Recent TV Appearance regarding green vehicles

I saw your recent TV appearance but didn’t record it so I don’t know when it came out. You are knowledgeable guys but the topic stayed pretty square on electric motored vehicles. By the end of the show they were stacking batteries and hydrogen and a gas motor to power the things. Am I incorect that hydrogen is a fuel in itself and can be burned cleanly in an internal combustion engine? Am I further wrong that hydrogen can be made as easily as making a battery at home? Is not the only actual drawback to hydrogen being used in an internal combustion engine the safety of the fuel tank which is now a moot point as the Dutch are now using a safe hydrogen fuel tank? You also failed to menton that there has been a recent advancement in solar cells that about 1/100 the size of a current solar panel (I recently saw a program which anticipated these new cells to hit the market by 2010). If we gotta have all that junk to power up an electric car is anybody working on one that can just power itself with solar cells (I live in So. CA. we use power to GET RID of heat) while it’s outside parked in the sun?

Lastly, am I risking a life in the Gulag by suggesting that people might be INDEPENDENT of a centrally controlled power source?

Click and Clack don’t often visit here. We the dispossessed will be happy to help.

First, let me suggest that you Google “how do hydrogen powered cars work”. You’ll find that there are two approaches. The fuel cell approach is the one most discussed.

The biggest weakness to alternative fuel sources is the lack of a nationwide infrastructure to support them. You can drive anywhere forever in a gas powered car, you just keep filling the tank. There are gas stations everywhere. Not so with other fuel sources.

My guess is that all electric will be common within the next 10 years. There is already one company (Tesla) manufacturing all electric cars with the range, rechargability, and performance to meet the overwhelming majority of the people’s daily needs. And there is already an electric infrastructure in place. If gas stops would add charging stations with meters, one could drive 100 miles, charge up while having lunch, and continue on. The cells in use, lithium-ion, can be “topped off”.

You cannot escape being the captive of a centrally controlled power source. All sources of power have to come from somewhere, and all the sources are controlled by conglomerates and regulations.

I suspect the vast improvement in solar cells you heard about is somebody selling snake oil. Every time I try to look into one of these claims it falls apart as just some wild speculation or overly optimistic hype. If you have a web link to some hard facts we’d love to see it.

Hydrogen as a fuel is certainly possible, but it’s not that simple. Where do you get the hydrogen? In general, most hydrogen is tied up in water or other compounds and you have to use energy to release it. More energy than you will get back by burning the hydrogen. So, where does that energy come from?

I’d love to see a big improvement in solar cells make the news, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. I’ve heard that siren song too many time before . . .

Yes, the statement “You also failed to menton that there has been a recent advancement in solar cells that about 1/100 the size of a current solar panel” doesn’t sound right. I think currect PV solar cells are something like 20% efficient, so that would make the new ones 2,000% efficient?!? That’s not possible. And yes, hydrogen is not an energy source, it’s a transmission device. There are no deposits of hydrogen, we have to either get it from natural gas or by using electricity.

What all the sensationalistic science magazines and cable shows forget to mention is the fact that water is hydrogen that has already been burned up. When it was originally burned to form water, a lot of energy was released. To unburn it back into hydrogen and oxygen, you have to give every bit of that energy back and that energy comes from where?

It is no more possible to separate hydrogen and oxygen without returning that energy than it is to build roads that are downhill in both directions.

Burn rubber not oil! :slight_smile:

I do think in the long run, all electric, or at least electric / fuel cell will be the main transportation method - IF - we can get off our lazy whiny buts as a country and bring a LOT of green power - in Nuclear form - online. What we need is to produce more energy, cheaply, not conserve the fossil fuel power we already have. There is a LOT of uranium available in the US, and it doesn’t take much volume to release a great amount of energy.

If that happens, then electric makes total sense. In addition, electric vehicles are simple to maintain in comparison, even more so if they are the type with the motors on the wheels themselves so you don’t need a transmission. I’m all for that after working on traditional cars for many years, and look forward to having sports cars with even more torque! Then the only fossil fuel I’ll be burning is in the tires.

I will comment on two points.

First we are at the beginning of some big changes in transportation. There are lots of things being tried. None of them should be rejected nor should any be publicly funded over others. It will take time and the market place to find the right solution.

One problem with finding the right solution is how to factor in the environmental damage. Right now when I drive my car, I am damaging the air we all breath. You and I both pay the same amount by breathing the air containing my car’s exhaust. Until I am paying the full cost of of the pollution my choice of transportation makes I am not likely to make a choice that will the best solution for all of us.

The second point is that it will be some time and a lot of difficult decisions to be made before we see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the mean time we will see a lot of bad information coming from those who stand to gain from this or that possible solution and a lot of wishful thinking.

Right now I support all kinds of ideas, as long as they are not being sold on the internet and promise to give you 100 mpg using water to provide hydrogen to increase the mileage of your car.

I have serious concerns about nuclear power.
(1) waste
(2) Chernoble (safety)
(3) huge up-front costs with very limited lifespan followed by huge decommiossioning costs and permanent budgetary drain…forever and ever

Other sources suffer none of these setbacks.

I do agree, however, that cheap electric power is necessary. According to the National Inventor of Dams (NID) there are well over 75,000 hydroelectric dams in the United States. The vast majority are shut down or operating at a fraction of their potential due to old, obsolete, and poorly maintained equipment and facilities. Upgrading these facilities to modern equipment could probably double (or more) the power available to the grids and also reduce environmental impact. Modern hydrogeneration equipment can create power with very little impact on the flow of the water itself, unlike the old equipment that required damming an entire river.

Persoally, I’d like to see an in-depth study of the existing hydroelectric infrastructure with cost studies regarding retrofitting and impact on generation.

I think hydroelectric is the best path to increasing our energy resources.

Here we go…

  1. nuclear wastes can be easily and safely stored for thousands of years underground, except nobody wants that faciity in their state
  2. Chernoble was a disaster waiting to happen, a design used by nobody else, and is not an example of the real risks. It’s like eliminating air travel be cause of the Hindenberg. France has many safely operating reactors with no problems.
  3. Costly, yes. I’ve seen no information indicating short lifespans.

As for hydro, those dams are being torn down, rather than built (look at the Pacific Northwest) because of their huge negative ecological impact on fish and shore environments.

Hydroelectric? Are you kidding? You live where?

No, nuclear is the single best solution. Wind and solar are nice additions, but only nuclear power can be turned up and down as demand goes up and down.

Texases hit on your “points”, but I’ll also take a stab at them.

  1. The Yucca Mountain site. Paid for, ready to use, and safe beyond reason.

  2. Not an issue. We do not have any current operating reactors like Chernoble, and would never build new ones like that.

  3. Not true. IF you build based on the best new designs, and make them ALL the same. You get both reduced construction cost (economy of scale), reduced certification costs (once only), and if something is an issue in one, you replace the part everywhere else before it is a problem.

In Oklahoma we are trying to attract firms to build nuclear power plants and export power to surrounding states. I hope this happens, as it will substantially reduce our power costs over Coal, Oil, and natural gas fired plants, and provide green power on demand to boot, helping the local economy.

Nuclear is the best solution? I’m inclined to disagree. For starters, Fusion would be much better. No hazardous waste materials and a much greater matter-to-energy ratio. That said, Fusion is far from ready for use. Very, very far. I doubt it will be viable within the next hundred years. In the meantime, Fission-based plants are the easiest power solution.

However, I would think that a solar/fuel cell combination system, in which hydrogen fuel cells are the prime source of commercial/residential energy, while wind/solar are used as the prime source of the energy needed to generate fuel cells.