"Seven of ten Americans expect to rely on automobiles as much in the future as they do now...."
"Private autos were used by 94% for one or more purposes. Airplanes were used by 25% and public Transit by 23%." (Survey in 1975 by P. D. Hart Research Assoc. for USDOT)
"Our great business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand" (Thomas Carlyle).
In 1973 North Americans were jolted out of their compacency by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) that is mainly controlled by groups of Islamic faith. OPEC declared an embargo on exports for a number of political reasons. The resolution of the disputes resulted in the upward adjustment of the well head price for crude oil.
This produced what has become to be known as the 'Energy Crisis'. In reality it was not an energy, but a 'money crisis' because the oil supply was available if it could be paid for. The 1973 crises has produced many changes in petroeum consumption habits and more fuel efficient technology. It has also resulted in serious trade and payment imballances. The deficit problems in many countries that import major quantities of oil has become very severe.
The major effect
has been moves toward conservation, self sufficiency, and the use of
alternatives to petroleum combustion relating to energy supplies. The transport
sector, especially passenger car design has been profoundly effected. The
makers of small fuel efficient reliable cars expanded their market share. The
long time notion of what was acceptable in
develop east coast supplies of oil from the Grand Banks, and gas from
Many of the old norms have become obsolete, but many have remained essentially the same. The general trend is toward better fuel efficiency. The values given below belong to the period when improving effeciency was a prority.
Some energy requirements of Passenger Transportation Modes:
Mode PAX Eq. Paxmiles
Heavy Rail Transit Car mpg per gal.
Peak Load (a) 135 4.0 540
Off-Peak Load (a) 35 4.0 140
Commuter Rail Car
Diesel Powered (a) 125 2.0 250
Ld (c) 75 4.1 307 Transit Bus Peak
Off-Peak Load 30 4.1 123
Intercity Pax Train
Diesel Powered (b) 540 720 0.5 270 360
Turbine Powered (b) 320 0.33 110
Intercity Bus (d)
Standard sized Pax Car (e)
Intercity max ld 6 18 108
Intercity av ld 2 18 36
Intracity max ld 6 14.4 86
Intracity av ld 1.4 14.4 20.2
Small Pax Car
Intercity max ld 4 30 120
Intercity av ld 1.7 30 12.75
Intracity max ld 4 22 88
Intracity av ld 1.4 22 30.8
Wide-Body Airliner 256-385 .14-.22 56-60
1000 mile stage(f)
Twin Jet Airliner
500 mile stage (f) 68-106 .44-.54 37-47`
Transportation uses over 25% of the total energy used by modern society. The % of petroleum fuel is much higher. Canadians are the highest per capita energy consumers.
Recent and future concerns about shortages and high prices for various forms of fuel raise 'ENERGY ISSUES'.
Other energy issues stem from: POLLUTION and ENVIRONMENTAL concerns such as GREENHOUSE GASSES.
To deal with these issues it is helpful to have knowledge of technical matters related to how we live today, and what may happen in the future.
The following are some of my views. They are based on years of study of transportation. Energy was not the target, but it has always been a major concern.
Beginning in 1973, a great deal of attention has been focussed on reducing fuel consumption per unit of transport. It began in ernest since heat engine power for boats and railways came into use.
Steam boats ran on
Fuel type and use was always a problem. The first boats used wood. The last used diesel oil.
designed and built the 'Reindeer' at the mouth of the
Tibbets installed the first ever COPOUND ENGINE in the 'Reindeer' and made the record run from Saint John to Fredericton with several stops in 6 hr, 21 min. This was about 20 times faster than the average 6 day schooner trip of 30 years earlier.`
The Reindeer used less than two chords of mill edgings. Mill edgings were cheap because they were waste. This was about half fuel used by contempory steamboats The Reindeer was 130 ft long by 16 ft wide. Tibbets not only had an efficient engine, he built a boat with low power requirements for high speed.
Tibbets was chasing the dream of all builders of transport vehicles, better speed and fuel efficiency. The Reindeer was a very productive passenger boat, but not good for freight.
Differences in cargo make big differences in suitable vehicles. Trip pattern and geography also effect the choice of Air, Rail, Road or Water transport. Fuel efficiency is not the major decision variable. Mode, speed & power requirements effect fuel consumption.
On board fuel limits payload and reduces the transport efficiency of a vehicle. With a given amount of fuel, better fuel consumption increases range between refueling stops. Higher speed increases fuel consumption and productivity.
In Tibbets time
and place the onboard fuel was wood. Where coal was available it was used. Coal
has very high energy density. The Royal William the first steam powered boat to
The best modern example of increased range is the Boeing 747-400. It will fly almost twice as far as the original 747 due to more fuel efficient engines and wings. It will fly so long that passenger and crew endurance become limits. Well over half its takeoff weight is fuel. By some standards it is a poor transport vehicle.
Flying routes across the Pacific provided the market for very long range. Such range is not useful for domestic or Trans-Atlantic routes. The 707, DC-8 airplanes were matched to these markets. Dometstic and Trans-Atlantic are the major markets for long range aircraft.`
Modern transport depends mostly on motor vehicles with onboard power. About 80% of current North American pasenger transport is by passenger car. About 50% of the freight movements are by truck.
