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So, it looks like some intrepid engineers and investors got together way back in 1978 and figured out a great way to solve the energy crisis.  

Powering cars with hydrogen, the hydrogen being produced, from water, with solar power.  

Jack Nicholson had one of these cars, and was a spokesperson for it, demonstrating it in this video clip (over the fold).

This has to be one of the most ironic, and depressing pieces of video I've ever seen.  You have to see it to believe it.

And now, today, 30 years later (!!!) we're as screwed as ever -- as a people, as a civilization, even as a species.  But the key fact to keep in mind is that during this 30 years, the Big Oil companies have become the most massively profitable companies in the history of mankind.  


And one of the countless ironies of this is that the United States auto companies are just about to go under.  Even though this clip makes it abundantly clear that the auto companies would have been just fine making hydrogen-powered cars.  I mean, the car Jack's driving in the clip is your basic, average American car of its time.  It just happens to run on a fuel that is derived from water, using solar power, and produces water as a byproduct.  

Too good to be true?  Apparently so.  It was "too good" for the Oil Companies, who would have been completely cut out of the market, as the commentator in this Canadian Broadcast Company makes abundantly clear.  

My suggestion to the auto companies -- have Big Oil bail them out.  What's a couple dozen billion dollars to Big Oil?  It's nothing, peanuts, pennies, and there's plenty more where that came from, right?  Their money literally squirts up out of the ground.  And by god, they owe it.  

What's funny to me, is that I thought of this a few years ago -- why not use solar power to remove the hydrogen from the water and use this for auto fuel?  Turns out there were people way, way ahead of me.  And I didn't even know it.  And I'll bet very few people know about it either.  

Originally posted to Inky99 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:04 AM PST.

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  •  tip jar (277+ / 0-)
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    norm, EMKennedyLucio, SilverWings, ogre, Better Days, TocqueDeville, bread, Emerson, TheGreatLeapForward, Shockwave, Sherri in TX, cotterperson, eeff, devtob, marjo, FyodorFish, Matilda, Nonie3234, kissfan, shermanesq, rasbobbo, opinionated, raines, bronte17, Euroliberal, ask, otto, lanellici, carolkay, badlands, FeastOr, UK LibDem Dave, PeteZerria, TampaCPA, thingamabob, ctsteve, jhwygirl, Dube, coldwynn, Chicago Lulu, Red State Refugee, kathika, defluxion10, betson08, grrr, dufffbeer, MeToo, DelicateMonster, Matt Esler, Donna in Rome, WisVoter, KayCeSF, Daddy Bartholomew, Josiah Bartlett, GeegeeMI, Dave Brown, weelzup, Big Tex, luvmovies2000, rapala, nailbender, radarlady, tle, baccaruda, SherwoodB, sc kitty, sap, ChemBob, sandrad23, myeye, Maine Atticus, LindaR, annie0313, Mz Kleen, mattwynn, Arken, bleeding blue, Heartcutter, snootless, GreyHawk, lotlizard, Prison4Bushco, The Raven, Pluto, dsteffen, playtonjr, bluestateonian, empathy, Reality Bites Back, jiordan, martini, occams hatchet, elliott, steve nelson, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Ellicatt, mooshter, victoria2dc, jeffman, abe57, mveit, fou, hideinplainsight, AnnCetera, MJ via Chicago, speedfreak, The Hindsight Times, agnostic, nilocjin, Crashing Vor, paul2port, Sagebrush Bob, happy camper, NearlyNormal, plf515, CTLiberal, OMwordTHRUdaFOG, bonesy, Turbonerd, BlueMississippi, rage, Coffee Geek, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, va dare, means are the ends, Dreaming of Better Days, kurt, Bikny, airmarc, jpfdeuce, sea note, Riddle, NonnyO, DrMicro, subav8r, One Pissed Off Liberal, tourist305, gwriter, Cali Techie, bvljac, randorider, desertguy, WeBetterWinThisTime, gloriana, moosely2006, RandomGuyFromGermany, ramsfan, yowsta, Jimdotz, ballerina X, drchelo, eashep, Templar, second gen, cyncynical, quadmom, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, carpunder, sister daedalus, skaye19, Terra Mystica, mconvente, Devsd, JeffW, Foundmyvoice, the disinfector, Mannabass, Calamity Jean, Jake Williams, pickandshovel, ankey, rubine, mofembot, S C B, codairem, luckylizard, Piren, DixieDishrag, BYw, George Gould, Executive Odor, Nica24, dont think, Ellinorianne, 4km, jedley, Celtic Merlin, Old Woman, maggiejean, prettygirlxoxoxo, soarbird, Fonsia, ARS, JG in MD, Discipline28, rockwilder, eroded47095, banjolele, DrFaustus, joshlyman, mrchumchum, mkor7, unspeakable, Mercuriousss, John Shade, ProgressiveTokyo, prgsvmama26, worldly1, badger1968, allep10, Dark UltraValia, XNeeOhCon, rubthorn, Green Karma, PoliticalJunkessa, brushysage, strangedemocracy, EmmaKY, Dragon5616, astral66, etara, joe from Lowell, missmishu, Colorado Billy, pekkla, lh114, cassandraX, bradreiman, ATLSandlapper, smileycreek, oohdoiloveyou, marabout40, Paladine, p gorden lippy, sovery, flitedocnm, Areopagitica, serendipityisabitch, leftywright, amk for obama, Hamsun, voracious, Obamacrat, chrome327, Faith in Tomorrow, NYWheeler, WattleBreakfast, Unenergy, Urtica dioica gracilis, MsGrin, northLondonLiberal, USHomeopath, nosleep4u, Its a New Day, Rockpopple, nampa45, CornSyrupAwareness, Kula2316, Montreal Progressive, Sport, badaspie, imnotyou, gmcana, FarWestGirl, iambic pentameter, Alanna Trebond, Treghas, greatlyconcerned, gmclaurin, grottoes, wanton peace, eppa, DJH NY, RfrancisR
    •  Wow. Thank you. I didn't know it. (21+ / 0-)

      Big 3 better start showing us some serious plans before they come back on the 2nd.

      "That's my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing [that vision]." ~Obama on "Change"

      by WeBetterWinThisTime on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:14:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I heard about HHO while phonebanking (14+ / 0-)

        This is a do it yourselfer that has been out there for a while. Videos for it have a cult staus on under the topic HHO

        The most recent improvements come from Australia.

        Essentially the idea is that you can fill your tank up with water. The electrolosis that separates out the hydrogen from the water can be powered by your car battery, which is charged by your generator. but the photovoltaics is a nice touch for 1978.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:29:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks. I'll check it out. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          means are the ends, moosely2006

          "That's my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing [that vision]." ~Obama on "Change"

          by WeBetterWinThisTime on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:43:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  sorry, but 'HHO' is a scam worthy of the Bush (40+ / 0-)

          administration.  You can't get more energy out of combusting hydrogen and oxygen than you put into making the H2 & O2 from water.

          In actuality electrolysis is 70% to 80% efficient, meaning the potential energy in the H2 and O2 is roughly 3/4 that of the power you used up making them. Burning them in an Otto or Diesel cycle engine means that you can extract 25% to 35% of then energy in the gases as useful work, the Carnot limit sets the highest recovery possible but Otto & Diesel are less efficient than the Carnot limit.  So 3/4 * 30% = 1/4 of the power put into electrolysis comes out on the engine crankshaft.  Thermodynamics are Laws you can't get around.

          •  I'm not claiming its a perpetual motion machine (17+ / 0-)

            although Stanley Meyer, one of the longtime advocates and "scammers" might.

            Lets allow it takes some energy to produce gasoline as well and then compare which is more efficient and which has byproducts that are better for the environment.

            Lets allow that photovoltaic cells are 20 % efficient in a laboratory and that practical efficiencies can be effected by for example whether or not they are covered with a film of dirt or soot from proximaty to highways.

            Getting gasoline out of shale oil by building a 40 billion dollar pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska, after it has been produced there, to Boundary Lakes Alberta where it heats a mixture of sale oil and water, and then distributing that has both economic and environmental cost which suggest that electrolysis generated by a battery charged by a PV panel might make hydrogen from water competitive to say the least.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:21:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The external/renewable energy input is required (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dburbach, Calamity Jean

            otherwise it is a perpetual motion scam.

            "You may already be a wiener!" Anonymous

            by Terra Mystica on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:35:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The external source of energy is the sun (6+ / 0-)

            It really doesn't matter how inefficient the system or the process is for it to work. Photosynthesis works the same way; it's a very inefficient process that captures only a small fraction of the sun's energy.

            Hydrogen power generation works fine because there is not the added cost of a delivery infrastructure. It's a viable business. There are companies trading on world stock markets that have viable products out there and running.

            As a direct fuel for cars, I can't see it. Electricity is the way to go. All that is needed is a breakthrough in energy storage devices.

            •  uh (10+ / 0-)

              It really doesn't matter how inefficient the system or the process is
              Sorry, but things cost - look at it as money, material, or energy to make.  And the equipment has a limited lifespan, too. If the system is too inefficient it can consume more that it produces.

              "Hydrogen power generation works fine because there is not the added cost of a delivery infrastructure."  
              How does this work, pray tell?  Do you mean everyone puts up PV to make electricity to make hydrogen?  You need about 1.5 square yards of PV for every mile you want to drive in a day, provided you live somewhere that is almost never cloudy.

              What about people in multiunit dwellings? I've calculated the potential power for apartment buildings and there's not enough roof space to provide enough power for most buildings. Don't even think off denser situations as in city cores.

              I don't see hydrogen not needing delivery infrastructure.  Power is going to have to be hauled in for the majority of the population, meaning new power lines, or hydrogen piped in or otherwise brought to consumers.

              •  Just want to drop a note, wonderingif,... (7+ / 0-)

       thank you for your timely injection of physics-informed reality into the smoke & mirrors that seems to be so much of the talk about a "hydrogen economy."

                I thought it was interesting that the video didn't show Nicholson on an on-ramp merging into traffic; just puttering about in a vacant lot.

                Even if generation weren't a big issue, I believe it's going to be very difficult to achieve a 100% hydrogen or electric car that can effectively and dependably compete in acceleration with traditional gas-powered vehicles.

                Part of the problem is the (in some ways) reasonable assumption that new vehicular power technologies have to "ramp up" in acceptance, and part of city driving heuristic involves performance homogeneity; an assumption that other vehicles with which you share the road can be expected to perform like yours. People can't and won't augment their snap decision-making to include varied expectations of the performance of different kinds of cars.

                Of course, perhaps even more important is the fact that if there's an understanding that acceleration will be lower than a gas-guzzler, most Americans will just say, "Fuck that, Jack...!" They're addicted to that acceleration.

                It reminds me of when I was a little kid. I was looking at an encyclopedia entry about cars, and it had a couple of pages devoted to illustrations of cars through the years.  I remember (as a kid, mind you) looking at the pictures and saying to myself, "Who are they kidding? Are they thinking I'm going to see this little illustrated essay as a paean to the March of Automotive Progress? This isn't progress; they're all powered by gasoline!"

                Anyway, back to the video segment: I think the technology was quite, quite nascent in that segment.

                Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

                by razajac on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:11:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  actually acceleration doesn't need to be (9+ / 0-)

                  a problem.  The Tesla does well, PML Flightlink converted a Mini to be a PEHV and got 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds and still ran 60 to 80 MPG.

                  Electrics can give good acceleration if properly sized motors are used. Electric motors have their highest torque at low speed, what you want for good acceleration.  When ultracapacitors are used to store power from regenerative braking, something they are better for than batteries, the UC's ability to deliver high peak power output combined with electric motors ability to safely sustain overload conditions for short intervals can give very good performance.

                  But it is true that many electrics, like the ultra-high-mileage internal combustion cars, just don't play well in current traffic conditions.  As it is unlikely that you can get a massive switchover, new technology vehicles will need to have similar handling to current cars.

                •  ops back to the google for you (0+ / 0-)

                  I guess you have not really been reading.
                  Take a look at

              •  i'm not an engineer but (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                couldn't solar panels be installed upright on a scaffold instead of flat? or even on the face of buildings, or maybe solar particles could be engineered into a cars "paint"?

                •  or our roads could energize our cars? (0+ / 0-)
                  •  that's been done (4+ / 0-)

                    electric trolleys and bumper cars for example.  There have been suggestions for doing away with the overhead wires by burying coils in the road that work lick transformers with coils in the cars.  It uses a lot of wire and isn't too efficient, the overhead trolley wire uses much less material and has less loss.

                    There's also a problem as you get out of population centers. As extremes consider New York city at rush hour, and driving across Montana. There's a lot of road where the traffic level wouldn't justify the costs, and it's always troublesome to handle the change between modes.

                    I suspect that it is better to go with trolley buses and rail trolleys, electric trains, and so on, in urban areas; short range battery electric cars for getting around in those areas for short trips and getting to and from the mass transit, and for now PEHV for the less densely populated areas and long trips.  Leave the roads as passive surfaces, avoiding the huge retrofitting costs and other issues.

                •  sort of answered this elsewhere (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Subterranean, kurt, Calamity Jean, ankey

                  but it works out to about three square feet of photovoltaic panel, collecting sunlight over a day, to give you power to travel 1 mile.  This is with the panel tilted for better collection, placing it flat ( 'painted on' ) drops the power output by 15% or more.  Then there is shadows from trees and buildings, being on the north side of hills, and cloudy weather.

                  The orientation aspect is important for trying to use the faces of buildings. Normal flat roof mounting tilts the cells for proper exposure, mounting as a sort of siding results in reduced output from having the incorrect angle.

                  Paint-on PV aren't likely to be very efficient in the near future, you need a bottom conductive layer and a top transparent conductive layer, with the PV material between. For the more efficient PV types they have their owwn top and bottom to be aligned.  It makes one-can candy-stripe paint look easy.

                  •  i'm sure you've read this (0+ / 0-)

                    you obviously know a lot more about this than I do.
                    I find this fascinating and wish I knew something about engineering. Maybe it's time to go back to school...

                    •  p - dye based photocells are the type (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      that form their junctions from the current collectors.  Unfortunately some of the dyes used are somewhat nasty, toxic, mutagenic, or even carcinogenic. Others aren't, but for decent efficiency use toxic electrolytes.  Some designs have lifespan problems, others never were able to be improved enough for useful efficiencies.

                      There's been some hopeful development on the efficiency front recently, that team is one of the groups showing improvements.

                      Note that this isn't paint in the sense of coming out of a can.  Instead it is a series of coating layers applied with fair precision, taking specialized equipment.  It's being applied to a flat surface, although the finished product might have some flexibility; however I doubt it would survive the typical sheet metal forming of automotive exterior panels.

                      This is the grant that fueled the work

                      As for learning, most of what I know I learned outside of school.  There's a lot of information online, some searching often turns up sites that are one a teaching level, past the "great new breakthrough" of PR hype, but not so technical as to be for experts alone.

              •  with complete humility, I beg to differ... (0+ / 0-)

                If we could find a way to bypass using biomass as fuel, we would save in the long run.  After all, all our fuel sources are essentially SUGARS clinging to a carbon-backbone.  I would like to cut out the middle-man, so-to-speak, the natural process where sunlight is converted into energy by plants, then we feed these plants (both living and fossil) to our machines.  I would like to stop feeding carbon to non-carbon things like cars, machines, buildings, etc...

                "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

                by Aidos on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:28:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That has to be the dumbist thing I've read in a (0+ / 0-)

                  long time.

                  The denser the population the lower the environmental impact.  More people use public transportation, have smaller dwelling and use much less energy per person than people who live further apart from each other do. However the energy for such living arrangements must come from somewhere else because the space is too valuable in densely populated areas.

                  Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

                  by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:48:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not sure I fully understand your point (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean

                  but I'm assuming that you mean avoiding the use of carbon based fuels, correct me if I'm wrong.  I'll try to address that general subject.

                  We need to store energy for later use, both in vehicles and as a way of evening out the supply from renewables - solar, wind, and wave+current have daily cycles and longer term fluctuations mostly from weather and climate.

                  For vehicles energy density in terms of volume - how much space is needed to store X amount of energy, and mass - how much weight does it take to store the energy, is important.  Often how much peak power can be supplied is important too.

                  There are a number of ways to do this that are used or have been tried; springs, compressed air, liquefied gases boiled by ambient heat, storage (rechargeable) batteries, primary air batteries (similar to fuel cells), fuel cells, and various forms of heat engines burning fuels - Otto, Diesel, Stirling, Rankine are all examples of these.

                  A problem with the non-fuel methods is that the very best of them, as in-the-lab-only and a decade or more away from commercial use, is only about 1/6 as good as oxidizing sugars (as approximately CH2O they are partially oxidized to start with) or brown coal, 1/8 as dense as methanol, 1/12 ethanol, 1/18 as good as typical liquid fuels. And that's the best known, actual commercial products are 3 to 5 times worse.

                  This means that for a given weight or volume a non-fuel approach will store only around 1/50 or so the power as a fuel burning one, only travel 1/50 the distance or run for 1 hour instead of 4 days.  Partly this is because fuel burning power sources, except for rockets, don't have to haul their oxidizer around but simple use the atmosphere to supply it.

                  We can get around this to some extent by segregating our transportation needs; short range cars for local travel, mass transit or rental cars for longer range trips.  There is public resistance to this, because we are used to not having much limit on driving distance or time (think of kids cruising - a lot of time going nowhere).  Using electrical connection,  electric trolleys and trains for example, gets around the storage problem but generally is only useful for mass transit to a limited set of destinations.  And for things such as deliver trucks, the most efficient means of getting stuff to individuals or retail outlets, non-fuel storage often simply can't do the job.  Ships and planes have the same problem, they need fuel to work.

                  So for applications we're stuck with fuel burners.  We can burn carbon-based fossil fuels, carbon-based renewable biofuels, or non-carbon-based fuels.  The carbon-based fuels have the highest energy densities of the not too exotic or toxic fuels, several times most non-carbon alternatives.

                  The main non-carbon choices are the popular hydrogen, which really isn't very effective, ammonia, which volume for volume contains 1.5 times as many hydrogen atoms as elemental hydrogen, zinc, aluminum, boron, and silicon.  

                  Zinc and aluminum can be used in air batteries, a form of fuel cell; as their reaction products are solids they are a bit difficult to work with, and must be recovered for reprocessing.

                  Boron and silicon are burned as you would coal, silicon being quite similar to hard coal in its storage densities. Once again the reaction products are solid, although with boron the oxide is liquid at the temperature of combustion; these are really only practical with large fixed facilities.

                  Ammonia has general storage properties similar to propane; the gas form is more difficult to ignite, but it absorbs water with the release of heat and formation of quite alkaline solutions and is strong smelling and choking. It can be stored as solid complexes with magnesium or calcium chlorides, these have low vapor pressure at room temperature and at worst smell slightly of ammonia; they release their ammonia upon heating. Ammonia can be used as a fuel in conventional engines, Otto, Diesel, and turbines; and it can be used with fuel cells as well.

                  For level the variability of renewable power storage, large amount of energy must be stored. Pumped storage is one way, pushing water uphill into one reservoir and letting it run back down into another. Synthetic fuels is another, note that in this case carbon-based fuels can be 'captive', the oxidation products stored and recycled when there an excess of renewable power. As I said above, boron and silicon are possible bulk fuels whose end products would be easy to capture because they are solids.

                  For some applications local storage such as batteries can be used, but these quickly become too large and expensive as the amount of power to be stored increases.

                  We're likely stuck with some usage of carbon-based fuels for some time. This is in part due to the slow turnover of existing infrastructure, and partly because few if any useful alternatives are on the horizon.  Basing this fuel on biological sources, or on fully captive cycles, prevents the release of more fossil source carbon. It also allows the continuing use of existing technology with the fuel, avoiding the shock of a technological step function which often generates strong opposition.

                  •  Thank you for your gracious and professional (0+ / 0-)

                    reply to my question,  and your meeting me at my level of understanding.  I appreciate the education.

                    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

                    by Aidos on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 02:13:07 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Liquid ash (0+ / 0-)

                    Boron and silicon are burned as you would coal, silicon being quite similar to hard coal in its storage densities. Once again the reaction products are solid, although with boron the oxide is liquid at the temperature of combustion; these are really only practical with large fixed facilities.

                    I was thinking about this ten years ago and it occurred to me that boron oxide's slight fluidity at and above 750 K -- not at the temperature of combustion, that's about five times higher -- is not a disadvantage. It makes boron combustion practical at small mobile facilities. Large fixed facilities would still be needed to reverse the combustion.

                    --- G.R.L. Cowan

            •  aka better batteries? (0+ / 0-)

              who's doing the basic research on that?

              "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

              by Aidos on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:22:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You can't really get lighter than lithium (0+ / 0-)

                on the periodic table at least

                (-8.50, -7.54) Klaatu barata nikto

                by Tin hat mafia on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:36:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Energy storage devices (0+ / 0-)

                ..or mediums. Hydrogen is actually an energy storage medium when you think of it that way. Sure there are inefficiencies in creating hydrogen from renewable energy and turning it back into energy later but it works perfectly fine. As an energy storage medium hydrogen is not a bad one.

                The chemical based battery has just about been refined as much as can be hoped for. The annual gains being made are in the order or 6%.

                The future may well lie in finding the best energy transfer mediums to power on-board fuel cells that recharge the most efficient batteries. IMHO

        •  I've seen it work myself and am looking for an (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          updated version. The version I've seen still uses gas but cuts down on the it's use significantly. Runs on the power in the battery. Creates hydrogen out of water. It's been absolutely criminal that the car companies have turned their collective nose up at this technology. And at others, including engines that get well over 100 mph. The car companies try to convince everyone that this stuff is fantasy, but I've actually seen it.

          BTW, I've seen other machines running on HHO, not just car engines.

          •  Sorry but HHO is a pure scam (9+ / 0-)

            Sorry but there is no such thing as HHO. When you see those HHO demos its just H2 and O2 burning after the water has been electrolyzed.  

            I've seen the 'updated' version you are talking about and it doesn't work. It does not increase fuel efficiency it actually decreases it slightly. Much like running the AC does.

