sustainable car design

anyone got useful links, principles or guidelines for designing eco-friendly cars, in terms of material application? i’m not interested in eco propulsion techs or car sharing services.

there has yet to be anything remotely sustainable related to car design.

in the current issue of Discover magazine the head of an energy thinktank talks about using thermoplastics instead of thermosets and metal in cars, essentially eliminating the need for painting and increasing gas mileage by significantly lightening the vehicle (e.g. an SUV that gets 66 mpg just by decreasing the weight).

Is that article in Discover a big spread or just a blurb? I’d like to read that. I have doubts about an SUV getting 66mpg, no matter the weight.

Actually, automobiles are perhaps the most recycled products that are made. By weight, steel makes up about 55% of a vehicles weight. Every year in North America 14.5 million tons of steel are recovered from junked cars, which is about as much steel is used by the auto industry in North America. How many industry can say that about their main material?

Another factor is the energy involved in using the materials. There is a case for more use of plastics to reduce the energy involved in manufacturing, although recycling plastic is not as good as with steel. Aluminum recycles well, but it uses far more energy in manufacturing than steel.

here’s the entire interview online:

Doesn’t Germany have the highest requirements on new automobile recyclability?

Hazmatt? Are you sure about that?

I ran across this news article today. I haven’t looked into it, but it sounds like there could be some good sources for someone wanting to research more.

The big trick to sustainability in the auto industry is going to be in finding a fuel source to replace gasoline. As demand continues to outpace a dwindling supply and nations like China and India continue to boost the numbers of vehicles on the road, we are going to see some major shortages between now and 2020.

A lot has been made of using hydrogen and ethanol but neither of those can be produced in numbers sufficient enough to match the current daily demand here in the US. In addition to supply problems, the fuel is also wasteful because it takes more energy to produce it than you get back from combustion. Ethonal also requires a lot of water to produce which is becoming another scarce commodity, especially in some western and southern regions.

The real advances are going to need to come in the form of ultra-efficient, long life batteries that can draw power from the main electrical grid and run for several hundred or even thousand miles without a recharge. I know some are working on nano technologies to create high output capacitors, but those are many years from mass production and implementation.

Your going to see the auto industry get a lot worse before it gets better.

this is why


And here I thought they were going to talk about this car:

I really hope the movie talks about the pollution caused by burning coal, the dangers of nuclear waste, etc, because that is where electricity in the US comes from. Moreover, they are the technologies that would be used to produce all of the extra electricity needed to run 150 million cars in the US. I also hope they remember the rolling black outs that California suffered a few years back, especially seeing as California was the only market in the world where the GM EV1 was sold (that’s the car the movie is about).

I am not going to deny a global oil industry conspiracy, but they have a point. There are nearly 500,000 gas stations in the US. Imagine the cost of converting all of those stations to carry an additional fuel source! Additionally, it will take a minimum of 20 years to convert the transportation system to another fuel source. There is talk of banning oil based fuels in countries like Sweden and Iceland…that’s realistic…but the US is a whole different category.

Lastly, the EV1 was suitable for 95% of consumer’s real world driving, but not their vehicle expectations. If I want to drive to Toronto, I can do that easily, with a fuel stop off in Ottawa. In an EV1, I know I would have to stop at least four times for fuel…except it will take a minimum 20 minutes, or 15 hours if I only find a 110v outlet. And that is EACH RECHARGE! OUCH!

People expect their vehicle to be able to go distances for vacations and such…an electric car can not deliver. Now fuel cels can…but see paragraph one for the reasons that won’t work in the short term.

The real answer? Short term: smaller vehicles using new technologies to save fuel. See the VW GT, hybrids, diesels for more info on that. Long term: a painfully slow transition to “what’s next”. Probably fuel cels, although the potential remains for conventional batteries…if only they can become more compact and much lighter.

Just in addition to this thread:

One surprising finding was that small cars emitted more carbon dioxide than SUVs, 25% of the total compared with 21%. That is because there are more older small vehicles with higher emissions still in service, said lead author John DeCicco, a mechanical engineer specializing in automobile research.

That will change in a few years based on car scrapping rates, he predicted, with SUVs bought over the last 10 to 15 years taking the lead, even if consumers begin buying small cars again because of sharply higher fuel prices.

“As Americans we’re going to be living down the SUV boom for a long time,” he said. “The implication is that we can’t turn the emissions problem on a dime…. It takes a generation.”

I’d like a BUV ( Basic Utility Vehicle )