Sunday, June 28, 2009

Obama and the Laws of Physics

From our inbox...

David Cole is the son of Ed Cole, who was the president of GM for a number of years. He is credited with the '55 Chevy, the small block Chev V8 of '55, the Corvair, and other GM innovations, some which were major flops (Vega).

Mr. Cole, Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is an engineer by training, told many stories of the difficulty of working with the folks that the Obama administration has sent to save the auto industry. There have been many meetings where a 30+ years of experience automotive expert has to listen to a newcomer to the industry, someone with *zero* manufacturing experience, *zero* auto industry experience,* zero* business experience, *zero* finance experience, and *zero * engineering experience, tell them how to run their business.

His favorite story is as follows:

There was a team of Obama people speaking to Mr Cole (Engineer, automotive experience 40+ years, Chairman of CAR). They were explaining to Mr. Cole that the auto companies needed to make a car that was electric and liquid natural gas (LNG) with enough combined fuel to go 500 miles so we wouldn't "need" so many gas stations (A whole other topic). They were quoting BTU's of LNG and battery life that they had looked up on some website.

Mr. Cole explained that to do this you would need a trunk FULL of batteries and a LNG tank as big as a car to make that happen and that there were problems related to the *laws of physics* that prevented them from...

*The Obama person interrupted and said (and I am quoting here) "These laws of physics? Who's rules are those, we need to change that. (Some of the others wrote down the law name so they could look it up) We have the congress and the administration. We can repeal that law, amend it, or use an **executive order** to get rid of that problem. That's why we are here, to fix these sort of issues".*

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this story is funny, but that is about it. I did find this on the web:

I asked Dave Cole about it. His response:


The story circulating on the Internet is not true on several points, and its genesis is also unclear.

To begin with I have not met with any of the Obama Task Force, but I speak with government officials and journalists quite often.

The story regarding the law of physics is related to a discussion I had many years ago with several congressmen, and is partially accurate, though it related directly to the congressmen's suggestion that we should pass a new second law of thermodynamics.

The comments regarding natural gas were related to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) rather than Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). I indicated that it is very difficult to liquefy natural gas (a very low temperature is required) and maintain as a liquid. Natural gas is an excellent spark-ignition engine fuel and the only real problem is the low energy density of the CNG. This means that a very large fuel tank is required to provide reasonable driving range. Even the very best batteries have low energy density as well, compared to a liquid fuel. This is the basis for plug-in hybrids, which provide short range driving (about 30-40 miles) but extend the range to a few hundred miles by using a liquid fuel (gasoline, diesel, ethanol, ...) together with an engine and generator to charge the battery.

I am very supportive of creating a greater understanding of the industry throughout Washington, and the country, with regards to the importance of manufacturing and its impact on the national economy. Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation with a minimum understanding of manufacturing (including the auto industry and its critical role in our economy).