back to article The Register Lecture: What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies

Whether you’ve always wondered whether hydrogen is the motor fuel of the future, or what happens to the inside of Lithium Ion battery when you drive a nail through, you’d have gotten your answers at our January Register Lecture. The National Physical Laboratory’s Dr Gareth Hinds took attendees on a journey into an electrically …

  1. Ray Foulkes

    Don't forget to discuss..

    what fuel will be used. I notice that you use the word "drive" in "drive our cars" and not "fuel our cars" i.e. get the energy to the wheels. Remember that electricity and hydrogen are not "fuels" - there are no hydrogen collectors or electricity mines. Hydrogen is currently mostly obtained from non-renewable sources (hydrocarbons) so it's use in cars is simply moving greenhouse gas emission elsewhere. Someone needs to calculate just how much more electricity the UK will need to eliminate oil consumption. Currently we consume around 70 million metric tonnes of oil per year (2016) for all uses (dunno how much in vehicles). According to that equates to around 850,000 Gigawatt hours in comparison with about 360,000 Gigawatt hours of electricity generated in 2016 (admittedly around 10% of that from oil). They could be powered by wind turbines i.e. using wind as the fuel. At around 6 gigawatt hour per year each I suppose we will only need around 150,000 more wind turbines added to the 8500 we already have. This is not a highly researched observation, just 15 minutes with Wikipedia and other public sources. ANY conference on replacing oil consumption in favour of carrying some other energy by electricity should have this calculation done with considerably better accuracy.

  2. iwrconsultancy

    Battery cars - a premature technology

    I just think that forcing a switch to battery cars will turn out like the forced switch to CFL lightbulbs. A better tech came along not long after in the shape of the LED. Suddenly, you couldn't sell the things, not even for 20p each. Forcing the premature uptake of a new technology seldom turns out well.

    Fuel cell technology may well advance to the point where it can replace the IC engine, using similar fuels. Or, perhaps alcohols. If that is developed in a few years time then there will be a monster pile of battery cars that nobody wants. Which will not be good for the environment.

    We have been using IC engines for a century anyway. There is no justification for a mad rush to replace them. The Green Party pollution scare claims don't seem to be backed up by DEFRA figures, which indicate that pollution levels have fallen over the last few decades, not increased. -Who is telling the truth here? Personally, I'd go with DEFRA.

    Then again, most existing IC engines can be modified to use hydrogen. The efficiency is not quite as good as a fuel cell, but the capital cost is far lower and the pollution reduction about the same.

    We should wait for a better solution. Especially as developments like the Bloom Box suggest that it might not be far away.

    1. Dampeters

      Re: Battery cars - a premature technology

      Post-event - it was a fascinating talk by an evident expert in the field, with some very pragmatic views on how this and other alternative technologies will make it to industrial production and widespread adoption. Congrats and thanks!

    2. TWB

      Re: IC engines can be modified to use hydrogen.

      You should have been there to ask that question - or maybe you were and did not get a chance - there were a lot of questions.

      A very interesting event with drink and food- thanks Reg.

  3. quxinot

    Don't care.

    I'll be dead by then.

    Thank god.

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