The issue of global warming and associated risks has been the cause for much debate in recent years. Despite the grave danger posed by this looming climatic disaster many countries are hard pressed to increase pressure within their borders in relation to suggested regulatory legislation. The issue of compliance has become a difficult one given that there has been little research in manufacture that can allow governments enforce the law. The solution lies in taking urgent measures to provide viable solutions to the public and begin enforcing the legislation that will see a reduction the adverse effects of pollution. In line with this there have been efforts to develop Hybrid vehicles that are capable of meeting both current and future needs. The objective of this paper is to look into and identify key factors that are crucial to the design of a hybrid prototype. Among the issues discussed include the trends within the motor vehicle industry and possible changes expected. Also discussed are various features that are essential but can benefit from alternative power sources thus improving overall fuel efficiency and operations.
Introduction to thesis
Discuss, design, aims and issues
The purpose of this report is to present information on a proposed concept that will see the design of a hybrid vehicle that helps to minimize adverse environmental effects while maximizing the use of alternative energy. This concept of hybrid vehicles has in recent years been a key concern for automobile manufacturers because of a number of reasons. One of the main reasons behind recent efforts to improve the design of vehicles and make operation more cost effective lies in the fact that the global reserves of fossil fuels are facing eminent depletion. This fact in itself is of great importance given that fossil fuels are expected to still be the primary source of energy, meeting over 80% of the global energy requirements in the year 20301.
The fossil fuels that are mentioned in this case refer to oil, coal and natural gas. In a report that estimated the usage statistics in the year 2006, it was reported that if the same usage was maintained, the current reserves would last for 40, 200 and 70 years respectively2. With evidence such as this from statistics it is clear that if some urgent action is not taken soon, a large portion of the world will be faced with serious problems in the near future. This pressing condition has led many academicians, governments and industrial practitioners to begin making earnest enquiries into alternative sources of fuel especially for societal mobile transportation requirements3. It was reported that by 1999, over 80% of the motor vehicles in the USA were powered solely by fossil fuels4. This suggests that the automobile market has limited choices to turn to as viable solutions. The situation calls for urgent remedial action.
As earlier mentioned in the introduction the basis behind the development of hybrid vehicles also lies in their ability to reduce adverse effects on our environment. Pollution and environmental degradation has been a matter of great concern all over the globe owing to the degree to which economic activity appear to be altering our environment. The debate on the relevance and depletion of the ozone layer has raged on for a long time and the major economic powers of the world agreed in 1997 to take remedial action. Under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the leading economies of the world all agreed to reduce their CO2 emissions as their contribution to alleviating the problems within our environment. It had been established that among the leading causes of depletion of the ozone was the excess CO2 and other harmful gases available in the atmosphere. Among the efforts that have been put in place to reduce the effects of these emissions is the development of environmentally friendly fuels to use in motor vehicles. Among the benefits associated with these new fuels such as bio ethanol diesel is a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions5. It is hoped that through increased use and research into alternative sources of fuel the future energy needs of the planet can be met. In line with this comes the issue redesigning the motor vehicle engine to accommodate the new fuel. This process is very complex given that the demands on the motor vehicles manufacturers are now combined with an ever decreasing time frame. In summary though, the main issues that appear to be the drivers for initiatives in hybrid vehicles are traceable o the environment and scarcity of natural resources.
Alongside the issues that are behind this thesis, the objective of this thesis is to identify issues that can be rectified within the current motor vehicle design to meet our goals. In addition to design objectives, the thesis also seeks to address the various available or plausible solutions with a view to providing information on the efforts that have been made to address this problem. In the energy sector within the USA the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources has been taking place at a slow pace. Despite of this poor response it is hoped in the near future the population will gradually increase their use of the available alternatives. Among the reasons identified for the slow pace was lack of financial resources to undertake research6. However, the introduction of legislation in many countries that effectively dictates minimal acceptable standards is likely to see a change in this trend7. It may be assumed that part of the reason the consumer behaviour did not change can be attributed to the lack of any legislation forcing compliance. In addition to this it is probable that most of these improved products were relatively costlier thus acting as an even greater disincentive for their choice.
The above stand on regulations has seen companies such as Toyota develop very effective hybrid vehicles that have been reported to be able to reduce emissions from the exhaust8. Another benefit from the improved vehicles is an improved fuel consumption system. To produce these vehicles the manufacturers have been forced to pay keen attention to design issues to improve the overall product. Among the concepts that have been included in the improved vehicles include, regenerative braking, shutting down the combustion engine when the vehicle is stopped and inclusion of smaller but more efficient engines within the vehicles. It is therefore not surprising that the hybrids are more expensive. As a matter of fact without legislation to enforce vehicle manufacturers to comply with stringent conditions these vehicles may continue to be viewed as unnecessarily expensive9. The improvements that are evident in fuel consumption and engine efficiency still do not allow these vehicles to retail at the cost of conventional combustion engine vehicles.
Also of importance in the course of this report will be the issues pertaining to design of the vehicle. Among the design issues that are worth considering in design of a hybrid vehicle this report will focus on the design of the ventilation system of the vehicle. This aspect was found to be important given that vehicles form the main transportation mode in most countries. Statistics indicate that the regulation of cabin temperature is very essential and can be a good measure of the vehicle itself. In support of this trend it has been reported that in Asia by 1970 only 10% of vehicles had an air conditioning system, by 2004 the number stood at 98% of vehicles have installed air conditioning systems10. This component (vehicle air conditioning system) has been reported to be the second largest energy consuming part after the engine in regions where climate relies heaving on air conditioning such as in hot or humid regions11. Given this fact it is possible to suggest that in reducing the overall consumption of a vehicle, any efforts to reduce or entirely provide alternative power to the air conditioning system will go a long way in reducing overall fuel consumption. The above are the main issues, objectives that are behind the design of this improved vehicle.
Concern efficiency design to reduce fuel consumption
As mentioned in the previous section among the major concerns of the thesis is the improvement of the air conditioning system to increase fuel efficiency. There has been a lot of research on the issue of air conditioning and fuel consumption in the design of motor vehicles. It is has been found that for a 100Km journey at 30 C the air conditioning system requires 3.1 litres of fuel. At 40 C for the same distance it requires 3.8 litres of fuel. In the absence of an air conditioning system it has been found that fuel consumption is reduced by as much as 20%12. In light of this several efforts have been made to improve the internal air conditioning system. Among the more popular efforts has been the division of the cabin into cells. With the cabin thus divided it was noted that it became easier to maintain internal cabin temperature. The ability to maintain the temperature within the cabin is one effective technique in air conditioning management as it ensures the system can run at optimal levels.
Another technique that appears to be more effective in running these hybrid vehicles is the concept of using PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cells that utilize hydrogen as fuel. The vehicle utilizes power directly from these cells to run and only utilizes battery power when the peak requirements are needed. Among the instances calling for peak performance include high speed acceleration or hill climbing bearing a significant load13. The maximum power generated by these cells may be a bit lower than what is conventionally obtained using a combustion engine. It is for this reason that it may be a good strategy to combine the two thus minimising the use of gasoline while meeting our transportation requirements. Another concept that may be used is the inclusion of an intelligent solar powered vehicle ventilation system. To reduce temperature within the vehicle especially when the vehicle engine has been idle normally takes a considerable duration. If the engine has not reached its optimum working temperature the result is usually an increase in fuel consumption. A solar powered solution is operational when the engine is idle or off was reported to be useful in alleviating the problem. The system automatically removes hot air from within the vehicle ensuring the internal temperature is maintained even when the vehicle is parked for long spells14. If the internal temperature can be maintained then it is likely that on restarting the engine consumption especially in relation to climate control will be minimised.
Hybrid system (HEV and the PHEV) and Solar and Wind Alternatives
In this section of the report some information is presented on Solar and Battery powered systems that have been designed to provide alternative power systems to motor vehicles. The Hybrid Electric Vehicles refer to gasoline powered vehicles that are already making a small impact in the market today. The Hybrid electric vehicles in most instances run one a smaller engine than the conventional internal combustion (IC) engine. These engines are backed by a battery powered system that is used to help the IC engine in operating the car. Tasks such as starting the vehicle, running the engine while idle are battery operated to reduce consumption of fuel. These vehicles can slightly reduce the overall gasoline consumption. And have shown an ability to reduce emission of GHG’s (Green House Gases) by as much as 30%15. This concept is already in use in some manufactured cars available in the global market today. However, these vehicles are still not widely in use due to slightly higher purchase costs. Given that for most motorists the cost of the vehicle and performance are essential factors in making a decision on purchase, these vehicles have found it difficult to compete with the conventional IC vehicles on the market.
