|02-22-2008 08:35 PM|
When I see the title, "New York Times and Science Magazine debunk biofuels", my first thought is, "Who is debunking the debunkers?" Why are we so dependent on a single fuel, petroleum, right now? Why should we assume that a single replacement needs to be found? The only answer I can think of that makes sense for those last two questions is mass marketers.
It seems pretty obvious to most people that we're not going to replace all our current petroleum needs with moonshine or leftover chicken grease from KFC. What is there to "debunk"? How about debunking the notion that we must continue being single-fuel dependent until we are rescued from that dependence by some MegaCorp?
Individuals and small businesses are already providing alternatives. They just don't show up much on tv. You don't get much advertising for building a Harley that smells like french fries or an electric commuter that outlives several commuters.
The major car manufacturers will produce vehicles that people demand of them. They will also resist changes to their current market as long as possible. Instead of pointing out that 'consumers' waste 65% to 80% of every gallon of gasoline, mass producers point out that an electric commuter is not practical for long trips and that you can't fill up with biodiesel on every street corner. They will also point out that current electrical production (no pun intended) also uses petroleum and produces pollution, without noting the reductions of each compared to vehicles using internal combustion engines.
This marketing delays the time when capital-intensive retooling has to take place. The benefits of mass production are therefore denied to alternatives to the existing vehicle production. The alternatives have to come as aftermarket adaptations to be economically viable. Remember that the huge performance parts market of today grew from individuals working things out on their own hotrods.
The history of hotrodders is one of pushing the envelope. The bounds of that envelope today include the cost of fuel and what gets wasted. There are diesel dragsters and electric dragsters. (The first diesel dragster to get into the 7's runs on biodiesel).
I don't expect 'salvation' from mass marketers. I expect them to lag 10 - 40 years behind as they've always done. I also expect them to fight each change that might have an impact on any given quarter's profit margin and to wage that fight both by honest means and by 'stealthy' ones.
|02-22-2008 06:41 PM|
|knighthawk||sounds kinda like I'm out numbered here....I guess in a way, it's the nmuber 1 guy, or owner, who's responsilble for what kind of research and or engineering that gets done, but then he's limited to what ever , by customer demand ???? Help me out here , guys........|
|02-22-2008 05:54 PM|
When was the last time you ever heard an engineer for a large corporation say that he or she was given a free hand?
They don't get to apply their knowledge and skills (and the corporate budget) in solving whatever problem fascinates them. They get paid to make 'it' work within the constraints given by management, marketing, legal, accounting and other segments of the business that employs them. The larger the corporation, the more constrained the engineer. Tucker wouldn't have gotten 1 of his ideas onto a GM, Ford or Chrysler assembly line at the time.
The larger the company, the more risk averse they are. This is why individuals and start-ups make most of the leaps (and goofs). Sometimes it's an engineer, possibly frustrated with the pace. The Dymaxion car used a Ford engine but outstripped the Fords of the time in speed, gas mileage, maneuvering and passenger capacity. Sometimes, it's someone surprising, like an actress, who makes a leap in technology.
Given the boundaries imposed on engineers by corporations legally obliged to shareholders, it's not really reasonable to expect great leaps in biofuel usage from them. It is reasonable to expect them to take any such leap and squeeze it for every fractional increase in efficiency and to precisely quantify its limits -- in energy, costs, safety and environmental impacts. That goes for any leaps in other means of transportation, too.
|02-22-2008 12:03 PM|
You know, in the shop over the years you hear over and over how stupid the engineers are who designed the cars. Nearly ever tech both mechanical and collision have said it at least once, including me. Then I got involved with Toyota and GM and knowing some people on the inside who have worked in this industry for year including some design work. The engineer have a real tough job of mixing production, cost, availablilty and the like. After talking with these guys there is most every time a damn good reason why something looks as it does. Sometimes there are things like an engine design is made and then the surrounding componants are added later and they don't match. It is just the way the system works.
