Plugin Hybrids Producing Much Less Carbon Dioxide

How about taking a hybrid car and putting in an even higher-performance battery that can be charged when the vehicle is not in operation? A supersized battery would reduce the need for the gasoline engine substantially. Basically, this would be an electric car with a small gasoline motor to supplement the power of the electric motor the small percentage of the time that greater acceleration is needed. The gasoline motor also would extend the range of the vehicle so that it could continue back home or to the nearest place to recharge the battery if the battery runs out. Mileage approaching 100 mpg is reasonable to expect from this approach and since most car owners drive less than 35 miles (16 km) per day recharging overnight may be very feasible. Mileage in the range of 100 mpg can be accomplished on some current commercially obtained hybrid cars by using a pre-charged lithium ion battery rather than the standard nickel-metal hydride battery (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/100-mpg-news.htm).

In a Prius "hypermileage" marathon, a team drove 1397 miles along a 15-mile course on 12.8 gallons in just under 48 hours. The result: an average 109.3 miles per gallon setting an unofficial world record. 120.6 mpg was established on the best segment of the course. The improved mileage came from driving techniques that minimized the amount of time that the engine runs and minimizes power flowing to and from the battery. Although these techniques are not practical for most driving conditions, it serves as a proof of concept that significantly higher mileage is possible (www.toyota.com/html/hybridsynergyview/2005/fall/marathon.html).

While operating by the electric motor, plug-in hybrids would not generate any greenhouse gases or any form of pollution, for that matter. However, since plug-in hybrids get some of their energy from the electrical power grid, the opportunity to reduce greenhouse emissions depends on the sources of the electricity used to charge the battery. If the electricity comes from a coal-fired electrical power plant that does not capture and store its carbon dioxide emissions, the benefit of the cleaner operation of the plug-in hybrid would be greatly diminished. If the electricity is produced without carbon dioxide emissions, the impact of the plug-in vehicle can be significant in addressing the transportation part of this problem.

Automobile designs that use precharged batteries (such as plug in hybrids) contribute to reducing global warming only to the extent that the electricity they use to charge their batteries does not generate greenhouse gases.

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