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Fuel Cell Car Goes Cross-Country 299

Posted by michael
from the batteries-not-included dept.
person-0.9a writes "CNN is currently running a story about Daimler-Chrysler's fuel-cell concept car completing a trek across America. The CNN article is more about the trip, but details about the vehicle can be found here."
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Fuel Cell Car Goes Cross-Country

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  • Safety? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I keep hearing about "safety concerns" in connection with hydrogen fuel cells, which is fair enough. But is there any real test data available? Have these fuel-cell designs been subjected to the the same kind of destructive testing (drive into a concrete wall at 50kph etc) as normal cars, or are these 'concept cars' too precious to ram into a wall just to see if they do blow up?
    • Have you ever seen hydrogen explode?? It makes a relatively huge fireball compared to the amount hydrogen burned.
      • Re:Safety? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by div_2n (525075)
        As opposed to gasoline that has an impressive fireball-type explosion and continues to burn until all of the gasoline has evaporated and burned?
    • Re:Safety? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ComaVN (325750)
      fyi, the car uses methanol, not hydrogen. still highly flammable, but at least you get a bit of a kick out of it.
    • by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:13AM (#3651524) Homepage

      The European standards body that does this stuff has its results here [euroncap.com] and one to note is the abysmal results on this [euroncap.com] MPV. I quote The Voyager did so badly in the frontal impact that it earned no points, making it the worst of the group by some margin. The body structure became unstable and the steering column was driven back into the driver's chest and head.

      So while there may be concerns about these cars if all cars had to get decent scores in these tests that it would ensure that everyone was safe. As it is the gap between the worst and the best [euroncap.com] is enough to make the fuel inside it only one of the considerations in safety.
    • I'm guessing since the article states they won't be able to make a profit on mass produced vehicles of this nature until 2010, that these are somewhere in the millions to manufacture. The breakdown that this article mentions, gives the impression that these are very much completely proof of concept cars costing millions to engineer.
    • I don't think so but where are all the safety concerns over petrol?

    • Re:Safety? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gewalker (57809) <Gary.WalkerNO@SPAMAstraDigital.com> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:39AM (#3651610)
      Gasoline burns like gangbusters. Safety concern is not that hydrogen burns. Concern is focused on hydrogen in the gaseous form (which burns explosively when mixed with oxygen). For gasoline to be explosive, you have to heat it enough to vaporize.

      I do get tired of reading that burning hydrogen produces no emissions (NOx and others), but ignoring the fact that hydrogen as to come from somewhere (you can't just pump H2 out of a hole in the ground) that tends to be fossil fuels today in another forms.

      Hydrogen is a storage technology, not an energy source. Now, methane based fuel cells are much more interesting because we've got lots of methane (pumped from the ground), but there is not an infinite supply of methane, and lots of CO2 is added to the exhaust mix.

      I'm no Luddite. I want microfusion powered cars, or more realistically, some decent storage technology for transportation use, and nuclear or renewable resource for evergy generation.
      • Re:Safety? (Score:2, Interesting)

        I do get tired of reading that burning hydrogen produces no emissions (NOx and others), but ignoring the fact that hydrogen as to come from somewhere (you can't just pump H2 out of a hole in the ground) that tends to be fossil fuels today in another forms.
        It is true that hydrogen BURNED IN AIR does produce other pollutants. After all, the atmosphere is about 78% Nitrogen(by volume). However, the reaction that drives fuel cells is NOT combustion. It is an electrochemical process that forms water from hydrogen and oxygen, happily producing a modest amount of electrical current at the same time. No other reactions take place!

        As far as the explosiveness, most hydrogen advocates say that it is not really anymore dangerous than petroleum products: www.hydrogen.org [hydrogen.org].
        I know, I know - Your propaganda versus mine. :-)

    • Re:Safety? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jukal (523582) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:46AM (#3651633) Journal
      Here [rmi.org] is an article on hydrogen fuel cells and safety, including results of BMW's simulated collisions:

      <clip>
      Many real-life tests have demonstrated the safety of pressurized hydrogen storage. Simulated 55 mph crash tests left the car totaled, but the hydrogen tank intact. To prove the safety of its hydrogen vehicles, BMW tested its hydrogen tanks in a series of accident simulations that included collision, fire and tank ruptures. In all cases, the hydrogen cars fared as well as conventional gasoline vehicles. And hydrogen-fueled cars are designed to preclude the possibility of leaked hydrogen collecting within the vehicle.
      <clip>
      • What about the 80 mph crash tests? Was there a massive Hindenburg-style explosion?

        Hydrogen spontaneously combusts when in contact with oxygen. Gasoline or diesel fuel at least need a spark or heat to combust.
    • Well, Hydrogen itself can be explosive, but no more so than gasoline. One thing to think about is that in a crash that involves a tank rupture, the hydrogen goes up and away while Gasoline pools on the ground. In the event of fire, gasoline lays in burning pools and coats things or people. If you can get away from the burning hydrogen tank, which hopefully will only have a gout of flame coming out the hole instead of the tank blowing to bits (not likely, no oxygen in tank to combust it all at once) then you are ok. With gas, you have a lot of burning fuel spreading everywhere. I would think hydrogen would be a lot safer in that respect.

      Now if the source is methonol, you have to realize that methonol is very toxic and maybe more so than gasoline and suffers the same problems as gasoline in the event of tank rupture and/or fire.
    • Re:Safety? (Score:3, Informative)

      This car didn't store H2 onboard. It used a fuel processor that reformed methanol into H2 on demand and was immediately consumed by the fuel cell stack.

    • Hydrogen Safety (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I work at one of the big three, the fuel-cell program. Our 5000psi tank can withstand impact from a gunshot. It is a nice design, metal casing enclosed in composite layers. If the tank ruptures, it is designed to leak slowly. Doing a fully integrated vehicle crash test is part of the plan.

      As for safety, just remember that hydrogen can be just as dangerous as gasoline. The rules are just different - people are just more familiar with gasoline. Gasoline leaks to the ground, hydrogen escapes to the top and into space. Gasoline refueling infrastructure has the risk of spilling and fuming. Between cooking gas and hydrogen, if they fill up a room, even though hydrogen contains 3 times more energy per mass than cooking gas, energy per volume is less at room temperature.

      As for hinderberg thingy... watch how it exploded. The hydrogen flash-burned instantly. What burned long enough to kill the victims is the canvas itself! It is laced with aluminum to reflect the sunlight but underneath it is an iron oxide compound. Aluminum + Iron Oxide = Solid Rocket Fuel.