The other alternative available is the Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle also known as the PHEV. In these vehicles power is generated from hydrogen and the energy formed is either directly discharged to the engine or stored in batteries for use at a later time. The power from these fuel cells is primarily used in regenerative braking and to boost power. Between the two options it has been reported that the vehicles fitted with the fuel cell perform better where their range as fully functional vehicles is within 300 miles. This is the main reason why many motor vehicle manufacturers have opted to carry out more research in the use of the fuel cell as opposed to the long range battery16.
Owing to the implications of depletion of fossil fuels some practitioners have also resorted to the generation of energy through the harnessing of natural phenomena such as the sun, wind, geo thermal and hydro electric energy. Among these, development has been most rapid in the wind and solar sector with a total growth of almost 29% in 2008. In the case of China, currently the second most prosperous nation in the world, it is hoped that the power generated from wind and solar will contribute to 10% of the total power by 202017. It should be noted that these sources require storage facilities and as such most useful for transportation that relies on a grid, such as trains.
Proposed system description
This report seeks to describe a prototype of a hybrid vehicle that could help in reducing the amount of harmful gases being emitted in to our environment. The vehicle in question is modelled closely after the Toyota prius 3rd generation. Just as is the case with the Prius this prototype is powered by both fuel and an electric motor18. The electric motor is powered by an onboard battery pack which is recharged through a generator. As the vehicle runs this generator will become operational and ensure that the battery pack is kept at optimal levels. The hybrid vehicle will also allow for charging from an external source.
In addition to the dual powered engine, it is proposed that the vehicle will be designed with an air conditioning system that is accessible when the engine is off. It was reported that daytime temperatures in parked vehicles can go up to 300K and above. This temperature affects the internal temperature of the parked vehicle through greenhouse effect and gaseous transfer. When restarting such a vehicle it has been observed that to get the air conditioning to reach optimal levels places a heavy load on the system and increases fuel consumption. A solution is to control the internal temperature during long idle spells. This is accomplished using a sensor to measure temperature and a solar powered system to power a fan that removes hot air from the vehicle19.
In addition to that the vehicle also utilizes modern technology to keep the interior of the vehicle cool through the smart windows installed20. These windows are designed to adjust the degree of light allowed into the vehicle to improve internal comfort of the cabin. These windows and the solar powered air conditioning system allow the vehicle provide its users with major fuel savings.
The reason behind the hybrid concept
The proposal to develop a hybrid vehicle is backed by three very important factors. The first factor is to prevent the serious economic decline that characterizes an economy that is entirely reliant entirely on a single source of energy. In a report on the impact of over reliance on oil for energy it was noted that the single and most evident cause of the stock market crash in the 70’s. This crisis finds its roots in an embargo that can be traced to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that took effect in late 1973. By the middle of 1974 this embargo had resulted in almost 50% depreciation of the sticks listed in the United States. The effects of this crash were so adverse that a full recovery to the levels prior to the crash was only experienced in the 90’s21. It has been suggested that the resultant change in energy prices that was caused by the embargo may have to some degree been averted if there were already in place alternative sources of energy. It is for this reason that efforts such as the development of this prototype should be considered given that they imply creation of economies fuelled by other sources of energy.
The second major reason behind the adoption of this hybrid concept can be traced to the depletion of the available natural resources. It goes without saying that fossil fuels are a major factor in the world energy market valued at almost 1.5 trillion dollars. In 2007, the World Energy Outlook forecasted that fossil fuels are expected to continue being the foremost source of energy as far as the year 203022. Furthermore it is projected that the consumption of these crucial resources will increase at a rate of 1.1% per annum from 2006 to 2030. Based on the projected consumption rates and the existing reserves it would appear that our planet is advancing at a rate that will surely deplete the existing reserves of these natural resources. Some projections relate that oil, gas and coal reserves will be diminished between 40, 60 and 150 years respectively23. This situation is especially alarming given that transport is extremely reliant on oil based fuel for its sustenance. The situation at hand posits that urgent measures need to be taken to avoid the looming danger. It is in part due to this scenario that attempts to produce alternative vehicles for transport such as the prototype described in this report are deemed worthwhile.
The last reason behind the development of this prototype lies in the conservation of our environment. Most vehicles across the c globe are running on petroleum based fuels which result in the release of harmful gases and substances into the atmosphere after combustion. This fact has been illustrated in a report on that detailed the contents of these emissions. It was reported that diesel exhaust fumes contain almost 450 compounds of which 40 are considered toxic with negative impact on both health and the environment24. The report states there is a high prevalence of certain illnesses such as heart attacks, which can be directly related to prolonged to exposure to exhaust fumes. There are also tiny particles that are released along with the exhaust that have been found to play a serious role in the formation of smog and retention of heat within the atmosphere. These particles and emissions all contribute significantly to the concept of global warming which has caused ripples throughout the globe owing to the emergence of its early effects. It has been reported that if the condition of the atmosphere continues the quality of life as we know it is bound to deteriorate rapidly to deplorable conditions. Resulting from this data there have been global efforts to curb the unabated emission of harmful matter into the atmosphere. It is line with this that efforts to develop the hybrid prototype were deemed a worthwhile project.
Reflect on CO2 emission
As it has been pointed out in this introduction of this report among the major issues facing the globe today is the reduction of emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere. The mission of these harmful gases is also closely linked with increased development as is observed in a study carried out on China in 200725. The data contained in this report indicates that China alone is responsible for over two thirds of the CO2 emission in 2007. This is the case even with the Chinese government having made a commitment to reduce the emission levels by 40-45% by the year 2020. This commitment may be difficult to meet given that projections of the economic growth of this nation are expected to keep rising in the near future. This increased economic growth will translate into an increased demand of energy for household consumption and to facilitate economic growth through manufacturing, transportation and other sectors. This fact is proven by the fact that in 2005 China produced almost 37% of the world’s coal and used more than 70% of this to produce energy. It is also indicated in the report that over 60% of the CO2 emissions in China arise from coal thus implying the increase in energy production is likely to signify an increase and not a decrease in emissions26. The findings of this study further indicated that foreign trade and domestic consumption are the major contributors to this state of affairs. The situation thus suggests that if urgent measures are not taken to provide alternative energy for domestic consumption and manufacture of goods nations such as China may be unable to meet international demands. It is for this reason that it is very important that urgent steps be taken in transportation to avert the looming crisis.
As it is the goal of this report to provide information that could be useful in transport to alleviate the problem of continued emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, the discussion will look into various means available to solve the problem. Already the design considered for the prototype will operate on both electricity and combustible fuel. However, in light of the emissions it will be worth while to consider forms of fuel that are less polluting to the environment. Among the options available include biodiesel and ethanol produced from feedstocks. It has been suggested that these fuels contribute less to environmental degradation and are therefore worth consideration as alternative energy sources. It is reported the emissions using bio fuels can achieve an overall reduction of 30% in comparison to current emissions. These fuels are unlikely to completely replace petroleum based fuels but research has been able to identify blends that can be produced that meet both energy and environmental requirements. It is hoped that through the information elicited in this report an appropriate solution to curb the harmful CO2 emission will be found.
This chapter introduces the topic of discussion of this report and begins by providing information pertaining to the design, objectives and issues related to the prototype. In relation to design the discussion briefly highlights reasons behind the selection the design and factors that were considered in selection. The overall aims of this report are also discussed with a view to finding the relevance of pursuing this goal. In line with this some of the pressing social issues are discussed to bring to the fore the present situation. Also discussed in the report are issues that remain unresolved but are of relevance to the progress with the design and may provide setbacks.
The discussion continues to provide information on the efficiency of the selected design and potential benefits. The purpose of this section is to bring out the importance of the choices made and compare them with the available alternatives. Inline with this the report continues to provide information on the current alternatives for energy production in the world today. The potential and impact of these alternatives is also highlighted.
In concluding the introduction section the report discusses in brief the proposed solution. The reasons behind the decision to produce this prototype are also provided along with global information in support of similar efforts. The report briefly reflects on the global environmental condition and adverse conditions being experienced. In this section the report briefly looks at the major economies in the world and their position regarding the environment. Through an in depth analysis the report attempts to identify whether the environmental objectives of these nations are likely to be met. It can be assumed that through the efforts of the larger economies to bring about change, actual change may be realised. The report attempts to clarify whether this is indeed the case. The section concludes with information on sectors of the economy most active in causing environmental degradation and reflects on factors that could possibly bring about change.
