In the most basic terms, a motor vehicle is a machine which converts fuel energy to motion.  Unlike other technologies which have been consistently replaced over the last 120 years, the basic, outdated inefficient internal combustion engine still exists as peak petroleum supply and climate change have only become issues in the last decade.  The internal combustion engine era is about to end however as we globally seek a more efficient and cleaner alternative.

The Imminent Crisis

Globally, we burn about $2 Trillion of petroleum annually. While politicians and scientists debate the cause of global warming, none disagree that the use of petroleum pollutes our environment, and as cheap reserves near depletion, that the cost of oil will rise substantially. The depletion shortage, and subsequent price spike is expected to start by 2014-15.

oil production

Source: Schlumberger oil services

Globally, the G8 superpowers see the 2009 financial crisis as a minor economic tremor compared to what will happen with the imminent depletion of cheap oil reserves. In order to avoid global economic collapse “The world needs a shift as radical as the Industrial Revolution …one of the greatest tests humankind has ever faced” reported the McKinsey Global Institute June 23, 2008. “Oil really is our economic jugular” states Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the USA Analysis of Global Security in 2008.

The trend is irrefutable. In 1993 gasoline cost an average of $1.07/gallon. By 2003 it had risen to $1.72/gallon and in 2013 the average price of gasoline is $3.63/gallon. In Hong Kong the average price is $8.21, requiring 8.21% of one’s daily wage. In England, the price is $7.99, requiring 7.68% of one’s daily wage[1].  Given that imported petroleum has climbed from 60% to 70% of all petroleum now consumed in the USA, and is rising, the USA should expect similar prices in the near term.  Americans currently burn through 1.2 gallons of gas per capita per day, which is 31% more than any other country in the world.

Even at one of the lowest global costs for petroleum, indicates the median USA household is now spending 11.5% of its income on gasoline, up from 4.6% of its income five years ago.

Here’s a look at how that progressed:

Date  Price Per Gallon Median Income Income spend on fuel
1991         $1.09        $30,126                4.9%
1995         $1.14        $34,076                4.6%
1999         $1.19        $40,696                4.0%
2003         $1.51        $43,318                4.8%
2007         $2.96        $48,201                8.4%
2008         $4.06        $48,201              11.5%

Although income has increased, the percentage of income spent on gasoline has increased at an even greater rate. This is despite the fact that fuel economy has improved during the same period, and the number of miles driven decreased as recreational driving is curtailed due to fuel price.

The key to petroleum replacement is a change in the transportation paradigm, which is the only petroleum fuel use which has been increasing substantially.   Rapid depletion by transportation is noted by David Greene of Oakridge National Labs in 2008, “95% of all vehicles are fueled by petroleum and 25% of all petroleum ever consumed was consumed in the last 10 years”.

petroleum consumption

To replace petroleum however requires a new engine, one which can replace any current engine in any current vehicle, and deliver the same power. A bulldozer, heavy truck, bus, or taxi all have performance specifications which must be met to perform their work, and if an engine is unable to power any of these vehicles to that level, it is not a transportation solution.  To date no hybrid, electrical, or fuel cell alternative can broadly replace all existing vehicle engines with the same performance.

The solution requires a new engine which can burn current  fuels far more efficiently, and which can migrate to new, cleaner and more abundant fuels in the future.

The ZED engine is designed to be a universal replacement for today’s conventional engine.  It replaces a standard engine without changing the design of the vehicle platform, which ensures that it can be integrated quickly and inexpensively into current vehicle production.  The ZED engine is fully scalable, and therefore can be used in any application where a gasoline or diesel internal combustion engine is currently used. Applications include everything from a lawn mower to train locomotive, bulldozer, farm tractor, car, heavy truck, crane, mining rock hauler, military tank, or airplane.

The ZED engine is designated AFC (All Fuel Capable) which means that it can uniquely transition from any current carbon fuel (gasoline, diesel, CNG, propane, methane) to natural gas, or even zero-carbon hydrogen with minimal modification.