The other day I saw a TV Commercial talking about how much energy is in gasoline, that is, high energy density of gasoline.  What it doesn’t tell you is just how difficult it is to get this energy into a usable form.  The most common way we convert the energy from gasoline is with the one form or another of the “Internal combustion engine” in our cars and such.  Most IC engines used in cars run about 18%-20% (see link), that is the engine generate about 80% waste heat that is not converted into to usable form. Contrast this with the efficiency of your basic electric motor (citation needed).

To really measure and compare engine efficiency we need to include the amount of energy used to create the fuel, including all of the extraction process of all of the raw materials (for now lets ignore the energy expended in making the tools to do the various process’ )  In the case of a gasoline powered IC engine would include, but not limited to, drilling, pumping and refining the fuel.  For  an electric motor this would include, but not limited to, the extraction & processing of the fuel, if any, the electrical power generation.  In an ideal case the amount of energy wasted, used, to transmit the energy from where it is generated to a typical use point should also be included.

Finally, we should also include the amount of energy needed to deal with all of the wast products of the process.  To my knowledge, now disinterested third party, that is someone not connected to any of the parties profiting directly for either the IC engine or electric motor, has done any such analysis or studies.  I would be very interested in hearing about any, wouldn’t you?