Discussion on the secondary issues of alternative energy
Introducing facts about energy capture
Having briefly discussed the issues, objectives and design of the proposed hybrid vehicle, the discussion will now shift emphasis to factors worth consideration relation to energy from alternative sources. The viability of solar energy as an alternative power source has been illustrated in many instances. It has been observed that nations with research stations in remote locations such as Antarctica have resorted to the use of alternative energy to generate power from these research stations. In a report on the use of renewable energy on these stations it was reported that eight stations had resorted to use of wind energy while another six were using solar power. Prior to these initiatives the fuel used in such regions is a special blend of diesel fuel which is both costly to produce and transport. The low temperatures that prevail make it difficult to use regular oil based fuels in machines. The cost of transportation and production thus motivated the investigations into alternative energy sources27.
The results from other stations such as the Australian station indicated that the use of solar thermal devices can produce satisfactory result even in these conditions. To justify this change an analysis was carried out based on four criteria, availability, devices, demand and costs. Based on these factors it was determined that the use of solar power was most appropriate as a solution to energy needs. The Australian station had put in place a system that could serve all the hot water needs of the station. A fixed installation was found to be quite effective and was able to bring about a 3-4% reduction in fuel expenses28. Despite the fact that such savings are small it is worth noting that the average temperature in the region is -16 C29.
Whereas it has been established that utilization of alternative energy is the main goal of the hybrid vehicle, alternative energy also needs to be conserved and collected in the best method possible. In this regard, the role of transparent conductors is crucial in the capture and use of solar energy. As far as the capture of solar energy is concerned the Transparent Conductors their spectral selectivity and angular properties. The angular properties of these materials ensure that the collection devices can be designed to take advantage of specific sessions thus maximizing efficiency. Other possibilities that could benefit from the use of these materials are instances where solar energy is used for heating and cooling, such as in buildings. In instances where the external temperature is too high and internal temperature needs to be maintained, these materials are useful. It is possible to create designs that select sessions when it is appropriate to accept solar energy and when to reject solar energy30.
These transparent conductors are normally included into solar energy installations in the form of thin films. Among the more popular applications of these thin films is in the regulation of internal temperature by regulating the solar energy through windows. The capture and use of solar energy has been the reason behind much research in recent years. Still on the issue of designing for efficient energy capture, it has been established the construction engineers could benefit from consideration of concepts that ensure maximum exposure to available solar energy at peaks times. This concept can ensure that each housing unit can collect as much energy as possible to supplement energy needs31.
Focus on the Storage of Light Energy Captured
In this section the discussion is intended to provide some information on some of the secondary choices made with regards to the selection of alternative energy source. Among these secondary issues is the issue of storage. Once the energy has been harvested from the device it is important to provide mechanisms that can allow this energy to be stored for use later. The recent increase in use of wireless devices for tasks such as sensing and communication has led to the need for suitable high energy density power supply32. It is expected that some among the devices in the Hybrid vehicle will require the availability of such power. These power packs are assumed to be lightweight but capable of producing enough power to drive a device with altering power demands such as a laptop. It can be assumed that during operation of a laptop the power consumed when typing a document and when burning a digital video disc varies. Among the most promising options is Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) with the capability of providing the highest possible energy density.
However, these DMFC cells suffer a serious drawback in that they are very poor when it comes to adjusting to meet the needs of unstable loads. As illustrated in the example of the laptop in the previous paragraph it can be seen that these devices often will require varied amounts of energy from the battery or power source. The result is most hybrid schemes are forced to use a combination where a secondary storage device is used to provide power that can be adjusted to meet the changing load demands. A fuel cell is used to recharge these secondary storage demands and provide power to the circuit controls33. This architecture provides continuity in availability of power while ensuring the individual devices can be run on the same system with minimal adjustments.
The best secondary storage currently preferred by most manufacturers of devices such as cell phones, laptops, cameras and the like is the Lithium ion battery also known as Li-ion. When compared with other battery technology such as nickel based or zinc based cells, Li-ion is preferable due to its ability to maintain high energy density, high energy efficiency and high cyclability. These batteries also suffer drawbacks such as power loss during cycling and self discharge both attributable to the state of charge and are insignificant in comparison. It is reported that an important consideration in the design of Li-ion batteries is the active area. This should be kept as low as possible to prevent self discharge while also provide a range broad enough to provide peak power34. Despite some minor shortcomings Li-ion batteries promise an efficient and effective solution to power needs within a hybrid system.
It has been noted in the cell phone industry that Li-ion batteries have played a major role in increasing operation time of devices. These batteries are prone to gradual loss of power based on a number of factors such as; number of charge-discharge cycles, usage time, storage time and temperature35. Given that these batteries are the best option in hybrid vehicles it would be wise to consider the issues affecting these batteries to ensure maximum performance in the vehicle. For example as opposed to the perception of users of devices with Li-ion batteries that these batteries are capable of lasting to the lifetime of the device, these devices have a lifespan of about 500 cycles. Where, a cycle is a rotation from a fully charged to fully discharged state. A fact like this suggests that an additional feature such as a battery meter or a warning may need to be included to avoid situations where sudden loss of power may arise. Another issue with the Li-ion batteries that was discovered after studies is that the rate of deterioration of the batteries in storage was greater than deterioration arising from charge-discharge (cycling). In addition it was reported that at temperatures of 50C the storage deterioration was very high suggesting that the location of these batteries within the hybrid vehicle should pay attention to these factors36.
The power tool industry is another sector that has benefitted from the use of Li-ion batteries due to their compact pack. The pack used with Li-ion batteries gives rise to an additional issue of over heating. Under normal operating conditions with normal /load power it is easy to maintain the temperature between 30 and 55C. The temperature within the pack is prone to sharp changes given that there are occasions calling for high power demands at high ambient temperatures and defects which may occur in individual cells. This situation calls for thermal controls to avoid or manage such situations and prevent propagation of the heat throughout the pack. At the same time this cooling system should not take too much priority thus complicating the battery design and controls37. A solution to this is to use a phase change material in the battery that provides for faster dissipation of heat while preserving uniform temperature throughout the pack38.
Future energy supply challenges and considerations
Having discussed in some detail the purpose of this study and some of the considerations and challenges that are inherent in its application, this section will seek to identify other challenges and considerations that may be useful in justifying the project. To begin with it will be worth noting the nature of the demand for energy and the potential requirements for the future. It is reported that prior to the industrial revolution the energy needs of the planet were minimal owing to limited energy required for food production. In fact this is still true as the total amount of energy used for basic functions such as food production even today is about 1% of the total energy consumed globally39. The current global energy demand is reported to have increased 13 times over what it was before the industrial revolution. Today’s figure is almost 3 times higher than it was in 1960 (Hein, 2005). Unlike in the days prior to the industrial revolution today energy consumption is proportionate to productivity, mobility and living standards. This is indicated in the fact that the US with only 5% of the world population consumes 23% of the energy resources. It has been suggested that given the increased rate of globalization witnessed in the world today consumption of energy is bound to rise and not fall. Given this presumption any efforts to maximize the efficiency of machines or processes requiring energy are the way to go in the future thus justifying the efforts to produce more efficient vehicles.
This position concerning energy consumption and conservation has been reinforced in a study on the energy situation in Japan. The last two decades have witnessed slower growth in the Japanese economy though current requirements still increases at 1% annually40. Given this situation and environmental concerns the Japanese government has undertaken to maximise energy saving and increased emphasis on development of alternative energy solutions for the future.
A Discussion on vehicle consumer’s habit and favourites
In this section of the report the information presented will attempt to provide tips that have been observed among motor vehicle owners that may help improve the integration of his new product into the mainstream market. Researchers often carry out studies on consumer behaviour to assist in gaining a proper understanding of the market and other forces that influence consumers in the market. In the course of review of literature on the topic one study was identified that aimed at identifying the influence of service and product quality on consumers. Through research it has been established that quality in motor vehicles includes several factors other than the vehicle quality. This in itself suggests that a good design alone is not enough to guarantee the vehicle success in the market today. Among the crucial factors that were identified included marketing and sales activities, after sales service, warranty and maintenance41.
