Saturday, May 24, 2008


23 May 2008.

Dear Chris,

I don't know what you do but I enjoy your comments, you have obviously been doing a bit of thinking about this problem. Personally I think that we have been too obsessed with the concept of markets. Let the market rip and it will cure all problems. It has been obvious for the last 20 years that we were heading for a energy catastrophe (acute shortage). America has always be a slave too the market and Maggie has slavishly followed.

One of the sayings that used to be said many years ago was what is good for General Motors is good for America. I have watched how General Motors have shot themselves in the head and
America in the foot. I don't know if you have seen the video of Who killed the Electric car, it is extremely fascinating. There is no real smoking gun just circumstantial evidence. You wouldn't get a conviction in court lets put it that way. But if you know how short term most American industry is it is easy to work it out. The American motor industry was forced to go for an electric car because of Californian pollution regulations. Ford bought THINK a Norwegian firm which made electric cars spent millions developed a crash tested electric vehicle with a rather limited range and then sold the firm when the pollution regulations in California somehow got rescinded.
G.M. built EV1 did exactly the same called in all the models that were leased and crushed them with a few exceptions, which ended up in a couple of museums I think. It doesn't make any difference. Now it is easy to see why they did it.

The massive Hummers and gas squandering top of the range models had a higher profit margin, the more you sold of them the more money you made which meant that the share prices were
higher and as the top management usually received a bonus if the share prices were high it was in there interest to pursue this type of sales. By going for short term profits they have squandered the chance of long term viability. I can see the time in the not too distant future when Think could be buying the remnants of ford motor company.

I have great difficulty blaming the large motor corporations. If I was in the position of General manager of one of the large corporations such as G.M. I would find it very difficult to go against the flow and sacrifice short term profits to invest in producing a product line in 10 years that would be a world leader, very high mileage, High quality, cheap, good performance, etc. etc. unfortunately they have lost about a 10 years lead and are now going to be thrashed.

The other problem is of cause breaking out of the mental box,basically mentally retooling which is almost as difficult as retooling a new assemble line.

Now I have just retired. 50 years ago I started as a 15 year old working in the mines in Midlands and in Yorkshire. I finished school the week I reached 15 and went down the mines the following Monday. Things were a bit different then. I took an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer. Dam good apprenticeship too may I say. Mainly hands on, but plenty of theory, none of your wishy washy shit you get dolled out now, if you couldn't scrap a bearing, rewire a motor or work out the size of cables to carry the load to certain districts you didn't need to come to work. So I think I know what I am talking about

Now I would like to suggest a few things that should have been put in place years ago and would have saved us so much pain and money.

It takes about 20 to 15 Hp to keep even a large motor car cruising at about 70 miles per hour. I don't know what a modern motor produces, but I would not see any difficulty in getting at least 20 hp from a 400cc motor most of the rest of the modern motor car motor is used to get you up to that speed in as shorter time as possible, the larger the motor the shorter the time and the more energy you use. What I am suggesting is that you couple the 20 hp motor too a flywheel. Switch on your engine and wait a couple of minutes until the flywheel is up to speed. Modern Flywheels are beautiful machines. They are very simple robust and the maths is also very simple. I put in 20 hp for 50 seconds and I can get out 100 hp in 10seconds. Now that shouldn't
cause much trouble to get up to cruising speed with modern lightweight bodies. The nice thing about the system is that you can use the flywheel for regenerative braking. None of that energy used to slow you down being transformed into heat during braking, that should increase mileage.

Now comes another suggestion. One of the big fallacies is that petrol burns. I was taught from early on that petrol never burns what burns is petrol vapour. Petrol has to go through a phase change before you can burn it. The problem with modern carburettors is that don't vaporise petrol they only atomize it. What is needed is a carburettor that vaporises the petrol. It is certainly not difficult to vaporise petrol spray it on the exhaust pipe. Is it beyond our imagination to run the exhaust pipe through the carburettor to do this.

Another thing that might interest you that always interested me. I was for many years a member of the mines rescue brigade. One the the interesting things I learned was that if I used a miners safety lamp in a methane atmosphere nothing happened, but if I used it in an atmosphere of Hydrogen then I would cause an explosion. It seems that the problem with Hydrogen was the flame speed propagation. The flame spread so swiftly that the gauze in a miners safety lamp didn't have time to cool the flame down. Add hydrogen to the carburettor and you will certainly give the mixture a better burn, with less pollutants.

Mind you these sort of things should have been done 30 years ago but we refused to think and used that panacea that all good conservatives use to stop themselves thinking the market always knows best. If we had done this or something similar, we would have had a fleet of vehicles with at least double the mileage which would have meant we would have halved our oil imports.

What did you say the price of a barrel of oil is now $135 most of that
is nothing more than a stupidity tax.

Deep Regards


Dear David,

I am with you all the way regarding "Market Forces", Maggie/Ronald and all that went on then.

Me, I left school at 16 with hardly any qualifications. I then worked as a technician in the pharmaceutical industry (Beechams, which no longer exists). I studied part time at what was Croydon Technical College and got the ONC and HNC.

I was then persuaded by my boss (an ex-Cambridge man who missed-out on getting a permanent university job because they were all taken by the end of the '70's; generally by protégés of the great and the good - some without any formal interview! It would be illegal these days.) to go to university. I did and studied chemistry; I got a good degree and then did a Ph.D (D.Phil, in fact, as they call them at Sussex University - they also awarded me a D.Sc in 2003) in physical-organic chemistry... well the long and the short of it is that I became a university professor in physical chemistry when I was 34. However, due to the maxims of "inclusiveness" and "education, education, education" (oh yes and the cash - bums on seats funding) the formerly great British university (and polytechnic) system has now been ruined.

In some of the new universities (ex-polytechnics which were fine institutions that trained the workforce for industry - where did that go... yes, we know don't we?!) there are "professors" with no published work or research experience in the subject they are supposed to be professor of... well there are many such disgraces, and in the end, 5 years ago, I thought bugger this and set-up as an independent consultant. I advise industry on keeping its pollution levels down; I also do some work on radiation effects on satellite components and work with engineers (I work out the chemistry and they build the stuff).

I am also a writer now - I have my first book of poems with a publisher and an offer from another publisher for my novel which is called "University Shambles" - a black comedy along the lines I have described.

I'm 50 next year and I wonder what kind of a year that will be for the world.

Interesting that petrol is atomised, not converted to vapour (gas) form. Now that does strike me as a huge waste of fuel potentially. But you smell the raw fuel from an engine don't you - before it's had time to warm-up, I mean? I know there is only about 12% well-to-miles efficiency got from a spark-ignition engine (maybe twice that under favourable circumstances from a diesel engine).

Yes, you are right about hydrogen and the matter of flame-propagation: it also has the greatest explosive mixture composition range with air than any other gas! Interesting to think that good old town-gas was about 51% hydrogen... and 21% carbon monoxide so people could "do themselves in" in the gas oven if they felt like it.

But what we will have in the future is heavy (diesel) fuel and so I think a retooling of manufacturers will be needed to convert to diesel engines as the sweet light crude oil runs-out. But what is the manufacturing capacity for that? I sincerely fear we have left it too late to implement any such changes on a comparable scale to current transport and simply we will go back to village life and the horse and cart.

Kindest regards too!


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