          •  misunderstanding capitalism (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sherri in TX, cotterperson

            Economic principals are very easy to understand.  The inventors who come up with breakthroughs, do not have capital at their disposal to build factories and bring their inventions to market.  What ends up happening is that they sell the patent rights to the highest bidders who are usually the oil companies (they have all the money in the world at this point).  That is why we don't see these brought to market.  It isn't in their interest to see demand for oil brought down(supply versus demand and they control the supply).  Unless we have a few billion dollars laying around to buy the infrastructure to build these cars ourselves, then we will never see it brouht forth to the market until we have used as much oil as physically possible.

        •  Yeah, right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dburbach, Calamity Jean

          That's called a "perpetual motion machine." However eleaborate, they don't work.

          "I'm not opposed to all wars; I'm opposed to dumb wars." -- Obama in 2002

          by Frank Palmer on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:51:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  yeah we have been doing this for some time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          my ford 2002 f 150 replete with high performance upgrades, competes with your hondas mpg and carbon foot print. In fact it obliterates the carbon footprint completely due to the way hydrogen burns so completely.

           You could build it your selves for pennies on the dollar and folks the oil companies have known since 1917, where the physical proof of mechanical power in automotive engines was demonstrated in Texas, of all places.. Think about that, we have been held hostage economically and as a specie by an entity that held knowledge of a better way but choose to suppress it, for power.

          I have been holding back on an article regarding this and a larger view and methodology that is quite useful and needed. Perhaps I will publish it after all. Regardless, we are the answer and if you want a full tilt no holds barred revolution of peace start with the thing you use every day. that collection of tires wires and stuff needs change and your hands can provide it, there are folks like me that can help and do but we can't make you drink the water we can show you.

      •  It's not the Big 3, it's Big Oil (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        As in, Bush and Cheney.

        -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

        by thingamabob on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:51:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My College prof's great aunti had one, in 1930 (0+ / 0-)

        He mentioned it during one of his lectures.  That his maiden great aunt, maiden was code for lesbian back then, had an electric car.  The prof insisted that big oil killed the electric car and that one day, someone would kill big oil.

        "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

        by Aidos on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:32:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I remember growing up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      seeing all these cars on "That's Incredible" that alternative sources or energy. One that ran with a wood burning stove.

      I grew up and PA and there was rumor going around that someone had invented an engine that powered a car with steam. The word was that auto manufactures came along bought the patent for a million smackers and threw it in a safe where it was never seen again.

      The car companies and oil companies have always had an "understanding" that's why were in shape we're in today. It's criminal really. Think if we'd explored alternative fuels, we wouldn't be in Iraq and we wouldn't have a dying planet. Real downside to alternative energy right? We can thank our congresspeople for being total sell outs on this one and taking on these two special interests; oil and auto.  

      "Just imagine a work of such magnitude that it actually mirrors the whole world....In it all of nature finds a voice." Gustav Mahler on his 3rd Symphony

      by Mahler3 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 11:32:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe because the hydrogen (0+ / 0-)

      car is totally unefficient.

      According to this wikipedia article

  •  The Big Three are getting what they deserve (10+ / 0-)

    Amazing, this is crazy...

  •  Hey that's a great idea! (35+ / 0-)

    My suggestion to the auto companies -- have Big Oil bail them out.

    Yes! The auto companies have done everything they could to help the oil industry; why can't Chevron, Exxon, and the other big oil companies help them out?

    So many impeachable offenses, so little time... -6.0 -5.33

    by Cali Techie on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:15:13 AM PST

  •  So the question (14+ / 0-)

    What happened to the scheme--and the car?

    [When] the land... has become private property, the landlords... love to reap where they never sowed, and demand rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith

    by ogre on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:20:24 AM PST

    •  I can't find anything! (2+ / 0-)

      I would love to know that myself, if anyone cares to delve further.  I have to go to bed right now!

    •  You can bet the oil companies along with the big (5+ / 0-)

      three killed this one. I imagine they put a fair amount of money into killing this one.

      "Those that know, don't say, those that say, don't know"... Tao te ching... Then why am I posting a comment?

      by zenmasterjack on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:33:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can bet the oil companies, along with the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      big three, killed this one. I imagine they put a fair amount of time and money into making sure this one failed.

      "Those that know, don't say, those that say, don't know"... Tao te ching... Then why am I posting a comment?

      by zenmasterjack on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:35:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It costs too much (4+ / 0-)

      One problem is that hydrogen fuel cells, seen as a way to provide electricity in homes as well as vehicles, rely on precious-metal catalysts like platinum. A conventional automotive fuel-cell stack contains up to 100 grams of platinum, which could cost more than $3000 at today's prices. For the hydrogen economy to happen, the amount of platinum used in fuel cells has to come down, and soon.

      •  there is a small Canadian company (6+ / 0-)

        that claims to have discovered a new alloy instead of platinum that is in abundance everywhere and natuarally very cheap.

        That story was posted here about 2 months ago.

        If true - that video didn't reveal the "secret" - we might see a push in that direction. Public pressure and political will are needed of course.

        "It takes two to lie. One to lie, one to hear it." Homer Simpson

        by Euroliberal on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:32:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Global Thermoelectric of Calgary (6+ / 0-)

          They use a solid metal oxide process. 20 000 units installed in over 50 countries. It's not science fiction.

          •  Thermoelectric power is their big product (5+ / 0-)

            they run hot, and are not very efficient.  There main use is in remote sites, where the lack of moving parts means longer time between repairs, which more than compensates for the less than 10% efficiency.

            Global is also developing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, which also run hot but do not require platinum group metals as catalysts.  They're somewhat finicky, semsative to thermal shock.  A typical micro generator system fronts the SOFC with a micro gas turbine, which is used to warm up the SOFC to operating temperature over a 12 to 24 hour period, then to scavenge waste heat to boost power output by 5% to 10%.

            •  I have no idea (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wondering if

              what you just said! Lol! Boy, you're smart...;)

              Seriously, this stuff is like reading a foreign language to me. But I'm trying....

              •  :-) OK - (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                thermoelectric power typically comes from heating two bits of dissimilar conductors, like a piece of copper wire jointed to a piece of iron wire by a short twisted section, where you also have another joined section that is cold. That configuration is common in thermocouples, used for measuring hot stuff from ovens on up to high temperature ceramic kilns.

                There are better materials to use than iron and copper wire, but it's still the hot-junction/cold-junction idea. The  voltage is low, as is the current, so you stack a lot of them in series to boost he voltage, and connect lots of those stacks in parallel in icrease the current.

                There have been numerous commercial devices built around this. In the Victorian era they were used to supply DC power for research and electroplating, this being before electric lighting and power distribution.  They remained in use in more rural areas well into the 20th century, and even in other areas as a way to avoid buying batteries.  You could get models that used kerosene as their fuel for heating, they were being made in the USSR in the 1960s.

                They still are in use in similar applications - remote from electric lines, unattended operation - no moving parts to wear, and occasionally potable applications - it can be easier to get a burnable fuel than power to recharge batteries.  They are also used in smaller form as heat sensors, providing a signal of sufficient strength to swamp out noise and directly drive controls without depending on the power mains.

                There are a number of classes of fuel cells; all work on the basic concept of a battery, but a battery where the chemicals used are a fuel like hydrogen and an oxidizer like air or oxygen, that is continuously feed into them.  There are several types that work at low temperatures, room temperature to around the boiling point of water.  These all use hydrogen fuel, need platinum or related metals to catalyze the reaction, and tend to be sensitive to contamination including carbon oxides.  The high temperature ones run hot - near red heat on up into a bright orange glow, don't need platinum, are generally less sensitive to contamination, can directly use hydrocarbons as fuel or even use coal, and have higher efficiencies than the low temperature cells.  They're also harder to make because they run so hot.

      •  Recycle your catalytic converter (0+ / 0-)

        It uses platinum too.

      •  Don't need fuel cells. Burn H2 in normal engines (5+ / 0-)

        Did you notice that Jack's Impala had a regular Chevy smallblock V8 equipped to burn compressed H2 gas?

        Fuel cells are more efficient, but unnecessary for now.

        •  The point of a fuel cell (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tin hat mafia

          is that it produces electricity directly, and that electricity is efficiently convertible to torque, sometimes as high as 80% or even more.

          Normal engines release the energy to heat, which is then converted to torque via pressure/expansion. This is very inefficient, usually well under 25%, (with the 30% theoretical limit noted in other comments).

          The W ... it stands for Wrong.

          by nosleep4u on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:34:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  actually low temperature H2 fuel cells (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are not that much more efficient than IC engines,  They run about 35% to 40% efficient in automotive and household power sizes.

            There is an efficiency gain when using wheel motors instead of a conventional transmission, drive shaft, differential, and so on.  But the big jump is going to the 80% to 90% efficiency of batteries instead of other means of power storage.

            •  True but (0+ / 0-)

              even 37% is a great improvement (1.5x) over 25%. I was more trying to point out that combustion engines are just a poor efficiency choice going forward, period, regardless of the fuel.

              Batteries are currently even more efficient than fuel cells, yes, but do eventually wear out. I haven't kept up with battery lifetime improvements. I think 4 years is the current norm for a Prius battery?

              There's so much flux in the technology right now it's hard to see how things will play out. Tons of new advances in everything from black silicon to cathode materials to ...

              The W ... it stands for Wrong.

              by nosleep4u on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 06:37:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  but full cycle H2 is less efficient than IC (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kurt, mrchumchum

                you can't just look at engine efficiencies, you need the "well to wheel" or equivalent values, you have to make and store the hydrogen.  I've read several studies that put WTW for H2 below that for conventional Otto and Diesel cycle based vehicles, others that put them at about the same efficiency.  Even at the same efficiency H2 is a poor choice because of its need for rare materials, the extraction of which has considerable ecological impact.

                Solid oxide and molten carbonate fuel cells are the highest efficiency fuel cells, but they still fall short of batteries even when used in combined cycle systems.

                Fuel cells wear out too. And battery life is improving, Firefly has revamped lead-acid technology to give batteries that look to last 8-10 years or more; they also think they can match the energy density of NiMH technologies - the "suppressed battery technology" talked about.

          •  So what? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If it works, it works!  Why mess around with some persnickity high-tech expensivce "solution" when you don't really need it?  Cars are designed to run hot anyway, heat sinks everywhere.  

            Just burn the damn H2 like it shows in the video and be done with it!

            Cheaper, simpler, etc.

        •  Yeah, that's what struck me! (0+ / 0-)

          Is that it sure didn't appear to be a fuel cell.

    •  BMW is tinkering with hydrogen for, like, forever (3+ / 0-)

      ...or since 1984, to be exact. They've basically converted a 7series of every generation into a bi-valent vehicle. The newest being the Hydorgen 7


      Unless there's the infrastructure, they'll not going to sell the cars. Chicken-egg-problem.

      Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

      by RandomGuyFromGermany on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:38:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Random Guy (3+ / 0-)

        You're right. Just by chance I have two friends who are hydrogen experts (one from Germany!) The science still has some problems that need to be resolved. The larger issue is implementation.

        Some experts  believe that the hydrogen economy will never be achieved. I hope those people are wrong.

