Future in the Fog (3). Mobility in movement.

Today mobility is a key factor of our society. For many it is an expression of their wish for freedom. If one’s mobility is restricted, he certainly feels a lack in his life. But as it is evident that man has a major influence on climate change and the emission of lots of toxins, we have to think about how we could reduce this impact on the environment. And mobility is just one aspect of the game but it is worth having a closer look. We have proven that we can built vehicles for every purpose. Now we should prove that we can built vehicles that don’t destroy our planet and our lungs while still being safe and comfortable. Of course this will influence the way we are mobile but the challenge is to not create a lack of mobility.
There will not be only one solution to this matter and there are already lots of approaches to be discussed. This text is meant to be a starting point for further discussion an will not be able to mention every of these ideas. The main question we have to ask is: What comes out the end of the exhaust pipe if there is still one. The answer to this question is directly linked to the next question: Which energy will drive our drives in future?

What about biofuel? Doesn’t it sound good: Burning renewable fuels instead of fossil fuels by using nearly the same technology? But you have to put a lot of energy in producing plants like corn or special wood. There are already blends of fossil fuel and bioethanol and they let food prizes rise worldwide because farmers get more money out of their acres, if they use it for energy plants. This strikes everyone. If you got money, you will pay more for your bread and butter but not starve to death. Imagine how rising food prizes strikes the millions already not having enough to eat.

Still there are other technologies researched to gain biofuels. For example, experiments are made with genetically modified algae producing fuel when fed with carbon monoxide and sunlight. But this technology needs big farms and the input of big amounts of energy and fertiliser. We have to wait, how these technologies will develop because they’re not yet ready to go into mass production. Besides we have to think of toxins emitted because it is once again a combustion process.

When I was young, I dreamed of having a little plane which is only run by water. When I heard that there are efforts made to achieve at least the point of using hydrogen as fuel I first was enthusiastic. But now I know that the use of hydrogen also emits nitrogen oxides that are toxic to us. In additions the main problem is to gain enough hydrogen without a massive input of other energy. Where does the extra energy needed come from?

Similar problems appear as it comes to electric powered vehicles. Better storage technologies which would provide higher ranges are under development but still we have to ask how we could satisfy our enormous hunger for energy, which will not get smaller by using electric vehicles.

As we said, we can not predict which one is the best way for the conservation of nature and our livelihood. But there are things we already can do whatever which way we choose. We can rethink our own habits and for example benefit from the advantages of connecting with others. Moreover we should also focus on intelligent systems to reorganize traffic. As a start there are technologies like regenerative brakes and synchronised light signalling systems. My idea is to use the effects of the slipstream by connecting cars in automatically controlled queues which would allow them to drive closer to each other without being less safe. This could safe energy especially on highways.

Interesting pages:

http://robotik.dfki-bremen.de/de/forschung/projekte.html#c3803
http://www.greenpeace-magazin.de/index.php?id=55&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=132161&cHash=0bb8eb0643d22769ec0c7f5cb4b54764
http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/a-776206.html
http://www.zeit.de/auto/2010-09/renault-elektroautos
http://www.werk-ost.de/geschaeftsidee/innovative-elektroautos-akkus-tauschen-statt-laden/
http://www.wupperinst.org/uploads/tx_wiprojekt/Energiebalance-AP5.pdf
http://www.nutramed.com/environment/cars.htm

 

 

 

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