If 10 years ago someone said a barrel of crude oil would cost over US $130 in 2008, you’d have thought them insane, but today, if someone said that barrel prices could jump to between $150 and $200 in the next few years, translating to a per gallon average of $5-$7, you wouldn’t be all that surprised.
A Goldman Sachs analyst predicted the rise earlier this year and seems quite confident that he hasn’t made a mistake, much to the public’s dismay. “We believe the current energy crisis may be coming to a head, as the lack of adequate supply growth is becoming apparent,” said Arjun N. Murti, as reported by businessweek.com.
With a suffocating rise in gas prices looming, it’s now imminent that an alternative is found, a possibility that is consistently being hindered by global warming.
One alternative, converting coal to liquid fuel, emits twice the amount of carbon dioxides as compared to regular gasoline during conversion, according to thinkprogress.org. Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming and allowing more of it to be released into our environment is hardly a solution to the problem.
Another issue arises in China and India. It is unavoidable that as these growing economies expand, their demand for fuel will rise as well. As these demands rise oil prices will rise higher, and cheaper, carbon-based fuel sources will be used to power cars in the two countries, further contributing to the environment’s deterioration.
Several projects aimed at reducing oil dependency are currently underway, the most prominent of which were recently ranked by Forbes Magazine. These proposed technologies are not fuel-alternatives, rather adjustments and improvements to vehicles to make them more fuel-efficient.
Cylinder/Motor Deactivation is one proposed improvement which stops two or more cylinders during cruise mode, allowing the vehicle to burn less fuel. Electronic start-stop systems are also ranked among the top ten, they shut down the engine when the vehicle is stopped and restart it when the brake is released. This technology is aimed at reducing idling at street lights and in traffic jams, both major consumers of excess fuel.
By-wire technologies are also featured in the list, they involve replacing heavy mechanical controls with electronics, thus reducing the weight of the car in order to increase it’s fuel efficiency. On a similar note, Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic is a material that is currently used to construct some BMW models; it also reduces the car’s overall weight and heightens its efficiency.
Forbes also cites electric cars as part of a greener future, for good reason, the technology has come a long way since its introduction. Many car companies, including Toyota and Tesla are developing highway-ready electric cars to equip customers with the same option of speed, luxury and power they would receive from a normal car.
Tesla seems to have found it with their new Tesla Roadster, which is equipped to travel approximately 225 miles on a single charge. The only issue is its price; starting at $98,000.
All of these technologies seem promising and help to create a greener, more optimistic outlook for the future. The one question that remains however is when we will see these vehicular improvements implemented in cars around the world.