I am a Strategic Planner who finds solutions to issues and problems that seem to have no solutions. Management information systems are NOT part of this planning solution methodology. If there is any one guiding principal to my work it is “If you cannot solve the problem you are facing, than you are facing the wrong problem. Changing the definition of that problem can lead to alternative solutions that were not previously considered or even dismissed as impractical.” The problem with most companies strategic planning is they do not look outside their own small domain. hence broader encompassing solutions are never developed let alone implemented. Alternative Fuel Vehicles are a prime example. and that is the topic of this posting. I will try to write in as simple terms for the better understanding of everyone.
To Understand the options in Alternative Fuels for Vehicles as well as why they have not been more popular and hopefully concluding with a proposed solution we must consider in addition to the technology necessary for these vehicles but even more important the ultimate consumer’s behavior and their life style and actual “home” locations. This is in addition to the “Chicken or the Egg” issue of infrastructure to fuel these vehicles vs. manufacturing of these vehicles.
After the following discussion about current alternative fuel vehicles, there will be an attempt to give you a brad based strategic plan to implement the actual full scale production of one or more of these vehicles.
There appears to be 2 main reasons why these vehicles are not selling in large numbers
Fist Elon Musk must be given enormous credit for his efforts in the electric vehicle market. His designs are first rate and his ultimate concept is good, but for the following reasons not great at this time:
Consider consumer behavior. Most people will go to an alternative gas station rather than wait 5 minutes for an open pump.
In the current society of instant information and fast food, instant meals and electronic communications that are in real time, NO ONE wants to wait 30 minutes to charge a car battery let alone 12 hours or more. Worse is the vast majority of the batteries for electric vehicles will only go a maximum of 100 miles or less and will need a re-charge, or a fully charged substitute battery (currently weighing over 1,000 pounds), which currently must be returned to the same location.
Less than 1/3 of Americans live where they can actually plug into an electric outlet. Apartments, town houses, condominiums. high rises just to name a few of the locations where you cannot run an electric cord to your vehicle. Compound that by the fact that many of these homes that “COULD” plug in will need an electrician to run wires to an outlet which increases the cost of the vehicle and must be done before you bring the vehicle home. A small cost but a turnoff for many who would even consider this vehicle.
Unfortunately Battery Technology is lagging far behind demand and while there are exciting things on the horizon the market is still limited partially by current technology limitations the other by a low use demand curve even if it was feasible. Imagine if there was a demand for 80-100 million batteries within 5 years and an additional 40 million + every year there after… would there be more research into this? It is possible, but you have to be able to see the bigger picture to know how to develop and implement such a grand vision… and it requires a collaboration of strategic partnerships (non financial) .
So with this scenario can you decide how to make Electric a easy convenient and affordable vehicle for most Americans??
Natural Gas Vehicles:
You probably know there are many Forklift trucks that are electric or use propane. However propane is not a suitable alternative fuel for passenger vehicles or even commercial fleets from Tractor trailers to buses and multiple vehicles. Most of these larger vehicles run better with natural gas and have a greater efficiency.
LNG and CNG Alternatives
LNG or liquid natural gas has its share of users from ships to tractor trailers. Clean Energy Fuels is a company founded by Boone Pickens has had good but limited success in establishing fueling stations along major highways and Interstates where these tractor trailers can fuel up. However it is not practical for your neighborhood as the demand is too low.
LNG is more pure than natural state Natural gas. it is on average 99% Methane while regular natural gas is about 95%. Further depending on the canisters used there could be a corrosive action inside of them. But the Liquified Natural gas must be cooled at sub zero temperatures which makes it more expensive.
The cryogenic temperature of LNG (think liquid nitrogen freezing) makes it extremely difficult or impossible to add an odorant.Therefore, with no natural odor of its own, there is no way for personnel to detect leaks unless the leak is sufficiently large to create a visible condensation cloud or localized frost formation. (Your home natural gas has a odor added to it so you can immediately sense leaks.) Further if LNG is stored over an period of time without withdrawal and replenishment the methane content will continuously decrease and the actual physical characteristics of the fuel will change to some extent.
