Tuesday, August 16, 2005

That gas thing.

In the previous post, I ranted a little bit about gas prices and things like supply and demand and why gasoline costs what it does today.

The cost of gasoline makes me proud that I am an American. Follow my logic here for a minute:

Auto makers have just about squeezed all the easy mileage out of the current crop of cars. Using current technology, they have done just about all they can do to get more miles out of a gallon of gas, using the training they have at their disposal. We are probably never going to see 200 mpg cars in our lifetime. Get over it, it ain't gonna happen. Fuel-cell technology? Yeah, maybe ten years down the road.

But, the US is a nation of tinkerers. With fuel prices like they are now, some guy somewhere is in his shop, tinkering with an engine. He is likely looking at valve angle, and thrust ratios and alternative fuels. And he doesn't have anything to lose. He is working on his secret project from one paycheck to another, fueled by the American dream.

Two guys in a bicycle shop worked for a bunch of years to invent powered flight, not so long ago on the timeline of human endeavor. Some other guys working in garages launched the automotive age. Yet some other guys working in garages brought about the revolution in personal computing that we witnessed during the latter years of the last century. Guys like the Wright brothers, and Gates and Job, launched entire empires out of little shops, and people thought they were crazy. Maybe they were.

Maybe the story of Thomas Edison and his light bulb will demonstrate what I mean, but I think the next big breakthough will be from more humble beginnings, like the Wright Brothers

Somewhere right now, some guy somewhere is working on something so revolutionary that the trained engineers have already looked at it and decided it won't work. All their training and experience tells them that the technology can't succeed. The engineers are wrong.

I know this about that. One of the most common compounds on the earth today is water. It is made from hydrogen and oxygen, two of the most flammable substances found in nature. We've got tons of it. Wanna make hydrogen? Run it through a wet-cell battery. You'll get hydrogen. It burns.

Some guy somewhere is in his shop right now, working on it. The engineers are behind the curve, because this guy is thinking outside the box. Way outside the box, but in a few more years, he'll have an engine that runs on tap water. I am as confident about this as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Right now, everyone thinks he is crazy. Tell that to the Wright Brothers, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs. Tell that to Mr. Honda and Mr. Edison and Mr. Bell.

It's gonna happen. I bet it is going to happen in the United States.


Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

I bet you're right.

Or, perhaps someone is looking at a way to make it run off of hydrogen, where the only by-product will be water...

homie2 said...

I know you are right. And there is already a few prototype cars that run on hydrogen and produce pure drinking water from the tail pipe!

I saw one on the show "30 days" on F/X (cable).

Imagine that, a fuel source and a water source! We will have all of those hot dry countries (saudi and such) on their knees!


oyster said...

I sure as hell know that this claim ain't right:

"Auto makers have just about squeezed all the easy mileage out of the current crop of cars. Using current technology, they have done just about all they can do to get more miles out of a gallon of gas, using the training they have at their disposal."

No way.

As you know, automakers design the current and (future) "crops of cars". They don't appear out of the ether. For nearly twenty years they have pushed size and horsepower over fuel efficiency. Twenty years ago, your average vehicle got more miles to the gallon than the average one today. Compare, say, Honda's lineup with Ford's and tell me with a straight face that we're doing all we can in terms of fuel efficiency.

As for your 200mpg car prediction, perhaps this article might interest you.

Pawpaw said...

Oyster. And here all this time, I thought that Honda and Toyota and the others were auto-makers.

I didn't limit my posting with American auto-makers. And I maintain that they have just about squeezed all the EASY mileage you can get out of a standard 4-banger.

I accessed the article you linked, and yeah, some experimenters are getting magnificent results, but those results don't translate well to the manufacturing sector. The auto-makers aren't going to manufacture cars we won't buy.

I'm not going to rush out and buy a Prius because it doesn't fit with my needs. If I don't need it, I ain't gonna buy it.

The author you linked stated that the new technology would add $6,000 to the cost of a new car, and I'm not going to spend an additional $6K because it has new technology.

oyster said...

Between the tax credit for a hybrid, and the gas savings coming from a vehicle which gets ten times the average mpg, you might recoup that $6k rather quickly.

I understand you need a truck, but some commuters might snap that prius up in a second. Especially these days.