adding to pollution and cost.
Major Types of Transportation Considered
Automobiles are the most common
method of transportation for moving
people from place to place. Most
commonly powered by an internal
combustion engine using gasoline for
fuel. In European countries diesel
engine automobiles are popular.
Smaller cars are normally more fuel efficient.
Automobiles have used gasoline engines
for over a hundred years. Gasoline is
increasingly expensive and it is polluting.
Modern cars that are well tuned are
much less polluting than the cars of just
20 years ago. Gas mileage improved
some after oil crisis of 1970’s but has not
improved significantly since.
Large luxury cars from years ago could get less than 10 mpg.
The major alternative fuel to power
gasoline engines has been ethanol.
Ethanol is commonly created from corn or
sugar cane in warmer climates. There
has been much controversy if the net
energy is much greater than the energy
required to create ethanol and many
people do not like the idea of using what
could be food for fuel. Ethanol is less
polluting than gasoline but requires
modification to the engine to run 100%
ethanol. More commonly it is mixed 85%
to 15% gasoline to create E85 or most
gasoline contains 10% ethanol.
E85 fuel is often sold for less, reason most often given is because of
Electric Powered Automobiles
Powering automobiles with
electricity is not a new technology,
some of the first automobiles were
electric but the gasoline engine
quickly won out as the preferred
power source.
Recently there has been new
technology and increased concerns
for the environment that have made
powering a vehicle by electricity a
more popular option.
Nissan Leaf has been advertised as the first
affordable 100% electric car available for
Advances in electric motors,
electronics, and batteries are
making a multi-use vehicle more
practical. The electric hybrid vehicle
has been a very popular option to
pure electric powered vehicles.
ZAP all-electric truck. “ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution” Company
headquarters is in Santa Rosa California
Although no direct pollution from electrical vehicles, if electricity
for charging vehicle is produced by fossil fuels, there will be
pollution at the power plant.
Neighborhood electric vehicles have lower speed limit than other
cars which restricts their use to short in-town driving and no
highway driving.
In the past, electric vehicles
have been more for
experimenters. Using lead acid
batteries resulted in limited
range and heavy weight.
Electric Hybrid Automobile
Hybrid vehicles combine fuel powered engines and electric motors powered
by batteries to increase fuel efficiency. Batteries are recharged by generator
powered by the engine or from energy recovered from braking.
Toyota Prius has been the most popular hybrid car, worldwide
cumulative sales reached over 2 million cars in September 2010.
Plug-in Electric Hybrid Automobile
This Toyota Prius
was converted to
be a plug-in hybrid
vehicle. Electricity
for charging this car
can come from
garbage incinerator.
Compressed Natural Gas
Photo’s courtesy of
2007 Honda Civic GX that
runs on compressed natural
Internal combustion engines can be
made to run on compressed natural
gas. Natural gas is more plentiful in the
US and gives off about 25% less
emissions than gasoline.
Fuel Cell Hybrid car developed by Toyota.
Wikimedia Commons author (GNU Free Documentation License)
(Public Domain)
About Hydrogen
• Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe.
• Hydrogen is an energy carrier and must be separated from other
• Hydrogen can be separated from water, biomass, or natural gas.
Hydrogen can be burned in an internal combustion engine but it is more
commonly converted to electricity in a “fuel cell”. The fuel cell is efficient and
there is no pollution but it takes energy to create the hydrogen or there is
some pollution if it is created from fossil fuel such as natural gas.
Model Fuel Cell Car Kit – solar cell produces electricity for electrolysis
to split water into hydrogen and oxygen which combine in fuel creating
electricity again which powers electric motor.
Large trucks deliver nearly 70% of all goods in the United States,
typical fuel mileage is around 5 mpg so even small increases in
efficiency reduces consumption a significant amount. Diesel fuel
used in large trucks is more expensive than gasoline.
About Diesel Engines
Diesel engines ignite the fuel without
the spark plugs used in gasoline
engines by compressing the air in
cylinders further which causes it to
heat up before injecting fuel mixture.
Diesel engines are built heavier to
withstand the greater forces but
typically are more fuel-efficient. In
terms of thermal efficiency diesel
engine are normally at least 30%
efficient and can be as high as 50%
efficient compared to 25% efficiency
in gasoline engines.
Applications for diesel engines are
normally larger trucks, farm
machinery, trains, ships, and some
Small diesel engine that can run on waste
vegetable oil.
Biodiesel Alternative to Diesel
• Most commonly made from soybeans.
• Can be made from recycled cooking oil.
• Highest energy content of any alternative fuel.
• Can run in diesel engine with few modifications.
• Less polluting than petroleum diesel.
