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Thread: Fuel Cell Cars

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Fuel Cell Cars

    It sure looks promising to have such cars, plus the fuel would be quite abundant, just look at the sea, plenty of hydrogen. And cleaner. Although the best combination is a hybrid between Gas and Hydrogen, only gas engines have worse performance than only hydrogen engines.

    I hope that the fuel cell cars come out soon, so we can be less addicted to oil.

  2. #2

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    Fantasy (for now)

    Most realistic sources seem to believe that natural gas or other petrochemicals will be the major source of hyrdrogen. Given that North America will be facing a shortage of natural gas, I'm not sure its that a good a source.

    Also, I understand (I am not a chemist or physicist) that the net energy from a petrochemically-derived hydrogen fuel cell is less efficient than the internal combustion engine.

    At least fuel cells don't appear to be as overwhelmingly negative as battery-powered cars (energy to produce the batteries+generation inefficiencies+nasty toxic waste disposal problem for the dead batteries=ecological disaster.)

    Interested to hear what other people know about this. I know my favorite curmudgeon is quite skeptical


    www.kunstler.com

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I know that BMW has test cars that run with liquid hydrogen....
    While extracting hydrogen out of petrochemicals is quite stupid (there is no benefit for the enviroment), I believe that you have ommited the easiest way to obtain Hydrogen, water hydrolisis, just apply electricity to water and start collecting hydrogen from one pole.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Runner's avatar
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    This link will take you directly to Jim Kunstler's 3 June entry:
    http://www.kunstler.com/mags_diary7.html
    Cheers,
    UrbanRunner
    :)
    _____________________________
    WWJJD
    "What Would Jane Jacobs Do?"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    While extracting hydrogen out of petrochemical is quite stupid (there is no benefit for the enviroment),
    That's not entirely true, Fuel cells have at least the potential to be more efficient than internal combustion engines because the reaction that takes place is controlled. Combustion implies a large amount of inefficiency. Also, the hydrocarbons would be processed at one facility rather than being burned all over our cities in the cars, so there'd be opportunity to apply more involved pollution reduction measures to the process (they still don't have a clue what to do with the carbon dioxide though).

    I believe that you have ommited the easiest way to obtain Hydrogen, water hydrolisis, just apply electricity to water and start collecting hydrogen from one pole.
    That's not at all reasonable. Think about it, you start with water, you divide it into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen, then you take the hydrogen and oxidize it, releasing energy, and you're back to water! Did something magic happen? No. Here's what the equations look like:

    Electrolysis:

    2 H2O + Energy => 2 H2 + O2

    Oxidation:

    2 H2 + O2 => 2 H2O + Energy

    The energy in the electrolysis was came from the electricity applied to the water, and because of the law of conservation of energy, you will never get more energy out than you put in. In fact, because no reaction is 100% efficient (chemists call it the difference between theoretical and experimental yields) you'll always get *less* energy out than what you started with! So in reality, if you're using electrolysis, the hydrogen is a battery, you can use it to store energy, but it's not an energy source itself.

    That's not the case with hydrocarbons because the bonds in the hydrocarbons take less energy to break than the bonds in water, so you break those bonds to get hydrogen, then oxidize the hydrogen to get water, you'll end up with more energy than you started with. It may be a little hard to see why that is true. Think of it this way, in high school physics you learned that a rock on a hill has potential energy, that energy can be realized by rolling it down the hill. With electrolysis, the rock is at the bottom of the hill, you have to roll the rock all the way up the hill before you can roll it down. With hydrocarbons, the rock starts off part-way up the hill, so you only have to roll it up the rest of the way, but then you get the energy from the rock rolling all the way down.

    Ultimately, fuel cells may result in a marginal increase in fuel efficiency. I really thing Bush and others are playing them up to try to sell the public on the fantasy that technology will save us from our energy problems. It won't. If we are to get ourselves out of this mess, we need to change the way we live. Which is where planners come in.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  6. #6

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    I'd love to believe that there is a magic bullet out there that will save modern industrial/automobile civilization, but I doubt it.

