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Gas-Electric Hybrids?

Posted by Peter Brow 
Peter Brow
Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 03, 2004 06:45PM
One common objection to steam car development is that gas/electric hybrids are the way of the future by virtue of their high city fuel mileage, and that steam car developers are "missing the boat" or bucking "the smart money".

The June 11th, 2004 issue of USA Today contains an article by James R. Healy reporting the following information.

The official EPA city fuel mileage estimate for the Honda Civic hybrid is 48 mpg. Yet Consumer Reports independently tested the same vehicle and got only 26 mpg in city driving. Many conventional gas cars, even performance gas cars like Ford Mustangs, can equal or beat that figure. It has often been noted that hybrids offer no fuel mileage improvement over comparable conventional gas cars in highway driving.

Healey (USA Today): "So many people have complained about the disappointing fuel economy of gas-electric hybrid cars that the federal government is telling automakers to consider putting more realistic mileage labels on their cars or do a better job warning buyers that they won't get the advertised mileage."

Note that the "advertised mileage" is the federal government's own (EPA) fuel mileage figures.

EPA response: "the last thing we want to do is discourage further development and market penetration of this technology." (Chris Grundler, Deputy Director of EPA Transportation and Technology Office).

Car industry response: "Potential reputation damage to the technology is a very valid point. We hope that doesn't come out of this." (Mike Michels, Toyota)

Plain language translation: "Hybrid cars don't actually save gas, but don't tell anyone, because we want to sell as many as possible".

The article also notes that Toyota and Honda receive about $1500 per car in US federal government subsidies. No word on Japanese and other government subsidies. One government belt-tightening, and we can kiss those subsidies goodbye.

Things to remember next time somebody tells you that steam cars are a waste of time due to the superior efficiency & impending future dominance of hybrids. We've all heard it: work on hybrids instead; "get with The Program"; "Be The Ball".

Peter
Bill Gatlin
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 03, 2004 10:15PM
Peter,

We can't beleive anything our government, big buisiness (same thing) tells us, or what the smart money is doing, the smart money is generally advertising or lying to us. Right now we have a terrorist alert about our big finance centers and a lot of media hype about the great dangers to us all. Notice that the smart money isn't shipping out to safer shores. It's all champaign advertising.

Please see my post (I think its the last one) in the thread about Bill Lear. That really happened. Possibly this steam forum isn't the place to talk politics as I well imagine that we get sick enough of it in our daily lives. BUT--- If we ignore the political agendas of our so called leaders and the big industrys that they represent all we will be allowed to do is restore quaint old steamers, and build things that are not too threatening to the power structure.

Don't you think a very high efficiency and economical power plant in a truck or automobile would be threatening? Ford Motors did. From what I gather you are attempting to build somthing competative to whats out there now and maybe quite superior. Your a smart guy there's no reason you can't.

A good steam engine should pull in 30% overall efficiency, operating at reasonabe temperatures. Because of the way it operates and it's torque carecteristics, and emitions that should scare a lot of manufacturers. Get really inventive and come up with a 60% overall efficiency engine (any kind) and it would scare the ---p out of them. Ford spent a leisure ten million to prove that the steam engine wouldn't be feasable. How vicious do you think these kind of people could get if faced with a viable running reality?

What I am saying Peter is cover your tail. If your power plant is really somthing and your tooling down the road with it, watch out for that semi following you. Take care who your investors are. Watch your contracts. Royalties are worthless when the buyer refuses to produce. Guarding ideas isn't the high priority, guarding a working demo prototype is. Spread your locations so the loss of one won't kill the project. Safeguard your supply lines. You get the idea.

If my engine ever gets were I believe it can go, I plan to get really paranoid, not untill then though.

Peter even though I've addressed this more or less to you, it's really for anyone who could upset the applecart of vehicle economics. I'm not trying to rain on anyones parade, I would just love to see a parade -- with steam cars in it. Not like the fiasco of the seventys that was nothing but rain, idiot politics and no steam.

Wishing you much success ---------Bill G.
Jeremy Holmes
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 03, 2004 10:35PM
Peter Brow,

I have followed your posts with much interest. My 'day-job' is as a process engineer for an automotive aluminum alloy remanufacture'res plant. and of coarse Im the cornburner guywinking smiley

I also find it striking, that liquid hydrogen is considered "rocket fuel" and was banned by the DOT some years ago. Since rocket fuel is not allowed in cars.

Yet this is being promoted as the chief energy carrier for the hydrogen economy. I even heard this went so far as to provide superconducted (LH2 of coarse as the cyro) power lines between citys, and the run off LN2, is to be distributed to "hydrogen gas stations".

Ya I guess I could say, I should get with the program. But I just dont agree with it, hydrogen is simply an energy carrier like steam. Not a fuel source. In my opinion the bayer process of aluminum refining, and aluminum-air batteries, should yeild three times the efficiency of hydrogen electrloisis, regardless of presureazation and liquifaction, to a fuel cell at 60% efficiency output.

Im 32 now. But I am sure I will be active in the area of steam technology my whole life, its a worthwhile pursuit. Speaking from the younger generation. We may deviate from the conventional, but regardless we will persue steam.

Jeremy
Peter Brow
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 03, 2004 10:51PM
Thanks Bill, this is stuff that I have considered off and on. As you note, thinking about it too much will get you paranoid, then again as the saying goes "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're NOT out to get you". smiling smiley

What I'm working on now shouldn't be much of a threat to anyone. Fuel mileage should be about the same as a gas car, and consensus is that most of the powerplant components are of antiquated type, unsuitable for modern road use. If the Big Guys agree with my critics inside the steam world, I'll be quite safe. At most it would go into limited/specialty production, an oddball curiousity product made in such small numbers that "They" won't even notice.

