In this day and age, maybe old Saint Nick should think about updating his sleigh. For one thing, he needs all the money he can get to acquire supplies for toy making and if he could save a little on fuel costs for the sleigh, with all the miles he travels, it would be a significant amount. Let's take a look at the options he has opened to him.
We will look at these options and then compare the costs of operation to his "old school" reindeer powered sleigh, or should I say his sleigh pulled by reindeer.
1) The rage today is for electric powered cars, so lets look at that option first. American electric cars use liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries. Since the sleigh flies through the air and there is no road friction or such, we will estimate that he would get the equivalent of 105 mpg and at a cost of $0.125 per kilowatt-hour, doing the math, it would cost him four cents per mile. Not bad, but where will he find a charging station?
2) Since we are on the topic of electric powered, how about solar. To fit up the sleigh with solar panels that would do the job, it would cost from a hundred grand up to a million. But then Santa would have to fly in the day time. Not a good option for him.
3) So now, lets look at the good old internal combustion engine. Well, let us say he would get 50 mpg and would require 92,000 gallons (magical sleighs have huge fuel tanks) at $3.75 per gallon, that would be 7.5 cents per mile. Of course, that depends on the fluctuating cost of crude oil.
4) OK, let's go nuclear. Cost of fuel used per mile would be negligible, BUT, the weight of the shielding required would make this choice of fuel impractical.
5) Let me see, oh yes, how about a balloon? The balloon would be expensive and you would be totally controlled by the wind direction. I have heard that sometimes it is best to go with the wind, but not for Santa.
6) I can't forget coal power, since both my grandpas worked on the railroad back in the steam days. Anyway, Santa already carries coal on board for all the bad boys and girls, and he just wouldn't have room for any additional coal to use as fuel.
7) As promised, here is the cost of a reindeer powered sleigh. The fuel is basically just vegetation which comes to about 0.006 cents per mile. But, they also have to be fed and cared for all year long.
Well, which fuel do you think would be the best and which one do you think would be the worse choice? BTW, this blog was based on an article in Discover by Jim Sullivan. Now you all be good boys and girls and let Santa save the coal for someone else, you hear?