In the August episode of the Physics World Stories podcast Andrew Glester investigates the challenges of moving towards personal transport with a smaller carbon footprint. While flying cars powered by hydrogen are unlikely to hit mass market anytime soon, Glester instead looks at some of the realistic solutions for the present and the near future. Along the way, he gets the thoughts of various people he met at Blue Dot 2018 – a festival blending science, art and music.
Francis Hill from the Centre for Alternative Energy gives her opinion on why citizens in developed countries need to reconsider their lifestyle choices. Her proposed changes include travelling less and using fewer non-renewable materials such as single-use plastics.
Kevin Anderson is part of a group called Rapid Acceleration of Car Emission Reductions (RACER), which is part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Anderson believes that petrol-powered cars still have a role to play in the short-medium term future, but they use should be limited in urban areas. Increasingly, journeys will be made by alternative means, especially by electric bicycles (e-bikes).
Michael Taylor is a PhD student at the Power Networks group based at the University of Manchester. Taylor highlights the fact that a rapid growth in use electric car will put a big strain on power networks – caused by large volumes of people recharging their vehicles at the same time. He is investigating solutions, such as smart-charging systems that respond to the level of demand.
Finally, Glester meets a couple of students from Durham University’s society for electric motorsport. They are part of a team developing a new solar-powered race car to improve on existing models, which they will enter into competitions. They discuss the outlook for solar-powered and hybrid-solar cars hitting the market place.