In addition to the above it was also reported that the vehicle owners were unable to make a distinction between the dealers and the manufacturers. This is a distressing opinion given that manufacturing a vehicle and ensuring its sales are handled by reliable dealers is a very difficult task. However, to overcome this hurdle it may be worthwhile to consider forming partnerships with reliable vehicle dealers. The study was carried out on a group of over 600 vehicle owners via a questionnaire to collect data on their opinions on various questions. The results of this study indicated that owners are tolerant of single negative incidents but have indicated a loss of tolerance where the vehicle is related to more than one such incident. Also it was established that positive incidents can counteract the negative effects and the dealers are best placed to create positive service incidents and prevent negative service incidents42. This point goes a step further to reinforce the importance of a reliable dealer in handling the sales and after sales service of the vehicle.
Another perspective that was unearthed in the course of review of literature was the consumer perception to the environment and green vehicles. It would appear that recent years have seen consumers become increasingly interested in health and welfare of the environment. This has been indicated in the findings of a study reporting that air pollution was among the nine most important issues citizens were concerned about. The consumers realise that transportation is the main contributing factor but to some extent under estimate the role of vehicles in this process. This perception has led governments to undertake initiatives such as eco labelling to assist in changing consumer perceptions and bring about the change required in buying patterns43.
These eco labelling initiatives would require that the consumers acquire a preference for environmentally preferred products and at the same time understand the information being presented and be willing to pay a slightly higher amount for these products. In a study on whether these initiatives are likely to bear fruit it was observed that consumers were likely to consider emission status of the vehicle during purchase. It was also established that the impact of eco labelling varies depending on the vehicle class. For example, buyers of haulage vehicles such as trucks were less likely to consider eco labelling information in their purchase decision44. This suggests that in the large vehicle category it may be worth considering involving manufacturers in the efforts to improve vehicle environmental quality than the consumers.
Still considering marketing methods that could help improve the chances of the proposed hybrid vehicle in the market the issue of subsidy was identified in the course of literature review. Already it was reported that there has been considerable discussion on the degree to which motor vehicle use was receiving government subsidy thus making use of petrol based vehicles attractive. The government in the US allows oil companies and other energy producers billions of dollars in tax returns and subsidies as an incentive. This huge offer trickles down to the consumer in the form of reduced prices offered at the point of sale. In 2007, the US House of Representatives suggested introduction of legislation that would see an end to the huge tax relief offered to oil companies45. It is clear that such policy will provide a level playing field for other potential players in the energy market and reduce some of the inclination to petrol based vehicles.
This topic is a sensitive one given that the issue of taxation is not standard for all individuals or entities. The government reserves the right to decide which category gets which terms in their package. The government is inclined to offer more agreeable terms to categories that serve larger sectors of the population46. However, given the looming energy crisis and the role of hybrid vehicles in averting it has been suggested that removal of the subsidy in the oil sector my go along way in allowing alternative energy producers access to the greater market. It has been reported in many studies and in this report that high initial cost is among the reasons consumers preference of petrol based vehicles. These are just some among the issues related to consumer behavior that may be of use with regard to the production of a Hybrid vehicle.
Future product requirements and government environmental law from Developed Nations
In this section the discussion will focus on possible legislation and action that could be taken within society to improve the market position of eco friendly vehicles in the future. Taking the case of the UK, the vehicles currently defined as low carbon emitters represent below 0.1% of the car sales47. This situation is likely to change drastically in the near future given that there is a growing awareness on the environmental toll of motoring and the ever tightening standards imposed on emission within Europe. In line with this the government has made a decision to join in the transition. It has been reported that it is expected that by 2012 the percentage of low carbon emission vehicles should stand at 10% of total vehicle sales. IT can therefore be expected that there will be a marked increase in the purchase of eco friendly vehicles in the period following enactment of this legislation.
To achieve this goal the government has made a decision to introduce a set of co-ordinated incentives. Among these are, the introduction of preferential fuel excise duties to be levied with a goal of reducing the cost of fuel for eco friendly vehicles in the market. Another incentive is a tax to be levied on companies that will motivate the selection of cleaner vehicles within their fleets. The users of clean vehicles will also be granted congestion charge discounts and grants to assist in the purchase of eco friendly vehicles. This concept to encourage the use of eco friendly vehicles was the result of Ecological Taxation reform in the UK48. In the course of the study it was also established the knowledge of the average consumer on the importance of this topic was relatively little. This in turn suggests that in addition to the government incentives there is a need to increase the population’s knowledge on this subject and its relevance for the future. Among the common misconceptions identified were that these Hybrid vehicles had limited range and would require special power points to recharge the system. Such misconceptions are popular and there is a need to eradicate them to enable the consumers make informed choices with regards to such vehicles.
So far the discussion has provided information that is inclined to the use of green technology. However, for fairness it is important that not all technology be adopted merely because it is green but more due to its ability to meet transportation requirements while considering ecological demands. The question that arises is can the consumer buy the product and continue buying it without the need for subsidies? The main point that policy makers have been keen to follow is the potential environmental gains from various projects on alternative energy. This position should not disregard the value of sound scientific research in proving the viability and validity of the findings in relation to various energy sources. In the course of literature review a case on the efficacy of ethanol based fuels was identified and the role of policy with regard to this particular fuel49.
In the case of ethanol based fuels incentives that led to lower pump prices have helped in shifting consumers to prefer the purchase of these brands of fuel. However, there is little technical information provided to the same consumers in addition to the incentive to provide them with adequate information on the efficacy of these brands. It has been reported that these fuels have a capability to provide higher engine horse power than petrol based fuels owing to the operational factors of an internal combustion engine and the properties of the fuel. To achieve this increase in horse power and overall performance would require specific alterations to the mechanisms beneath the hood of the vehicle. The alterations are costly and would require expenditure of at least $200 for the most minimal gains to be realized50. In addition to this it was also established that the long term use of these fuels has a negative impact on the overall range of the vehicle in question. There is also the question of the huge government subsidy that enables producers of this type of fuel maintain a significantly lower pump prices. Issues such as these suggest that in addition to assisting the transition to eco friendly fuels it is also important to consider an in depth analysis of the various eco fuels and provide the consumer with adequate information regarding the fuel and its long term effects.
This section has sought to provide brief information on various issues that may be of importance in marketing of the hybrid vehicles. These issues and others are all of importance but the key to any policy is the final results it generates. In this regard the review of literature identified a study indicating the performance of sales of Hybrid vehicles in relation to the incentives provided. The study focused on three issues namely, whether state incentives affect consumer behaviour, is consumer response varied in relation to the incentive offered and whether consumers respond to rising gasoline prices51. The study identified a number of incentives offered such as parking fee reduction, registration reduction or exemption, sales tax exemption, lane access among others. The results of the study indicate that the type of incentive and generosity do in fact affect consumer behaviour. This suggests that there was a variation in consumer behaviour based on the incentive offered. It was noted that higher incentives prompted larger and more positive response. Also it was found that the price of gasoline did in have a positive effect on the response to various incentives52. Given these findings it would be safe to assume that incentives of various forms should be put in place by government agencies to help manufacturers of hybrid vehicles break into the market and allow consumers some benefit through the purchase of these vehicles.
Idling Engines and environmental problems
In this section of the report the information provided will seek to identify some potential areas that may be behind the environmental issues faced today. Among these issues, is idling, a situation where the motor vehicle engine is left running while stationary. This situation is common in several states such as when warming the vehicle, waiting for something unrelated to traffic e.g. at a drive thru and idling in traffic. Over the years recommendations for idling have varied though the consumer perception has not been altered accordingly. In the past it was considered advisable to warm a vehicle before driving but the introduction of fuel injection systems has made this requirement unnecessary. In relation to this it has been found that restarting a vehicle uses less fuel and causes less wear and tear than idling for even 10 seconds53. As a result of this fact some environmental agencies have recommend idling a vehicle for durations between 30 and 60 seconds54. The results of this study indicated that based on the cost of fuel from 2008, slight changes with regards to the practice of idling could save the US more than $5 billion annually55. Having said this it goes without saying that the reduction in emissions and wear and tear to these vehicles could also be significant. It therefore appears that the relative paucity of information in relation to motoring may be an area that requires to be readdressed within society.
