The majority of personal vehicles in the US are utilized for commuting to and from work. The average commute time is 25.1 minutes each way with an average distance of 16 miles. Over 75% of workers commute in a single vehicle. Most of these vehicles sit outside, in the sun, for well over 8 hours. Electric vehicles would appear to be a good fit for these short commutes, however they are limited by the recharging options available. The ideal solution would be if they could use solar energy to recharge themselves. With current solar cell efficiencies, they are unable to collect and store enough energy (based on their surface area) to complete the average commute.
My proposal is to equip commuter vehicles with solar cells, however not for the purposes of electrically powering the vehicle, but rather concentrating oxygen from the atmosphere. Utilizing current technology consisting of a molecular sieve (with Zeolite), oxygen can be concentrated up to medical grade (96%). Although oxygen does not burn, this high concentration will allow for an unlimited number of fuels to be utilized for powering the vehicle. This high concentration of oxygen would also minimize pollution by allowing a complete burn, with only carbon, CO2 and water as by products.
While the vehicle is sitting in the sun for the 8 hr work day, the solar cells and oxygen concentrator are working to provide the necessary oxygen for the drive home. Multiple avenues could be pursued for utilizing the concentrated oxygen. Some are listed below;
1. Vegetable based fuels could be used in a modified internal combustion engine.
2. Off-grade, less refined (heavy) gasoline could be produced at a lower cost which would burn completely with the high concentration of oxygen.
3. A small steam turbine generator, utilizing fuel cubes, which are basically made from trash, would run cleanly during the 8 hr work day producing electricity to recharge an electric car's batteries.
4. Utilize a light weight, high efficiency Zinc (or Aluminum) / Oxygen battery to generate electricity for the commute home.
This proposal would be extremely simple to impelement and require no infrastructure changes to our current transportation systems.