atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#779: Headlines again

Ann Coulter is critical of Huckabee. I know who I'm not voting for in the primary. Actually I knew I wasn't voting for "Huck" before this article, but now I've got more reasons for this decision.

1987 Honda CRC HF got 57 MPG. What they bury several paragraphs down is that it went from 0-60 in 12 seconds and was a bare-bones econobox. The article claims that a car that will get that kind of fuel economy "must" be a hybrid; otherwise it's Just Not Possible.

That's horseshit.

There are several ways to build highly efficient non-hybrid cars. One way is to use a lean-burn, direct-injection diesel. VW was getting 50 MPG out of old-fashioned diesels in the 1970s; with modern technology I'm sure that economy could be equalled with an engine that performs well. Diesel engines get more efficient as you increase the amount of air packed into the cylinders; turbocharging a diesel engine is a step up in economy, not down. (Also, a diesel engine will take as much as you care to feed it, within certian mechanical limits.)

About 20 years ago a company was working on direct-injection two-cycle engines which were light, efficient, and clean. They had a 90 horsepower engine which you could tuck under one arm; it weighed 90 pounds. No idea whatever happened to them, but their entire reason for existing was to build a two-cycle engine which would pass EPA emissions standards and provide outstanding fuel economy. Evidently no one was interested--well, that was the 1980s when gas cost $0.87 per gallon.

Here's an idea: build a lean-burn direct-injection turbo diesel using that 2-cycle technology. That would be incredibly efficient.

Or we could start building real hybrid cars--cars with small engines that turn a generator, and batteries, with an electric motor to turn the wheels. The car would have a certain range without burning any gasoline at all; once the batteries were exhausted the engine could be started to power the car and charge the batteries. The engine would always run at its most efficient speed, turning the generator at its most efficient speed, guaranteeing a maximum conversion of fuel into electricity.

...none of these require the hyper-expensive combination engine/generator/motor/transmission drivetrain (and computer controller for same) that the current so-called "hybrids" contain.

California doesn't get to supersede the EPA's emissions limits. This is a good thing for you and me, because if California had gotten to do that, all cars would have become a lot more expensive.

Unfortunately, I don't see how it can last. So we may be seeing the final days of GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

Congress bans incandescent bulbs. We'll have to go flourescent until they perfect LED bulbs, I guess.

Flourescent bulbs contain mercury. There is the horror story about a woman who broke one and had to seal off the room that it had broken in, until she can find $5,000 to pay a crew to come in and decontaminate the place. The bulb contained 5 mg of mercury, so that's about $1,000 per mg or $1,000,000 per gram.

And what happens when burned out flourescents start showing up in landfills? According to the EPA you can't just throw them away, you know; they're toxic waste and must be disposed of accordingly. Still, people won't always adhere to those rules, so what will we do about all that mercury entering the environment?

Look, I'm all for flourescent bulbs. But this mandate is years too early because we don't have anything in place to handle the toxic waste that will be generated by their disposal.

Oh well.

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