Tuesday, 12 July 2011

CASE 323 - Motor cars

By definition an automobile or car is a wheeled vehicle that carries its own motor and transports passengers. The automobile as we know it was not invented in a single day by a single inventor. The history of the automobile reflects an evolution that took place worldwide.
It is estimated that over 100,000 patents created the modern automobile. You can point to the many firsts that occurred along the way to producing the modern car

Starting with the first theoretical plans for a motor vehicle that had been drawn up by both Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton.

In 1769, the very first self-propelled road vehicle was a military tractor invented by French engineer and mechanic, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot (1725 - 1804). Cugnot used a steam engine to power his vehicle, built under his instructions at the Paris Arsenal by mechanic Brezin. It was used by the French Army to haul artillery at a whopping speed of 2 1/2 mph on only three wheels. The vehicle had to stop every ten to fifteen minutes to build up steam power. The steam engine and boiler were separate from the rest of the vehicle and placed in the front. The following year (1770), Cugnot built a steam-powered tricycle that carried four passengers.

In 1771, Cugnot drove one of his road vehicles into a stone wall, making Cugnot the first person to get into a motor vehicle accident. This was the beginning of bad luck for the inventor. After one of Cugnot's patrons died and the other was exiled, the money for Cugnot's road vehicle experiments ended.

Steam engines powered cars by burning fuel that heated water in a boiler, creating steam that expanded and pushed pistons that turned the crankshaft, which then turned the wheels. During the early history of self-propelled vehicles - both road and railroad vehicles were being developed with steam engines. (Cugnot also designed two steam locomotives with engines that never worked well.) Steam engines added so much weight to a vehicle that they proved a poor design for road vehicles; however, steam engines were very successfully used in locomotives. Historians, who accept that early steam-powered road vehicles were automobiles, feel that Nicolas Cugnot was the inventor of the first automobile.

After Cugnot Several Other Inventors Designed Steam-Powered Road Vehicles

•Cugnot's vehicle was improved by Frenchman, Onesiphore Pecqueur, who also invented the first differential gear.
•In 1789, the first U.S. patent for a steam-powered land vehicle was granted to Oliver Evans.
•In 1801, Richard Trevithick built a road carriage powered by steam - the first in Great Britain.
•In Britain, from 1820 to 1840, steam-powered stagecoaches were in regular service. These were later banned from public roads and Britain's railroad system developed as a result.
•Steam-driven road tractors (built by Charles Deitz) pulled passenger carriages around Paris and Bordeaux up to 1850.
•In the United States, numerous steam coaches were built from 1860 to 1880. Inventors included: Harrison Dyer, Joseph Dixon, Rufus Porter, and William T. James.
•Amedee Bollee Sr. built advanced steam cars from 1873 to 1883. The "La Mancelle" built in 1878, had a front-mounted engine, shaft drive to the differential, chain drive to the rear wheels, steering wheel on a vertical shaft and driver's seat behind the engine. The boiler was carried behind the passenger compartment.
•In 1871, Dr. J. W. Carhart, professor of physics at Wisconsin State University, and the J. I. Case Company built a working steam car that won a 200-mile race.

Early Electric Cars

Steam engines were not the only engines used in early automobiles. Vehicles with electrical engines were also invented. Between 1832 and 1839 (the exact year is uncertain), Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first electric carriage. Electric cars used rechargeable batteries that powered a small electric motor. The vehicles were heavy, slow, expensive, and needed to stop for recharging frequently. Both steam and electric road vehicles were abandoned in favor of gas-powered vehicles. Electricity found greater success in tramways and streetcars, where a constant supply of electricity was possible.

Combustion engine and the 'clean car era' conspiracy
Electric cars are a conspiracy of the worst kind. They are heralded as a ticket to a new age when in fact they are a mere link in the chain of energy in the United States. Opponents of the old Henry Ford world of combustion engines are embracing electric car technologies with open arms, but they fail to realize that electric cars perpetuate the same problems as their more common ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) brethren.

Still have a question?
Ask it in the Solar & Alternative Energy forum Companies like Chevrolet, Nissan, Honda, and others pushing electric and various alternative transportation technologies are announcing these ideas with trumpets as if they have ushered in a new era or a transportation revolution. Consumers readily embrace these new ideas with commensurate enthusiasm, but all concerned fail to realize that the revolutionary nature of the new cars is predicted upon a reality that does not exist.

Advocates of the green energy movement point to the use of electric cars as a method of reducing air pollution. The fact that the new Nissan Leaf can advertise itself as lacking an exhaust pipe has customers lined up more than 20,000 reservations in advance to purchase their own piece of “history.” Even the Leaf’s name is designed to inspire thoughts of clean, renewable energy and environmental concern. But where does the electricity in the United States come from?

Overwhelmingly, the electrical power grid is supplied by fossil fuels. More than half of all the nation’s electricity comes from disgustingly polluted coal power plants, many of which are outdated and pump out more carbon dioxide and monoxide than they should because of obsolete technology still in use. But, the government continues to give these antiquated plants a pass instead of forcing them to update their technology. About a quarter of our power comes from natural gas, which is a fossil fuel as well. While on the natural gas subject, it should be noted that Honda’s touted FCX Clarity fuel cell car requires hydrogen. Current hydrogen production is the result of either expensive hydrolysis (splitting of water) or (largely) from natural gas.

What does this mean? Basically, the electric cars that companies say are bringing clean fuel options to consumers are really just perpetuating the old system. It is a great gimmick to remove one bottleneck from the fossil fuel chain, but without cheap, reliable ramping up of American electrical output through solid sources like nuclear power, we will still be utilizing fossil fuels. The new designs bring some good efficiency to the table, but the U.S. power grid will have to follow the example of the French nuclear program in order for us to truly benefit from electric cars.

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