        •  True. (5+ / 0-)

          I have a hard time myself, imagining how a full-scale hydrogen economy could look like - with all that need for cryogenic storage and transport. Sure you can think of some smart stuff, where you would re-use the excess heat from the cooling process etc.

          But this is a massive feat. Eventually we might end up there, but this isn't even a ten year plan. That's more like 30 to 50 years of sustained effort. And maybe even only in and around population centers.

          Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

          by RandomGuyFromGermany on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:17:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  hydrogen is a lousy fuel for vehicles (13+ / 0-)

          it has very low volumeteric energy density compared to typical liquid fuels.  Increasing that density, by storing the hydrogen under high pressure or cryogenic  liquefying it, eats up 1/4 to 1/2 the energy stored in the hydrogen, meaning it is 50% to 75% efficient.  The low temperature fuel cells run 40% to 45% efficient, for an overall efficiency of 25% to 30%. If the hydrogen is made electrolytically then the efficiency of storing power is in the range of 20%.  A battery runs about 80% efficiency, higher with modern charger designs, so batteries are about 4 times as efficient as the 'hydrogen economy' route.

          •  There are other ways of using hydrogen (4+ / 0-)

            It can be the basis of your household energy needs. Refrigerator size units have been installed in houses to handle heating and electrical needs. I suppose you could run the electrolysis from your rooftop solar cells.

            Here's a youtube of a home in Hopewell NJ. Solar Hydrogen Home

            Note the size of his tanks!

            •  and that is the problem (5+ / 0-)

              the size of storage needed. Most urban homes don't have the space needed for that much storage, my yard certainly isn't that large.

              Then there's hydrogen's tendency to leak through the smallest opening, and even through solid metal and other substances.

              Once again, water to H2 + O2 via electrolysis, storing the hydrogen, and making electricity using a fuel cell is roughly 1/4 as efficient as batteries. This could go up to 1/3 as efficient if the hydrogen is stored under fairly low pressure.

              If you want to store power and wish to be able to easily expand storage by adding more tanks, use redox flow batteries and cut the size of your PV array in half or better.

          •  Oil Companies love Hydrogen (17+ / 0-)

            Oil companies are investing heavily in the hydrogen economy. Why?

            Because hydrogen requires a distribution system very similar to the distribution system for gasoline. And its a good distance in the future. The oil companies can wring every last profit out of oil as the slowly change stations, storage areas, and pipe lines over to hydrogen. And of course the fact that most hydrogen production comes from the oil companies through the breakdown of hydrocarbons probably doesn't hurt.

            The oil companies hate electric because it gives them no place to grow.

            Given the inefficiencies of converting electric-hydrogen-electric compared to electric-battery I don't see why its given serious thought except for the fact that oil companies have sunk large amounts of money into hydrogen propaganda.

            •  beat me to it (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cotterperson, kurt

              I was writing a post very similar then saw yours.  It is true, the oil companies want an infastructure model based on the gas station where we are forced to pay a tax to them in order to have transportation.

            •  Also note that currently the way to make H2 (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kurt, JeffW, Futuristic Dreamer

              uses fossil fuel and air or steam, so you can start up a "hydrogen economy" while retaining current levels of fossil fuel consumption.  The fuel companies argued that with centralized hydrogen production facilities the carbon dioxide could be captured and sequestered; also this reduces pollution such as unburned hydrocarbons and sulfur oxides.  This is true but how effective sequestering is remains an issue, as well as the question of would they actually do the CO2 capture.

    •  Expensive, and not efficient (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leveymg, pgm 01

      check the price tag on it.  Plus hydrogen makes a poor fuel for automobiles, much less efficient than charging batteries.

      •  But, it can be refueled faster than a recharge. (0+ / 0-)

        I agree that electric is the way to go for short trips, but photo-electolysis produced H2 can be used to run a modified internal combustion engine to run the on-board battery charger.

        I just want to get away from hydrocarbon fuels - this is a way to do it without requiring everyone to buy a new car.

        •  you'll need a new car to carry the H2 (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dburbach, mikolo, pgm 01, JeffW, ankey

          it has poor volumetric efficiency, it takes a lot of space to store much energy as H2.  You can improve that by highly compressing the hydrogen, or liquefying it; both processes waste a lot of energy and the result takes major modifications to an automobile for the fuel tank.

          If you want to avoid buying new cars, you either go with carbon based fuels or ammonia, they're the only things that give the energy density that can be stored in a somewhat conventional fashion. The carbon based fuels need not be fossil derived, there are a number of processes for converting carbon oxides or junk carbohydrates to a range of liquid or easy to liquefy gas fuels.

          •  Have you ever heard of a trailer? (0+ / 0-)

            But, we don't have the technology for that yet, do we?

            So, let's continue buying and driving new gasoline or diesel fueled cars, rather than retrofitting the one's we already have.

            •  It would work, perhaps (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ogre, rockhound, pgm 01, Grass

              but the line and couplings carrying hydrogen from the trailer to the car is going to be a challenge.  Making it proof against accidents, even relatively minor ones, would seem to be difficult.

              But I suspect that having to tow a trailer around is an anti-selling point.  I don't want to think what that would do to parking, most vehicles would no longer fit in the existing spaces and densities would go down.  And there's the aesthetic aspect, I think many would prefer to buy a new car.

              Anyhow, once you introduce a trailer you can put batteries in it and get a big boost in efficiency over making and burning hydrogen.

              I'm not clear on

              H2 can be used to run a modified internal combustion engine to run the on-board battery charger.

              I just want to get away from hydrocarbon fuels - this is a way to do it without requiring everyone to buy a new car.

              It sounds as if you're talking about a hybrid, which just about means a new car anyway - you can retrofit but is not a cheap and simple task.

            •  so, you want to drive around (0+ / 0-)

              in a car with a trailer loaded with liquid or compressed hydrogen?

              It would make you average car wreck more interesting than Nascar!

              (-8.50, -7.54) Klaatu barata nikto

              by Tin hat mafia on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:45:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not really. (7+ / 0-)

          Current battery technology has already gotten us to the point where a 10-15 min charge can get us 90% charged. And charge stations can be literally put anywhere a car is parked. Eat at McDonald's while car gets McCharged.

          Right now a battery powered car can go further on a single charge than a fuel-cell car can on a full tank. And where do you go to fuel up the hydrogen car?

          And I'm pretty sure it will be cheaper to buy an electric car than to convert an old car to hydrogen.

  •  & of course general motors had an electric (15+ / 0-)

    car, which they leased out, then recalled & destroyed. you can see the movie, "who killed the electric car," on youtube.

    who cares what banks fail in yonkers - as long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:23:47 AM PST

  •  The ironic... (6+ / 0-)

    ...thing is that the new "solution" is a plug in electric. The biggest scam of all time. Now the oil companies and the power companies will both get over on us. Lots of electricity is generated by fuel fired plants. Solar/hydrogen leaves out the big power so it's got no chance.

    "Good to be here, good to be anywhere." --Keith Richards

    by bradreiman on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:30:03 AM PST

    •  "plug-in electric" = "coal powered car" (7+ / 0-)

      in most cases.  

      •  exactly.. (0+ / 0-)

        ...poor mountains.

        "Good to be here, good to be anywhere." --Keith Richards

        by bradreiman on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:38:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So what should we do? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It seems to me that that there isn't a good answer.  Well, other than a flu pandemic

        The hard work of one does more than the prayers of millions

        by dog lover for obama on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:50:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know what (12+ / 0-)

          we should do.

          But I remember in the '70s the outrage that the patents to green technology were being bought by big oil and the Big Three...and being buried by them.

          So, for me, this is not news.  It is merely another affirmation that government regulation is good; deregulation is bad; and no corporate entity should be allowed to function without strenuous government oversight to ensure they adhere strictly within the law.  

          Oh, yeah, and TAX THE RICH!

          It seems to me that...the capitalist system...will be destroyed by its own internal greed.--Molly Ivins

          by Youffraita on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:10:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep, like the patents for anti cavity vaccines (0+ / 0-)

            (at least three of them), that were purchased by the American Dental Assn and buried. Vested interests. Profit rules.

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:26:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

              •  Too long ago. I remember at least three (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CalifSherry, cotterperson

                being developed and talked about nationally. At least one was reported in an early Discover or maybe Omni mag. 80's mostly, I think the last one may have been in the early 90's. There was some kerfluffel about the developers of the first two being bought off just before the last one was about to go into trials. I thought that the ADA should have been sued for interfereing with the public good, but no one listened.

                I just googled and found this, so there are still people trying and the ADA is still watching closely.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:11:24 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  patents are public records (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dsteffen, kurt, Armored Scrum Object

              they can't be 'buried', just not used until they expire.

              And the issuing of a patent does not mean that what is patented is commercially viable.  Often patents are taken out to protect a concept or process that is hoped can be made useful soon enough before the patent expires.  A rather high percentage of all 'discovery' patents, as opposed to those that are fairly simple variations on an existing concept, never make it to market or even trial production.

              There's a bit of background on the anti cavity vaccine here,  the early research is in journals that require a subscription.

              •  What I remember was that the developer's (0+ / 0-)

                interests in the vaccines and the research were bought out, whether it was before or after patent, I don't know, it was a long time ago. And with the volume of patents, it used to be possible to file quietly and not announce anything. A patent search, before the database was computerized fairly recently, was expensive and time consuming. Well, the patent attorneys were charging an arm and a leg to do them, presumably since they were labor intensive and access used to be expensive, too.

                At least one and I believe two of the reported vaccines were in trials showing promising results, which is what got them reported, and then they suddenly dropped off the map and were never heard from again. I don't know if they were all looking into a single organism and refining an approach or what. They didn't seem to reference earlier work, but again, I only saw squibs being reported, not trials being published.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:39:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  From your fingertips (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            to Obama's ears.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:01:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Turbine-electric serial hybrid? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This is the system used on modern locomotives, presumably because it's more efficient than using the diesel engine to drive the wheels directly.  Run the turbine on natural gas and it's cleaner than a plug-in for most parts of the country.  Think of a Chevy Volt with a gas turbine instead of a gasoline reciprocating engine.

          •  cleaner, but not more efficient than (4+ / 0-)

            diesel-electric, which many train locomotives in the U.S. are.  The generator and electric motors function as a transmission, the electrics give high torque when starting.

            Railroad diesels run about 40% efficient, gas turbines of the same power are about 30%.  But burning natural gas is cleaner than most diesels are, much less soot.

            Big marine diesel engines can hit 50% efficiency, making them one of the most efficient engines around; only large combined cycle power plants do better, running 45% to 60% efficient.

            •  What would be the cut in efficiency using (0+ / 0-)

              a hydrogen turbine?  I would imagine, at least 50 percent.  But, it would be zero emissions.  Zero energy imports.  That has to be factored into the overall costs.

              Might be worth considering such a system for localized power generation, as well.

              •  actually not zero emmisions (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Calamity Jean

                hydrogen burns quite hot, so using air gives nitrogen oxides.  That may be OK, because most bio-intensive gardening depends on manmade nitrogen oxides to get enough combined nitrogen for the plants.

                As always, storing enough hydrogen is the problem.  On a small scale batteries are much more efficient, flow batteries for larger systems.  On a large scale pumped storage is better both in efficiency and in terms of spaced used for storage.

