Filling up at the pump in the U.S. can get expensive, especially if you drive a vehicle with poor gas mileage. But just imagine how much it would cost if you drove a commercial vehicle in Israel!
The high cost of fuel, and urgent need to reduce emissions and air pollution, have pushed innovative Israelis to develop what could lead to revolutionary discoveries.
The Cost of Fuel Adds Up Fast
In the United States, the average cost for diesel fuel is roughly $3.25 per gallon, and most commercial tractor-trailers in the United States travel 5-8 miles per gallon—which means it can easily cost more than $300 for tractor trailers to fill up at the pump!
In Europe, fuel is even more expensive… and furthermore, fuel in Europe is cheap compared to fuel in Israel! Not to mention, reducing air pollution is a high priority for Israel.
While some say that the key to clean energy is alternative fuel, the Israelis may have found a solution to alternative energy that already exists in military technology: the batteries that power submarines might be able to be repurposed for use in trucks—this could save transport time and cost, as well as lower diesel emissions and pollution around the world.
Submarines: Special Batteries Included
Submarines are some of the most innovative military vessels ever made. Modern submarines are able to travel for days underwater and provide a constant supply of fresh air and water for their crews.
In order to make long dives under the ocean, submarines are equipped with enormous batteries that can power the entire vessel.
In earlier vessels, diesel-powered engines would charge the batteries that could sustain the submarine for limited time and speeds underwater. Periodically, the submarines would have to surface to “breathe” so that the engines could run and safely expel their exhaust.
Coming up for air made subs visible, therefore vulnerable, to enemy ships—so in time, the batteries were built to last longer and power bigger vessels.
Israeli entrepreneur Asher Bennett, who once served in the Israeli Navy, was inspired by the military technology. He wondered how it could be used for more than just submarines—what if commercial trucks could use it?
A Million Dollar Question
Bennet’s company, Tevva, has developed unique technology that is attracting millions of dollars from investors around the world, who expect to see the world’s greenest trucks on the roads of India, Switzerland, and beyond.
According to Bennett, the idea of electric-powered trucks never gained popularity for fear of power running out in the batteries, but Bennett’s company borrowed some ideas from submarine engineering to design a self-charging system.
Instead of using fuel to power the entire truck, the fuel powers a generator that charges the battery. They are also perfecting a computer technology that automatically monitors battery and fuel use so that drivers can focus on driving safely.
Tevva currently sells batteries that can power trucks for up to 100 miles without being charged, which will undoubtedly come in handy for the relatively short distances trucks would travel in Israel, as well as urban transport.
Looking to The Future: Alternative Energy in Israel
Tevva’s technology could not have come at a better time, because Israel has just recently passed stricter emission restrictions in hopes of curbing its air pollution crisis. These regulations will take effect in November 2018 and aim to reduce vehicular air pollution by 30% or more. With battery-powered trucks, emissions could be reduced by even more.
Replacing diesel-fuel truck fleets with fully electric-powered vehicles could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by millions of metric tons every year…but what other alternatives are there for replacing fossil fuel and reducing emissions?
- Israeli researchers have found algae that can be converted into biofuel for vehicles faster than conventional biofuel crops. This discovery could be a huge breakthrough, because the biggest barrier to using bioethanol widely is the time and cost associated with processing it on a commercial scale.
- Bioethanol is made by breaking down the plants’ sugars, and then fermenting it—essentially making alcohol for fuel, instead of drinking!
- Bioethanol is very common in fuel blends sold in the United States, but it is usually mixed with 85-90% gasoline.
- Using pure bioethanol would not eliminate carbon emissions entirely, but even using a blended variety significantly reduces carbon emissions. If researchers can develop a method for processing bioethanol more effectively, it could soon replace fossil fuels as a renewable, and cleaner, source of energy.
- Nuclear submarines were developed in the 1950s by the United States, who currently has the largest number of nuclear submarines in its fleet. Nuclear submarines were designed to enable the vessels to stay submerged for longer, and to operate more quietly.
- Nuclear submarines can generate their power by using a nuclear reactor, giving them unlimited access to clean energy. The catch is, nuclear power is expensive, unwieldy, and risky—due to the potential of radiation exposure and nuclear meltdowns.
- The reactors of a nuclear submarine can be three stories tall, and generate lethal radiation levels. To contain radiation, they are equipped with thick and heavy shields to protect crews and the surrounding environment.
- Nuclear power has been considered for smaller vehicles since the 1950s when Ford designed a nuclear car! But the risks of radiation and meltdown are too high to make it feasible for most vehicles and vessels smaller than a submarine. For now, the sheer size of nuclear reactors makes them better suited for larger vessels and power plants.
Israel Invests in the Environment
Israel has an admirable reputation for making good use of resources and developing efficient military technology and more. Now, more than ever before, the nation is making the environment a top priority.
The walls of Jerusalem have risen again, as predicted by the Bible. As the security and economy of Israel stabilize, the people can focus on building what’s inside. And we’re proud to have been able to help.
Find out more about how Israel has been working to balance a rapidly developing economy while also looking after the planet here, and don’t forget to look through our sponsorship opportunities to see how you can help!