As mentioned at the beginning of this section the information will touch on various problems within the transport sector that can also be considered in reducing the harmful emissions in the atmosphere. In the course of literature review it was established that ports are of importance in mot major cities and provide a source of livelihood for many of the people residing in big cities in the developed world. It has also been reported that these vital economic hubs are the source of much concern owing to the traffic that characterizes the port. Potential problem areas arise from the ships running huge engine without any emission controls. Other than this there is the huge number of diesel trucks, locomotives and the machinery in use at the port with the potential of causing major environmental harm56. The recent year’s global trade increases have seen the activity at ports increase proportionately. Between the years 2001 and 2002 there was an 8.5% increase in container traffic around the world and the volume of trade is expected to triple by 202057. However, the efforts to monitor emissions and pollution in the motor vehicle and industrial sectors of most cities have failed to touch the ports.
In keeping with efforts to modify the transport sector to cause less environmental degradation, it was found that there may be a need to consider various approaches that can alter port operations. Among the considerations made include the restriction of motor vehicle idling within the port. This measure alone appears to be worth considering given that the nature of port activity involves a lot of waiting time. In addition to this it has also been advised that there is a need to consider the modification of port machinery to run on other fuels such as bio diesel or even fuel cells. In relation to the ships docked at the port a worth while consideration is the provision of shore side power58. These are just some of the additional measures that were discovered that could help mitigate the effects of the harmful emissions within our environment.
The potential of Wind Energy
Given that the major fuel resource in the world is facing depletion, a suitable alternative is urgently being sought. Among the solutions that have arisen in the course of research includes the latent potential of wind energy to provide power for the future. It has been reported through research that the potential of wind energy as a global solution is huge and adequate to meet the global demand. This fact is supported by evidence that indicates almost every country has sites with average wind speeds of 5 m/s, this being measured at a height of 10m. This data alone indicates that the area is capable of producing energy and worth considering for development59. The reality however is the degree to which this has been exploited is considerably lower as it depends on other geographic, environmental, technical and financial factors. In addition to this, it has also been established that a proper measurement that spans some duration of time is needed before it can be decided on whether to collect the energy.
There has been plenty of research on the potential f this resource on locations inland though it is emerging that there is even greater potential on locations off shore. Such locations appear to have better wind conditions and are less affected by physical or environmental restrictions. However, these locations also possess the added disadvantage of being more difficult to access and potentially more expensive to set up. One reason why this resource may not have received the attention it deserves over the years lies in the highly variable and random nature of the resource60. This variance makes in unattractive for potential energy manufacturers and presents setbacks to the adoption of this as an alternative technology.
In support of wind energy as an alternative energy source it has been reported that wind energy can provide the largest amount of jobs per Terawatt Hour produced than any other energy technology. In addition to this, it has also been reported that the relative energy pay back time with this resource is shorter when compared with other generation plants. Data available suggests the energy payback time to be between a few months up to a year at most61. Depending on the size of the wind turbine in use this suggests that within that duration the machine will have manufactured enough energy to produce a similar wind turbine. This situation clearly indicates wind energy has the potential to meet the energy demands of the future and can help in providing solutions to social problems such as unemployment. This situation sends a very positive message to parts of the world such as the third world and developing nations where energy and unemployment are serious crisis.
Primarily in the harvesting and use of this resource the device used is known as a wind turbine. Most turbines are able to attain 35 – 40 % conversion efficiency when the design working conditions are satisfied62. This fact again underlies the importance of adequate measurement of the availability of the resource and potential of the area. It is only through this adequate consideration that the best turbine can be selected for the location. A typical wind turbine consists of a three or two bladed rotor connected to a hub, blades of metal or fibre glass, a generator and a tower. In recent years there has been research in making improvements in the efficiency of the devices, reducing their cost. These turbines are often constructed to provide energy in wind farms where several turbines are in place and in operation at the same time. It has been reported that by 2020 the power generated from wind power should reach almost half that of the hydro power projects in place globally63. Given such data it is clear that this option is worth taking into consideration for any future projects.
Wind energy as a solution for Transportation
Having briefly elaborated on the potential of wind energy for future purposes this section will briefly discuss the collection procedures applicable for this energy resource. The focus in this will seek to identify the most suitable collection means for a vehicle. Much as this technology is just gaining ground in recent years owing to its potential to meet future demands, the technology itself has been in place among societies as far back as 1000 AD64. In these ages the windmills were utilised to grind corn. The technology spread and soon these windmills were being used in various applications across the globe such as saw mills, paper manufacture, mining and drainage.
For the purpose of integration into transportation with a view to reducing the effects of CO2 emissions and pollution wind energy can be effectively used as a solution. However, the variations that characterize wind power generation may present some difficulties in using it as a source of energy with fixed demands. To overcome this hurdle it has been suggested that the Hybrid vehicles use batteries to store power and run the vehicles when the wind turbines production may decline. It has been indicated that such a system could lead to as much as 47% decline in emissions when compared with the current situation. Though this is very encouraging it has been established that to realize this it is crucial to have in place an effective and reliable system to provide back up power for these vehicles to re charge. The grid providing this power could rely on wind power and will need to be designed prior to the vehicles so as to encourage the use of the alternative energy65.
Proposed Wind Powered Solution
Among the options the review of literature went through included a small portable wind powered charging device which could be used when the vehicle is off. The device utilizes wind power to charge a built in battery, it is also used to charge MP3 players, cameras, phones and many more. The device is supplied with 5 mobile phone connectors and a clamp for use even while biking. This device is very versatile and can be charged using wind power, mains power and via USB. This means that it can be effectively used in many situations with minimal hassle to users66. It is reported that when fully charged it stores enough power to fully charge a mobile phone twice. It is recommended that the device be clamped on to the roof of the vehicle while driving to recharge it battery. A 40 mp/h limit is maximum speed allowed for operating the device and charging effectively. It is therefore recommended for use while driving in the city and not on the highway. The device is also likely to make some noise especially during high wind speed charging. (See Fig III & IV)
It is hoped that future research can be done to fully integrate such technology into the body of the vehicle as indicated in the prototype design. (See Fig I) With the device neatly placed in the right location to cause a minimal amount of drag it is likely this apparatus can be used to innovatively provide additional power to the vehicle.
Progress and Challenges with wind power technology
Much as wind energy is a cheap and viable solution for the future global energy demand, there are also some issues related to this form of this energy that need to before the discussion proceeds. Starting from the 1980’s technological advances in aerodynamics and structural dynamics has seen the yield of turbines increase by 5% annually. Current information estimates that wind power will be able to account for 10% of the electricity demand by 202067.
Efforts to seek renewable forms of energy can be traced to the energy crisis that took place in 197368. To assess the gravity of this situation the report will provide a brief recap of information on the crisis. It is reported that the value of US corporations remained at par with tangible assets from 1962 – 197269. However, by 1974 almost half the value of these stocks was wiped out following a major energy crisis. In the years following the crash the value of US corporations as per the tangible assets was 0.55 and it was not till the early 90’s that a full recovery was witnessed. The main reason behind the decline was the oil embargo initiated by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). Resulting from this embargo energy prices almost doubled by 1981 and were still almost 50% than the pre crisis levels after two decades. In a report to establish the role of the embargo and subsequent prices increases on the stock market crash, it was found that the embargo did indeed play a major role in the stock market crash70. This position suggests that in the future alternative energy sources such as wind energy may go a long way in avoiding global economic crisis attributable to sole dependency on non renewable energy.
In line with the above position it is therefore important for researchers to improve the technology to levels that allow it become a reality and begin playing a more active role in terms of provision of energy globally. Among the major challenges that need to be overcome in the generation of wind technology include issues related to design, integration, installation and increase of size71. In relation to design, the development of improved blades using high quality material and improvements on the existing power grids to accommodate the energy produced need to be made on a large scale. Through research it has been established that this energy source is viable but to make it commercially available to run and charge hybrid vehicles, locomotives and other types of transportation some work still needs to be done on the existing framework.
Another challenge that faces solar, wind and other renewable energy sources is the fact that most practitioners do not consider them viable permanent solutions to the energy demands of the globe. The premise behind this is that their reliance on altering environment means they can not meet base load requirements. Base load power plants produce energy at a constant rate to meet the demands of the population. However, data from countries such as Denmark and Germany indicate a much more different picture with renewable energy already meeting a significant amount of the energy demand and promising to go even further in the future72. The reality is these varied positions with regards to renewable energy are not helping the situation. This position led a group of researchers to carry out a study to ascertain the reality of these arguments and hopefully provide the much needed reaffirmation these alternatives require. The conclusions of the study reported that conventional energy producers also suffer variability and reliability problems only to a varying degree when compared to renewable energy. These variances are due to fluctuation in prices of raw materials, supply of raw materials, demand imbalances among others. It was also reported that the more renewable are integrated into the system, the more reliable the overall system is likely to become73. This position suggests that renewable energy does in fact play a major role in ensuring a more stable power supply to a population. Based on the data efforts to modify transport accordingly should be welcomed and viewed as a solution and not a new problem.