                Stranded Wind has written a series of diaries on using wind power for making ammonia.  Originally the idea was to make hydrogen and store it to provide the ammonia plant with the steady supply it needs.  They gave that up when research showed that a single small to mid size ammonia plant would need a lot more  hydrogen storage that the total amount of existing H2 storage in the U.S.

      •  Right. Then we (you and I and all of us)... (0+ / 0-)

        ...organize to change the way electricity is generated in America.

        1. ???
        1. Profit!

        ¡O Bailan todos, o no baila nadie!

        by beatpanda on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:09:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  most? any data? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leveymg, rapala, wondering if

        california has a lot of cars, but also solar, nukes, and should/could maybe look for charts or graphs before making such a sweeping statement.
         There's something to that, but you need to also figure in the better efficiancies of the plants and the outputs of pollution vs the usually not as well maintained and monitored individual car engines. Your sentiment that we're 'just shifting the pollution to the coal powered plants' is an excuse to do nothing, and doesn't fit the facts, and is a RW talking point...or maybe a smoking and drinking and talking point.
        just sayin'  :>

        'Thank goodness we Aussies got the criminals and the 'mericans got the Puritans."

        by KenBee on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:10:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  some data (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, Inky99

          Nation-wide roughly 1/2 from coal, 1/5 each from natural gas and nuclear, some 7% from hydro, 2.5% from other renewables.

          Numbers from here.

          The West Coast is high in hydro and natural gas. California is something like 40% natural gas, 12.5% nuclear, 10% each hydro and coal, 5% geothermal, 15% 'impoted' which is mostly hydro and coal. Seattle City Light gets something like 90% from hydro, 4.5% nuclear, 3.5% wind, 1% from natural gas.  Given that more than a tenth of the population lives in those three States, the percentage from coal will be a bit higher elsewhere than the national average.

          You must remember that switching to electric transportation would mean an increased demand for electricity. Electric power production uses about 40% of the energy supply in the U.S., transportation uses about 30%, almost all from petroleum.  Some of transportation's figure comes from shipping and ferries, which are likely to stick with petroleum for some time.

      •  Advances in solar technology in combination with (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cotterperson, Calamity Jean

        advances in battery storage technologies would probably suprise most people.
        High speed charging capability, ultracapacitors or hotswap battery systems just a few of the innovations currently being developed.
        Here is a graph (note it is a little self serving for the company) showing the difference in mileage capacity were an area 100m x 100m used for any form of biomass versus straight solar.

        Well worth considering the solar/electric argument when you see stuff like this. Plus America is full of very clever people who are trying to make this a reality.  

        "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

        by Unenergy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:25:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who says there needs to be a single best (0+ / 0-)

          solution to tackle the issue of alternative means of propelling personal vehicles?
          Too often the standard for how we are going to fuel our vehicles gets caught up in the 'one size fits all' bracket which gasoline has forced us to accept.
          I would suggest that flex fuel capability be made available as mandatory on any gasoline vehicles as the first criteria for any auto loan/bailout.
          There is a good story on what Brazil have done to work in sugarcane as the feedstock for ethanol fuels. According to this 60 minutes story, ordinary vehicles can be adapted relatively easily to run on these fuels.

          With the R&D advances in cellulosic ethanol now beginning to bear fruit, as one possible intermediary solution this makes sense.
          Secondly for city based passenger vehicles Project Better places hot swap battery idea in conjunction with roadside charging stations is being considered in a number of places.

          Thirdly think outside the square. Combinations of fast charging batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen, stirling engines, ultracapacitors, flywheels or even solar generating paints etc are possibilities.

          This sort of innovative thinking is probably the only thing which will solve the problem of oil scarcity/dependence and also help restart the American (and world) economy.

          "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

          by Unenergy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:36:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Some People Prefer Free To Buying Coal (0+ / 0-)

        One ancient pioneer lady did in my childhood.  All us kids made fun of her.  Way kids are.  She liked to call the dried cowpies she burned in her stove to keep warm in very cold country "buffalo chips."  Guess she was sensitive to the ribald humor of us kids after all.  Even lonely pioneers don't like to be the butt of jokes.

        Icelanders make do too with free.

        Maybe they can soon burn their money along with other garbage in the remote village of Husavik to fuel their power plant.  The economy is in shambles despite all the free energy Icelanders prefer unlike Americans.  The villagers prefer to call it a geothermal power plant.  Sounds more romantic somehow than garbage power.  Low temperature geothermal waters have heat added by burning garbage.  

        Iceland is also a country that is real hot on hydrogen.

        Not going so well but, hey, might as well dream when you use real renewable energy instead of just dreamy stuff like solar and hydrogen.

        Best,  Terry

    •  ermmm..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CalifSherry, cotterperson, paul2port

      I dunno.

      Plug in electrics are nice because they can produce a WHOLE bunch of power off the line.

      Hydrogen, which has storage issues that are being worked on, can be used to power an electric motor through a fuel cell, but at that point, you're going to have a hybrid, so why not just go full electric.

      Unfortunately, I think until fuel cells are more widely used and proven, you're probably going to see more things along the lines of the BMW hydrogen 7, which uses a ICE (internal combustion engine), which are less efficient.

      Other examples I can think of are Ahnold's hydrogen H2, the Ford Model U concept from a ways back and some company (can't remember at the moment) converted a 2nd gen Prius to run on hydrogen. The last two examples had to be boosted with a supercharger and a turbocharger, respectively.

      And then you have to think of the losses of energy changes and storage.

      (Preface: I'm not a chemist, so I don't know the exact amount of energy lost in some of the situations. I feel confident enough to say that you will lose a decent amount bouncing around from different energy storage states.)

      For example, powering a hydrogen car involves going from sunlight to electrical energy, which is used to split water into hyrdogen and oxygen (chemical energy), and then you have to store it (mechanical energy used here) and then you have to use it up in the car ,with the ICE option being less efficient compared to fuel cell, which goes back from chemical to electrical.

      With an electric, you have the option of going directly to the car with the energy, so it's pretty much solar to chemical (battery storage) to electrical. Of course you add another chemical to electrical jump if you store in a battery bank first, then charge the car from that.

      Long story short, someone's going to have you either way. You're going to be dependent on someone for solar cells, batteries and hydrogen. Until there are relatively easy ways to home-brew your own means of energy capture/production/storage, you will depend on someone.

      •  There's an organic farmer (4+ / 0-)

        in my county who fuels all his vehicles with vegetable oil.  Of course that's not feasible for every vehicle nationally; but yes, he has his trucks retrofitted so that he can get used frying oil from restaurants, filter it, and use it instead of gas.

        The oil costs nothing: the restaurants were going to throw it away anyhow.  And it doesn't pollute.  

        It seems to me that...the capitalist system...will be destroyed by its own internal greed.--Molly Ivins

        by Youffraita on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:15:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If it's an internal combustion engine, (0+ / 0-)

          it pollutes.  Ok, so they say,

          Vegetable oil plants absorb more carbon dioxide from the air during their growing cycle than is released when the oil is burned, this means that vegetable oil does not produce excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (this is referred to as carbon neutral)[cite]

          But if that vegetable oil weren't burned as fuel, it wouldn't release any CO2 at all.  To me this is therefore a dodge, especially when we have no way of knowing under what conditions (and using what fuels and chemical inputs) the vegetable oil plant was grown, processed, and shipped to begin with.

          Better than gasoline, yes, even with the diesel startup.  But not pollution-free.

          •  He's a FARMER. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cotterperson, Inky99

            His trucks are almost certainly diesel-kit.  And while I may not have a car, I've had to breathe the fumes emitted by diesel engines my entire life...sometimes at short-range while I was just waiting to cross a street.

            I would much rather breathe the (slight) pollution from french-fried oil than the black smoke emitted from most diesel engines.  Maybe deep-fry oil is not perfect...but if we wait until "perfect" we'll all be dead.

            It seems to me that...the capitalist system...will be destroyed by its own internal greed.--Molly Ivins

            by Youffraita on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:56:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  If the vegetable oil (0+ / 0-)

            isn't used as fuel it still decomposes and gives up its CO2. Probably the largest source, currently, of CO2 is dying phytoplankton. The hydrogen internal combustion we are talking about is cleaner but gasoline and diesel are dirtier. Biodiesel can be produced from algae that are fed on industrial waste CO2, generate oxygen and sequester the carbon for a cycle. We ought to be able to figure out a way to continuously recycle carbon so it doesn't ever float off fully oxidized.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:45:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  efficiency (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikolo, speedfreak

        Making H2 and O2 from water via electrolysis - 70% to 80%.

        Storing H2.  At low pressures pretty efficient, but needs BIG tanks.  At high pressures or liquefying it, 50% to 75% efficient.

        Converting hydrogen to electricity using a low temperature fuel cell - 35% to 50%, the lower efficiency for house or automotive sized ones which top out at about 40%.

        Storing electricity in a battery - 80% to 90% efficient, depending on how good the charger is.

      •  Why not just go full electric? Range. (0+ / 0-)

        The only reason to consider H2 as a vehicle fuel source is for vehicles that have to operate beyond the range of current generation batteries, which is about 80-100 miles.

        H2 can be retrofitted to run internal combustion engines - that's a proven technology.  You end up with less trunk space, and a car that can't accelerate as quickly, but so what?

        Any gasoline filling station can also dispense H2, if the investment is made.

        It's the immediate, low-tech answer to a huge problem.

        •  Actually electric cars are better (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Current million dollar fuel cell cars can get over 200 miles on a tank of hydrogen but a combustion engine will only get about a 100 miles on the same tank. But electric cars today can get over 200 miles per charge.

          And the basic infrastructure for electric cars is already in place. Electric car charging stations could be installed by the thousands in months and could be added easily anywhere as need increased.

          Plus electrics are less polluting. Yes electrics would currently be powered by coal but the efficiencies at the large power plants make it less carbon intensive than the natural gas that would be used to create hydrogen.

          •  Will my employer (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cotterperson, kurt

            be willing to allow me to recharge my batteries at work, so I can commute free of cost (to me)?

            I pay 10 cents/kwh at home, how much will the roadside recharge stations charge me? (no pun intended)

            Can I get a small wind turbine to charge my batteries overnight - DC current directly to DC storage?

            Can I get an even smaller wind turbine, mounted on the grill of my electric car to charge the batteries while I'm coasting down hills? I know, increased drag and all that - but what is the drag of the radiator and will turbine exhaust actually offset that drag?

            Can the roof, trunk, and hood of my car be covered with photovoltaic cells to help reduce the coal (carbon) footprint of using the grid to re-charge?

            I've got more questions than answers, but I especially don't know why I don't have a little windmill on my bumper to charge my 12v battery so the engine doesn't have to.

            Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. Thomas Jefferson 6/11/1807

            by Patriot4peace on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:12:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some answers (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Patriot4peace, kurt

              Google is putting in some recharging facilities for employees; but I doubt many employers would, and certainly not when there's no employer provided parking.

              Who knows what charging station will cost, although some guesses could be made from gas stations.  Gasoline sells for very roughly 60 cents a gallon over wholesale price, but taxes are a part of the markup.  A kilowatt-hour of electricity will take you about 3 to 4 miles if you buy a decent 2010 or 2012 design, call it 3 cents per mile.

