Monday, March 12, 2007

My Eyes Have Seen The Future...

There's a great article in American Scientist about plug-in hybrids. These are cars that work just like hybrid cars do today (i.e. they use a gas engine to charge batteries, and then use the batteries to run an electric motor during those times when the gas engine is most inefficient), but you can also plug them in and charge the batteries directly. That way you can run the car completely on electricity if you so desire, but in those situations where you can't pause for several hours to recharge, you can just use gasoline.

In particular, they are far and away a better option than hydrogen, which I have previously groused about here, here, and here. The American Scientist piece explains the obvious and straightforward benefit of electricity over hydrogen:

Indeed, one of the great advantages of plug-ins (and purely electric cars) is that they can directly use solar- and wind-generated electricity for transportation, a process that is three to four times more efficient than converting such renewable energy to hydrogen for vehicular use.

As I've said many times, hydrogen is not a source of energy, it is a particular means of storing and delivering energy. It just so happens to be a terrible means of storing and delivering energy, because it requires a lot of waste and creates all sorts of technical difficulties. As such, I simply can't see any future for it.

The real future of the automobile will be the electric car, with plug-in hybrids as the transitional species. Anyway, the entire article is well worth the read, so hop to it.