Analyze economy of wind power
Given that wind energy is relatively new technological advancement and efforts are currently underway to improve the systems, it is yet difficult to provide a good account of the economic viability of these systems. However, among the immense benefits associated with this new technology is the crucial issue of employment generation. However, the paucity of research on the truth behind this has led to continued misconception on the economic advantages of this technology74. It was for this reason that a study was carried out to identify the facts and point out trends in relation to development and integration of wind energy. Statistics within the sector reported the employment within the sector has grown by over 200% since the year 2003. In addition to this it was further reported that there is a direct relationship between the MW installed and the number of jobs created75. The areas requiring highly specialised workers were also noted to be acing a scarcity of employees thus suggesting that the potential of the sector as a major employer was even greater than what is currently observed. It can therefore be assumed that this technology should be installed and integrated in countries requiring additional energy on a large scale owing to the fact that it will allow the economies of these nations to progress and at the same time allow the same populations find new means of livelihood. This fact is further supported by efforts such as those detailed in this paper that are aimed at creation of new vehicles reliant on these technologies. The implication of the new technology and mass modification in manufacture to embrace it is promising for any nation.
The Risk Factor when wind power is installed on car
As it has been mentioned earlier in this report wind power is normally collected using a rotating blades and a turbine. The wind pushes the blades into motion and the rotation runs the turbine to generate electric power. During motion a vehicle experiences various forces which contribute to the overall fuel consumption by the vehicle. It is thus important to keep these forces at manageable levels to better manage fuel consumption. This fact was established in a study on heavy vehicles and the effect of their large frontal areas on fuel consumption. This study was carried out because it was reported that heavy vehicles consume a significant 22% of fuel utilized. At the same time heavy vehicles only make up 1.3% of all the motor vehicles and are mainly used for hauling goods over long distances. Being such major energy consumer the efficiency of these vehicles is worth giving consideration. In the course of the study it was established that various fittings on vehicles are useful in reducing the effects of drag and fuel consumption in a vehicle. Among the common fittings used in smaller motor vehicles include skirting which helps reduce the effect of drag underneath the body of the vehicle76. A wind collection device fitted onto the front skirting is likely to cause a serious increase in drag on the vehicle and is therefore not a very well advised feature in this vehicle. Wind energy can best serve hybrid vehicles by providing a reliable power grid to be used in charging the vehicles.
Introduction to Solar Energy
As it is popularly known this form of energy involves taping the suns heat energy and converting this into electricity for use or for storage. Among the many forms of renewable energy that have been identified for use in the future, solar energy is among those that appear to possess great potential. One major problem that has been on the minds of practitioners in relation to renewable energy is the issue of provision of a steady supply of power. It goes without saying that wind and solar power are the most exploited renewable sources but these two are also prone to fluctuations that do not allow them to run on their own and perform at efficient levels77.
On the other hand, wind and solar energy are most widely exploited because they are widely available on numerous locations on the globe. Other renewable sources like hydro power are restricted to the places such as rivers and geothermal locations. A solution that has been suggested is the combination of solar energy and pump storage hydro power. In this concept the solar system provides energy for the consumers and also to fill up a back up reservoir for use when the solar system levels fall below demand. At these times the stored water is pumped to push a turbine and generate power78. This water is constantly in circulation within the system and therefore allows this scheme be used even in regions where water supply may be scarce.
These solutions have been found suitable for a number of reasons such as, cost effectiveness and ease of construction. These solutions have been found to be cost effective because they allow for better estimation79. The alternative would be to construct a PV power plant that could meet the peak power demand which would result in an expensive and large installation. This would be very wasteful especially during seasons with low sunlight. In addition to this these plants can also be built close to consumers and thus reduces losses associated with the transfer of energy from remote locations.
Solar energy is very widely used and the most popular application of this energy is in the heating of domestic hot water. Through the installation of collection devices it has been possible for years to construct a cheap and environmentally safe solution for heating domestic water. However, these systems have not been as widely installed as would be expected even in regions where there is ample solar energy. The main reason behind this is high installation costs which have had a negative impact on the proliferation of this technology. It is hoped that through appropriate legislation this sector can receive access to much needed finance to reduce the costs involved in development. This should in turn reduce the production costs and subsequently the cost of finished goods80. These two issues namely, provision of a suitable backup mechanism and cost of products are the main issues that concern integration of this technology into other uses. In the case of the hybrid vehicle being discussed in this report an efficient power system for charging on a grid will have to be very reliable for the vehicle to be useful. In addition to that concepts such as the solar driven internal cooling fan can become more widespread and cheaper if the cost of the technology can reduce. It is hoped that there will be progress in addressing these issues to assist the introduction of this and other prototypes into the motor vehicle market.
Comparison of Photovoltaic (PV) and flexible panel
Solar energy is mainly captured using either of two mechanisms namely, Photo Voltaic (PV) panels of flexible panels. Solar panels were first used in space applications such as the US Satellite named Vanguard. This satellite was equipped with a dual power system that consisted of chemical batteries and silicon based solar cells. In this system the chemical batteries failed after a week whereas the silicon solar cells continued to provide power for communication with earth for years81. Following this success, satellites today still rely mainly on solar power for communication. In this regard also this form of energy has already played a crucial role in history as it is the power behind satellite technology which is the reason for the telecommunication revolution. It goes without saying that much of the interconnectivity in media available today would be none existent had it not been for satellite technology.
As this technology continues to be used and improvements continue it is essential to understand the merits attributed to each of the collection media so as to allow for a better choice of collection media. The PV panels were among the more popular collection media and they possess specific advantages and disadvantages. The first advantage can be attributed to the energy source i.e. the sun, which is free and very easily accessible. To collect suns heat all that is required is an unobstructed path to the sun light. Another advantage of the PV panels that is especially useful to environmental concerns is the total lack of harmful emissions to the atmosphere. The panels are also noiseless and that ensures that it is easy to implement this technology even within residential areas without much hassle. Lastly the PV panels are very versatile and can be integrated into the design of most building with relative ease82.
PV panels are also not without disadvantages such as the lack of economic energy storage systems. This is a major setback for such applications in that they seriously lack a backup mechanism to store any surplus energy produced. This suggests a situation where a lot of wastage occurs. In addition to this the PV panel installation costs are often high and act as a negative factor towards their use. It is for this reason that these panels are mainly installed in locations where access to reliable grid power is difficult such as rural areas83. Owing to the high installation costs the overall costs when compared to traditional energy appear high. These are some of the drawbacks that exist with the use and installation of PV panels for energy production.
The other solution to collection of solar energy is the use of flexible panels. These come in a variety of types with varied efficiency and cost benefits. Among the flexible panel collectors there are the Monolithic tandem concentrator cells. This is a PV based on a thin film like structure consisting of two semi conductors. Within each cell solar concentrators are incorporated to increase solar intensity by factors ranging from 100-1000. The concentrators focus energy onto a small area thereby reducing the area required for a cell to produce a specified amount of output. This concept has attained efficiency of 29% in the laboratory but it is expected that after further research efficiency of 35% may be attained84. The disadvantage with this technology is the concentrators are only efficient in direct sunlight. (See Figure VII & VIII)
Another method used in the manufacture of the flexible panels involves the application of a special semiconductor coating applied onto a flexible foil substrate. It is hoped that this concept will be useful in roof and wall panel applications in the near future. Another of these flexible panel options was developed in collaboration between US and Germany utilizes cadmium telluride cell technology. The cadmium telluride is deposited on glass with a transparent conducting oxide incorporated. The technology is expected to begin mass production of modules in 200285. The efficiency of this cell is low at 8%, but in compensation the modules are cheap and are expected to be very well suited for roof and wall applications.
