Switching to electric cars just shifts where energy is produced, and creates other issues – producing the batteries is far from being green, and recycling them later is worse, the power grid is not ready for the load etc.
So here’s an option that kills CO2 birds with one stone. Well maybe a few stones, but also maybe more than two birds.
- Start with nuclear power plants. We need a lot of them.
- Use the clean cheaper energy to produce and increase production of NH3 (ammonia).
- Use NH3 to fuel current cars.
Yes, there are issues with everything, here are a few, and some answers to those issues.
- “Nuclear power plants are risky.” Not really anymore. France’s energy is over 70% nuclear. They export energy. They plan to build six to fourteen additional reactors. In the US, nuclear power plants where pretty much stopped because of public opinion and Hollywood disaster movies. Wind and sun can not supply the amount of energy we need. Anything else (other than geothermic energy like in Iceland, which is not feasible, at least for now, in the US – other than maybe in Yellowstone and Hawaii). It also takes time to build nuclear power plants – so it needs an Operation Warp Speed like effort to cut time while maintaining safety. This can power everything.
- NH3 production, used today mainly as agriculture fertilizer and as a refrigerant, is responsible for about 1% of global energy consumption which is huge, and by that is a huge CO2 emission contributor. Even just switching it to use clean nuclear produced electricity will reduce emission way more than any other effort. The process itself of producing NH3 is environmentally friendly.
- Existing cars can use 10% of NH3 mixed with 90% gasoline with no modification to the car. With a conversion that will cost few thousand dollars (probably can be reduces to a couple of thousand) the mix can be 90% NH3. There can be incentives and tax breaks, and it’s way cheaper than any electric car – and the CO2 balance is better than electric cars, especially when you don’t have to manufacture new cars to replace existing ones. There is a minor exhaust issues of NOx, but it can be resolved relatively easily (gasoline produces it too), and then we get mostly water and nitrogen, clean and safe. New car design can use engines that are designed specifically for NH3.
There is already a network of NH3 distribution and filling stations, and these can be expended and incorporated into existing gas stations. Way easier than upgrading the electric grid and placing charging stations everywhere, and filling up the tank takes a fraction of the time compared to charging the batteries on an EV.
I know there is more to solve and discuss here, but there are a lot of studies already, NH3 engines were built over a hundred years ago, and NH3 production and distribution is proven and efficient through a hundred years of experience
Sounds to me like a much faster and cleaner solution than electric cars and legacy power plants. Until this is put into motion – we need energy to survive, and currently fusil fuels are the only option, so we better produce them here, and a lot of them, so we can afford to build green solutions. Without low cost energy, we won’t be able to switch to green energy.