Every few years an idea comes along that ticks all the important boxes. As humans drag the Earth into the Anthropocene Epoch – the age of human influence on the planet, coupled with the planet’s sixth mass extinction – there could not be a better time for Zero Waste Docked Mode (ZWDM) to join the game.
By using Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) as combined heat and power (CHP) generation, ZWDM resolves the emerging problem of millions of electric vehicles (EVs) depending on relatively few large power stations. ZWDM instead creates the robust situation where millions of vehicles could generate not only their own electricity needs but also that of homes and businesses, removing the need to run fossil power stations at all, and ending the need to build new nuclear power stations. ZWDM’s impact on our energy security is significantly greater than the environmentally damaging ‘Fracking’ can ever be.
Bryan Karney from the University of Toronto said: “This is one of the most exciting ideas to come around for a long time. By largely leveraging current systems and directly exploiting “negawatts” (i.e. avoiding otherwise required energy expenditure) this approach has the potential to be truly revolutionary.”
Electrical energy is often perceived as being the energy problem that needs solving, but electricity represents only about 10% of our energy use. Energy for transportation, and energy for heating buildings and hot water, each represent about a third of our energy use. ZWDM enables us – in a very simple way – to harness the vast amounts of waste heat discarded from our transport system by operating vehicle engines when stationary and ‘docked’ to a building and connected to the Grid. ZWDM provides a technologically simple way of harnessing waste thermal energy from transport which has enormous economic value.
An important feature of ZWDM is that implementing this very simple technology can be paid for by the cost avoidance of not having to spend £100bn’s on new nuclear power stations required to charge increasing numbers of EVs. Instead, this money can support millions of households with around £50,000 each for them to acquire a new PHEV and docking station. Once installed, ZWDM enables the end users to have a PHEV (with advantages over a pure EV) and also to benefit from not having to pay to run and maintain another heating system. So unlike many other low-carbon technologies, ZWDM does not rely on end users being able to afford to do this, nor does it rely on ‘early adopters’ who are prepared to reduce their own quality of life – ZWDM gives end users significant financial benefits and reduces their carbon footprint without them needing to change their lifestyle at all. This may seem almost too good to be true, but it is certainly technically feasible.
Other benefits include the creation of many sustainable jobs – the true measure of wealth of any nation and economy – jobs in the design, manufacture, installation, maintenance, and sales & marketing of ZWDM.
Since ZWDM requires PHEV engines running mostly when the vehicle is stationary, this enables 2 key hurdles to be overcome: 1) Unprecedented filtration of particulates and gases from both electricity generation and transport, the resulting improved air quality having significant benefits on both the environment and human health. 2) Carbon capture from electricity generation and transport, something that has proved elusive on the large scale of power stations.
The proportion of waste energy from transport engines is typically 50% to 95%, and from fossil power generation 20% to 75%. In comparison, ZWDM enables almost 100% of the energy in the primary fuel to be converted to usable energy i.e. zero waste. Even if less efficient (and therefore cheaper) engines are used, ZWDM still enables almost 100% of the energy in the fuel to be converted to either electricity or heat; a lower efficiency engine merely reduces the proportion of the chemical energy in the fuel that becomes electrical energy and increases the proportion that becomes thermal energy.
ZWDM has unprecedented potential to reduce total energy consumption and carbon emissions by as much as 40% within just 20 years, and to do so with enormous economic benefits to households and nations. But these benefits will only be realised with collaboration between governments, vehicle manufacturers, electricity generators and energy suppliers. This collaboration will only happen when the end users of energy start to apply pressure after we fully realise how much better off we are all going to be (in all areas of our lives) when ZWDM is rolled out.