Mobility Options For A Cleaner Future

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Thu 30 Mar 2023, 8:09 PM

Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for the largest volumes of GHG emissions in the world. But the reality is that nobody, neither the individual nor the automaker, seems to care enough. We still buy and drive automobiles in great numbers in a sort of programmed ignorance of impending environmental catastrophes. And that is because we are told that aspects like national development, commercial prospects, and emergency scenarios, are of the highest priority and that we simply can't afford to bring the world to a standstill in the name of a cleaner future. At least, not until it's too late.

That being said, governments, universities, private conglomerates, and entrepreneurs are working together and separately to gradually introduce innovative sustainable alternatives that are more than just the suggestion of driving an electric vehicle like a Tesla. Here's to name a few...

Lighter vehicles

Using lightweight cars and SUVs can improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions greatly. And there are several ways to achieve this. One way is to design smaller vehicles, perhaps compact 2-seater type vehicles, that are better suited for urban environments. This can be impactful, as very often vehicles carry individuals and not families or groups of people, and because of which the thought arises,“Why does a person weighing 75kg or so require a near 2-ton vehicle go from point A to point B?” Using lighter materials, such as aluminum, carbon-fibre, high-strength steel or other composites instead of the conventional material i.e., steel, can reduce weight and hence, improve fuel efficiency. The use of advanced manufacturing techniques that involves technologies like 3D printing can also help reduce the weight of vehicles by creating complex-but-functional geometries that are otherwise difficult to create using traditional manufacturing techniques.

Robust public transport system

Without questionable doubt, the simplest way to reduce emissions is by improving public transport. Having a larger fleet by default reduces the number of vehicles on the road and consequently increases the density of motorists. This reduces traffic congestion and air pollution. Increasing the frequency of rides also helps in this matter by minimising wait times and queues - both serious tests of patience -thereby encouraging people to use public transport furthermore.

Along with this, it is mandated that accessibility must be focused on as well, to make it easier for people with disabilities, seniors, and parents with strollers to use public transport. This can be achieved by installing wheelchair ramps, lifts, and level boarding platforms. Access to the stops and hubs must not be disregarded either. Bike paths and shaded or cooled pedestrian walkways are necessary. After all, who'd want to step into a public area/vehicle in a sweaty outfit?

Introducing a fleet of green vehicles is also an option to help improve efficiency and reduce emissions. The simplest way is to replace old vehicles with newer, more fuel-efficient models. The other is to employ electric buses or Fuelcell powered buses as they have in some countries.

And since we live in the age of technology, we must take advantage of digital tools, like real-time technologies that allow passengers to track the location of cars, buses, and trains, pay using a mobile app on a smartwatch or fitness device, and receive alerts about delays, etc.

Better parking facilities

Even with thousands of parking spots in malls these days, it sometimes takes us 30 mins or longer to find one. Having large and more accessible parking facilities reduces the wait time for motorists and thus, the time spent crawling the multiple levels of parking. Besides the obvious advantage i.e., minimising the duration the engine remains switched on, it would solve two other issues. It would reduce the large volumes of high-temperature exhausts that are funneled into carparks, which essentially turn them into furnaces, especially in the summers. It would also take care of the tail of traffic that flows out of the mall and into the main streets.

Synthetic fuel

While most manufacturers are relying on other companies for innovation, the German sportscar manufacturer Porsche has been coming up with their own ideas and burning the midnight oil since. It has been developing a synthetic fuel, also known as eFuel, which is said to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. This synthetic fuel is produced using renewable energy and is claimed to be carbon-neutral i.e., it doesn't produce any net carbon emissions. eFuel is produced by extracting hydrogen from water using renewable energy sources like solar power or wind like in Porsche's eFuel pilot plant in Chile. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide to create methanol, which is then converted to gasoline via Exxon Mobil's 11 spice secret recipe, which can be used in internal combustion engines. And the best part is neither the vehicles nor the gas pumps would have to be modified for this purpose. While there will be emissions with the use of this product, Porsche's synthetic fuel is considered carbon-neutral because the carbon dioxide that is emitted when the fuel is burned is offset by the carbon dioxide that was used to produce the fuel. However, the challenge they face is that its production requires large amounts of renewable energy, which can be expensive and difficult to scale up. In addition to that, the issue with the infrastructure for distributing and storing synthetic fuel hasn't been addressed completely, which could limit its adoption. The first 130,000 test litres of Porsche synthetic fuel was to be ready by 2022.

Overall, in absolute terms, the use of eFuel would allow for an 85 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions!

AI on future mobility

The research, development, and implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily life are growing at an exponential rate and very soon AI is going to be present in every aspect of our lives - right from toasting your bread slices to replenishing retail stock to being the crux of autonomous or self-driving vehicle network. Speaking of the latter, such vehicles rely on cameras, sensors, radars and a complex variety of algorithms in real-time to help them stay on course, whilst navigating the complex city and highway system and avoiding other vehicles, people, animals, and even things such as fallen trees. And with enough people and their vehicles onboard, AI can prove to improve the collective efficiency of vehicles, by managing traffic. By analysing traffic patterns, the algorithms of AI may predict traffic jams, bottlenecks and will help in suggesting alternate routes to drivers or divert these vehicles on its own. AI will also allow for predictive maintenance. In regular cases, people often forget to fill their tyres to the optimum pressure and ignore service intervals, etc., that will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to AI, which will either remind the drivers more frequently or again, help drive.



Khaleej Times

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