Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels

Edit: New readers to the topic can join at post 1140 in Jan 2022.

I suggest you have a think about out utility companies before you start partying on how cheap it will be to recharge your electric car! I could also imagine a day when AGL and all the other brands we ‘know and love and trust to treat us well’ evolve into Exxonitricity, Caltexicity, Shellicity… It could be one of those ‘be careful what you wish for, you might get it’ scenarios.

I am more excited by hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and similar.


Personally I’d prefer nuclear - its probably the only thing that would make the bike faster :wink:


I cannot attest for the environmental or fuel economy issues, but have you installed

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The car’s themseves may be more cost efficient to run, around $0.30c/litre equivalent, but they are far from efficient when it comes to CO2. For example, a lifecycle analysis of lithium batteries commissioned by the Swedish government indiscates that for a Telsa Model S (driven average annual distance for a private vehicle) , it would take approximately 8.2 years for the battery system to have a CO2 footprint similar to that for a hydrocarbon fuel system. After 8.2 years there is a CO2 saving. I understand the figures are based on average electricity generation mix for markets Telsa supplies it cars to. There have also been studies by the Chinese and other countries which have had similar findings.

Lithium batteries have a very high embodied energy if the whole lifecycle is considered such as mining, lithium processing, battery fabrication (such as that planned in the Telsa Gifafactory) and material transportation. Telsa has indicated that it plans to have its own lithium battery plant fully powered by renewable energy in the future, but it is yet to be proven.

I believe that @PhilT solution may be more on the mark as hydrogen can be produced when excess electricity is generated (when supply exceeds demand) and could have a significantly lower carbon and environmental footprint (if environmental impacts of lithium mining and processing is considered). It’s primary inputs for manufacture are water and electricity (which could be from low carbon sources…or even nuclear since nuclear is the least volatile electricity generation source and may produce excess electricity during periods of low demand).

Hydrogen also overcomes the tyranny of distance problem through quick refuelling, a currently limitation to lithium battery systems.


I doubt it is a goer. Hydrogen needs electricity to make it. It requires much more new infrastructure, tankers on the road etc. Electricity networks are already there. The cheapness of setting up public charging stations at existing petrol stations and the lack of concerns over new tech plus the head start electric vehicles have will produce a VHS beats Beta situation. Even if hydrogen is technically superior (which I am not sure of) it will still lose.

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All valid considerations, but you are in an electric car somewhere west of Bourke. Your range is probably well < 500 km even with the latest technology. You might even flatten your battery if lost. What are you going to do?

The concept of a portable fuel is probably the single reason petrol/diesel ‘took over the world’.


You may have found a practicable solution, hydrogen produced at a service station. If they are connected to the main grid and have a water supply (say collect rainwater from the roof), then it may be possible. While not very efficient method of producing the gas, is possible especially when excess electricity is being produced.

If not connected to the grid, say in dry remote locations, groundwater and solar farm?

Maybe the future could be tankers will be transporting deionised water for local hydrogen production.

The other and potentially cheaper option would be recover methane from landfill sites or from coal seam gas, and convert into hydrogen and CO2. Such plants are already available.


This link is not working for me. I’d like to know which study this is, as I know there is a lot of pseudoscience in the public realm convincing people that electric vehicles are worse for the planet due to their batteries, etc.


This anecdote does not hold water for the large majority of car users. This cannot be used as a logical rebuttal for using electric cars.


It was not intended as a rebuttal of electric, it was intended to underscore why I am more enamoured with the possibilities of hydrogen.


Worked fine for me.

Its source attribution
Author: Mia Romare, Lisbeth Dahllöf, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute
Funded by: Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Transport Administration
Report number C 243
ISBN 978-91-88319-60-9
Edition Only available as PDF for individual printing
© IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute 2017
IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd.
P.O Box 210 60, S-100 31 Stockholm, Sweden

‘Psuedoscience’? You would not have already made your position, would you? There is lots of evidence that batteries are environmental hazards when considered from mining through to destruction.

This item is 2 years old and links to a 5 years old US EPA study so may not reflect the current state of the art, but.


(light hearted reponse)*

Recovering the methane from burping cows could be interesting as well as good for the environment and an alternative approach to reducing cows belching, although the mechanics may remain a challenge.

(/lighthearted response)

One can rarely guess where technology might take us.

