This entire issue is devoted to exploring the increasingly electrified and automated “inEVitable” future of mobility, looking 15 years or so into the down the road. Because that’s kind of what this page always sets out to do, I’ll spend this month’s word budget on a highlight reel of sorts, describing a future world in which the best concepts explained in previous Technologue columns have successfully reached production to keep the world’s inhabitants and goods moving sustainably.
Note that separate online stories (scan the QR code on this page with your phone for more) dedicated to each of these headings will delve deeper into the present status and prognosis of these technologies, without rehashing any of the nitty-gritty science.
Carbon-Free Combustion Forever!
Combustion still powers certain vehicles, but running bio- or e-fuels, they emit no new carbon. Most that run on alcohols burn biobutanol, which nearly matches gasoline’s energy content and octane rating (problems with low vapor pressure were resolved post-Biden). Most vehicles run on chemically equivalent gasolines assembled from smaller molecules. Nacero Blue and Green gas is built from methane sourced from natural gas that would have been flared and from landfill gases, while the rest comes from scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere and combining it with cleanly electrolyzed hydrogen (see Prometheus fuels and Haru Oni/Porsche).
How We Got to Cheap, Long-Range, Quick-Charging EVs
Every aspect of the EV was holistically reimagined, and vehicles with different missions look and drive differently. Integrating the battery into the structure with carbon electrodes and electrolyte resins makes sense in the smallest cars (and electric planes). Sports cars needing to rapidly store and release energy leverage both ultracapacitors and batteries. Lithium-sulfur chemistry has helped triple batteries’ energy density, and solid-state batteries that can recharge in minutes are now a reality. The lowest-cost EVs use cheap reluctance motors, with torque smoothed by Dynamic Motor Drive tech. Retooling after Chipocalypse brought us better gallium-nitride chips that enabled faster charging, and building on manufacturing efficiencies pioneered by Lucid Motors helped further reduce cost. Finally, mining the Clarion-Clipperton Zone seabed for polymetallic nodules greatly eased supply-chain pressures for manganese, nickel, copper, and cobalt.
Infrastructure Improvements for Better Driving
All new EVs now support wireless “opportunity charging” when stopped at intersections (a rarity now that vehicles and infrastructure are all connected and smart), or even when driving on remote stretches of highway. Some of that electricity is now provided by smaller, more localized pebble-bed nuclear reactors running on thorium or another fuel as easily stored or disposed. Major roadways have all been mapped with ground-penetrating radar for another weatherproof means of precisely geo-locating autonomous vehicles, and most roadways are now made of low-CO2 concrete featuring silica fume particles or magnesium. Bridge supports use carbon-negative algal carbon-fiber panels sandwiching similar concrete that incorporates self-healing sodium-silicate capsules to greatly extend the bridge’s useful life.
Life on Board a Futuremobile
In-car connectivity took a huge step forward when fragmented aperture technology democratized satellite internet, and with so many passengers looking at a phone or tablet, airbags more safely deploy from the ceiling, forcing devices into our laps instead of our faces. Anti-odor chitosan seat fabrics and odor-canceling “white smell” dispensers please our noses. A transparent “braille screen” allows blind passengers to “see” the passing scenery, while sighted passengers amuse themselves by watching claytronic “solid holograms” enact miniature 3-D plays. Onboard sensors monitor our health and forecast injury statistics to first responders in the (increasingly unlikely) event of a crash. Alas, Nissan’s proposed “thinking cap” electroencephylography system of controlling the car via brain waves is still on the drawing board.
The Vehicle Itself
As crashes become rare, designers gain some regulatory freedom, and designs once deemed aerodynamically problematic become feasible with low-pressure air nozzles that employ the Coandă effect to keep air attached to curved surfaces, reducing drag. Impossibly thin roof pillars inflate in a crash to increase their strength. Tires now feature rubber made from kudzu enzymes, self-healing 3-D-printed seasonal-design treads, and either self-inflating devices (since Goodyear and Coda settled their patent dispute) or airless tech like Michelin’s Tweel. Spherical tires have reached production, but only for very low-speed delivery applications, so don’t hold your breath for Audi’s RSQ I, Robot movie concept. At least not yet.
Cargo Ship Full of New Porsches, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, and VWs Sinks Weeks After Major Fire
1967 Camaro Parked Since 1974 Released From Barn-Jail in Texas
2021 Ford F-150 XLT Supercrew 4X4 First Test: Big Performance Doesn’t Come Cheap
Ram Outlines Sleek 1500 EV Pickup, Heavy-Duty EV Truck, and a Dakota Replacement
The ProCamp’s Trick Drop-Down Bed Turns a Ram ProMaster Into a Queen-Sized Camp Master
Source: Read Full Article