Technology continues to makes steps in the production of improved flexible panels and currently several option exist that can be used fairly effectively in the future. In Germany, scientists have made efforts to produce an inorganic solar cell that can be printed. Its overall efficiency is 5% and present efforts are targeting making this 7%. It is hoped that if this cell is cheap enough it promises to provide a very attractive proposition especially in instances where there is no constraint on the size of the installation. This scheme promises to reduce the cost of electricity per kWh substantially when compared with silicon based PV panels. Similar efforts include studies that have produced a flexible solar ell that can be painted onto any surface. The cell consists of inorganic nanorods dispersed in a polymer or plastic. The nanorods absorb light of specific wavelengths and convert this into electrons. Currently these schemes have been able to achieve efficiency levels of 2% though scientists are optimistic that taking these levels to 10% is only a matter of time86. Current efforts in solar energy technology are involved with production of ultra thin three dimensional cells. These cells are expected to bring a revolution in solar technology owing to their small size and long lifespan.
Analysis of Challenges and Opportunities
It has been reported that the energy payback duration for a solar thermal and electric PV installation is 2-3 years and 14-15 years respectively87. This indicates the reasons why the installation of solar thermal applications is so much more common than solar electric PV applications. It may be important to highlight that a thermal application is a heating installation such as for water heating whereas a solar electric PV is an installation where the entire electric demands of the system are reliant on solar energy. It is important to note that if this technology is to make a significant impact on reduction of emissions then the meaningful work to be done should be focussed on means of making the solar electric PV applications more cost effective. It is in line with this that there has been much research on the production of flexible solar panels and other types of solar cells that can lower the cost of installation.
Among the most sought option in preference to silicon based cells is related current research on the use of thin, or transparent conductive metal oxides. High quality thin films of indium, tin and cadmium oxides have been at the centre of these research efforts and are promising to provide cells that will both be cheaper and more efficient than the silicon based cells currently used88. As mentioned in an earlier section of the report these modified cells allow the concentration of energy and thus reduction of the size of the solar cell. The result of this effort is the size of the installation is reduced and with that the cost of installation. In addition to this some of these oxides can be painted on surfaces and will allow the installation of these solar panels to be done on walls and even rooftops.
Research on high sensitivity solar cell
As indicated earlier on in part of this report there is much research currently underway on how to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of purchase of a solar collection unit. These improved solar cells have in recent times managed to achieve an overall efficiency of greater than 25%89. These cells are currently in manufacture at three centres and are reported to be very appealing for use in concentrator systems owing to their high efficiency. This success has spurred interest in this area and it is hoped that further efforts could result in ultrahigh efficiency cells.
These cells operate on a multi band gap concept which enables them to convert a wider range of the solar spectrum into electricity than the conventional single band gap solar cells. The concept of band gap grading is a major topic of research with thin film solar cells. In the case presented in this report the grading is achieved through intentional controlled variation of the absorber material. Through this process the efficiency of a solar cell can be substantially improved thus making its yield greater90. This increase results in the ability to tap from a wider solar spectrum but also requires that the cell receive more broadband antireflection (AR) coating. Research on these cells has revealed that future high efficiency solar cells stand to benefit from development of AR coatings that perform better than what is conventionally in use. It has been suggested that a triple layer AR coating may be worth considering with regard to improvements in performance91. There is still a lot more work that needs to be done in terms of solar energy collection devices but the research trends currently being pursued promise that this technology will not lag behind conventional energy sources for too long. It is based upon this premise that this study has opted to incorporate solar energy technology in the vehicle prototype.
Changing vehicles interior temperature can make greener
The observation of the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system
In this section of the report the information presented will focus on the comfort and gains that can be attributed to improved HVAC in the Hybrid vehicles. Today the degree of comfort the cabin of a vehicle offers is considered essential and contributes partially to health as well as traffic safety. Asia is a case where this concept has really changed vehicle owner perception on quality of the vehicle. In the year 1970, only 10% of all vehicles were equipped with air conditioning, whereas by 2004, the number had grown to 98% of vehicles92. The current statistic indicates that today an air conditioning system is regarded as an essential component in a vehicle.
It has also been reported that though the HVAC system of the vehicle is important to the users, the expectations of users with regard to these systems has changed over the years. In recent years there has been much research and effort put into the reduction of inside cabin noise primarily from the engine. In light of this development it has become crucial that the devices that can act as secondary sound sources also need to adjust their operation modes to reflect that of the engine. The noise levels within the cabin contribute to overall comfort of the vehicle. The HVAC system is especially important seeing that it is in operation almost all the time the vehicle is in operation. Though it is still not clear from research what degree of noise is agreeable with regard to the HVAC and the consumers research identified that the sound level was in fact a factor to be considered in the vehicle interior design. This was measured after considering the loudness, sharpness and any tones present. It was established that loudness was among the issues that affected the consumers93.
Anther issue that came to light in the course of the review of literature on the topic is that of reducing the time spent in getting the internal temperature to agreeable levels. The temperature in a car in an open parking lot in sub tropical and tropical regions can reach above 300K. These temperatures are both difficult to endure and cause instrument panels, seat and other vehicle accessories to age rapidly. This is because it is difficult to maintain internal vehicle temperature when the car is stationary, HVAC is off. Some research has developed an intelligent mechanism to monitor these changes and maintain internal temperature. The technology utilizes a solar powered fan and a temperature sensor. This fan removes hot air from the vehicle automatically an increase in the internal temperature is noted94. (See Fig. X) This mechanism is especially crucial after long parking intervals when the high internal temperatures would require the HVAC to operate at a high load for a long time before internal temperature is optimized. This improves overall efficiency of the system and increases the life of the engine. From the brief information offered it is clear that HVAC is essential to vehicle consumers but issues such as noise and improved operations can be utilised to make them even more appealing to the consumer.
Example of the HVAC system of TOYOTA 2010 third generation Prius
In this section the discussion will attempt to provide information on the HVAC system in place in the 2010 model of the Toyota Prius. This vehicle is a Hybrid vehicle manufactured by Toyota Motor Corporation that has gone a long way with respect to modifying vehicles to meet future energy needs. The vehicle has two systems that run to help control the internal temperature when the vehicle is running and when it is stationary. The solar powered ventilation system is primarily for use when the vehicle is off and parked. As mentioned in the previous section one of the major challenges with HVAC systems is the high load and time required to optimize internal temperature after long spells in parking. The solar panel located on the top of the vehicle above the rear passenger space is used to drive a fan which is located within the air conditioning system95. This fan allows for improved ventilation while parking thus keeping the internal temperature within the required degree. (See Fig X)
In addition to this solar powered unit this vehicle is also fitted with a remote operated air conditioning system. Just as is the case with the solar powered option this remote controlled unit is also especially useful when the vehicle is parked. The remote function is operated using the smart key of the vehicle. A smart key is a two way transceiver that allows the vehicle to detect the presence of the smart key when in the proximity of the vehicle. The smart key is used to lock and unlock the doors and to operate several other functions96. The remote controlled system requires that all doors are locked and other instrument lights are on. The system operates for 3 minute periods and utilizes power from the High Voltage (HV) battery pack. Unlike the solar operated system that utilizes a fan in the system, the remote unit utilizes the compressor located in the engine to operate97. The system can be activated and deactivated remotely by the user though it is preset to turn itself on automatically when certain conditions are met.
Air flow theory of hot and cold air in a vehicle’s interior
In addition to possessing the above two mechanisms for improving the HVAC system of vehicle, it is important to give consideration to other relevant theories that may be of use in ventilation. One such theory is the airflow theory which when effectively applied can help ensure that the temperature is maintained with slightly less load on the system. Airflow arises from interaction and exchange of energy between components and the external environment. In the case of a vehicle this would refer to the intake and outlet points and activities such as opening doors that allow air from outside into the vehicle98. To appropriately design a vehicle air conditioning system it is therefore important to consider carefully the placement of the air inlets and outlets so as to maximise the optimization attained in the vehicle.
This improved design is likely to enable the internal vehicle temperature remain steady thus reducing the load placed on the engine and compressor. This in turn will reduce consumption of fuel and resultant emissions. Another scheme that has been used in Hybrid HVAC systems that may be effective if applied to the vehicle system is the use of chemical dehumidification. The external flow of air into the vehicle increases the humidity within the vehicle. It has been reported that keeping the humidity levels low can allow for savings in the use of the HVAC system. The method that reported the best results for dehumidification was the use of desiccants99. It was reported that through the use of such systems energy savings of between 5% and 13% could be made overall. This suggests that in addition to a back up system to cater for the periods when the vehicle is stationary, there may be other considerations to even further improve performance of the vehicle HVAC system.
