Issues and Opportunities in
Sustainable Fuel and Vehicle Technologies

Presenter: Mark Ehsani

The ever expanding use of personal vehicles in the world is associated with the following major problems.

Fuel Consumption: Most vehicles require liquid fuel, typically derived from petroleum, which is a finite resource. Worldwide petroleum production peaked and began its decline starting in 2004 (Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak). The engines in current vehicles are only about 15–20% efficient.

Pollution: In cities, the tailpipe emissions of vehicles degrade air quality. Also, the combustion of fossil fuels is implicated in global warming. In the United States, 20% of carbon dioxide emissions come from automobiles and 10% from trucks (

These problems with vehicles have long been known. There has been substantial progress in reducing tailpipe emissions using advanced catalytic converters; however, air quality is still unacceptable in many cities, primarily due to vehicle emissions.

Unless we take a revolutionary approach, the problems with vehicles will only get worse. By 2050, the number of vehicles is expected to increase by 5 times. Currently, the world has 9 people per vehicle, but by 2050 it is expected to have 2.6 people per vehicle.

In this presentation, new technology trends of the present and near future will be explored, leading to the need for a viable automobile and fuel technologies that are sustainable.  An integrated approach is proposed for the automobile that focuses both on fuel production and vehicle power train technologies. The result is a new automobile and energy industry with the following properties: sustainable fuel supply into the indefinite future, higher efficiency, better performance, and no net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.

Dr. Ehsani reviews some of the technical, commercial, and social problems and issues that are on the forefront at the present. The presentation will conclude with comments about the technical realities versus the public knowledge of these issues.