      See you around.
  • I guess the local bums will move away from hanging around the supermarket, and move to the gas stations now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06, 2002 @07:49AM (#3651442)
    According to the International Energy Agency, global oil production is set to peak in 2014. For many years now, researchers around the world have been striving to develop alternative methods of propulsion to ensure that mankind remains mobile irrespective of the state of the world's oil supplies. Some of the most promising reports from the field come from research engineers at DaimlerChrysler, who are intending to have a fuel cell auto ready for series production by 2004. The best thing about this item of news is that this car of the future will be every kilowatt as powerful as the ones we drive today, every bit as comfortable and just as much fun to drive.

    The facts

    To prove their point about the serviceability of fuel cell automobiles, DaimlerChrysler have now built NECAR (New Electric Car) 5. In this Mercedes-Benz A-Class the propulsion system fits neatly inside the sandwich floor, without compromising either seating or

    luggage capacity. NECAR 5's 55 kW/75 bhp motor gives it a top speed of over 90 mph and a range of several hundred miles before it has to take more methanol on board.
    In the global race to be first to market with a fully serviceable standard production fuel cell model, NECAR can safely be said to be leading the field. "We're aiming for market leadership in this sector as well," says Jürgen E. Schrempp, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler. "We've got the technology on our side, we're securing the industrial property rights, and we're creating new jobs." At DaimlerChrysler and its partner companies in this venture, over a thousand people are already working flat out on the fuel cell project in Germany alone.

    The technology of fuel cell propulsion

    In NECAR 5, DaimlerChrysler is banking on the methanol fuel cell - one of several options for passenger car applications. It helps to imagine a fuel cell as a kind of miniature on-board power station, generating the electric current that ultimately powers the car, and there are different ways of operating these power plants. Fuel cells need oxygen, which they obtain from the surrounding air, and hydrogen. So one option is to fit the vehicle with hydrogen tanks. The result is a zero emission vehicle with just water vapor coming out of its exhaust.

    Although methanol cannot quite compete in an ecological life cycle assessment with hydrogen generated by solar power, there are good reasons for using this compound as a source of hydrogen for the fuel cell. Emission levels are far lower than with even the most eco-friendly of internal combustion engines, and emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and soot particulates drop to almost zero.
    Compared with an internal combustion engine, overall emissions of carbon dioxide can be reduced by thirty percent, and if the methanol is generated from renewable resources such as biomass, organic raw materials or waste wood, then the overall cycle leads to no additional carbon dioxide being created at all. Today tests are already under way at a plant near Cottbus in Germany aiming to generate 100,000 tons of methanol a year from domestic waste.
    Given the variety of ways of producing methanol, the automotive sector would no longer be dependent on the oil-producing countries. And we could finally put a stop to the enormous waste of energy currently practised at oilfields around the world. Instead of flaring off the natural gas which is a by-product of oil production, it could be converted into liquid methanol on site by relatively simple technical means. The American Methanol Institute estimates that if just one-tenth of the flared-off natural gas were to be converted into methanol it would be enough to power some ten million vehicles.

    The fact that, even in the long term, adequate volumes of methanol can be produced from a number of different raw materials at low cost is not the only argument in its favor. For unlike liquid hydrogen, methanol can be transported, stored, distributed and handled in much the same way as gasoline or diesel. The only difference a driver would notice when filling up would be the sign saying 'methanol' on the fuel pump. That said, providing a market-wide supply infrastructure for methanol will still call for substantial investment. It is not just a case of rinsing out empty gasoline tanks and tankers and filling them with methanol. The problem is that methanol is more aggressive than either gasoline or diesel - too aggressive for today's tanks, fuel lines and sealants. Aluminum fuel tanks, for example, would have to be replaced with stainless steel ones. But for all the cost involved, the total investment required remains realistic and with the conversion measures in place, it would be 'business as usual' for most of the existing network of filling stations.

    The NECAR 5 - tried and tested

    According to Professor Klaus-Dieter Vöhringer, the Member of DaimlerChrysler's Board of Management responsible for Research and Technology, methanol has so many practical advantages that he is expecting to see the methanol fuel cell make the breakthrough into series production. "In terms of the technology on board, NECAR 5 is effectively a prototype of the cars that we could be bringing to market maturity in just a few years' time. Our next task at hand is to build test fleets to bring the technology to full readiness for series production. We need to focus on developing the production technology for the various components and bringing costs down to an acceptable level."
    One important step down the road to this goal takes the shape of a large-scale project that DaimlerChrysler initiated in California. The California Fuel Cell Partnership is a joint venture involving a number of automakers and public institutions as well as representatives of the oil and energy sectors.
    From now until 2003, project engineers will be testing more than fifty fuel cell vehicles in everyday use. DaimlerChrysler alone will have fifteen vehicles on test, with the latest NECAR due to cover some 25,000 miles in the next three years on the streets of California to check out and improve its serviceability.

    Clearly, the fuel cell car has made the transition from an object of research to a development project. Now it's up to the developers to teach this infant to walk. But instead of closing the file on the fuel cell, the researchers have turned their attention to the next-but-one generation of fuel cell vehicles.
    At the end of last year, a young DaimlerChrysler researcher by the name of Jens Thomas Müller made a striking impression at a research symposium by zipping around the congress hall in a softly humming go-kart. Although the kart itself was nothing very special to look at, it demonstrated for the first time that a direct methanol fuel cell was in principle capable of powering a vehicle. For in this version of the fuel cell, there is no need to reform the methanol into hydrogen - and this could be where the future of fuel cell propulsion.
  • That is a good insight in the type of cars which Iceland will be aiming to be using some time in 2030-2040, as featured on Slashdot [slashdot.org] last week!

    To quote the interesting bit from the original story [yahoo.com], "The scheme is backed by DaimlerChrysler, which will build the first buses, together with energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian industrial group Norsk Hydro."

    In case some readers haven't realised, this is the car!

  • "Even under optimistic predictions, fuel cell vehicles won't be mass-produced until 2010."

    Won't this be a little late? Considering the dramatic climate change that's already taking place, I don't know if another 8 years is an option, considering George W.'s disgusting energy policy [wage-slave.org].