Introduction to Electro chromic smart windows
Still in keeping with the issue of internal climate conditioning of the vehicle, the report will briefly touch on the role of windows and possible benefits that may be acquired from new developments in windows. The role of windows in temperature management has been already used in design and development of buildings with a view to reducing the effects of global warming. It was found that windows can be used to improve the design of buildings and thus reduce the amount of fuel consumed in air conditioning. However, unlike building where the direction of the building can be decided prior to construction a vehicle is highly mobile and such considerations are of little use100. A more effective technique for vehicles would be the use of some shading material to filter out excess light thus assist in management of internal temperature. (See Fig IX)
Energy efficiency and device aspects of the Electro chromic smart windows
Among the effective means of control that were found easily applicable to windows in a vehicle is the use of a glazing that can be controlled. These electro chromic or thermal chromic have been under investigation for a long time. However, electro chromic windows began to become commercially available in 2006101. These windows also known as smart windows allow their opacity to be controlled through the use of voltage applied to the glazing or variations in the temperature of the glazing. There is much research currently on new materials that can be used to reduce the cost of these windows and improve performance. In comparison to other shading mechanisms such as louvers and screens they have the advantage of a more presentable appearance and compactness. Their main disadvantage is their relatively slow response times of roughly 3 to 5 minutes102. These windows are equipped with temperature sensors to effectively control the amount of light to allow into the vehicle. (See Fig XI & XII) These windows when installed on a vehicle can help reduce the load on the HVAC attributable to effects of external temperature. Based on the results of this study and other studies it would be prudent to include these windows in the proposed hybrid vehicle prototype.
Some Advantages of Improved Internal Ventilation
In this section the discussion has provided information on the importance, features and adjustments that can be made to improve a vehicle HVAC. It may be deemed as a secondary issue when viewed from the perspective of comfort, but proper ventilation is also a major issue when safety is considered. It has been reported that accidents account for almost half the deaths in the age group from 0 to 24 years103. In the case of infants below one year the second leading cause of death was found to be suffocation. Among the possible causes that have been identified for sudden unexpected infant death include rebreathing of carbon dioxide104. In a small environment like a vehicle the flow of air especially when windows are closed is relatively poor. In cases where there is poor ventilation it is likely to be a serious risk factor where infants are concerned. Given that majority of vehicle owners will at some point be ferrying passengers who are either kin or otherwise, this consideration appears to bear greater significance. An effective and efficient air conditioning system is very crucial for the safety of infants travelling in the vehicle.
Explain the design of system
The efficiency electricity as an Alternative Power Source
Based on statistics available it is reported that the first electric vehicle, a tricycle designed was built in 1834. This was followed by a vehicle which operated over the 100km/h barrier in 1899105. This trend in development of electric vehicles was brought to a grinding halt following major advances in combustion engines. The result is by the 1930’s interest in electric vehicles almost vanished until the 1970’s after the oil crisis. However, this was not enough and the actual rebirth of research in electric vehicles began in earnest in the 90’s following the growing international concerns over the environment.
The two main barriers that have hindered large scale production of these vehicles lie in the short driving range and high initial costs. These can both be easily solved using available technology in the form of batteries, fuel cells, capacitors and flywheels in the near future. It has been reported that a combination of the combustion engine and the electric vehicle technology is likely to offer a lasting solution to the issue of pollution while allowing the vehicle operation range be maintained. The vehicle proposed in this report is a parallel hybrid that allows power to be delivered to the wheels through both the engine and electric motor106. (See Fig II, V & VI)
In designing the prototype some of key considerations need to be made to enhance efficiency. An optimal engine operating point needs to be established based maximum fuel economy and minimal emissions. This may slightly reduce the performance of the vehicle but promises an environmentally friendly vehicle. Also it is important to establish optimal engine operating modes for greater efficiency. As opposed to using the gear shift to select operation modes, there is an additional need to classify the operation modes to allow the vehicle operate within specified parameters. There is also the need to minimise engine dynamics so as to avoid fluctuations arising. There is also a need to establish minimum ignition requirements so as to limit the consumption of energy that is wasted in igniting the vehicle. Lastly the vehicle must have a proper battery capacity to ensure the vehicle will be able to access adequate power at all times. The battery must also be safe enough to use in the vehicle and the power demands need to be established to effectively distribute the load107. A typical load distribution between the engine and battery is 80-20%. The engine supplies power during normal driving while the battery remains the sole source of power in minimal load modes. A generator is also used during braking to recharge the battery.
How the Prototype is to Operate
The system powers the ventilation mechanism is operated by an advanced micro controller. The controller also known as Arduino Duemilanove comes equipped with 14 digital input/output pins, 6 analog inputs, 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a power jack, USB connection, reset button and ICSP header. This adapter allows the system to be powered through the USB connection, AC to DC adapter or a battery. The micro controller is based on the AT Mega 168 specifications and has a standard operating voltage of 5V. The recommended input voltage is 7-12V though the board limits input voltage at 6-20V108. (See Fix XIV)
It is important to consider why would is it necessary for a micro controller to run this part of the system. As mentioned earlier in the report this part of the system is composed of several sub units all of which are integrated to produce the desired results. The temperature sensors wired into the system need to provide the system feedback when a critical temperature is reached to switch on the fans. This micro controller allows for programmed code to be stored within it as a set of instructions to be carried and various variables required for their execution. For this reason an intelligent controller such as this one is essential to provide for appropriate responses. In addition to this, other features like the wind power system also require information on operating specifications. It was reported that the device has to operate within specific parameters; a mechanism therefore must be in place to observe when these parameters have been met and react accordingly109. (See Fig XIII)
While the vehicle is stationary, the vehicle is powered using the battery charged by the wind powered battery charger. This wind powered battery charger is clamped on to the vehicle during normal operation and through the turbine it charges an inbuilt Li-ion battery. The charge stored in the battery is utilised in running the fan for short intervals whenever the internal temperature is above a set limit. One major advantage with this device is that it can be charged through various sources such as AC power and USB. This provides the user with the opportunity to remove it and charge it while the vehicle is in parking and reinstall it on the vehicle to continue reaping the benefits of controlled internal temperature110.
Climate change is invariably an issue that has generated an interest all over the world. The degree to which this change will affect the world is still largely unknown and it is for this reason in part that appropriate remedial action is yet to be taken. It has been reported that the effects of climate change may affect the GDP of nations by 5-20% thus making the efforts to avert it currently in place justifiable111. In light of this position it may be argued that early action may by far outweigh the costs. Among the effects that are already being witnessed include a rise in sea levels and an increase in frequency and intensity of storms along coastal areas. It is reported that most elements of transportation such as roads and railways lie at about 6m above sea level in coastal regions around the US112. Given an expected rise in sea level of approximately 1 m, these are well within reach of future projected storm surge projections. In addition to this the prevalence of storms is likely to cause much physical harm and incur a lot of expenses owing to the damage caused.
In addition to climate change the reliance of nations on a single source of energy has in the past caused serious global economic hardship due to unexpected increase in prices. It has been indicated in the course of this report the degree to which a sudden increase of oil prices brought about by an OPEC embargo brought about economic crisis that lasted over a decade. The situation suggested the need to produce or develop alternative energy resources. Though there has been much economic growth in recent years that has been driven by the petroleum based fuels it is important to note that much of this growth is attributed to international trade113. The trends currently being witnessed in much of the developed world indicate that international trade is bound to increase and with it the demand for energy. It is therefore evident that unless alternative energy sources are found soon the world will not be able to meet the laid down regulations on emissions that could avert the looming crisis within our environment.
However, there has been much progress with regards to energy production in the field of solar and wind energy. It has been reported that in, 2008, wind generated power increased by as much as 28% in China. In addition to this the high accessibility to solar energy in many parts of the world has led to consideration of this source of energy as a solution for the future. There has been much research on improving the efficiency of wind mills and turbines utilised in harnessing the power of the wind. In similar fashion there has been much research on techniques that can help lower the cost of solar energy. In light of these efforts it is hoped that these sources can begin to play more significant role in energy production in the future.
The bulk of the energy consumed in most nations is utilized for consumption and energy production114. The situation posits that energy is a major ingredient for a growing economy and thus new sources need to be integrated to feed the growing economies around the world. The other major concern with regards to energy is consumption where transport represents the largest portion. It is for this reason that it is believed that efforts to modify the transport sector to be more fuel efficient is a promising way to averting environmental calamity and improving efficiency of on going phenomena such as economic growth. In conclusion, the position of this paper suggests that economic growth should not be made at the expense of the environment. It is also suggested that more legislation and incentives may be required to initiate the type of changes that are likely to make an impact on the globe and permanently avert the potential crisis in the future.
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