I have been doing a great deal of thinking about a better transportation system. There are all sorts of alternatives.
20 years or so ago, I was figuring that the best way would be to have an electric vehicle that had a generator that would charge up the batteries as needed. Now this is called a hybrid, a serial hybrid to be more exact.
My thoughts were that this would allow you to drive with out polluting in towns and fire up the generator on the open road where pollution is not as big of a problem.
Fast forward 20 years. Hybrids are here to say, except the common hybrid is a parallel hybrid. The big difference is that the you depend more on the gasoline engine. The vehicle can not run at highway speeds with out the power of the gasoline engine.
Modern train locomotives work similar to a serial hybrid. The difference is that rather than having batteries you have a full diesel electric power plant. All of the power to the wheels comes from electric motors. Also they have the same as the modern regenerative braking. They did not charge batteries, but simply sent the power to some large resistors and had to cool the resistors.
Generating electricity will provide less impact on the environment than internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engines have a relative narrow power band. A generator can be setup to run at the most effecient power setting, rather than having to run from idle to high RPM. A generator simply runs at one speed.
Something else new on the scene is bio fuels. The most popular is ethanol, you raise corn and turn it into ethanol. This is mixed with gasoline. The problem is this crop competes for land with food crops. It also competes for the use of water as well.
Natural gas looks good. It seems to be in good supply, but it has it’s problem. One of which is a distribution system.
Hydrogen fuel cells seem promising as well, but again there needs to be a distribution system.
One of the latest to come to my attention is algae. Algae does not compete for land or clean water.
Now I have come across a company that embraces a similar idea. They like pushing the hybrid envelop. Take a standard Prius, add some extra batteries and a plug, so that it is a plug in hybrid. Then run the engine on algae fuel.
Check it out at www.thefuelfilm.com.