Internal combustion (IC) piston and turbine engines burning petroleum fuels provide most of the power.
The IC engines are used because of their simplicity, high output to mass ratio and relatively high efficiencies. The efficiency of IC engines is limited by the 'Carnot' & 'Otto' cycles, and the temperature tolerence of the high temperature component materials.
are used because of high energy to mass ratios, transport and storage
convienence. The search for alternative fuels & engines has not found
better. What is sought are suppliments when supplies of suitable petroleum are
External combustion (EC) or steam engines are now only used for large high output plants. The principal current & probable future use is in large ships and stationary electric power stations. For large ships steam is cheaper and takes up less space than diesel. For very large tankers cargo space is more important than engine efficiency. Range is not a problem.
Neucular power is source
of heat for a steam turbine electric generation. Only submarines and a few
icebreakers use mobile neucular power. The necular ship '
There are many possible engines for powering transport vehicles. During the 1973 to 1980 fuel panic extra effort was put into alternative engines, but none has proven better than what we now use. Fuels such as Alcohol, Hydrogen, Methane, LPG, etc have local advantages. Hydrogen based fuels have the advantage of unlimited supply but require other energy for manufacture.`
The major TRANSPORTATION prime movers are:
Electricity, mostly supplied from external conductors is advantageous for fixed route systems. Now the major use is 'electrified railways'.
Civilian Rocket propulsion is little used. So far it has only been used for satalite launches. Satalites and cable links, especially the modern use of glass fibre have enhanced the cost effectiveness of telecommunications.
Much tranport is involved with communication and the substitution of various forms of telecommunication for transportation is proceeding rapidly. Telecommunication is a low energy consumer.
Modern engines are well developed and understood. Nothing appears to have the potential for displacing them in the near future. This does not mean that better engines are not possibile. Better however could mean more power from the same mass, better shape or life.
Transportation terminals use a lot of energy for heating and cooling. This consumption will not be discussed. The energy efficiency of these structures is often overlooked for confort and style. The fuel used and quantity consumed is a local phnenomenon.
IC engines provide the standards for comparison. They consume about 0.18 kg (.4 lbs) of fuel per horsepower-hour. To achive this level or better the engine has to be operated at optimal speed, load and atmospheric conditions. Passenger car engines seldom run in optimal conditions because of the ways the vehicles are used.
The mass to output ratio of IC engines varies greatly. Aircraft turbines have the lowest, marine and stationary power diesels the highest.`
The lighter fuels have less heating value because of their higher hydrogen and lower carbon content. Diesels burning heavy oil are the most fuel efficient IC engines. Hard coal has the best energy density for carbon based fuels. Hydrogen fusion is tops as far as is known.
Engines burning low heat fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) need to be larger than heavy fuel engines for the same output. A straight hydrogen combustion engine is at the high end of this spectrum.
Fuel efficiency is the principal selection criteria for vehicles that consume large amounts of power. Large marine high compression ratio IC engines are very fuel efficient. They use heavy oil that must be heated to make it sufficiently fluid. Long haul trucks likewise use diesels.
John Gratwick when he was director of research for CN railways (before VIA) stated that 'diesel busses' are the most fuel efficient passenger transport available. He was not alone in this opinion. This situation is not likely to change. They can be made quiter and cleaner at higher capital and operating costs.
For most vehicles,
fuel convenience, low engine mass, and price narrow the choices. Gasoline
engines for ordinary passenger car use have many advantages. The fuel amount
used per passenger km has at least halved since the early 1970's. Inflation
adjusted 'fuel prices' in the
The fuel consumption per horsepower-hour still remains about the same. The improvements have come by reducing the needed horsepower-hours. This has doubled the passenger transport fuel efficiency in the last 20 years. It may be possible to double again, but that may be nearly the best that can be done.
Approximately the same performance improvements have been achieved for passenger aircraft. Here the fuel consumption per passenger km is quite high. The gains have come from better engines, wings, load factors, flight plans, etc.
Fuel is a major cost for airline operations, but speed and load determine production so that saving fuel is often not the prime objective.
Energy and fuel pricing have major effects on fuel efficiency. Other factors such as taxing, safety and environmental policies have major effects on fuel use.
Ever since steam boats, railways, passenger cas, trucks, and airplanes have been around there has been a segment of the population who wanted to get rid of the noisy, smelly things. We have built our lifestyle around their use. That is what we have to change to drastically lower transport fuel consumption.
the use of IC powered vehicles has been growing very quickly.
This trend does
not support the accord where
Canadians have the reputation of being the world's leading per capita energy consumers. To some extent this reflects our climate, demography, and industries. We live in a cold climate, in a thin band over five time zones, handle a lot of raw materials. We are probably the world's largest per capita consumers of transport.
We import and export petroleum products, coal, electric power and neucular fuel. Energy is big business in this country and a large amount of it involves physical transport.
Our trucks and railways are amoung the most productive in the world and we have done a great deal to improve fuel efficiency.
Amoung the many ways to improve energy consumption for transportation is to reduce the amount of transport needed. The amount can be reduced by rearranement of production and housing. This means major change to our existing ways of living.
The major unknown is the extent that CO2 emissons will be reduced in the transport sector. This could have a very large or small effects.
pricing, taxing, are geopolitical.
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