Free Fuel for a Million Miles!
Yes, “Free fuel for a Million Miles” is one of the selling points for the new “zero emissions” truck being offered by Nikola Motor Company. And, the fuel itself is made on site, using zero emissions technology.
A few months ago, Nikola Motors unveiled its’ hydrogen powered, all electric sleeper Semi truck “Nikola One”. As its’ promotional materials state, this heralds “The end of Diesel Engines”, and the performance data will impress anyone.
Although capable of putting out 3,000 horsepower, the electric motors are throttled back to a maximum of 1,000. The average diesel rig generates 500 HP. This means that whereas it takes a full minute for a diesel truck to get to 60 mph under full load, the electric truck does that in just 30 seconds. But more important for people who live in hilly country, and have to sit behind big rigs grinding up the roads at 20 to 40 mph, the electric sprints up those same 6% hills at 65 mph!
Today’s diesel trucks have a range of 500 to 750 miles. The Nikola One can cover 1,200 miles before requiring refueling. Truckers can spend $10,000 a month on diesel fuel. Nikola Motors offer free fuel for the first 1 million miles.
And, the electric trucks are expected to last twice as long, with half the maintenance cost, a third of the “cost per pound“ moved.
I could list the appliances like full sized fridge and freezer, 40” curved 4k TV, the wifi and 4G LTE internet, two full sized beds and more that is built in, along with an impressive array of electronics to aid the driver, but this is not intended to be an ad for Nikola Motors! Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and Mercedes Benz are also announcing zero emissions heavy trucks. The implications for our future that this latest technology brings are my focus.
There are many exciting and positive aspects to what electric transport trucks and their related technologies create. 70% of all freight tonnage in the US goes on trucks, requiring 3.4 million heavy duty trucks. Multiply 3.4 million trucks, using $10,000 worth of CO2 producing fuel each month, and we start to get a picture of how beneficial this revolution is for our future. But the impacts are far greater than just the fuel burned by all those big diesel engines. Factor in all it takes to drill for, extract, transport and process all that fuel.
By contrast, the hydrogen fuel used by the Nikola Motors system is created at the fueling station (360 across the US and Canada) using solar panels to create the electricity needed to separate the hydrogen and oxygen in ordinary water. No transportation. Zero emissions. No pollution, at all.
As amazing as this development is, imagine the other applications. Cruise ships burn an average of 140-150 TONS of fuel, a DAY! A large ship can burn 250 tons a day. That is more than 80,000 gallons, a day. Fitted with hydrogen/electric systems, with solar panels on a roof, and surrounded by water, it would seem these ships could eliminate their fossil fuel use, create their own fuel on board, and have unlimited cruising range.
Container ships? Trains? Replacing the diesel generators that remote communities rely upon?
Climate change is happening, and people are coming up with ways to eliminate the need for fossil fuels, and the negative impacts associated with them. Supporters of the fossil fuel industries have told audiences that eliminating those energy sources would mean people would have to give up their current standard of living, and “go back to living in caves”. As we see, this simply is not true.
(This is the first of a series on ways we can combat CO2 pollution, and other problems facing our communities.)