Many of us burn through one gallon of gas, easily, every day. I only drive a short distance, but I know that every two weeks I have to fill up my tank, leaving me about one gallon a day. Many of us also plug our cell phones into a car charger when we go on long trips. But how long could you potentially charge a cell phone with just the power from one gallon of gasoline?
It’s a bit of a trick question. I’m not asking if you had an engine that ONLY charged your phone. I’m asking about the potential energy that gasoline has within itself. It would technically be almost impossible to just extract the energy without some sort of loss. But let’s say you did that, how long could you charge an Apple iPhone for on that energy?
Twenty Years… That’s right, two whole decades on one gallon of gasoline. According to an Exxon talking point:
All of the energy concentrated in one gallon of gasoline is enough to charge an iPhone once a day for almost 20 years.
Again, this doesn’t mean charging your phone through a car charger is any better than through a wall charger. Nor does this appear to be even remotely possible. Even when used in a car, gasoline loses a lot of it’s potential energy when it powers an engine. So what’s the point of this? Well, Exxon is trying to show the energy density contained within Gasoline. So far, there isn’t anything that has the perfect energy density gasoline provides, which is why we don’t all run on full electric cars, yet. We are getting very close, but the amount of time it takes to charge a car is still much longer than simply filling your tank with gasoline.
Gasoline, though not the best for our environment, is the best source of energy we have and even if we use electric powered cars, we’ll still need oil. Oil on it’s own is so important to our way of life. Plastics are oil based and incredibly important to our medical facilities not to mention we use plastics in every electronic device we use.
Until we find another form of fuel with the same, or better, energy density, we’ll be stuck with gasoline for a little while longer. Though, you can be sure of one thing. If we start running low on oil you can be sure one of the first things to be cut back will be gasoline use to the public. Plastics are more important to everything we do, and if things get real bad, we’ll probably have to get used to taking public transportation. that’s not a completely bad thing, but we’re trying. Electric cars don’t seem that far away now, we just need a faster way to charge them.