Future Tech – To Be or Not to Be! Which is the answer?

brain waves

Must engage brain!

What future do we imagine? From what sources do we seek our solutions?

Several NASA scientists claimed their source of inspiration came from TV or movies. Most often you hear the respondents believe they felt compelled to get into engineering or scientific vocations because of Star Trek or Star Wars.  Of course sports stars have impressed young people for years to aspire to become professional athletes. The fact is, what we envision for ourselves becomes our compass or guiding star.

When President John F. Kennedy gave a speech on the goal of the United States was to put a man on the moon, we did it. It seemed like a huge step for us at the time. We have new problems that require solutions for a much more terrestrial environment.

The electric car seems like an answer to green house gases or air pollution in large cities, but is it really?

atomic particlePeople often ignore that electrical generation is derived from some type of coal burning, oil or gas burning,  nuclear fission, hydro-dam or to a very small extent, wind and solar. The vast majority of our electrical generation comes from carbon fuel sources. In order to have the capacity for additional electrical charging stations for cars, a rise in green house gases will result from these power plants with our current designed infrastructure.

Beyond that problem is another, the need to dispose of a lot of batteries, which carry high concentrations of toxic materials. Leaching heavy metals into sources of ground water is also a huge problem. The batteries for electric cars still cost a lot of money with total costs higher than $10,000. The life expectancy is anywhere from 4-7 years. Batteries can be recycled but are expensive.

Cars used in colder climate require plenty of energy to heat the interior and defrost the windows. With gasoline or diesel, the combustion process already transfers the waste heat from the engine while with electric cars heating requires extra energy from the electric car’s battery. Typical travel distance before a long recharge is 80 to 100 miles. With a heater or AC requirements, that travel distance (time between charges) is greatly reduced. Heaven help you if you get stuck in rush hour and your batteries are full discharged. You can’t just go get a can of electrons to recharge your batteries.

So overall, are we gaining anything other than limited distance transportation? If we shift the pollutants from one energy source to another, is there a net gain?

Tesla Model S Motor Trends Car of the Year for 2013

Tesla model S front profile

Tesla model S front profile

I have to admire the foresight, creative, risk taking spirit of Elon Musk. He understands the issues, and fully expects to overcome them. The same perseverance and risk he has undertaken with space travel, he’s leading an independent charge in electric vehicles, too.

Today’s Problems with electric vehicles

• Cost too high.
• Range too limited.
• Environmental Impact too small.
• Driving too different.
• Choices too limited.

None of these are obstacles too large for his vision & the company, Tesla. It seems some of his biggest hurdles are from major automotive franchises which have sought to limit the states in which his company may sell vehicles from a local store front. Even that opposition is withering.

Perhaps we will see an abundant conversion from the internal combustion engine to electric or hybrid.

Ten years ago Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning launched what would become Tesla Motors. They soon were joined by Elon Musk, who had a huge payday from selling his share of PayPal to eBay. The goal was to build a production electric sports car similar on the tzero concept developed by AC Propulsion (ACP). ACP was uninterested in the immense effort required to put into production, the wickedly fast and emissions-free roadster, so the trio of tech entrepreneurs took on the challenge.

Early Tesla designs incorporated batteries that could be mass produced from Panasonic. These batteries sometimes have a tendency to overheat and the result could be a very expensive automotive bonfire. They engineered a way to keep the batteries cooler but not before videos went out describing dangers that weren’t accurate.

Examination of the facts demonstrate this fire wasn’t due to batteries, rather because of the damage from road debris.

BMW wants to get into this future automotive tech as well. Ads have gone out to gain ‘cool factor’ among early adopters.