I like your thinking, and believe Engineering students should be focusing on "what's real"
Hybrids are expensive (from an energy standpoint) to produce, and have many elements which are not recyclable, so the life cycle costs are hard to justify in a one off situation. Somehow, I still want one, and believe that this technology will be helpful.
I am personally biased toward plug in hybrids, using electricity from the grid to substitute for gasoline... I don't have facts, but I believe that it has to be more efficient to produce electricity in a factory than in a car, but I want to take advantage of regenerative braking as well. I think Nuclear is the way to go, even with the disposal problems.
Ethanol and Hydrogen cars are generally bad ideas the way the fuel is produced in the US. Ethanol from corn takes away from the food supply, is subsidized by the government, and puts the burden of the cost onto poor people (through tortilla prices, etc.), while still using 95% of the oil that just burning the gasoline would have taken. Hydrogen is planned to be obtained from cracking oil, so the carbon loading is similar to burning gasoline, and keeps depending on a non-renewable resource.
The only real solution is driving less, public transportation, people power (bicycles, walking). Reducing consumption should be the first priority in any of these discussions.
I agree we need to get more fuel efficient cars, but are hybrids the way to go? I mean they use some type of nickel batteries, which are terrible for the environment when made and eventually disregarded. The product lifestyle for a hybrid is less than a regular care because the batteries go bad around 100000 miles. Furthermore their gas mileage is not phenomenally better than regular cars, realistically they get about 40-45mpg, while regular cars can now get 30 maybe 35.
With the electric car it again uses batteries, and electricity. Many assume that because they use electricity they are automatically green. However what?s the number 1 way of producing electricity in the USA, coal, gas, nuclear, does that not defeat the purpose of an electric car? I must admit an electric motor is highly more efficient than a combustion.
People are talking about ethenol, but how much work does it take to grow, harvest, and produce it.
Everyone needs to look at all the benefits and shortcomings to every technology, from production to destruction.
Basically their is no silver bullet for our energy needs. What we need is another Manhattan project for energy.
- ASU Bioengineering Student