Two experts on automotive engineering join Tucker to share a realistic take on achieving sustainable mobility. Oxford Engineering Professor Felix Leach and Kelly Senecal, co-founder of Convergent Science, are the authors of the book, Racing Toward Zero: The Untold Story of Driving Green. The book is a 2022 Independent Press Award Winner.
About Leach and Senecal
Dr. Leach is an Associate Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, where his research is focused on emissions, engine efficiency and air quality.
Dr. Senecal is a co-founder and owner of Convergent Science, a computational fluid dynamics software company headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an associate editor of the journal Transportation Engineering. He has long been an advocate and promoter of creating cleaner combustion engines as part of a diverse mix of propulsion system technologies.
Racing Toward Zero
In Racing Toward Zero, Leach and Senecal explore the issues inherent in developing sustainable transportation. They review the types of propulsion systems and vehicle options, discuss low-carbon fuels and alternative energy sources, and examine the role of regulation in curbing emissions.
All technologies have an impact on the environment, from internal combustion engine vehicles to battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles, and hybrids—there is no silver bullet.
Is the Internal Combustion Engine Dead?
Far from it, according to Leach. “The challenge here is not necessarily the internal combustion engine, it’s the fuel we use to power it,” Leach tells Tucker in this Path to Zero interview. “As we get towards renewable fuels, whether that’s hydrogen or something else, then why would we need to kill the internal combustion engine because it to can be part of a sustainable future.”
The authors talked about how the European Parliament voted to ban combustion engine cars by 2035.
“Hydrogen internal combustion engines, low carbon and zero carbon fuels, they have big potential to help us decarbonize,” says Senecal. “I think we need to be very careful about banning things.”
“Decarbonization does not equal electrification,” says Senecal. “As soon as we start to look at the whole life cycle analysis about where all the emissions are form, a battery electric vehicle is the cleanest option in places like Norway where the grid is cleaner. But in other parts of the world, like in Wisconsin where I am here, it makes much more sense for me to drive a hybrid based on our electricity grid.”
“The hybrid is by far the best way we can decarbonize as quickly as possible,” says Leach. “With battery electric vehicles, there aren’t enough of them and there won’t be enough of them rapidly.”
Tucker gets deeper on the benefits of hybrid technology with these two automotive engineering experts in part two.