Additionally LNG is more dangerous and requires special permitting to instal the natural gas because of the potential of explosions and the technology necessary to keep it liquid (cold)
I comment Boone Pickens for his vision in Natural Gas uses and his continued efforts with our government to effectively make use of this abundant natural resource. I believe Clean Energy Fuels will be not only profitable this year but for many years to come as his efforts for the Commercial Market will pay off handsomely and will reduce Carbon emissions.
Unfortunately I do not believe it is practical for passenger vehicles and other smaller commercial vehicles in local neighborhoods.
CNG is Compressed Natural Gas. Gas in its natural state is not pressurized . Along most of the pipelines and in your home it is pressurized at 60 PSI (pounds per square inch). Three are many municipalities and towns and cities even national deliver services that are using natural gas in their vehicles now. Some have a compressor on site to make the filing faster and service only their own fleets.
While the benefits of Natural gas is not in question the delivery system is. Since the pipeline is low pressure the fill time is long (often 15-20 minutes or longer) unless there is a compressor and storage available. Even then there would come a time that the demand outstrips the capacity of those pumps.
Then there is the investment in the pumps required to dispense this gas. High investment if you must install one in your own home and that is IF your home has Natural gas available. but as I said above SLOW if you pump at the station. Compressed natural gas is abundant, cheap and half the emissions of Oil/gasoline and does not have to be imported.
Last is the weight of the current fuel tanks for CNG in your vehicle. Not nearly as bad as a battery that weighs 100+ pounds, but still heavy and bulky in space requirements.
Still CNG is probably the most effective Alternative Fuel for Vehicles at this time and in the near future.
There is a plan however that can make this the fuel of choice within 18 months that will be proposed at the end of this article.
Hydrogen or H2
THIS is my favorite fuel. With zero emissions it is the best environmentally along with the battery. It was the promise and introduction of H2 Vehicles that caused me to pursue this project on my own for the last 12-14 years. It has tremendous promise. Sadly we are not ready for it.
There are several prototypes for H2 Fuels. That is what makes it confusing for many. One prototype is where water (specialized ultra clean water Or as we know it H2O with is hydrogen and oxygen) This is put into a process inside of the vehicle where the H2 is filtered out and the electron fuels the electric motor or fuel cell that then runs the vehicle and runs the ca. When the H2 is reunited with Oxygen at the end it becomes water(H2O) again.
The other method is to provide the Vehicle with Hydrogen which is then used to run a fuel cell that also runs the vehicle
IN both of these prototypes there is usually battery as one might find in a hybrid today that is able to capture excess energy such as when braking or coasting and the vehicle is equipped with what is easiest to describe as mini generators of sort that give the energy back to the battery to use in the vehicle.
Unfortunately even though Toyota and others have developed a limited introduction there has been no infrastructure in place to develop the amount of Hydrogen needed for a large scale production of H2, nor is there an effect distribution model except pumps at existing fueling stations which would have to be installed at great expense and then a refilling network established to service them.
Conclusion and Proposed Solution
The above indicates 3 alternative fuels. Below is a possibility of HOW over a brief period of time we can develop then and provide them to all of the United States and other countries with the first full scale production of these vehicles starting with the 2016 models.
I regret I will not be giving the details of the project in this post. I am after all is said and done a business man and hope to establish a business around this project.
If you have read up to know hopefully you have had some of your own ideas of how to make these fuels available to the general public. From my perspective there must be a developmental progress along with Strategic Partnership in the4 following areas:
1/ Establish the best fuel to start with. Personally I believe CNG is appropriate. Given that cost of fuel so low at this time it makes it the most practical of all the fuels to bring 400+ miles per tank and at a continued cost fro the next 5 years under 40 dollars per fill-up.