I do have a more ambitious and revolutionary design on the back burner. That one, if it works as the numbers keep telling me, could put me in the middle of some serious industrial espionage.

Another thing, though, is that some of these "dire warnings" from car execs, "oil company people", etc, might be pranks or the actions of sadistic blowhards who happen to work for some company. IE, those who issue these threats/warnings may not actually be representing the actual policy or intent of their (actual or claimed) employer. Hard to tell. I would ask the "messengers", "how do I know this is for real?", and demand a meeting with the CEO of the company, at the company headquarters. If their boss won't back them up, they're probably full of it.

Thanks for your comments, and best of luck with your own project. I've been spending too much time reading/writing in the internet steam forums lately, and will be dropping out to free up more time for drawing board and shop work (there is a lot of each needed!). I may pop in from time to time in the future with news. Hope nobody attributes my disappearance to foul play! smiling smiley

Peter
Peter Brow
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 04, 2004 03:54AM
Hi Jeremy,

Okay, I did one last check of the discussion board. (sigh). So this will be my last post, for a while at least. I suppose I am in a slightly older generation now at 42, though I usually don't think of it that way.

Interesting note on aluminum as an energy carrier. You're way ahead of "The Program" by recognizing hydrogen as an energy carrier rather than a source. I will look into the electricity-aluminum-electricity conversion efficiencies when I get the time. Of course there are big losses getting the electricity in the first place. Better to stick with plain ole corn as a fuel.

Best of luck with your energy experiments, at least you're building and running things! Keep an open mind on steam engine design, and remember my rule of thumb that 99% of inventions are crap, but you have to go thru the 99% to find the 1% that's pure gold. In my case it sometimes seems more like 99.5% crap to 0.5% gold.

Just for the heck of it, try a pure-steam engine one of these days. I think you've got the skills & mechanical knowhow to make a kickass uniflow. Maybe you can be the one who successfully recreates the legendary diesel-beating Williams engine; ask George about those when you get a chance. Now there's something that could shake things up in the energy department. Just a thought for future experimentation.

Okay, I'm outta here.

Keep on keepin' on!

Peter
Peter Brow
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 04, 2004 04:53AM
One last bit, Bill. That car company suit you ran into may have been thinking of the "not invented here" policy (no outside inventions will be invested in) of most big corporations, and thought he was doing a young inventor a favor by discouraging him early on and saving him wasted time. His high-handed 'tude would then qualify as misguided "tough love", more laughably a--holish than genuinely scary. I think there are some freelance dolts who take the same approach -- scare ya "for your own good" or "for the common good". Laughter is the best medicine for that disease. Chickenhearted phonies and bullies far outnumber really dangerous thugs; when in doubt, odds favor encountering the former.

Sounds like your auto industry buddy may have been the same pusillanimous moron who screamed "steam cars don't work!" at Bill Besler, then turned red and stormed out when Besler handed him the keys to a modern steam car and asked him to take it for a drive (as witnessed by Jim). Maybe Besler unknowingly did your revenge for you. "A dish best served with a laugh"? smiling smiley

Peter
Gas-Electric Hybrid Hype
August 04, 2004 07:41AM
I found it interesting that even though Toyota is selling all the Prius cars it makes, it has no plans to further increase the output. Seems like when you sell the heck out of something you would be happy to be making more, unless it was not as profitable as the conventional cars that it is taking the sales away from. Has anyone gone into a Toyota dealership and asked for a conventional car and then been steered to buying a Prius ? I think not.

Peter Heid
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 04, 2004 08:54AM
I know that GM did infact run aground a modern steam locomotive development. I can't remember the fellows name that told me about this. He was who had the contract to build the Loco. He testified in in a hearing about the actions GM took to prevent the production of the engine. He was located in Newport Beach Calif just off Redhill. He is the one who built the Disney Land trains. The loco was a hybrid steam turbine electric. The turbine would replace the GM desel. What GM did was to bully their suppliers into holding up shipments to him or just plain not dealing with him on the project. The Loco were going to be used halling lumber and the waste products from the lumber mills would be used as fuel.

I met with the fellow a little over 10 years ago. Just before I moved back here. Seen an artical bout him relating to the Disney trains. His shop was just across the street from were I worked.

Andy
Bill Gatlin
Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 04, 2004 05:53PM
Peter Brow

Thanks Peter, no I didn't quit because of that Ford guy, I didn't scare easily when I was young and even less now that I'm sixty. The problems were mostly money and a wife that was going over the edge, add kids and the engine got put on the back burner. All the same with a decient politic and sane energy program it would have happened. Now it would be fun to do it just to watch em run.

Again lots of good fortune to you with your car------Bill G.

Re: Gas-Electric Hybrids?
August 05, 2004 07:45AM
Andy,
That sounds just like the public transportation scam GM pulled in the 20's when they bought up as many cable car companies as they could under the guise of front companies, closed them down and pulled up the tracks. More than 100 such lines were destroyed in the United States by a group of companies which I believe included Firestone, Mack Trucks Standard oil of CA and GM. Of course, the replacements for the cable cars just happened to be busses with detroit diesel engines. If I remember correctly, the corporations were found guilty and fined $5000 each and the individuals were fined $100 each. Nothing like the government support for public transportation !

Peter Heid
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