Panicking Over Prices at the Pump? New Technologies and Energy Efficiency Can Reduce Our Need for Gasoline
May 20, 2011 · by Barb Murphy
Drivers everywhere are feeling pain at the pump. With gas prices hovering at $4.00 a gallon in many areas, many of us are trying to reduce the amount of driving we do. Combining trips, switching to public transportation, walking, and biking can all help reduce our personal use, at least in the short run. According to the Department of Energy, demand for gas recently dropped. Transportation is responsible for more than two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption, and about 60 percent of the oil we use must be imported. Dependence on imported oil leads to concerns over vulnerability to disruptions, especially if world oil production peaks. Use of gasoline in vehicles also accounts for one-third of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas linked to global. The U.S. government is seeking to reduce the use of oil to help meet both challenges. A longer-term solution to the oil problem would be to invest in and encourage research in systems that are more efficient, and new technologies that do not rely on gasoline.
The National Research council has produced a number of reports on the subject of energy, summarizing our current status and examining prospects for the future. Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies — Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) evaluates battery and vehicle technologies to predict how costs might drop as technology improves and economies of scale increase and examines the ability of the electric grid to supply power for a growing PHEV fleet. It also analyzes two potential market-penetration rates for PHEVs.
Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles states that a significant number of technologies exist that can reduce the fuel consumption of light-duty vehicles while maintaining similar performance, safety, and utility. Each technology has its own characteristic fuel-consumption benefit and estimated cost. Although these technologies are often considered independently, there can be positive and negative interactions among individual technologies, and so the technologies must be effectively integrated into the full vehicle system.
America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation discusses ways that, with a sustained national commitment, the United States could obtain substantial energy efficiency improvements, new sources of energy, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the accelerated deployment of existing and emerging energy-supply and end-use technologies.
These books and others on the subject can inform debate and assist in decision-making.
|Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies–Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles|
|Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles
Various combinations of commercially available technologies could greatly reduce fuel consumption in passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles, minivans, and other light-duty vehicles without compromising vehicle performance or safety. Assessment of…
|America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation: Summary Edition
Energy production and use touch our lives in countless ways. We are reminded of the cost of energy every time we fill up at the gas pump, pay an electricity bill, or purchase an airline ticket. Energy use also has important indirect impacts, not all of which…
|Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States|
|Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles
Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles evaluates various technologies and methods that could improve the fuel economy of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, transit…
|Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use
Despite the many benefits of energy, most of which are reflected in energy market prices, the production, distribution, and use of energy causes negative effects. Many of these negative effects are not reflected in energy market prices. When market failures like…
|Driving and the Built Environment: The Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions — Special Report 298
TRB Special Report 298: Driving and the Built Environment: Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions examines the relationship between land development patterns and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the…
|Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies–A Focus on Hydrogen
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs) could alleviate the nation’s dependence on oil and reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas. Industry-and government-sponsored research programs have made very impressive technical progress over…
|Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: Second Report
The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is a collaborative effort among the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), and five major energy companies to manage research that will enable the vision of a clean and sustainable…
|Trends in Oil Supply and Demand, Potential for Peaking of Conventional Oil Production, and Possible Mitigation Options: A Summary Report of the Workshop
Recent events and analyses have suggested that global production of oil might peak sometime within the next few years to the next one or two decades. Other analyses, however, conclude that oil supply can meet global demand for some decades to come and that oil…