• Tends to clean dirt out of engine which can lead to clogs in system.
• More expensive than petroleum diesel.
“When a large truck is travelling at 55 mph, roughly half of the
truck’s horsepower is needed to overcome aerodynamic drag.”
Without the fairing over the cab there is more wind resistance
from the air hitting the front of the trailer.
Fairing over this truck cab
reduces the drag hitting
the front of the trailer.
There is still a significant gap
between the cab and the trailer, “air
tabs” on the cab might improve the
flow further.
Underneath the trailer and the rear of the trailer are
significant areas of drag also. Sideskirts on the bottom of
the trailer and air tabs on the rear of the trailer may reduce
some of the drag.
Rolling Resistance
“Rolling resistance” in trucks is a major portion of
the drag the truck must overcome until the speed
reaches almost 50 mph, then the drag of pushing
through air is greater. The rubber tire deformation is
a major factor in trucks and not in trains with steel
wheels. Physics students learn about rolling
resistance when building mousetrap powered cars.
Hydraulic Hybrid
For trucks that start and stop often such a delivery or garbage trucks,
hydraulic hybrid technology can save significant fuel by compressing
a gas pushed by hydraulic fluid pumped during braking .
This “hydraulic hybrid” car was designed and constructed by Eden Prairie
High School students and entered in a super mileage competition,
average mileage was 150 m.p.g.
Jets and Airplanes
The newest jet engines are twice as efficient as jet engines built in the
1960’s. Fuel costs have risen faster and are a major expense for an airline.
On average, a passenger jet burns about 910 lbs. of fuel, or 136
gallons, during its takeoff and climb. It will burn a similar amount
during its descent and landing. As much as 50% of carbon emissions
from planes come from the combination of the takeoff and landing.
Different fuel blends are needed to operate jet aircraft in colder
Small planes use internal combustion engines using a highoctane gasoline called av-gas.
Biofuel or Synthetic Fuel for Jet Aircraft
Creating fuel for jet engines is a challenge because of the cold
temperatures encountered at high altitudes and safety concerns.
Experimental jet fuels have been tested however.
Experimental Jet Fuels:
• Blending 20% babassu nuts, coconut and 80%
conventional jet fuel.
• Blending synthetic fuel derived from algae with existing
jet fuel
• Blending natural gas derived synthetic fuel with existing
jet fuel.
There are 70,000 ships engaged in international trade carrying 90% of
the world’s goods.
Modern cargo ships can carry up to 11,000 metal shipping containers.
Over 1600 gallons of heavy oil fuel are burned in an enormous engine that
develops over 100,000 horsepower that is 50 percent efficient.
Modern Ships are Much Faster Than Ships of the Past
Replica of one of the three ships Christopher Columbus used to
cross the Atlantic Ocean which took over 2 months. Modern cargo
ships can cross the Atlantic in as little as 7 days.
Barges Move Freight on Rivers
Barges are said to be more efficient than rail for moving large amounts
of freight on rivers, some people will dispute this.
Air travel has mostly replaced ships for passenger travel except for
cruise ships.
How Do You Make a Ship More Efficient
• Reduce the drag on the hull of the ship including anything that
protrudes from the hull.
• Improve the efficiency of the propulsion of the ship which includes
the engines and propellers.
• Harness the wind to move the ship.
Electric Pod Drive That Swivels
Electric motor in pod that swivels to
turn ship does not have the drag of
rudder behind the propeller and can
be controlled more efficiently. For
some situations can improve
efficiency up to 15%.
Modern Use of Wind Power
A large kite launched from a ship can
cut fuel consumption up to 35% in some
situations. More information to
be found on company website:
(c) SkySails GmbH & Co. KG
Progress in Rail Transportation
There has been much
progress in improving the
efficiency of an always
efficient means of travel,
trains. From the days of
coal powered steam trains
to the modern diesel
electric trains, the basic
design is the same. The
small area in front and the
low rolling resistance of
steel wheels on steel rail is
very efficient in moving a
large load.
Steel wheels running on steel rail have very low “rolling resistance” compared
to rubber tires on pavement.
Fuel efficiency of railroads has increased 72 percent from 1980. Before
1980 one gallon of fuel moved a ton of freight an average of 235 miles
but by 2001 this had increased to 406 miles. Further savings have been
realized since 2001.
General Electric Hybrid Locomotive picture courtesy of General Electric
There are now electric hybrid locomotives too which can provide up to 15%
saving on fuel and emissions. The energy produced by braking a 207 ton
locomotive in one year is enough to power 160 households for a year. A full
charge of the batteries can power the train for up to 100 miles.
Special Thanks to:
Michael Walsh and Ken Andrade for Nissan Leaf Images
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