|02-22-2008 10:36 AM|
|02-22-2008 10:00 AM|
|knighthawk||bottom line here is : over the last 50 years, most of the changes or improvements have been in making , safe, comfortable cars. Before you engineers get pissed here, I want to say :I give you guys a lot of credit for the work you do, but, some times I wonder ! Some of my best freinds are 'engineers' , even a V P of engineering, it's like he always tells me'' you have to see the end result '' and that can only research what your told to do , ....As for 'Redsdad', I see by your address that I live about an hour and half North of you, maybe we can get together some time.... there's a V P of Engineering that lives about 2 hours East of here ,builds woodies (cars) from scratch , also a very smart guy. I like toy trains.|
|02-22-2008 06:32 AM|
And, the internal combustion engine, while very good, is no where near perfect for the application. It must operate in temperatures ranging from -40 F to 120 F. It must go from putting around town in stop and go to 75 mph. It must pull the car with one driver in it one day and 5 adults with 4 suitcases the next. It is unable to convert all of the heat generated in the combustion of fuel to torque to drive the wheels. A good approximation is that 1/3 of the energy goes to the wheels, 1/3 goes out the exhaust, and 1/3 goes into the cooling system. And, for a multitude of reasons, some fuel will not burn and get dumped into the exhaust. You can shift these number around slightly, resulting in small gains, but you will never get 100% combustion and you will never get 100% of the energy to the wheels. This is what some of the high paid engineers employed by the car makers are doing. They are working on shifting these numbers and increasing the percentage of fuel which gets burned. The rest are employed to make the cars safer, cleaner, more aerodynamic, and more comfortable. And until gas tripled in price, 99% of the people buying new cars probably could have cared less if the percentage going to the rear wheels was 33% or 36%.
As for my credentials, I have the best of both worlds. I started helping the older neighborhood kids with their cars when I was about 11. Bought my first car at 15. Went to VoTech for auto mechanics at 19. Worked as a mechanic and shop manager on and off for 15 years. Drag raced a 3800 lb. station wagon. Worked as a stock broker and insurance salesman (where did that one come from? ! ?). Received my BSME at age 34 (took Internal Combustion Engine Theory as an engineering elective). Went to work designing pressure vessels. I now manage a group of young engineers in the same field. (I also ran a small business selling toy trains as a second job for a while). And I am building a 41 Chevy (check my journal).
|02-21-2008 09:26 PM|
Im very sorry, I didn't see you age. I obviously read your post wrong, thinking you were 17, and belittleing the work of engineers and scientists.
No disrespect meant, as Im sure you have much more knowledge than me
Grouch, I do agree not all advancements have taken place in a lab or been conducted by researchers. I do however beleive per capita, engineers and scientists are responsible for things working as they do. However, you are correct, many acheivments have been made by people who were thought to be crazy, or backyard madmen.
Look at Galileo. He was prosecuted for his beleives...and what do you know? They were right. Just goes to show, you never quite know.
Again, sorry for the disrespect Knight.
|02-21-2008 08:52 PM|
|knighthawk||O K , let me straighten this out ;; I don't know what 'kid' you're referring to .....It's been almost 50 years since I was in high school ( or any school ) ,, as far as the engineers are concerned, they are very smart people. I guess what I'm trying to say is.... I don't agree with some their assignments......( I think )|
|02-21-2008 08:45 PM|
|02-21-2008 04:52 PM|
I am really hoping you didn't intend on saying you could do an engineers job, fresh out of high school. I recently graduated, kid, (and thats what you are), and let me tell you that you really don't know jack out of school. No one does.
Theres a reason these people get paid such big money, and why they had to go to school (and not just high school). There is far more involved in most things than I think you realize.
|02-21-2008 09:59 AM|
|knighthawk||O K , but........( I know I'n going to _iss some one off here , )but ..what about all those high paid engineers ? I wish somebody would pay me a '6 figure' or is it 7 figure income, to play and experiment with a research lab! I just barely got thru high school , and can fix ANYTHING you can break ! You gotta admit, like ...., inventing a convertor to burn the gas AFTER it leaves the engine ,is not really very smart ! Sounds like another Oil company involvement here.....|
|02-20-2008 09:05 PM|
You can't take the time to tune and correct some things that didn't work exactly right the first time. They have to **** and git right from jump street. Anything you do in that business takes some time and planning, and there are a lot of things you can do one at a time that you can't do one a minute.... and one a minute is their business. Been there and own a lot of Tshirts.
|02-20-2008 08:32 PM|
They have Prior Commitments to their stock holders Mortgage Co. Yacht payments Leer jets you know the whole enchilada.
Plus the Guys @ the Oil Co. you know the ones with the crooked noses will beat their chins off with a lead pipe.
I mean come on have a heart you wouldn't want them guys @ GM with their 10 BILLION Dollar Fiscal year loss to loose all their perks now would ya?
|02-19-2008 09:25 PM|
|knighthawk||quote ......(beginning in 2008, it would convert its gasoline Hummers to run on ethanol; by 2010, it said, Hummers would be biodiesel-compatible).........My question to this is...how can it possibley take 3, 4, or 5 years to convert an engine to any of these fuels ? How can it take 3,4, or 5 years to change the compression, maybe dist. differnet injectors ?????? That's like bringing your car to a shop for an overhaul, and him telling you it won't be done til 5 years from now !|
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