Why do environmentalists, automobile manufacturers and the government push hybrid cars on the general populous? The main reasons that are spoon fed to the public are that, they have a low carbon footprint, high miles-per-gallon, and large subsidies.
The principle of storing energy in a battery is an excellent idea, the issue is that battery technology is in its infancy and inefficient for this application. According to Toyota USA the average Prius Hybrid Synergy System in total weighs in over at 800lbs.
If you bought a hybrid, you most likely bought it for environmental reasons which go out of the window when it comes to battery disposal. Batteries contain various heavy metals that are harmful, difficult, and expensive to recycle and dispose of.
Amount of energy and pollutants produced in order to build one hybrid car is astronomical, compared to the perceived savings of a few mpg. The nickel and cadmium that is needed to create a battery for a hybrid car are mined in Canada using sulphur and other toxic chemicals, shipped to Europe in large container ships, refined and then shipped again to China where it is refined a second time and is manufactured into the finished battery. The batteries are then sent to Japan, assembled into the cars, and then shipped to California, on another container ship. That is a circumnavigation of the globe, just for the batteries.
The car itself, from new and during its serviceable life, could never save the amount of pollution that went into manufacturing it in the first place.
Why does all this effort and cost go into trying to offset mans impact on the environment and squeeze out a few more miles per gallon, when there is a far more eco-friendly and more efficient fuel that could be used—Diesel.
A gallon of diesel fuel has a higher calorific value (stored energy) than a gallon of gasoline, and a much higher value than a gallon of ethanol. And yes, fuels have calories! This means that diesel has 23% more energy by volume than gasoline. I would need 61.5 gallons of gasoline to do the job of 50 gallons of diesel.
This is something that European cars have done for years. EU official figures reveal that 60% of all cars on European roads are diesel powered. Everything from small sub-compacts to full-sized sedans, have a few choices of diesel engines to choose from. The vast majority of the these diesels get in the range of 45-80mpg, without the need for large heavy weight battery systems. Here in the states we are still just happy with 25-30 mpg.
Diesel engines last longer, have a lower carbon footprint (clean diesel), and far cheaper to manufacture. They work by heating the fuel (with coils) and compressing it until it combusts.
The diesel engine is the truest form of a “flex-fuel” engine, whether it is Peanut, Palm, Vegetable, Canola, or the local greasy spoon oil. You can even use derived oils from Soybean, Switch grass, algae, or even the Jokoba planet. If one of these fuels is efficiently harvested, they have a negative carbon footprint as the plant absorbs more CO2 than can be produced by the burning of the fuel it is turned into. So the government should be paying you.
Diesels are cleaner for the environment, have a longer service life, and are more efficient than hybrid cars. They cost less to maintain, run, and manufacture. So, why are they still the vehicle of choice for environmentalists and the government?
Two cycle diesel engines could be the future that everyone has been looking for. These engines are used in the shipping industry and are called Heavy Fuel Marine Diesel Engines. The concept has been around for almost a century, but with the advent of new materials, sensors, and computerization we could be arriving in an age of compact, light, efficient, and powerful engines that run on the diesel principle, that is over a century old.