    Let's hope better alternative energy sources appear sooner, rather than later.
    • by tempfile (528337)
      I don't consider this as bad. Humanity's CO2 exhaust contributes only a small part to the climate change which is mostly natural, and car exhaust is only a fragment of that.
      Also remember that fuel cells are not an alternative energy *source*, but only enable a different way of storing it. Hydrogen production consumes a lot of power and is today mostly done with fossil resources, because splitting water eats even more energy. Fuel cell cars are a good way to become independent of petrol, but the main problem that there is not yet a real alternative to fossil or nuclear fuel will persist beyond 2010.
      Mass-produced fuel cell vehicles might speed up science in that direction, however.

      To stay on that topic: I've read about a guy who got silicon to react with nitrogen, producing sand. His idea was to use solar energy to extract silicon from African desert sand. Does anybody know anything about that?
      • Roughly speaking, of man-made CO2 emissions, roughly half is from industry/power stations, and the other half is vehicle emissions. That's a bit more than a fragment - more like a very significant amount.

        There is a big debate on whether the current measured climate change is being caused by human activity, or whether it is something that would have happened anyway. You certainly can't claim the case has been made that it is not due to human activity. In either case, it seems sensible to do something about it before it is too late.

        One big advantage of fuel cells is that they fuel can be generated from renewable resources. For example, you could use wind turbines to generate electricity to electrolize water. I think fuel cell reactions are also reversable, so you could put 'green' electricity into a methanol fuel cell to get methanol out. The advantages are obvious compared to using up a finite non-renewable oil resource.
      • Whether it's a small part or not is a red herring. I can apply a small force to a seesaw and tip it. Mankind is doing more than applying a small force - increased CO2 emissions, deforestation, ozone depletion, pollution could all seriously screw the planet.


        As for fuel cells, yes they are an alternate energy source. Read the article - methanol can be produced in any number of ways, including some such as processing organic waste which have a neutral impact on CO2 levels. Even assuming it were produced from natural gas given off during oil drilling (as the article also mentions) it would be no worse than the situation now where the gas is just burnt with no benefit to anyone.

      • > Humanity's CO2 exhaust contributes only a small part to the climate change which is mostly natural

        Oh, good, you worked that one out. Phew, that was a toughie, I thought we'd never get a handle on it. No panic then. Nothing to see, people, go home.
  • by zentec (204030) <zentec.gmail@com> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @07:57AM (#3651475)
    Last year, DCX was driving a directly powered hydrogen car all around Germany, but you never hear anything more about it.

    From what I remember, the car used liquified hydrogen and achieved normal speeds and fairly comparable mileage to gasoline. The only issue was keeping the liquid hydrogen cold.

    Initial rear-end crash tests on this car showed that this wasn't any more dangerous than gasoline nor more explosive.
  • "The Bush administration launched a partnership with domestic automakers in January to develop a system of hydrogen refueling stations and spur the growth of hydrogen fuel cells."

    Considering Bush's background, I think this is interesting. A+ for him. I would say "commendable", but really it's just "sensible". The positive connotations of "commendable" only make sense given low expectations. :-)
  • Even though this car produces no pollution, what about the two SUVs and a van carrying replacement parts and tools accompanying it?
  • Oil companies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halftrack (454203) <jonkje@FREEBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:05AM (#3651501) Homepage
    The article should have said something about the oil companies. I'll bet that most major oil-drilling companies will fight fuel cells with all they've got.

    I am well aware that not all oil is made into gasolin and that some fuelcells can convert gasolin and that they could use the excess gas (which comes up with the oil) to power the cells. I am also well aware that it is posible through cracking to reduse the raw oil to more usable components.

    Still the oil companies would suffer serious losses and so would some oil dependant contries. This might in turn lead to I price war where oil companies would subsidize traditional cars (especially american motors which uses way too much gas compared to their effect.) The fuel cell cars would then have few economical advantages over gas cars. Who would subsidize them? Green Peace?
    • Re:Oil companies (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sffubs (561863)
      I think most major oil companies have realised that they only have a limited time left selling petrol; most of them are funding research into alternatives such as direct combustion of ethanol, and various types of fuel cell. This means that when the time comes, it will be the oil companies selling you fuel cells, and/or hydrogen/ethanol/methanol to go in them. I mean it's not as if they haven't seen this coming. The real losers will be countries that depend on exporting oil, but they will still be able to sell a large proportion of their oil to the chemicals industry. -s
      • Of course most oil-companies have multiple legs to stand on, but it is still estimated that the current oil reserves will last for decades. They wont give up gas until the reservs have run out. Only then will they truly be comited to fuele cells.
    • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:54AM (#3651693)
      An alternative fuel cell technology extracts hydrogen from hydrocarbons on the way to combustion. These are more likely to see implementation because there is a hydrocarbon deliver infrastructure in place. Probably will start with laptop fuel cell batteries that have triple lifetime over alternatives.
    • In other news the CEO of DaimlerChrysler found dead today shot behind the ear with a .22 bullet.

      Police say it's a mystery as to who would have motive to commit such a horrible crime. Back to you John....
  • Other problems will keep the technology from reaching the mass market for at least a decade, experts say, including onboard storage of flammable hydrogen, reliability, durability and cost.

    DaimlerChrysler plans to have 30 fuel cell buses working in 10 European cities next year. Ford Motor Co. has a fuel cell Focus, aided by a battery for acceleration, that it plans to lease for fleet customers in early 2004.

    So why the heck will take another 10 years to reach mass market? Are they saying that these buses and fleet cars are unreliable, expensive, and ready to blow up?
    • So why the heck will take another 10 years to reach mass market? Are they saying that these buses and fleet cars are unreliable, expensive, and ready to blow up?
      Not at all, it's just that the oil industry (including the oil exporting countries) will oppose the technology strongly.
    • Material scientists have come up with all kinds of nifty hydrogen storage schemes. There are metallic sponges that store hydrogen in dense and fairly safe manner, expecially in an impact accident. I dont not know the economcis of such systems.
    • Two reasons: Expense and infrastructure.

      To be economical, the savings of increased fuel economy have to be great - i.e. the cars are driven a LOT, and fuel costs become significant.