2/ Develop a delivery system in conjunction with the Auto Manufactures. Thji8s has been partially done. A hybrid Carbon Fiber 4-5 liter Canister that can be pressurized to 25,000 PSI. The technology has been confirmed. It cannot have aluminum as is traditionally used inside the canister because of the pressure. Nor can it be completely Carbon fiber as the Carbon Fiber becomes porous and would leak. So a new method of construction had already been developed. I have to that Lamborghini for the seeds to my thought process on this. (If they want to provide a new on to me in thanks and appreciation I would be happy to have it….LOL)
3/ Develop Strategic Partnerships: Auto Manufactures along with regional filling depots. These will start with the CNG and later be able to be utilized for the H2 canisters that will follow when the Automotive industry is ready for Hydrogen. It will also take a little while longer to develop the necessary methods to supply enough H2 to fill the estimated 40 million canisters demand by the second year of operations. to start this phase
4/ Partnership with the 5-600 regional refilling depots that have already been identified for a distribution system comprising 150-250 ,000 fueling stations (this is far greater than the number of existing gas stations) but easily accomplished under the Business plan section of the Strategic Plan.
5/ Strategic partnership with a natural gas company to supply estimated 20 Billion Cubic Feet of Natural gas per week within 5 years after the start of operations that is roughly a trillion cubic feet per year
6/ The same system of distribution and locations can be used for the hydrogen filling depots and fueling stations as well as intimately Battery distribution when battery size, weight and storage comes down in weight to between 10 and15 pounds that can give at least 100 miles of operations to a vehicle. This established distribution system system can provide on site recharge stations for exchanging batteries as well as returning batteries to the depot for refurbishing or recycling at the end of a number of charging and recharging cycles.
Every canister will have an RF chip that will identify the source of manufacture, components, usage locations of activity to facilitate distribution model as well as other information that can be sued to effectively maintain these batteries and canisters and stations they reside at.
Remember at the beginning of this article I said “If you cannot solve the problem you are facing, than you are facing the wrong problem. Changing the definition of that problem can lead to alternative solutions that were not previously considered or even dismissed as impractical.” Well hopefully this article inspires you in some way to look outside the immediate problem and find al encompassing solutions in your life and businesses as well.
As you have read the drawbacks and benefits of each Alternative Fuel, understand these are my observations and opinions from the last 12-14 years. I am not now nor have I ever been employees or associated with not worked in any capacity in the Automotive, Oil and Gas Industry or anyone in the businesses I have listed above. ALTHOUGH I was involved on the buyers side of some GM assets (factories) in the early 1990’s .
Some may call this a fantasy. Others have said it may be visionary. I just call it common sense. There has been no real plan in the last dozen years that would make alternative fuels an actual reality. I will stake my life on the fact that this methodology is out best bet to do so and that the plan that has been developed includes the cost of start up and how to fund the entire start up with 18 months.. in time for the 2016 automotive sales season. I have dug down into the nitty grity details of auto manufacturing, canister manufacturing, cost analysis, and distribution and supply costs. THIS can be done and can be good for the nation and good for the economy and good for any partners, both strategic and financial.
The Transition from CNG to Hydrogen and Battery revenue streams is planned for throughout the implementation in a seamless manner. .
NOTE1: Discussion of Ethanol and Bio Fuels such as bio oil were not addressed as it is my belief they are much lesser alternatives for vehicles than the ones listed above
NOTE 2: If there readers who have interest in this type of start-up and want to discuss this project in more detail I encourage you to make contact with me. It is imperative however that you have the necessary political lobbying structure and corporate management techniques as well as access to executive management of those in the automotive manufacturing industry. for as stated above I have no inroads into them. It is through these inroads that we can effect an extremely almost obscenely low start-up cost for this business. Hence these are critical for any potential partnership with me on this project. If someone is willing to follow this long thought out and refined process in both the strategic planning and business plan there is a very realistic expectation an exit strategy that would have a valuation in excess of 25 Billion Dollars in 5 years time and continued growth for the next 5-7 years and then a flattening for the next 10 before new technology would make this company antiquated unless adaption is incorporated into the Business plan.
Journalist inquiries are also welcome. However the details of this project cannot be shared without a confidentiality agreement which would include significant penalties for violation.. but for evaluation purposes I am willing to discuss with anyone the general overall project plan.