              PV on cars is generally a poor proposition except for specialized vehicles.  In a fixed situation the PV panels are tilted for maximum output, on a car this would add drag (unless enclosed) and would only be helpful when driving in certain directions - in others the power would drop drastically.  Putting the PV flat on the roof drops power output somewhat.  Then you have to consider shading from buildings, trees, and so on. Finally there is the rough value of about three square feet of PV to get 1 mile of travel with a full day's charging; that's with optimal PV panel tilt and clear sky.

              The concept might work on cars used by urban postal delivery folks, as those tend to sit parked for at least 90% of their work day.

              Small wind turbines are not very efficient. On a vehicle they will always give drag, as they extract energy from moving air the air leaving them is traveling slower - no boost from it.  You'll do much better using regenerative braking to put power from stopping or going downhill back into batteries or ultracapacitors; energy recovery is 60% or better.

              As for charging your existing car battery - the wind turning a turbine comes from the car's motion, which comes from the engine.  Doing so adds in the powertrain losses plus the turbine inefficiency (can't ever be above 60%, small turbines are much lower)  This means that to get X watt-hours of charge your engine does more work to get that power from a small wind turbine instead of the engine directly turning the alternator.  I also doubt a small turbine could crank out enough power.

    •  But it doesn't have to be. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, rapala

      There's nothing to say people can't power their hybrids on home solar panels or with electricity from wind farms.

      No, the biggest scam is natural gas powered car.  If you must use natural gas to power a car, plug-in electric is the way to go.  Then you can switch to some other form of power generation.  Actual natural gas cars are a diversion and a money-making scam... and wouldn't be easily convertible to any other source of electricity.

    •  We need more wind turbines. (0+ / 0-)

      Wind blows day and night.  Car charging rate could be controlled via signals superimposed on the electric current by the wind farm.  Wind dies down, wind farm tells cars to slow down or stop recharging.  Wind picks up, wind farm tells cars to resume or speed up charging.  If I'm asleep, I don't care whether my (hypothetical) plugged-in car is charged at 1 AM or 5 AM.  All I care about is whether it's charged when I get in it to go to work.  

      In other words, the potentially variable load of charging electric cars is a perfect complement to the variable production of wind turbines.  

      Renewable energy brings national security.

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:28:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How safe would a hydrogen car be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in an accident (compared with current cars)?

    "A country that doesn't make anything doesn't need a financial sector as there is nothing to finance." Paul Craig Roberts

    by Sagebrush Bob on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:44:40 AM PST

    •  Ahhh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I typed the above question as I was watching the video, only to hear the comments at the end which make it appear that the hydrogen car described in the story would actually be safer. True?

      "A country that doesn't make anything doesn't need a financial sector as there is nothing to finance." Paul Craig Roberts

      by Sagebrush Bob on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:46:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (6+ / 0-)

        Hydrogen being lighter than air escapes up in the case of a rupture (rapture?)

        A good analogy would be the difference between propane and compressed natural gas in a boat.  Propane being heavier than air collects in the bilge of a boat in the case of a leak.

        Compressed natural gas escapes upward as would hydrogen.  Mariners tend to prefer CNG for this reason as the propane boats have a tendency toward match-stickiness when the propane tanks begin to leak.

        I should point out that the Propane and the CNG power the stove in the gally and not the boat.

        Here's to HOPE in Honduras

        by wallyslittlebro on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:26:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Current Hydrogen tanks are tested (0+ / 0-)

      to the point where they can take a ton of damage, at least being as able as current tanks.


    •  Hydrogen is much safer than most people think... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, FishOutofWater

      ...everyone thinks of the Hindenburg, but it wasn't hydrogen that caused that explosion... it was the incredibly flammable paint used on the canvas of the outer shell...  There was a bit of a coverup after the accident trying to blame the hydrogen, but recent analysis has proven that theory to be wholly incorrect.  Still, the idea persists that hydrogen is extremely flammable and dangerous.

      Comments that say "GM workers should get retraining" without SPECIFIC DETAILS about those "new jobs" that never come are trollworthy

      by LordMike on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:19:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Elemental hydrogen IS extremely flammable. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But the tanks in H-powered cars don't store the H simply as compressed gas.  The H is contained in a granulated substance - ceramics, metals, etc.  This makes the H less rapidly-combustible than it would be otherwise.  Additionally, as another comment pointed out, the tanks themselves are ruggedly built.

        Any potential explosion/fire dangers are heavily mitigated in H-powered cars.  They are likely to be less dangerous in that respect than a gasoline-powered car.  Anybody remember the Ford Pinto - the four-passenger mobile oven?

        Celtic Merlin

        Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

        by Celtic Merlin on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:53:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Marrrrkit Place, the hosers (5+ / 0-)

    Say "Silicon solar cells" ten times.

    That was a blast from the past.

    Thanks for finding this clip. Jack certainly saw the big picture. Yeah why should we pay attention to actors and artists and all those other weird lab coat wearing scientific types?

    Incidentally CBC's Marketplace was not a science discovery show. It covered consumer issues much like you would find in Consumer Reports.

  •  terrible irony (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Mz Kleen, lotlizard

    That's a great suggestion that Big Oil should bail out the auto industry ... after all they were the pushers in business to protect their own distribution model.

    Avoiding Theocracy at Home and Neo Cons Abroad

    by UniC on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:59:48 AM PST

  •  unbelieveable, nothing like having (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the wool pulled over our eyes(again) by the power that is.

    *a hundred years from now, the future may be different because I was important in the life of a child*

    by bonesy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:02:42 AM PST

  •  rec this to the top and keep it there! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Mz Kleen, lotlizard

    Make it fully viral! Send it to everyone you know. I remember as just a little kid in the mid 80's, there were plenty of econ cars getting 50-60+ miles to the gallon!!!

    "It's always nice to meet a young conservative. Someone who is filled with hope that nothing will change in the future." -Cobert

    by astronautagogo on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:07:24 AM PST

  •  A Friend of Mine Had One (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, Mz Kleen, quadmom

    Back then I had a friend who swore he had a car that ran on water and that he would never be allowed to publicize it or even drive it.

    I guess he wasn't nuts after all.

    Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

    by JG in MD on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:28:53 AM PST

  •  Gas-electric hybrids with regenerative braking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Mz Kleen, Inky99

    were available in the mid 1970's.

    And in 1976, I count no less than 28 electric vehicles for sale to the general public, manufactured in nine nations.

    (Source- World Cars catalogue 1976)

  •  It goes to show you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Inky99, chrome327

    We have had no leadership in this country for at least 30 years.

    The profits of today have always been more concern than investment in tomorrow.

    Capitalism has made it this way - old fashioned fascism will take it away.... Marilyn Manson

    by Captain Janeway on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:26:52 AM PST

  •  I have a new respect for Jack (5+ / 0-)

    His quote, "I would say that a shift in the oil economy might change some politics of the world, at this moment. There are a lot of very good things that could come from using the power of the sun"

    AMAZING, I could kiss that man!

    Private Property is the Curse. Those that Buy and Sell Land, and are landlords, have got it either by Oppression, Murder, or Theft

    by pacific ocean park on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:34:09 AM PST

  •  More recent, but in 1993 Clinton and Gore (9+ / 0-)

    stood on a stage with the CEOs of the Big Three Detroit automakers, and announced the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. We gave Detroit hundreds of millions of dollars to develop cars that would get 80 mpg. GM, Chrysler and Ford took the money, developed concept cars that they showed in the early 2000's at car shows, and then shelved them so they could keep selling Americans their bill of goods called SUVs.

    Meanwhile, Honda and Toyota were pissed that they weren't included in the program. So what do you think they did? They went out and developed hybrids with the actual intention of bringing them to market.  And they did.

    I wonder which automaker is doing better right now?

    Oh well, I wasn't using that civil liberty anyway.

    by think2004 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:37:09 AM PST

    •  They showed prototypes in 2000 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      4 door 5 seaters were on track for production in 2004 (10 yr program). Realistically only GM had a shot at 80 mpg, but Ford and Chrysler at ~65-70 was still a huge improvement. PNGV took a lot of grief not just from the right but from the likes of Ralph Nader, who considered it a form of welfare. Thank you Ralph Nader.

      PNGV was killed in the 1st 100 days of the current administration. Thank you Supreme Court.

      Total cost to the government would likely have topped $1B. A lot less than the $25B they are asking for now. PNGV was cheap at the price.

    •  Ummmm (0+ / 0-)

      That would be GM:

      That graphic is from this story:

      Its just gooney that so many people have declared the death by stupidity of the American auto industry when the facts are totally different. The credit industry is the one that tanked and it's causing everyone pain. The big 3 are asking for a bridge loan for our largest and most competitive manufacturing companies and we are being subjected to a barrage of bullshit that was not present when the bankers demanded 28 times as much money to protect many fewer jobs. As of Oct 2008 GM is the biggest seller and both the Ford and Chevy full size pick up out sell the Camry and the Corolla and, of course, the Tundra.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:27:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is one of the problems with Free Market (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, flitedocnm, Always Thinkin

    Do we have the technology for clean cars? Sure we do, but they'd still cost more. Would such a car sell in America where (in spite of all the whining) gasoline is still cheaper than it is in Europe? Probably not.

    Free market supplies the cheapest solution in the short term. Is this the best, wisest solution? Not often.

    •  well with a true free market (0+ / 0-)

      there is a demand.  The issue is not the market but those who work against that have the $$ to stop it and much to lose. The cost will come down with demand.

      by Soma on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:50:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on the difference in price (0+ / 0-)

      Lots of people who spend an extra % for the environment.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:12:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't know whether to cheer or cry (5+ / 0-)

    30 fricking years ago...

    At least the information can get out to the masses via the magic of an open internet.  Support Net Neutrality before we have to go back to the days of waiting for CNN or NBC to give us what they think we should know about.

  •  That Was the Era of Evil Jimmy Carter (6+ / 0-)

    He and all that tree hugging terror got crushed like the wicked witch of the east when Ronald Reagan's shining city was dropped onto them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:57:48 AM PST

  •  I'm currently finishing my graduate work in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, flitedocnm

    chemistry. There is an old professor in my department who worked for an industrial farming equipment company in the 60's named Harnischvegger. There he worked on a team that developed and built a hydrogen powered golf-cart and tractor. These were built just to show it could be done (not for production) and is to the best of his knowledge the first H2 powered vehicles ever built. One issue for production is the fuel cell itself. The proton exchange membrane is made with platinum as a catalyst which is really expensive but new break-throughs have been made in labs. Also someone suggested using sunlight to split water. There has been some encouraging new results in this area as well

    •  A certain unnamed big oil company.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JT88, last starfighter the late 60's already had a working hybrid car prototype... It wasn't really commercial ready... required a constant internal temperature of 160 degrees celcius for it to function or something like that, but it was a start...  who knows what happened to the technology... my guess it was quashed, since no one ever heard of it again...