      In addition, the article mentioned that the car could not refuel at normal gas stations - This isn't a problem for buses and fleet vehicles. (Fleet vehicles are the most likely ones you'll see running on propane or CNG. I know my school had a decent number of propane/CNG vehicles. This is because they were driven around all the time, BUT never strayed more than a few miles away from "home base")

      Buses are the best example, though... I believe GM is focusing on buses for their initial hybrid electric projects. One of their spokespersons basically said that converting a single fleet of city buses (For a large city, such as NYC) to hybrid technology would remove more harmful pollutants from the air than over 100,000 compact passenger cars. (Maybe not quite that much, but it was a pretty large number...)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well it's interesting technology, but unfortunatly it's been overtaken by events. First of all it's been reported recently that oil supplies will not run out in the near future, possibly not at all, as it's likely that oil is not in fact a "fossil fuel" but remains of methane spread throughout the earth. And secondly it's becoming increasing clear that the environmental issues are just hype and disguised anti-capitalist rants and have little basis in fact. There is in increasing amount of evidence that so called global warming does not exist
    • And of course there is increasing evidence that global warming does indeed exist.

      What happens if you close your garage door and run your car for a while? The air turns quite unbreathable. Change that to a warehouse. Same thing, just takes longer. Take Mexico City. Same thing, it has taken a long time, but they have a serious problem.

      Now take earth. How long will it take? No one knows, but all of these emissions sure as hell aren't escaping into space.

      Global warming or not, air quality is degrading in cities that have heavy traffic. Population trends are continuing to rise and so is the amount of vehicles in use. At what point to those that don't believe us "environmentalists" start facing facts? Will it be before or after walking outside in cities requires an oxygen tank?
  • Not the only one (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doug Loss (3517) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:13AM (#3651525)
    For those of you who don't already know, GM has shown a concept car called AUTOnomy [gm.com] which is fuel-cell-powered too, but has a bunch of other interesting features.
  • We were driving home to Wisconsin from Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25th and we drove past that thing. It was in Nebraska around 3pm.

    I swear, besides the NECAR logo it said something about "Nitrogen / electric", but I couldn't find anything about Nitrogen on their web site. I figure going past it at 85mph was enough to blur it.

    There was another minivan ahead of me that was passing it at the same time. Imagine my surprise when this guy opened up the back hatch of his minivan on I80 to start filming. (yes it was an actual crew.)

  • being that my job and education are closely tied to the automotive industry, i laugh every time i hear about the next gen of autos comming from detroit. theyre not comming! its all a dog and pony show to get media attention, they are not seriously thinking of producing mass alt vehicles, at least not until they get in bed with another industry other than oil. the oil lobbyists are too strong.

    note that the countries where the oil lobbiests are not strong actually prodice economical cars, eg. Korea, Japan. look who is seriously pushing the next gen cars, Honda and Toyota. the american companies stage these shows so that they dont look too out of touch.

    • Honda's new hybrids may look great for them, but overall, it's feel-good policy and marketing.

      Unlike Honda, American manufacturers are actually addressing the issues of environmental impact, not making it look like they are when they're not.

      Few people are going to buy the Civic HEV or the Insight. In 2-3 years, GM will probably have as many hybrid electric city buses as Honda has sold subcompact hybrids. I believe GM's estimates were that converting one large city to hybrid buses would save more fuel and reduce emissions more than *thousands* of Honda subcompacts. Why?

      Because the buses are much larger (need the boost in fuel economy more), and run much more often (Hours on end, as opposed to a Honda owner commuting 15-60 minutes each way to work and running errands around town.)

      Ford is taking a similar approach, although oriented slightly more towards the consumer - Their first hybrid release will be the Escape HEV, I believe slated for a 2004 release. If there's any class of consumer vehicle that can benefit from the mileage improvements of a hybrid, it's an SUV... This is evident in the fact that for the past 2-3 years, the HEV competitions in this country have had rule changes from custom "concept" bodies (Insight), to using an existing SUV chassis and making it into something that doesn't guzzle gas like a fratboy chugs cheap beer.
      • Few people are going to buy the Civic HEV or the Insight. In 2-3 years, GM will probably have as many hybrid electric city buses as Honda has sold subcompact hybrids. I believe GM's estimates were that converting one large city to hybrid buses would save more fuel and reduce emissions more than *thousands* of Honda subcompacts. Why?

        Because the buses are much larger (need the boost in fuel economy more), and run much more often (Hours on end, as opposed to a Honda owner commuting 15-60 minutes each way to work and running errands around town.)

        ...not to mention that most buses are considerably dirtier than most cars. Every time a diesel-powered bus accelerates from a stop, it throws off a cloud of thick black smoke. When you consider how frequently these buses stop (not just for traffic lights, but also between lights to pick up and drop off passengers), they're pumping much more crud into the air than you do in your daily commute. The only time most cars and light trucks even come close to that level of pollution is if they're driven hard and poorly maintained.

  • Mad Max 3. Pig shit to create methane.
  • by cholokoy (265199)
    The good thing with fuel cells was that the exhaust gases emitted by the engine is pure water. I remember I saw a demo of how the concept works at a Ford museum in Dearborn, MI.

    The company that is developing the technology was balled Ballard Power Systems and was a joint venture including Daimler-Chrysler and Ford.

    Ford is now developing a fuel cell Focus and was introduced in the NY auto show early this year.

    More info can be found here:
    http://www.hfcletter.com [hfcletter.com]

    http://www.hfcletter.com/letter/April02/features.h tml [hfcletter.com]
  • BioDiesel (Score:5, Informative)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:36AM (#3651600) Homepage Journal
    Every time the issue of alternative fuel vehicles comes up, I want to find the nearest "eco-friendly" type and beat some sense into them. This is going to be a longish rant, and like all people's rants is largely my opinion....

    As I see it, most of the people who push for hydrogren powered vehicles don't want to make clean cars, they want to make expensive cars. They seem to feel that if they can just make it a legal requirement that all cars cost US$100K and US$10/kilometer, then we will all happily stop driving cars and go back to walking.

    Why do I feel this way? Because the folks who push hydrogen never seem to consider the facts that make hydrogen a poor fuel choice, and never consider that better alternatives exist.

    First, let's consider the goals of alternative fuels:
    1. Use a renewable resource for fuel
    2. Reduce the amount of carbon oxides released into the atmosphere
    3. Reduce the low-altitude pollution (unburned hydrocarbons, ozone, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, etc.)


