Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Friedman Gets on the 500 MPG Bandwagon

I was reading Tom Friedman's recent article on 500 mpg cars and thinking that I had read this article before. Then it dawned on me, this is the same article Fareed Zakaria's wrote 2 months ago (see previous post).

First, start with an explanation of flex-fuel cars and a little corporation name dropping:

Zakaria: Ford, for example, makes a number of its models with "flexible-fuel tanks."

Friedman: Then add to that flexible-fuel cars, which have a special chip and fuel line that enable them to burn alcohol (ethanol or methanol), gasoline or any mixture of the two. Some four million U.S. cars already come equipped this way, including from G.M.
Then you need a random stat on how Brazil is ahead of the US:
Zakaria: Forty percent of Brazil's new cars have flexible-fuel tanks.

Friedman: Brazil hopes to have all its new cars flex-fuel ready by 2008.
Followed by an explanation of when you would recharge a "plug-in" hybrid:
Zakaria: The next step is "plug-in" hybrids, with powerful batteries that are recharged at night like laptops, cell phones and iPods.

Friedman: But, says Luft, if you had a hybrid that you could plug in at night, the battery could store up 20 miles of driving per day.
And take us home with the math Gal Luft provides on how you get to 500 mpg:
Zakaria: Here's the math (thanks to Gal Luft, a tireless and independent advocate of energy security). The current crop of hybrid cars get around 50 miles per gallon. Make it a plug-in and you can get 75 miles. Replace the conventional fuel tank with a flexible-fuel tank that can run on a combination of 15 percent petroleum and 85 percent ethanol or methanol, and you get between 400 and 500 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Friedman: But, says Luft, if you had a hybrid that you could plug in at night, the battery could store up 20 miles of driving per day. So your first 20 miles would be covered by the battery. The gasoline would only kick in after that. Since 50 percent of Americans do not drive more than 20 miles a day, the battery power would cover all their driving. Even if they drove more than that, combining the battery power and the gasoline could give them 100 miles per gallon of gasoline used, Luft notes. As Luft notes, if you combined a plug-in hybrid system with a flex-fuel system that burns 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent gasoline, you could end up stretching each gallon of gasoline up to 500 miles.
I had always liked Friedman because he was writing original things that you don't read in other places. Time to revisit that.

Via New York Times

1 comment:

viral said...

huh, interesting! the good thing is that the ideas are certainly getting into the mainstream ...

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