      Comments that say "GM workers should get retraining" without SPECIFIC DETAILS about those "new jobs" that never come are trollworthy

      by LordMike on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:25:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Honda's producing a fuel cell car (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans: losing their homes; John McCain: misplacing his houses

    by jhecht on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:01:46 AM PST

  •  Great idea!!! (5+ / 0-)

    My suggestion to the auto companies -- have Big Oil bail them out.  What's a couple dozen billion dollars to Big Oil?  It's nothing, peanuts, pennies, and there's plenty more where that came from, right?

    After all, the oil companies are making historic quarterly profits - larger than any company at any time in the history of the world. The car companies did their bidding by building gas guzzlers, making their profits soar. let them pay to bail out the car companies.

    Electing conservatives is like hiring a carpenter who thinks hammers are evil.

    by MA Liberal on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:25:08 AM PST

  • used to have this sewn up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, JeffW, Inky99

    About 8 years ago I stumbled upon a website that had a water/hydrogen system that would power a car. They had nickel-hydride lined cassetts that looked similar to a vhs cassette and you'd plop in your box (looked like a vhs player) installed in the trunk of your car and go for 300 miles. It was so safe they could ship the cassettes through the mail. Alternatively you could set up your own electrolysis production with a solar panel.
    At one point their website soliciting car shop that would intall them for $2500 and take a few hours.
    The website moved to and has since dissapeared.
    Two or three months ago they were looking for an entry level lab rat so their demise has been very recent.
    They had their shop on South Van Ness in SF.

    They had a grant from the DOE. Is there anyway that we can find out what happened to them and see if the Obama Admin would be interested in doing something about it?

  •  Man, pisses you off to think (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Inky99, joe from Lowell

    where we would be today if that technology had been perfected! No wars for oil, our economy running smoothly, less pollution, etc.
    How I yearn for real progress.

    Electing conservatives is like hiring a carpenter who thinks hammers are evil.

    by MA Liberal on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:30:32 AM PST

  •  A lot of us know that Carter (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, lotlizard, Celtic Merlin, Inky99
    set it up perfectly for the environment and for cars and Reagan who for some reason a ton of citizens think is so great screwed it all up and the unions.

    I wish at some point the truth of how he was would come out, how he used the iran contra scandal to win and how his people are the ones not Carter that was involved.

  •  Mass transit schemes are our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    short term hope. There are no magical solutions, but that certainly doesn't mean that we should stop trying.

  •  And to think, the HEADS of the Auto (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, JeffW, Calamity Jean

    Industry, come to Congress and sit stupid and wonder what the fart to do and answer questions, just wonderous and stupidly.

    But here's the crap, not one of these FINANCE houses who 2 Trillion + all recent Bail-Out-Billions, at he LATE NIGHT DISCOUNT WINDOW of the FEDERAL TREASURY and we knew nothing and still no accountability, as too who got what, for what?, not a one was called to Congress and ask anything, not then and not now, but Unions who have been taking Cut-Backs and making Give-Backs and taking Over Legacy Cost, are told, well now it time for you to have your Contracts canceled.

    Lead a Billion Dollar Industry,


    and rut around for decades, get BONUSES each year, for decades and tell the US TAX PAYER, can I have some of your HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS, I need a bridge LOAN to tide me over...


  •  Brilliant! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, JeffW, Calamity Jean

    Have big oil bail them out.  Just brilliant!

    Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:51:42 AM PST

  •  Massive Scale Hydrogen Production (0+ / 0-)

    will most likely compete with potable water if hydrocarbons are off limits.  Seawater hydrogen production will most likely create dead zones on coasts.  Offshore production will increase costs.  We would still be vulnerable to hydrogen shortages.

    Electrons are more flexible than hydrogen since they can come from multiple sources.  The infrastructure is already there, but should be upgraded.  Solar rooftops/electron storage looks sweet given the wasted surface area.

    •  Well, last I checked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      we live on The Water Planet.

      Seawater covers most of the earth.

      When the H2 is burned, it is turned back into water vapor.

      I'm not sure there's any real net loss.

      •  We're Not Using Water For Production Now (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mftalbot, Calamity Jean, Unenergy

        yet there is regional scarcity.  Adding subsidized competitors to an already strained resource is not a sound choice unless sticking it to people is the point.  Most water is not fit for human consumption or farming without a great deal of processing.

        Desalinization plants drive out marine life by increasing local salinity.  A seawater hydrogen production plant is functionally the same:  remove water from seawater.  We'll kill large stretches of coast before we make a significant dent in energy demand.  This on top of the desalinization plants to produce potable water.

        From what I gather, the oceans are already under significant stress because of over-fishing, pollution, and increasing temperatures.  Massive scale hydrogen production is not going to help the situation.  The loss will be in the unnecessary sacrifice of one resource for another.

        Burning hydrogen is cleaner than burning hydro-carbons is true if that is all there is.  The argument is like the removing Saddam was a good thing argument.  If everything else stays the same and there isn't a better way, it would be true, but everything else doesn't stay the same and there are better ways.  Hydrogen doesn't automagically appear and we uncorked a civil war, killed 100K's, undermined our authority, and allowed the pillaging of our treasury and pride.

        A hydrogen economy will do nothing to prevent market price manipulation whereas local solar production can put a dent in manipulation by making people producers of what they consume.  Some might even supplement their income by selling back to the grid.  Some might form co-ops.  De-centralized production will make a more robust system and buy time while the power grid is upgraded.  Hydrogen maintains the same exploitable production dependency relationship as a hydrocarbon economy.

        Hydrogen will only discredit future green technologies by massively failing to live up to the promises.  It's a setup.

        We are not a water planet.  Earth's average density is 5.5 kg/m^3.  Water is 1.0 kg/m^3.  Earth is like a damp iron basketball, not a water balloon.

        •  This is definitely one of the main advantages (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coldwynn, Calamity Jean

          of shifting to electric/battery vehicles.
          The current model of energy supply result in a situation where we cannot ever hope to own the infrastructure to produce what we consume. In other words we cannot hope to own a giant wind turbine, power station, oil refinery etc as individuals. Therefore we automatically give up our freedom to those who control the source of the energy we consume daily.

          Developing (R&D, mass production) home based solar or other renewable energy producing equipment to a level where they cost as little (over time) as fossil fuel based power, so is therefore affordable for individuals, will mean this arrangement is turned on its head.
          That is we are able to own the means to produce our own energy and thereby hold the key to true self independence and determination.
          Ownership of the means of energy/electricity production in conjunction with electric vehicles will lead individuals to monitor their energy consumption behaviour and, if there is a profit to be made with such incentives as feed in tariffs, view investment in these products as a long term sustainable asset (something to pass on to the grandkids),

          Is not true freedom measured by whether or not we have the right of free choice,
          but also the ability to exercise the right of free choice?
          On where and how we get our energy needs, this right of free choice is suppressed.
          Until we can recognize and begin to rectify this imbalance, is not everything else we do will just tinkering around the edges?

          "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

          by Unenergy on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:47:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  There were cars made in the early 70's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, cotterperson

    from I think either peugot or some other europeon car maker that was getting 70 mpg with 1970's technology. I read a popular mechanics piece about one that was restored from a junkyard.

    It's frustrating that we have been so slow to adapt...and it's infuriating that everytime gas drops a nickel people go out and buy suv's like they are going out of style. The ignorance is amazing.

    Sarah Palin is the skinny hipster jeans of ignorance crushing the balls of wisdom.

    by president raygun on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 08:17:27 AM PST

  •  Why in the hell should General Motors be (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, kurt, FishBiscuit, Inky99

    bailed out? I know, I know - to save jobs, but wouldn't it be better to have those individuals employed in green collar jobs?

    My wife and I were on the list to get an EV1 - second generation - I had "an in" with Saturn. We passed up on the first generation since the Lead-Acid batteries only had a forty mile range.

    That jerk Waggoner (yeh the same clown who flew to Washington last week) killed the program rather than commit the added funds to provide Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries with a much greater range. He said a couple of years ago that killing the EV1 wasn't one of his better decisions! This asshole sounds a lot like Bush.

    If Congress does advance them our tax dollars it had better be with the requirement that the heads of the "big three" can no longer have any connection whatever with the automotive industry (including serving on a board).

    •  Not a bail out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's a Loan


      •  If they wind up bankrupt, as they will with the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cotterperson, LordMike

        big three clowns in charge, it will be a bailout!!

        •  Allen Mullay at Ford (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LordMike, sovery

          is really quite new and has a good head on his shoulders. Can't much on the other two.

          Without the wall street crash f*cking them over, the big 3 would have been just fine, the current problem isn't of their creation but rather of finance types who got greedy and crashed the market.

          As i've said and will keep saying they were on the cusp of renewal, before this market crisis.

          So keep us from sliding into true depression and give them a bloody loan already.


          •  "a good head on his shoulders"? - God, get real. (0+ / 0-)

            He was one of the three clowns who failed to see the irony of flying to Washington in a corporate jet to ask for money. Even Barack told Barbara Walters in so many words that it wasn't the best thing to have done.

            Mullay is as out of touch as the other two. Clearly, all three have to go! These companies need new blood who are realists and understand that you need to make cars that people want to buy.

            While I almost never agree with Mittens, I thought his op-ed in the NYT last week on why the big three should be allowed to fail was excellent.

            •  So you think (0+ / 0-)

              3 million people directly and 21 million people supported by them should all lose their jobs??

              Note that Ford has stated they may not need the loan, they went with the other two to support them in their work to get said loan.

              Mullay only came in 2 years ago, and we had been seeing great changes since. If anyone from Ford needs to be Drawn and Quartered i think most would happily hand over Jack Nasser.

              Mittens? that some sort of slang for Michigan residents?


              •  Ford's also banking on (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                a redesigned F-150 to save them.  Exactly what will it take to get them to see the writing on the wall?

                I'm guessing Mittens is some kind of slang for former presidential candidates named 'Mitt'.

                I'm not anti-environmentalism, I'm anti-colonialism.

                by sneakers563 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:59:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The term "Mittens" is used quite often on Kos (0+ / 0-)

                  in referring to Mitt Romney.

                •  Your query: (0+ / 0-)

                  Exactly what will it take to get them to see the writing on the wall?

                  It's called bankruptcy and it is often quite effective in causing corporate heads to realize that the party is over.

                •  The F-150 is still a top seller (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  There are people who need light trucks for their work, and who do use them the people who will stop buying them are thous who where getting them just as status symbols. Which is why Ford dropped production of the Mark LT. So for all you can say on SUVs light trucks have their place, and there is a need for them that out weighs their draw backs. I know my father likes what he can do with his F-150. In MPGs the toyota pick ups rate lower and have less over all towing power. So why not bank on something people do buy?

                  To use some numbers, Pick ups are 13-14% of Oct auto sales, and Ford in Oct 08 gained 3% market share during the launch of the new F-150. Sales are down across the board on auto sales and while Ford took a 25% hit over Oct last year, Toyota took a 23% and with their larger over all market share that means a bigger loss for the evil slave using importer.

                  Ford also cut short the 09 Fusion's production cycle to start on the 2010 refresh late next month, which will allow them to release a production Hybrid Sedan sometime in Q1 09. When i go to The Auto Show i hope to see great things.


                  •  How about a F-150 that saves the planet instead? (0+ / 0-)

                    Here in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, our latest effort (backed by the governor and the three largest city mayors) will make us the electric car capital of the world within three years.