    Also, let's review the barriers to adoption of any new system:
    1. Cost of the vehicle
    2. Ease of fuel containment
    3. Presence of a distribution infrastructure (this includes both moving bulk fuel around as well as providing fuel to end users)
    4. Cost of fuel


    Now, consider hydrogen in light of those requirements:
    • Hydrogen is hard to contain - you either use expensive cryogenics, or you have to use zeolite entrainment to contain it. It weakens steel containers by diffusing into the container and migrating to the ever-present microfractures and expanding them (hydrogen embrittlement)
    • You have to make hydrogen from something - you therefor have to have some other energy source. Either that source is burning carbon in some form, or it's splitting atoms. Wind and wave are cool, but not universally available nor do they have the power density to meet all needs (not to say that they shouldn't be harvested....)
    • There aren't hydrogen stations on every corner. Until there are, anyone driving a hydrogen car will have to plan any long trips very carefully. True, this would correct itself if enough people drive H2 vehicles, but they won't drive them until the stations exists, but the stations won't be built until the cars are bought....
    • Hydrogen requires a special engine to burn - either a fuel cell, or a modified internal combustion engine. If you DO take a trip and screw up your planning, you are stuck.
    • Hydrogen engines DO reduce the low-altitude pollution - no unburned hydrocarbons, and fuel cells produce little NOx and no SOx
    • Fuel cells are expensive right now. They might get cheaper later, however


    Now, let us consider biodiesel - made from peanut oil, canola, corn, hemp, or whatnot.
    • The net carbon released is zero to negative - the plants PULL CO2 from the air when they grow, and the fuel releases CO2 when burned. If anything is left of the plant after making the fuel, then you have a carbon sink. (This is why the hemp fans have a good idea - grow hemp, make fuel and paper, and you have a dandy carbon sink).
    • The energy to make the fuel comes from that big fusion reactor 93 million miles away. And unlike methanol, the energy requirements to turn a canola plant into biodiesel are pretty small - you end up with an energy surplus. Methanol requires you to get rid of most of the water, which takes a lot of energy.
    • Biodiesel contains little sulphur, and when it burns it burns more completely since it already contains some oxygen, unlike mineral diesel. So you reduce unburned hydrocarbons. I don't know what the NOx emissions of a diesel engine are relative to a gasoline engine, however
    • Containing biodiesel is easy. If you have a decently stocked kitchen, you have some already - cooking oil. Also, biodiesel is considerably less toxic than mineral diesel.
    • Because it is easy to contain, shipping it around and dispensing it to end users is easy.
    • IIRC, an engine that can run on biodiesel can also run on mineral diesel without modification. As a result, if you drive you biodiesel car to the Grand Canyon, and you need fuel at the rim, you have mineral diesel. Also, a station can start pumping biodiesel whenever - no special equipment needed. This decouples the support network from the vehicle uptake, allowing each to grow on their own merits.
    • Diesel engines are a known quantity, and are already being mass produced relatively cheaply.
    • The only issue is the cost of biodiesel relative to mineral diesel. Compared to hydrogen, biodiesel is MUCH cheaper.


    So, if your goal is to reduce pollution and dependance on a non-renewable resource, you logically would be pressing for biodiesel. So why do so many of these people push for hydrogen? I believe it is because they want cars to be expensive in the mistaken belief that this will push us toward their utopian ideal of us all living in bark houses, wearing bushes and eating bugs.

    • Re:BioDiesel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RembrandtX (240864) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:51AM (#3651670) Homepage Journal
      Finally,
      a decent 'non tree hugging' post about *green* fuel.

      The real reason you see so much pressure for hydrogen is because it can be distilled from current petrolium products.

      Lessens the blow to the oil tycoons when GM says .. yeah .. it runs on Hydrogen, but the hydrogen plants will still buy gas from you - so don't worry about it.

      Personally im all for BioDiesel .. Its REALLY renewable .. I mean .. Hemp is a weed. [or is that Hemp is weed .. I forget which.]

      In baltimore alone there are some 40 odd abandoned blocks in the city .. mow em down , plant Bio-crops .. and make a little $$ on the deal. [and add some oxygen back to the atmosphere while we are at it.]

      Anyways .. very good points .. Hopefully folks will read your post.
      • Stuff it... Legalize weed, and the tobacco companies can get rich(er) selling their waste plant matter at rock-bottom prices to biodiesel manufacturers.
    • Now, let us consider biodiesel - made from peanut oil, canola, corn, hemp, or whatnot.

      Well, there was a big drive for BioDiesel here in Sweden a few years ago (two if memory serves) and I've discussed the issue with my wife (who was then working with environmental issues at a large Swedish heavy truck manufacturer) and unfortunately the availability equation just doesn't add up.

      I believe the figures were that even if we converted all Swedish farmland to BioDiesel (i.e. RME here) production, we still wouldn't cover more than a fraction (less than 10%) of the necessary transportation needs.

      Granted, the US has lower population density, a nice flat bit in between the coasts that is available for agriculture, but you also drive a lot more (almost no public transportation to speak of compared to northern Europe). I'd be surprised if the calculations would be much more favourable for you than for us.

      So, no, won't fly, which is a pity for sure. (And then it's not exactly zero emission either, there was a famous test in Sweden with a used heavy truck engine that was worse emission-wise with RME than with mineral diesel. You do get rid of the CO2, but that's about all of it. Don't get me started on the health catastrophy wating to happen that is particulate matter, and how diesel engines and now even direct injection petrol engines have become steadily worse in that respect over the years.

    • Actually, there are a few other advantages to running biodiesel fuel:

      1. Because of its purity, biodiesel fuel has no issues of sulfur dioxide emissions or particulate emissions. That means with a relatively low-cost catalytic converter a biodiesel-powered vehicle could easily meet the current ULEV and possibly even the SULEV standard for exhaust emissions.

      2. Diesel engines by nature if properly implemented can actually offer the same power output of a gasoline engine but consume way less fuel for that same output. For example, GM's amazing Duramax engine for the large pickup trucks has easily as much pulling power as their top-end gasoline engine for that truck, but instead of getting 9 mpg pulling a 9,000 lb. trailer you get 18 mpg!!

      3. People forget that when Rudolf Diesel first developed this engine design the primary fuel he used was peanut oil, of all things. That means he knew that using oil extracted from any high-carbohydrate plant it could fuel this car.

      In short, with the right policy in place we could take huge tracts of farmland here in the USA and grow any high-carbohydrate crop (corn, wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, sugar beets, sugar cane, sunflower, and rice) and turn a large fraction of the production surplus into the distillate needed for biodiesel fuel. Even a diesel fuel with a 30% biodiesel and 70% mineral diesel fuel mix that has sulfur particles reduced to 80 parts per million could result in cars and light trucks getting 35-45% better fuel mileage, given diesel's natural efficiency.
    • Diesel Particulate (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xtal (49134)
      I love raining on environmentalist's parades. It turns out that diesel particulates are really, really bad for you - much more so than previously expected or understood. One researcher concluded there may be NO safe level of exposure to micro-fine particulates.

