I read the editorial, “Electricity in the air” (Jan. ’19, p. 9), and good heavens, don't beat yourself up because electric cars are on the way. If we're doing things right, every generation should come up with something more efficient and cleaner than what happened before. However, that doesn't mean that what we did was bad. It was the best technology for the times.
When something better comes along, we should welcome it, of course. But, that's no reason to flog ourselves for polluting the planet. We didn't. We made the planet a better, cleaner place. And now we will take another step in that direction.
Personally, I don't think it will be electric cars as they are envisioned now. Hauling around two tons of stored electricity is just about the most inefficient way to drive transportation, and that doesn't even begin to speak of the metal pollution the planet will see when most of the fleet is battery-operated.
And there will always be a range problem. They tell me to empty the trunk of my Chevelle to improve gas mileage, then sing the praises of a Volt with a ton of battery. And the electricity has to come from somewhere. You can't glibly say (as I hear people do), that it will all be wind and solar. Those things all need to be manufactured, transported, maintained, decommissioned, often with a relatively short lifetime. They have their own impact on the planet and no one is talking about it.
Remember that the electric car was already here a century ago. It disappeared not because GM wanted it to disappear (as I hear people say). It disappeared because it was an inferior technology to the high energy density of liquid fuels and the internal combustion engine.
I can see an electric fleet someday, but not a battery one. If they ever get around to perfecting the fuel cell, that would be a good way to go. Power the cell with a sustainable, high-energy-density, liquid fuel. Use it to drive electric motors at the wheels. That technology might finally beat the internal combustion engine.
But, it has to be admitted that the engineers keep making those internal combustion engines increasingly clean and efficient.
In 1990-91, I started reading Control when Terry Blevins asked me to write an article regarding a control strategy that he designed and I programmed. That feature article was published in the January 1992 issue. I didn’t save any other issues from those formative years of 1990 and especially 1991. I used the magazine to educate myself, and it helped me prepare for job interviews. (As a matter of fact, it still does.)
I was wondering if you know where I could get some issues from 1991, when I read it so closely and learned so much. I’d like to read and reminisce—now and again in the future when I'm retired.
William—The only issues we have from those years are bound and in our library. We’re publishing your letter and email address in case someone who reads it has early issues they are ready to part with.
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