If you visit this website, you probably know more about motor vehicle powertrains than most people, but unless you’re actively involved in their development, it’s also likely you know only a small portion of what’s going on in the high speed push to go green. It’s fascinating, but at the same time, far more complex than many believe and certainly beyond the comprehension of the politicians and bureaucrats making rules and regulations that affect what manufacturers are working on and planning to sell.
Lucky for us, there’s a book
You may not follow Formula One auto racing, I don’t know any of the current drivers myself, but the technology in the cars is almost beyond belief and it’s changing at lightning speed in order to make the racing series more “sustainable” and “green” however you define those terms, and much of what they are doing is developing the same technology auto manufacturers are working on for the vehicles we’ll be driving in coming years.
While reading the latest issue of Racecar Engineering, a very interesting magazine that covers exactly what the title says, I noticed a book, Racing Toward Zero: The Untold Story of Driving Green, but it’s not about racecars, it’s about our everyday vehicles and after a little investigation, I ordered it. I’ve spent much of the last week working my way through it and, long story short, buy this book. It’s excellent.
Be ready to learn a lot
It took very little time for me to have the first of many “I didn’t know that” moments. I also wished I had paid closer attention in chemistry class, but don’t worry, you’ll find this book highly informative and surprisingly entertaining, while you make your way through some very complex territory.
Oh c’mon, how complicated can this be?
Well, if your understanding of green powertrains is at the level of Internal Combustion, Hybrid or Electric, you’re in for a shock. The appendix has three and a half pages of acronyms and abbreviations for things like ASC (Ammonia Slip Catalyst), LSPI (Low Speed Pre Ignition) and RCCI (Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition), you know, all of those things you talk about with your buddies while tweaking your TZEV (Transitional Zero Emission Vehicle).
The authors are careful to cover LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) which is really important to any of these options dealing with how the vehicle is made, what fuel is used and how that is made, how efficiently it’s used and what emissions or pollutants are involved in that process, as well as during manufacturing and the recycling process after the vehicle reaches end of life and what the costs are for each step. There’s much more than I just listed, but when you add it all up, which drivetrain is best isn’t an easy choice, and it in fact becomes clear there is no single choice, it all depends on the specific application, or as the authors like to say, “The Future is Eclectic.”
If you’re interested in the future of motor vehicles, this book is for you
Don’t let any of the above comments put you off, you don’t need to memorize anything, there won’t be a test, but if you want to know more than you do now, if you want to really get a handle on the huge changes happening all around the world with motor vehicle manufacturers and what the future may or may not hold for the drivetrain of your choice, your time reading this book will be well spent. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read. Some chapters are light reading, some a bit more complicated, but I found myself learning a great deal and I have a hunch you will, too.