      However, unlike most enviromentalists who ignore things like this (and I'm trolling a bit here, for sure) and worst, I never see quotes regarding what it would take to match any signifigant fraction of current raw energy consumption.

      Good reading:

      http://www.ems.org/diesel/facts.html

      http://www.google.ca/search?q=diesel+particulate +s afety&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&hl=en&meta=

      I'll take my CO2 from a fuel cell anyday. It'll all be moot once we start fighting over who gets the last of the oil, anyhow.
      • Good points. However, are the micro-particulates from biodiesel comparable to those from mineral diesel? From what I'd heard, the output from the stacks on a biodiesel are much cleaner than mineral diesel.
      • I love raining on environmentalist's parades. It turns out that diesel particulates are really, really bad for you - much more so than previously expected or understood. One researcher concluded there may be NO safe level of exposure to micro-fine particulates.

        You miss the point. Biodiesel isn't just clean diesel, it's made from vegetable oil! (no oil drilling, refining, etc, involved.)

        What's nice about it is that it doesn't have the toxic emissions and particulate matter you speak of. Read about it at biodiesel.org [biodiesel.org].
    • One thing you didn't mention are the environmental impacts of actually producing the biodiesel. If, say, the US were to switch to biodiesel, that would be great and fine, but who would grow all the biomass to make into fuel? That presents another dimension that really needs to be carefully considered. You talk about carbon sinks, reducing NOx and SOx emissions, but what about reducing the amounts of phosphates and nitrates going into our waters that start off a sequence of events that ends up killing most of the life in a stream or river? Where is all the land going to come from to grow all this?

      I like the idea of biodiesel, but not as much as hydrogen. There are litteraly oceans of hydrogen waiting to be tapped. I certainly don't want to live in a bark house, and don't know many people that do. Certainly the country of Iceland, which is converting away from oil to alternative sources like geothermal, solar, and, yes, hydrogen, don't want to wear bushes.
      • You fall into the trap many farmers fall into - that farming MUST use fertilizer. That's another thing that's wrong with what we do.

        Farming is harvesting sunlight. Anything you do that raises the cost of that is foolish. Excessive use of fertilizers falls into that catagory.

        Furthurmore, if you use the right crops for biodiesel, you FIX nitrogen in the soil.
    • I don't know of any proponents of alternative fuels who want the cost of cars or driving to go up. That's nonsense, IMHO, and seems to be a rationalization to explain why more people do not advocate your beliefs.

      But what I really want to talk about is that there is another reason to push for alternative fuels and propulsion systems:

      Reduced dependence on foreign (non-US) sources of oil.

      As I see things, at the current rate of consumption there are not enough US-based sources of oil to provide for the long term needs of the country. Adding new sources, be it Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, etc. is simply a short term band-aid. We need to do something more drastic: namely reduce (and eventually eliminate) our dependence on oil based propulsion systems.

      To accomplish this, I think that we need to start doing serious work on two things:

      1. Alternative energy sources. Perhaps bioDiesel is a good candidate. This won't happen over night, so we had better get started now.

      2. More effience use of oil-based propulsion. A gasoline-based fuel cell systems seems like a positive alternative, because it could use the existing infrastructure (gas stations, pipelines, etc). This can start happening as soon as the technology is perfected.

      I think that the US should launch an effort, not unlike the Apollo moon program, to develop these new technologies and infrastructures. But as long as the White House is full of former oil company executives (Bush and Cheney) I fear that the odds of this happening are slim.

      /Don

    • What about yield? (Score:3, Informative)

      by uradu (10768)
      I'd like to see some yield figures for biodiesel production. What quantity of diesel could be expected per acre of hemp? My gut feeling on this is that the US alone consume way more fuel than could reasonably be produced on all arable lands, not considering that you wouldn't want to grow hemp on every empty spot of real estate anyway.
    • First let's look at your hydrogen comments:

      # Hydrogen is hard to contain - you either use expensive cryogenics, or you have to use zeolite entrainment to contain it. It weakens steel containers by diffusing into the container and migrating to the ever-present microfractures and expanding them (hydrogen embrittlement)

      There is plenty of research going on in this area, which are going in two different directions. The first is in using new materials for reinforced containers, and the second is storing the hydrogen within another material, such as boron, and using a catalyst to release it on the fly as you need it. Both are making good progress.

      # You have to make hydrogen from something - you therefor have to have some other energy source. Either that source is burning carbon in some form, or it's splitting atoms. Wind and wave are cool, but not universally available nor do they have the power density to meet all needs (not to say that they shouldn't be harvested....)

      It can be using solar power, which is available everywhere. Wind and wave can be used to produce hydrogen, which can then be shipped or piped anywhere in the world like any other fuel. Heat can be used but it doesn't need to be burning carbons, it could be the excess electricity from a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) station.

      # There aren't hydrogen stations on every corner. Until there are, anyone driving a hydrogen car will have to plan any long trips very carefully. True, this would correct itself if enough people drive H2 vehicles, but they won't drive them until the stations exists, but the stations won't be built until the cars are bought....

      There weren't LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) stations on each corner before it was invented, now they are available everywhere in the UK. Stick a solar array in the garden and connect it to an electrolysis kit and you might be able to produce enough hydrogen to get to work each morning (I haven't tried calculating this one). You can certainly buy ones off the shelf today that plug in the mains (and no that doesn't necessarily mean you are just pushing back the burning of fossil fuels back to the power station, there are electricity companies these days that supply 100% Green electricity).

      # Hydrogen requires a special engine to burn - either a fuel cell, or a modified internal combustion engine. If you DO take a trip and screw up your planning, you are stuck.

      Screw up your planning? That makes no sense. Do you mean break down? In which case you use your insurance, though since fuel cell engines have few moving parts the chances should be slim.

      # Hydrogen engines DO reduce the low-altitude pollution - no unburned hydrocarbons, and fuel cells produce little NOx and no SOx

      If we skip straight to pure hydrogen as a fuel, then there will be zero pollution.

      # Fuel cells are expensive right now. They might get cheaper later, however

      There is no 'might' about it.

      As regards biodiesel, the major problem is that it doesn't scale. Can you imagine the surface area needed to produce enough crops to then extract sufficient energy to then drive all the world's cars? Secondly it _does_ need energy to extract the fuel: machines are needed to go harvest the crops, then to process them, not forgetting the transport of all the workers needed to operate these machines.

