Water Powered Cars – Water Fuels or Electric?
Few people dispute the need to severely limit or eliminate the pollution and greenhouse gasses caused by automobiles and trucks burning gasoline as a fuel. The popular alternative is plug-in electric vehicles using the electric grid to recharge batteries. Before going completely down that path, let’s view some government published numbers:
The US consumes 142 billion gallons of gasoline yearly for transportation use
The energy content of gasoline is 114,000 BTU per gallon
1 KILOWATT (kW) = 3,412 BTU
The total energy currently available to the US electrical grid is 1.1 million MEGAWATTS (1,100 GIGAWATTS)
The percentage of energy in gasoline that is actually used to power an automobile is 12-30%. Consider 21% as a generous average with the balance escaping as heat.
Plug-in electric cars convert 59-61% of grid power (60% average) of consumed power to propulsion use
Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells The Answer?
By crunching these numbers we see that conversion of all gasoline vehicles to plug-in electric would require 1,660,550,996,483 kW or 1,660 million MEGAWATTS. A ridiculous increase in required electrical consumption to the point that full transition can’t even be considered.
The conversion to electrical vehicles is environmentally excellent but it will ultimately require an onboard electrical source rather than impractical drawing from the grid. A logical source is membrane-based HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS that produces electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. The major auto manufacturers have been building and testing such vehicles for years but they rely on high-pressure hydrogen canisters for fuel and hydrogen tank refill stations.
We feel a better approach is to produce the hydrogen in the vehicle by electrolysis of water. The prolific inventor Bill Lear of Learjet fame promoted this idea in 1965 and referred to the water as Leardyne. Improvements in technologies should address freezing and onboard water treatment issues and make the entire process “CARS POWERED BY WATER” viable. The use of power from the grid doesn’t eliminate the spewing of contaminants into the atmosphere it simply increases it around electrical generation facilities.