Do We Need EVs with Turbo Engines Becoming so Fuel Efficient?
October 17, 2011 1:15 PM
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You're doing it wrong.
Turbos are on 75% of new cars sold in Europe
You don't have to be a scientist or an automotive engineer to look at the fuel economy that major automakers are squeezing out of their vehicles with normal combustion engines today and wonder if we really need EVs and hybrids. More than one diesel car in Europe is able to provide fuel economy as good or better than the hybrids people generally think are so fuel thrifty.
The catch is that we rarely see diesel engines in the US inside a car, that will be changing, but the diesel car isn't common today for American drivers. One thing that is becoming very common for fuel efficiency sake is the addition of a turbocharger to allow a smaller displacement engine to produce acceptable power to provide the performance drivers expect.
The turbocharger is something that was often thought of for performance cars like the Grand National Buick in the mid to late 1980's. Today the turbo is used in a number of engines including the very popular EcoBoost line from Ford. Ford's EcoBoost engine inside the
is selling very well and has a towing capacity on par with normal engines with larger displacement. The turbocharger is even more widely used in Europe where
reports that 75% of all new cars come with one.
Craig Balis from Honeywell Turbo Technologies told Reuters in an interview, "The turbocharger is a green technology in the sense that it's helping cut emissions and raise fuel economy. It's a critical component to get more fuel efficiency out of the engine."
"Emissions regulations in Europe, the United States and worldwide are a driving force for cleaner, greener vehicles and that's a great landscape for turbocharging," said Balis. "We're confident about the continued evolution of combustion engines and the growing role turbocharging has."
reports that a diesel engine that has a turbocharger can get 40% more mileage than one without a turbo and a gas engine can go 20% further per liter of fuel than one without a turbo. With the impressive economy that normal engines with turbochargers achieve there are many that wonder if we even need EVs and hybrids.
Pierre Gaudillat, policy officer at the Transport and Environment lobby group in Brussels, was asked if we need EVs from a CO2 point of view. He said, "That's a valid question. The answer is: maybe not. Turbos are a no-brainer for cutting CO2 because the efficiency gains are really quite significant. In the near term, we don't really need and can't count on electric vehicles to deliver the CO2 savings. Maybe not until about 2030 or 2050."
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RE: Yes, we need them.
10/31/2011 4:21:32 PM
Two things you might want to consider:
1) according to the DOE, it takes 6kWh of electricity to refine each gallon of gasoline. So that electricity from "dirty, uranium and mercury spewing coal-fired plants." is being spewed anyway to make gasoline. Of course, this is just to refine it and speaks nothing to drilling for it, transporting it, creating all the other chemicals needed at the refinery, transporting it to gas stations all over the US and even pumping it out of the ground (another electric pump by the way).
2) As of April 2011 (latest available figures from DOE), coal use for the US grid has dropped to 41% which is way down from the 50-60% it used to be and it's dropping dramatically in the last 2 years as Natural Gas plants are coming online and the older, dirtier coal plants are being retired.
As for your other point on batteries progressing for laptops and cell phones...not so much. The battery companies have made a fortune selling you batteries every time your current ones run out. Their only incentive to improve at all was to be *slightly* better than competition or at least to have some case where they could claim it for marketing.
They made all their money selling the damn things and didn't want them to last longer than was needed. EVs have forced them to come up with truly new technologies because they are simply not viable for most people today with the range limitations and short cycle/shelf life.
So EVs are definitely driving improvements in batteries that were not there before.
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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