      Still, well done on opening up the debate. You can learn much more about the merits of fuel cells and biodiesel at Future Energies magazine [futureenergies.com].

      Phillip.
      • Let's look at YOUR comments:
        ...second is storing the hydrogen within another material....
        What do you think "zeolite entrainment" is? If you are going to talk about hydrogen power, at least follow the field enough to know the terms. And the problem with zeolite entrainment is you have to heat the zeolite to release the hydrogen. That wastes power.

        It can be using solar power....
        Solar power is about 1KW/m^2. One horsepower is 745 or so watts. If your solar array is 74% efficient (and if it IS, you are going to be a VERY rich man - the current number are less than 25%), you get 1 horsepower per square meter on a sunny day - call it 5 times that area to allow for weather and night. So, if your car requires 20 HP to run down the road, and you do so for 1 hour a day, you will need 5 * 1m^2 * 20 = 100 m^2 of solar array, or a panel 10*10 meters. Do you have that much space in your backyard?

        Screw up your planning?
        As in, "Let's see. I can go about 400 miles per tank. Here's a hydrogen station. Here's the next one, 300 miles away. OK. Next one's 200 miles away. No problem." Then you find out the first station is closed, as you are pulling up to it. You have 100 miles of fuel. The next fuel station is 200 miles away. Hope you like to walk. And that is an extreme case - you can get into the same boat just tooling around town if you are not careful about watching the fuel gage.

        If we skip straight to pure hydrogen as a fuel, then there will be zero pollution.
        BZZT! Wrong (if you are using an internal combustion engine). The oxides of nitrogen will still be produced - anytime you burn something in air at high temperature, you get NOx.
        And if you are talking about fuel cells - ever looked at what it takes to make those nice proton exchange membranes at the core of a fuel cell? It's not a very clean process.

        Can you imagine the surface area needed to produce enough crops to then extract sufficient energy to then drive all the world's cars?
        Per my statements above, can YOU imagine the size of solar arrays needed to make the hydrogen?

        Besides, you missed the point COMPLETELY: we are both talking about solar power. I'm just using a technique that has been around for a very long time to package it up.
  • Oops (Score:4, Funny)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:47AM (#3651643) Homepage Journal

    Traveling time was 85 hours over a span of 16 days, an average of about 38 mph, but DaimlerChrysler says the car reached speeds of more than 90 mph.

    In other news, late yesterday, state police officials from Nevada arrived in Washington, D.C., for the extradition of the driver of the Daimler-Chrysler fuel cell powered car.

    Crime Scene Investigators from Las Vegas confirmed that a vehicle with tires matching those of the unique fuel-cell car was responsible for running over a Wayne Newton billboard near the entrance of the Mustang Ranch.

    "We think the testimony the engineers gave to CNN will clinch this case and help to save America from terrorist speeders."

    • Some more intellegent states have removed the daytime speed limit on interstate straightaways. I wonder what the rest of us are waiting for.
      • Some more intellegent states have removed the daytime speed limit on interstate straightaways.

        IIRC, the only state that did that was Montana, and it only lasted for a year or two. Driving in Nevada, Arizona, and California, the highest speed limit I've seen is 75 and I've not seen any road with no posted speed limit. (Having no speed limit doesn't do much good for a state's speeding-ticket revenue. They've gotten themselves addicted to the extra money and don't want to give it up.)

        • Having no speed limit doesn't do much good for a state's speeding-ticket revenue. They've gotten themselves addicted to the extra money and don't want to give it up.

          You've hit the nail on the head. I remember when trafic laws were supposed to be about safety. I've seen as many accidents in the last month caused by people slamming on their brakes from seeing a cop in the rain as I have for any other reason.
  • What about biofuels? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jkichline (583818) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:00AM (#3651730)
    I've been evaluating both fuel cell and another technology that is well on its way to mainstream use... biodiesel. http://www.biodiesel.org. This diesel fuel is made from vegetable oil and methonol. It runs on all existing diesel trucks and cars, has a 100% clean production cycle (no fossil fuels required to make it), heck, it can be made with recycled cooking oil! It mixes with petro diesel allowing a easy integration plan (use a little at a time...). Also, its production requires agriculture which equals oxygen... creating a method to take whatever CO2 is produced and convert it.

    Now, this isn't as clean as burning pure hydrogen... but is MUCH better than burning gasoline or diesel. It reduces emmissions by more than 50% and eliminates sulfur, odor and reduces the stuff that make smog by a good bit (all this is commonly associated with petro) And when you take a look at what you need to do to produce hydrogen you're looking at producing electricity (fossil fuels/nuclear) or some other chemical process that is harmful. You still end up putting pollution into the air. It seems to me that fuel cells are a way around battery technology, but I feel it is a very inefficient way to do it.

    Also, the fuel cell car cost 1 million to build and broke down once? The National Biodiesel Board drove to the nearest Ford dealership, picked up a diesel pickup, filled it with 100% biodiesel and have been driving it around with no problems for 500,000 miles. They just completed there 10th trip across the country! The fuel cell car got up to about 90 MPH... My Jetta TDI (VW) gets up to 90 everyday! The speedometer goes up to 140 and I have no doubts that it can do that. 750 miles per tank, 55 MPG, road rage baby!

    So think about it. A fuel source that is renewable, is produced with no waste or by-product, and its growth produces oxygen and cleans the air. Its also a domestic product and is already in use in Europe and the States. It can also be used on all existing diesel vehicles. I say we take all that money we're burning in research and start to build some pumps, fund agriculture and kick start the future!
    • 100% clean production cycle (no fossil fuels required to make it)

      As long as you ignore the fossil fuels used to grow, process, and transport the plant products providing the vegetable oil and methanol, that is...

    • ...picked up a diesel pickup, filled it with 100% biodiesel and have been driving it around with no problems for 500,000 miles. Now that's what I call good fuel economy! 500,000 miles/tankful! 8-)

    • by horza (87255)
      There are a couple of problems with biodiesel. The first is the sheer land area needed to grow enough crop to extract the necessary amount of fuel (also add the manpower to harvest and process it). The second is that Carnot's Law, where by burning a fuel to extract energy you can only get a maximum of 40% efficiency (fuel cell theoretically you can get 100%). This makes biodiesel a good intermediary fuel to help wean us of fossil fuels whilst we get the hydrogen economy in place, but not a long-term solution. Finally watch out if you have an older car. From memory (please correct me if I am wrong) biodiesel will ruin any rubber seals in the engine but this is not a problem in newer cars which only use plastic seals. There are lots of interesting articles on biodiesel at Future Energies magazine [futureenergies.com].

