Koch Brothers Plan Offensive Against Plug-In Cars

by Samantha Englert

Fuel industry sources have recently revealed that billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Texas are planning to funnel over ten million dollars a year to a new advocacy group whose mission will be to increase the usage of petroleum-based transportation fuel. Why would individuals wish to promote ‘unclean’ energy and global warming? Faced with the threat of competition and lost sales from plug-in automobiles, the Koch brothers, who own the second largest privately held fossil-fuel corporation with an annual income of over 100 billion dollars, have been reported to want the US government to discontinue electric car subsidies.   Continue reading

Why Would Anyone Buy a Hybrid Car?

by JP Kiefer

With some experts expecting the transport sector to contribute to 50% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hybrid cars may be a great alternative to reduce climate change resulting from increased vehicle use. Despite this, some consumers choose not to drive hybrid vehicles. Ritsuko (2011), claims that this is a result of a car being more than just a utilitarian means of transport, but also an item laden with cultural meaning and image such as identity and status. Ritsuko researched what makes a customer buy a hybrid vehicle in order to discover how to encourage them to do so. Continue reading

Compressed Air Hybrid Vehicles?

by Emil Morhardt (An early compressed air vehicle is shown in the photo above. Not what this paper is talking about though.)

The usual candidate power supplies for the non-fossil-fuel part of hybrid vehicles are chemical batteries, supercapacitors, and flywheels, all powered up using electricity, and generating electricity when their power can usefully replace or supplant the main power source, the internal combustion engine. But these types of electrical storage and the motor/generators they utilize are complex, sophisticated, and expensive, and have barely appeared at all in the developing parts of the world where fossil fuel use is growing fastest. Maybe there is a simpler, cheaper option. One possibility is compressed air energy storage. All you need is a tank (cheap), a reversible compressor (fairly cheap), and a way to link it to the engine. That last part is tricky because the general run of such systems work optimally at a specific pressure, but their performance falls off dramatically as pressures in the tank exceed or fall below optimum as would be expected the tank is being pressurized or depressurized. The simple solution, according to Brown et al. (2014), is to use inexpensive check valves on the tank to prevent over-compression and over-expansion, and an infinitely variable transmission between the compressor and the engine that can operate efficiently at a range of tank pressures. The transmission adjusts by changing the number of thermodynamic cycles of the compressor executed per driveshaft rotation. Continue reading