    Still-Kunstler may discount somethwat human ingenuity. Not that I disagree with him that suburbia is doomed, if not in our lifetime, in our grandchildren's

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    hmmm at the rate of consumption of oil reserves... I can see we're in deep sh*t...so shall we move on to wind and solar power?
    Chile could just put out farms of solar panels in the desert :P of course it would be efficient becuase the energy would have to travel too much to get where it's needed... at least here we could put eolic power plants :p and we have a quite good amount of hydroelectric power (at least we're not so dependant on fossil fuels like the US for the production of electricity)

    So aparently we'll just have to go back to the bike :p and it'll be good, more excersie for lazy kids and less obesity.

  8. #8
    People, Nanotechnology

  9. #9

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    Cool! Then I can have microscopic little robots in my arteriesto clear out the goo from the donut(s) I just inhaled.

  10. #10
    that sounds like something you'll want to enjoy.

    on a serios contribution note.

    I think the gas, diesel fuel only cars are going to be phased out within 25 years BUT, only where it is practical. So all of these hybrids are going to get bigger and better in our lifetimes.
    I'm looking to the Japanese for leadership on the coming technological advances. It's clear Honda and Toyota are serious about marketing these Technologies and they're doing a fantastic job. I see Honda and Toyota hybrids all over the place and I like what I see! Likely a joint American -Asian-Euro solution is what will happen as economic inter-dependence grows. Moving away from fossil fuels is going to happen.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    But, we all still have the car.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    He's from California, he can't imagine it any other way.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  13. #13
    But, we all still have the car.
    It's that rugged California individualism -not that there is a serious alternative to the car -which by the way totally represents my personality.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    -not that there is a serious alternative to the car -

    Just because something is dominant doesn't mean it is the best.

  15. #15
    I'm not saying it's the best. Personally I think it is. Depends on where you live.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    So what came first, the chicken or the egg?
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  17. #17
    who cares as long as I can keep on rockin in the free world or should I say drivin' in the free world

  18. #18

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    Its kinda sad, because I hate cities that are laid out and totally designed around the private car. I don't think driving should be very convenient, I agree with tolls and assessments out the ying yang, and central cities should not be designed around suburban driver's coneveniences I prefer living in a neighborhood where SOME daily needs can be met on foot.

    BUT! I am definitely a very heavy recreational; driver.

    I look at my weekend-I did a metric century in the foothills of the Sierra on Saturday. I don't see any rational way I could have "taken a bus" (let alone a train) to Plymouth, a town of 3000 75 miles away not really near anywhere to get to the starting point of my ride. Now, maybe driving to a bicycle ride is silly, but the fact is it was an absolutely beautiful ride, I rode with a friend and new folks, and a hecka lot of fun.

    On Sunday: I loaded my three dogs into my car and went to a bayside dog park, then went to San Francisco and (while the two dogs who had jumped into the foul Bay mud were being washed at a dog groomer who happens to be open on Sunday) went for a long walk up and down the hills of San Francisco's Russian Hill and Nob Hill districts.

    There is just no way I could have done this without a car. I admit it, I am restless and I like the flexibility. I agree with Kunstler that this will all come to a halt-maybe during my lifetime, but I am certainly not going carfree until gas costs $12/gallon or until they pry the keys out of my hand.

  19. #19
    As far as city design goes. The only affordable solution to partially sway the consumer away from the car is massive urban infill projects that build up, up and away. Do you think this would work in a city like Sacramento? even when you do this, we still want our private getaways and time to blat the stereo in the car.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    I doubt that cars will disapear, they'll change, and would be much more expensive, that's for sure...Or do you think that everybody is going to go back to bikes and horses?
    Solar power cars, bike-cars, fuel cell cars, and any car that doesn't depend on fossil fuel is what the future awaits. Or will it be like the Flinstones? :p

    Sprawl will tend to slow down once the fossil fuel cars die out, but I doubt that it will disapear, cities will be more dense of course.

    I doubt that petcoke* would solve gas problems, and it's proven to have worse pollution that gas alone...

    *petcoke is petroleum made of coal, and is of course less refinated and more pollutant.

  21. #21

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    I know Berkeley is trying to do that kind of massive infill. There are definitely some big mixed use projects under construction along the old University Avenue and San Pablo Avenue strips. While they are pretty massive, they are an improvement over the ugly 1940s-1960s stuff that dominated much of these corridors. Still, even in eco-lefty Berkeley, the big issue is ensuring "enough" parking for these projects.

  22. #22
    I'm not sure I'm familiar with the old University avenue. Parking is insane in Berkeley -just try to park on Shattuck approaching University. Have you ever been to Long Life Veggie House on University?

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