      Phillip.
  • by chuckgrosvenor (473314) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:27AM (#3651897) Homepage
    which is that it doesn't matter how the hydrogen is created, all the vehicles run off of the same power source.. this means that if petroleum can be cheaply used to make hyrdogen, than it will sell the best.. if it happens that methane can be used cheaply, than it can be.. it would go a far way from divorcing the current "it has to be gasoline, or nothing can run" mono-culture that prevails now.

    What I would love to see, is something that used solar or wind power to trickle charge a fuel cell.. so I could just set something up in my backyard.. a distributed source of energy would be less vulnerable to attack than the current system is.
  • by rakerman (409507) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:31AM (#3651915) Homepage Journal
    Personally I think in the near term, the introduction of the 2003 Hybrid Civic [honda.ca] is going to have more impact.

    I think fuel cells are going to be more important in the near term for stationary power generation [stationaryfuelcells.org].

  • I'm currently in the market for a small car to use mainly for commuting to and from work, mostly highway driving. No public transportation system nearby, and a small motorcycle isn't pratical in Ohio. I looked into some of the so-called "eco-friendly" cars that are available today, but was turned-off by how ugly most of these are. So far I've found the Toyota Prius [toyota.com], Toyota RAV4-EV [toyota.com], Honda Civic Hybrid [honda.com], and the Honda Insight [hondacars.com]. I understand that optimizing aerodynamics is important for efficient energy usage, but a few of these cars would be decent looking cars with a few minor changes. The Insight is very CRX-like if they got rid of the wheel covers, the Civic Hybrid looks very similar to the standard Civic except for the odd colors, the RAV4-EV uses an old body style rather than the sleek body of the r-estyled standard RAV4, and the Prius has a pretty decent style but is rather small. With only a couple thousand dollar difference between a standard small car and an "eco-friendly" model, I think there'd be increased consumer interest in these vehicles if the manufacturers focused a little more on giving these cars a more standard style that blends in a bit on the road rather than giving them an unattractive design just for the sake of making them stand out or having some space-age look to them.
    • no kidding, I'm in the market for a new vehicle and hybrids were some that I was looking at. But, my lord, they seem to be some of the ugliest vehicles in production. (Pontiac Aztec get my vote for ugliest.) I was immediately turned off. I don't know about others but I take pride in driving a 'nice' looking vehicle.
  • It's getting better, but it's not there yet.

    The quicker it get's adopted, the faster progress will be made in the power of these cars.

    55 kW is not enough for me. My car has about 154 kW and that is not even enough.

    One bonus about new technologies' power output is that it is more linear, which is better for performance and the longevity of the car!

    I currently have a Porsche 911, and doubt a new card would outclass it. I'm quite sentimental that way... If only Porsche brought one out too... -grin-
    • It's getting better, but it's not there yet.

      The quicker it get's adopted, the faster progress will be made in the power of these cars.

      55 kW is not enough for me. My car has about 154 kW and that is not even enough.

      Indeed. 74 hp (55 kW, as you put it) is about what you'd get out of a Chevette. Back when I had a Chevette, it got the job done, but it didn't exactly set any speed records. 206 hp is fairly decent, though...I get a little more than that (220 hp) out of my S10, and it has no trouble getting up to speed or staying there.

    • by jafac (1449)
      Interesting you mention that, because Porsche (the professor, not the car company) built the FIRST hybrid car, the first all-wheel drive car, and the first front-wheel drive car. Almost 100 years ago.
  • by puppetman (131489) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:03AM (#3652461) Homepage
    The car is interesting, but the real work is all in the fuel cell. It's kind of like Dell saying, "We made this super fast computer, and it's rated at 5 gigaflops" without mentioning who made the CPU, motherboard, etc, etc.

    I did some poking around - Ballard made the fuel cell, and here is their press release summary page:

    Ballard Powers DaimlerChrysler's Fuel Cell Vehicle on a 3,000 Mile Drive Across the United States [ballard.com]
  • 90 mph+ (Score:3, Funny)

    by dstone (191334) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:18AM (#3652533) Homepage
    Traveling time was 85 hours over a span of 16 days ,... DaimlerChrysler says the car reached speeds of more than 90 mph.

    I have images of a subcompact full of sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled engineers on the interstate shouting, "Let's take this hydrogen rocket to the moon! Yeee ha!" as they pin the speedo needle.
    • More realistically, if you loaded 4 people into it, you probably have a hard time going up hills, and your max speed would be 90 only down steep hills. Just like any car with a sub-100 horsepower engine.
  • I think it was 1996 when Rosen motors drove their hybrid car across the US from California to Michigan. Detroit turned them down and sent them home with nothing.

    But now, there's a big stink about a hydrogen fuel based car which is less efficient than Toyota's or Honda's gasoline/electric hybrids and the hydrogen car MIGHT be available in 8 years. Let's not even mention the 3 support vehicles and the breakdowns along the way.....

    Does this seem like an oil industry marketing trick or what? Eat my VOLTAGE George Dubya.

    LoB
  • This didn't occur to me until I saw the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid:

    Hybrid and electric vehicles don't need to look retarded.

    The Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight are both UGLY vehicles. They have this sort of pseudo-futuristic look to them, but the styling is significantly different from most "normal" vehicles that they just look damn ugly.

    The Civid Hybrid, on the other hand, looks exactly like the regular Civic.... except it's a hybrid.

    I really wish manufacturers would stop making these retarded-looking hybrid/electric vehicles. I want a vehicle that LOOKS NORMAL, but gets better mileage and is better for the environment. They'd have had a much higher demand for Insights and Priuses (Prii? nah) if they'd looked like Civics/Corollas or Accords/Camrys.

    The conspiracy theorist in me tells me that they deliberately make them ugly so that they can later say, "Look, hybrid vehicles don't sell very well, how can you [the gubmint] expect us to sell them?" Although this is dampened by the Civic Hybrid's normal look. I've actually considered getting a Civic Hybrid, if for no other reason than to add my voice to those encouraging hybrid vehicles (every Hybrid Honda sells is another voice saying, "We want hybrids").

"Regardless of the legal speed limit, your Buick must be operated at speeds faster than 85 MPH (140kph)." -- 1987 Buick Grand National owners manual.

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