  • so I am not charged with promoting cow technologies.

I guess all our servos are within a couple of minutes of each other - the whole town is only a few minutes across - the missing factor seems to be ‘competition’. I think the mindset is different here - for driving around town we travel such short distances that fuel cost doesn’t seem an issue - for driving ‘somewhere else’ the distance is so big that it seems obvious it is going to cost more - plus its been this way for so long that paying 1.60++ per litre is ‘normal’ - and most people who value their (petrol) engines run premium unleaded, as it is commonly and firmly believed that (our normal LAF) 91 unleaded kills engines. Would be interested to see some real research on that one …

I can’t imagine the ‘waiting’ … a 1500 km drive to the nearest city takes me around 15 hours, factoring in two multi-hour recharges would be a nightmare.

Would be problematic where groundwater TDS is high, which is most of the outback.

It still holds enough water for enough of us to care, and not just in the outback … until the power source of an electric vehicle can be replenished in a comparable time to a conventional combustion engine fuel source, or extended to such a range that replenishment time is not an issue, I believe it will be a hard sell to anyone other than people with dedicated short distance ‘shopping trolleys’.

Worked fine here also.

… or we could just ride them, and when they expire convert them into burgers :wink:


It is a link to the pdf of the report rather than a webpage. Most browsers should automatically download the pdf when the above link is clicked. The report is titled "The Life Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Lithium-Ion Batteries’ and can be found easily by googling. It should be the first one in the search results.

I’ll see if I can find an English verion of the Chinese government report later. I understand the Chinese report was undertaken before the Chinese government mandated electric vehicle targets.


Battery tech has a long way to go. I envisage in a few years time the recharge time will be similar to your driver reviver time. Such long distances will be a challenge for any tech.


Driver reviver time?

Many (esp bush) trips have multiple drivers and it is often a requirement to get to the destination as fast as possible, rotating drivers.


I am sure there are situations when every solution is deficient in some way. How about looking at the big picture of which tech will suit most situations and most people and be cost-effective most of the time while getting away from fossil fuels?


I was going to make a comment about smashing a few no-doze with an iced coffee, but yes, you are right, rotating drivers - yep, that’s how we do it !! :wink: Joking aside, even with passengers who prefer not to drive, breaking a big trip with a couple of short stints where they drive makes a big difference - and having passengers is also a great canary in the mine, nothing worse than driving alone long distance.

I think it will happen, whether its hydrogen, batteries or something we haven’t seen coming - though one hurdle is selling it to the once a year nomad (grey or otherwise), even if 98% of their driving is short commute, they still want to be able to do Adelaide to Melbourne without a 6 hour layover - in the same car - or longer trips where some places may just become inaccessible in a practical sense. While this kind of thing might represent a fairly small percentage of actual driving, I have a sense it will factor into a much bigger percentage of personal decisions made about vehicle purchase/etc whether they are seen as emotional, illogical, irrational or just the exercising of personal choice, freedom, not wanting to be hemmed in by technical limitation - people don’t seem to welcome change unless ‘its cool’ or ‘its do or die’. In some way new tech will address it, or enough of it to get on the wave - sooner or later - and it will be interesting!


My vote will be electric cars for shorter runs in the near term, coexisting with petrol/diesel; and hydrogen or something equally or more exotic encroaching by the mid-term and eventually displacing the others. It will take yonks!

Not directed at you unless it fits, but it amazes how many decisions are made with the belief (expectation) that what suits Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisvegas suits the country from fuel to the concept of what a spare tyre needs to do.


I don’t think it will be a simple solution of one or the other, people that have urban lifestyles and travel relatively low daily kms will obviously be attracted to electric vehicles but for peri-urban and rural users hydrocarbon powered vehicle will likely remain the mainstay choice. That is until technology improves and batteries can be made to approach the energy density of liquid fuels, and that will be a long way off.

An interesting development will be for how long the federal government will allow electric cars to enjoy a holiday from the ‘road users tax’ that we know as fuel excise. This tax on liquid fuels is used to maintain the road network for all users, and with improvements in fuel economy of modern hydrocarbon powered vehicles the revenues from this tax are already falling and with the eventual supplanting of some hydrocarbon vehicle with electric vehicles these revenues may go into free-fall. I wonder what mechanism will be applied to recover these funds. Because we all know they will recover them some way. There are ‘no free lunches’.