Eric Hanson wrote:CK,
You touched on an issue in your last post where I would love to see more development. It is not specific to nuclear and pertains to making stationary power generation into a mobile form. For applications like small and compact cars, I like the ideas about battery electric vehicles (BEV). At present, BEV’s work reasonably well for options like the Nissan Leaf. Certainly there is room for improvement, but the basic concept works at least reasonably well.
I am not certain how one gets to something like a BEV minivan or small SUV, and at present, heavy equipment seems completely unsuited to BEV.
On the other hand, a technology I would love to see develop is a practical fuel cell. Around the year 2000, I had a lot of hope that fuel cells were right around the corner. At the time the Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell had just become semi-practical. A PEM would be much more efficient than a gasoline engine and likely better than a Diesel engine. Unfortunately, hydrogen storage was and still is a problem. On a per-volume basis, hydrogen just does not offer a lot of energy. Even liquid hydrogen just does not have a lot of energy (but on a per mass basis it is great which is why it is the preferred fuel for NASA rockets).
There are some other fuel cells that could hold promise. Some are attached to an on-board reformer that would allow something like gasoline to be stripped of its hydrogen atoms that could then be used in a PEM, but that process would require energy not available for the fuel cell. Another option is called the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) that could power a vehicle based fuel cell directly from liquid methanol.
While these have interesting potential, I have seen no development since about 2000. Mostly this is hypothetical but it could be a replacement for many internal combustion engines.
Just a thought,
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