How will vehicles be powered in the future?

The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered, as they produce harmful emissions, and make inefficient use of valuable natural resources. There are two serious candidates for replacing them, but there are significant problems with both at the moment:-

Electric cars – these now have sufficient range, and more than adequate vehicle performance. However, there are several issues:-

  • Batteries are very heavy, and plenty of energy is needed to make them.
  • Recycling dead batteries will be a real challenge.
  • A large number of charging stations will be needed for those who can't charge their car at home or their work.
  • The electricity used to charge the car needs to be made sustainably, otherwise you just move the pollution to a different location.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles - these only produce electricity, heat and water, and the fuel cells are now small enough to fit into a normal sized car. The remaining problems are with the hydrogen fuel:-

  • Production - hydrogen is a very common element, but it is very reactive, so it is bound up with other elements, mainly with oxygen in water. It takes energy to make hydrogen, so that energy needs to come from a sustainable source for there to be any net benefit.
  • Storage – hydrogen has a very low density, so it is currently compressed to a high pressure. Many other storage methods have been tried, many involving reversible chemical links. This problem remains to be solved.
  • Distribution – sending it down pipes is fine, but it still suffers from the problems of having a low density.

The transition

The world has a huge number of filling stations to put petrol/gasoline/diesel into vehicles. These fuels have a high energy density, and internal combustion engines have a proven track record. There are very few public car charging points, and just above zero hydrogen filling stations. So, some sort of transition is required, and these involve hybrid systems. There are three options:-

Fuel cell + battery. This would be a type of fuel cell which can be fuelled directly or indirectly by petrol/gasoline/diesel.

Normal engine + battery. There are several different types of hybrid car on the market, all of which fit into this category.

Normal engine + fuel cell + battery. This where the Omnagen Cell comes in. It is placed in the engine exhaust, much like a catalytic converter at the moment, and generates electricity from the exhaust gases. By adjusting combustion in the engine, you can provide more fuel for the fuel cell. This recharges the battery, making the whole system more efficient, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

hybrid power

If you'd like to discover more about improving the efficiency of hybrid vehicles, please contact Ken Omersa; phone and email details are provided here.