                    To hell with Detroit and their gasified monsters. Once again Silicon Valley leads the world in technology.

                    •  So where are you getting these cars from? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      You importing them? Talk about a road to nowhere.

                      In the next 3 years the Big 3 will be launching plug-in tech, if you don't abort it in the womb.

                      Please keep your insults about Detroit to yourself. Maybe read up on the tech your trying to kill, or all the families who will suffer without the big 3.

                      -Gabe, who held hard keeping away from saying what he could about CA/Silicon Valley.

                      •  Look. Detroit and their love affair with oil (0+ / 0-)

                        burners has done much to destroy this planet. Sorry, but I have a very low opinion of them on this issue. Do some review of Detroit's destruction of America's mass transit in the forties and fifties. Not a good track record in "giving a damn" about the rest of the country. Indeed, what's good for General Motors may not be good for the United States in`spite of "Birddog" Wilson's famous statement to the contrary.

                        America's disgust with Detroit is well deserved.

                        •  It might seem that way to you (0+ / 0-)

                          But to us here in Dearborn-Detroit it not just about the green or the jobs it's about part of our history, our culture.

                          How would people in CA feel if they heard Hollywood would have to be closed down? or your Silicon Valley?

                          The Japanese and Korea companies are not angels either. Toyota with their "less green than a hummer prius" now while that study may not be perfect it makes a good point. Or take Toyota's treatment of their workers both in and out of Japan. Finally noting that both Japan and Korea support their industries with cash and protective blocks on our ability to export to them, not to mention the Japanese are smart enough to know it is better for their whole econ to buy "domestic" brand cars.

                          So direct your venom towards the Importers too they have spent just as much time pushing for lower standards as the rest. Sure they create a hydrogen car here or there but these are rich movie start toys not meant for the rest of us. Where while Ford/GM might have limited hybrid tech to SUVs at first that was a smart development path since they can now use cheaper Second Gen tech on the smaller car scaled system. Like the 2010 Fusion Hybrid and the Volt.


                      •  Your comment: (0+ / 0-)

                        Gabe, who held hard keeping away from saying what he could about CA/Silicon Valley

                        makes me wonder why. One of the main purposes of this blog is to allow individuals to freely express themselves regarding current issues. Barack told Barbara Walters that the reason he doesn't want to give up his Blackberry is so he can stay informed as to how people really feel about the issues. He wants to avoid being in a "presidential bubble" with close aides keeping him from the truth.

                        The sooner the big three understand how the country really feels about them, the sooner they will be on the road to recovery. George Bush's ignoring the how the county felt about him did not change how they felt - rather it only increased their feelings against him.

                        The big three recently flying to Washington in three separate corporate jets no less had to be one of the dumbest stunts they have pulled in a long time. The very fact that they didn't even have a clue about how the public (and Congress for that matter) might react is all telling. How really dumb can they be, and, at the same time, ask for money to keep their companies afloat. Incredible!

                        •  Some rather poorly worded imature comments (0+ / 0-)

                          where held back, i want to argue on reason, rather than get egg on my face by going all heart.

                          I feel strongly on the Big 3 issue. That type of feeling can cloud my ability to make reasoned arguments.


                          •  And to some people outside (0+ / 0-)

                            of CA/Texas get this feeling that people in these two states only think of themselves and expect the rest of the nation to follow in their foot steps. It creates some bitterness at times.


                          •  Err, the nation does follow in Silicon Valley's (0+ / 0-)

                            "foot steps".

                          •  you read that wrong (0+ / 0-)

                            it's not that we do, it's that some of us think that's what you expect the rest of us to do not respecting our own thoughts on the matter.


                          •  Even Daily Kos originated in the Bay Area! n/t (0+ / 0-)
                          •  Then reason should tell you that the "big three" (0+ / 0-)

                            method of doing business is dead, and no amount of resusitation will bring it back to life. Even a strong "Detroit lover" like Mitt Romney now feels the best thing that can happen is for the big three to go into bankruptcy.

                            Bring back the EV-1 and the "real" Spring Hill Tennessee Saturn. Waggoner had both of them once and then threw them away. What an idiot. If Waggoner were president, Bush would look like a genius.

                            I read the other day that Toyota's market capitalization is dozens of times greater that that of General Motors - and for good reason. The market clearly understands where the future is - and is not.

                          •  This is the first year (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Calamity Jean, firemage

                            that Toyota has outsold GM. The case that the American companies are not "building cars people want" is just nonsense. The cars "people want" right now (or rather last month when this rave started) are very fuel efficient. That was not the case late last year when the Cadillac Escalade was the apple of the car critic's eyes. The foreign makers in the USA make American cars. Toyota's Tundra is bigger, less powerful and uses more gas than my F-150. They make a better profit by getting southern state governors to make sure they can shit on their workers.

                            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                            by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:11:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Lets save the Toyota v GM call till the final (0+ / 0-)

                            counting is done.


                          •  Mitt hates Detroit (0+ / 0-)

                            He and his party have done nothing but shit on the Great State of Michigan.

                            Take a look at the Volt, it goes well beyond the EV-1 in all ways.


                          •  In many ways such as gasoline generator (0+ / 0-)

                            backup - yes. In all ways - no.

              •  I never want people to needlessly lose their (0+ / 0-)

                jobs. However, if the government keeps companies afloat who produce products that will not be sold - it is nothing more than welfare. Where are all the buggywhip manufactures and the blacksmiths? In this country most lost jobs (or should I say changed ones) are the result of progress. Sadly, it is one of the prices we must pay. Note that I did suggest that the jobs be changed to green collar ones.

            •  The "private" airplane (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean

              is the cheapest and safest way for them to travel. There is no company the size of Ford or bigger that does not have a company plane, pilots and airport space. Most of the time its hauling trouble shooters of one kind and another around the world to look at problems. I'm an Engineer for a little $50 million a year construction contractor and we have our own plane. It takes me to job sites in Amarillo, Lubbock, Corpus Cristi and Oklahoma City when there's a problem with the structure or the ground. Our general superintendent flies in it at least once a week. That was one of those really stupid points meant to give people an excuse to vent at a group of executives who have had the ground cut out from under their businesses by Ben and Paul's close personal friends. Did anybody ask the bankers if they hitch hiked?

              "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

              by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:59:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  "They" say - whoever "they" are... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That pretty soon, water will be tougher to come by than oil. Not sure if that's true (I'm sure it is in some places) but if so, would even this work, I wonder?

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 08:46:23 AM PST

    •  seawater (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You can make H2 from seawater.  Last I checked, they still called Earth "The Water Planet" because of this.  :)

      •  Of course! ;-) But yet... (0+ / 0-)

        Simply put, the energy you use to convert the water in the ocean into hydrogen would be at most equal to the energy that hydrogen could provide. Of course due to frictional losses, from things like resistance in your apparatus, you would actually end up using up more energy to get the hydrogen than you would gain from using it as a fuel source.


        (I suppose if the source of the energy to convert is solar, that'll change things but we have so few solar arrays, unfortunately)

        This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

        by Snud on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:29:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This will have to be changed. (0+ / 0-)

          we have so few solar arrays, unfortunately

          Whether we collectively go for electric cars or hydrogen cars or mass transit or a combination, more solar arrays will be required.  

          I'd like to see the day when it's considered uncouth not to have a solar water heater and some solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on every home and business roof that gets sunlight.

          Renewable energy brings national security.

          by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:16:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ford has research H-ICE busses/trucks (0+ / 0-)

    The Tech isn't mature, also the big problem with hydrogen is production you say solar but where do you get the water? You need to make sure the production is near water that can't be used for drinking. (We have enough water shortages in some regions)

    then the other problem is distribution, a network takes either time or large amounts of support to deploy.

    Now i'd love to see this tech, i sometimes get stuck behind active H-ICE test units here in Dearborn.

    Also the company they talked about doesn't seem to exists any more. (at the very least they changed their name)

    I said this before we need an Apollo grade national project to really break the chains of oil, and without such a focused project change will be slow in coming.

    Now to make it clear i'm all for Hydrogen econ, i even designed a method that impressed my STS/Eng prof, but i don't think 30 years ago the tech was mature, and i don't think what little research has been done since has matured the tech enough.

    And it's a bloody LOAN not a bail out the big 3 are asking for, unlike wall street's black hole, the big 3 are willing and able to pay the Fed back within the loan cycle.

    So until the Fed is ready to take the country beyond oil, to make the Apollo level investments into something else. We will be tied to oil.


  •  As long as one drop of oil... (0+ / 0-)

    ...remains in the ground, anywhere on earth, I'll be surprised if any of these technologies are made available to consumers.

    (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH JAIL HAGUE-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯) It's not too late!

    by nehark on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:39:43 AM PST

  •  It's all a conspiracy (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this piece of history. It's funny that 30 years after this show and tell, Tom Hanks is doing the exact same show and tell with tv crews in tow without a single mention that we've been here a long time already and it's time to move things along with some sense of urgency. You listen to Hanks and he sounds like the technologies have only just been discovered and fitted in his $75,000 vehicle.

    What's even more curious is that back in 1899, Belgian race-car driver Camille Jénatzy built an electric car, "La Jamais Contente" that did 68 mph on a couple of batteries. That's almost 110 years ago. In my electric auto club everyone's cooing at conversions that do 35 mph and run out of juice in less than two hours. Tom Hank's $75,000 eBox tops out at 90mph. In 2008. That's how far we've come if you believe the hype.

    The truth though--not the hype--is that the technology is here. It's just that everyone is trying to make the biggest buck they can from it, and untill they find a way to do so, even small businesses involved in this prefer to keep a lid on it. They either produce sluggish and stupid looking autos that noone can justify spending an extra $10,000 on, or an extra $60,000 as in Tom Hanks's ludicrous box-car to nowhere, or UFO-looking inanities that nobody is going to buy, or when they produce decently designed cars with any appeal, like Teslar's new car, they put a $200,000 plus tag on it.

    It's all about the money, or else it's difficult to see why some guy in Belgium who was neither an engineer nor an entrepreneur could build an electric racing car and do 68mph in 1899, and over a hundred years later, nobody seems to be able to do it without asking $50,000 plus for it.

    Far more than hydrogen which is quite inefficient, electric is ridiculously doable and we ought to refocus on it. Citizen engineers and innovators ought to take the initiative out of the hands of big companies and entrepreneurs. Except of course that "citizen engineers" running electric conversion scams are already allover the internet selling e-books that falsely tell you that you can claim a tax credit for a home-built electric conversion, just so they can get their hands on your $49.99. Again, money first before honest innovation.

    I certainly hope to get deeply involved in pushing the limits of conversions over the next year or so. In my own own little garage. When I do, I'll be sure to report back.

    The psychology of the dispossessed can be truly frightening
    - Chinua Achebe

    by 174winchell on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:39:51 AM PST

    •  How inefficient? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Futuristic Dreamer

      The Carnot cycle efficiency of hydrogen injected into an engine running above 600 deg F at high cylinder pressure (an average car) is 0.65. Hi test unleaded is 0.8. Every time you  say something about an alternative fuel, someone pops up and dismisses it as "inefficient" because there is a net loss of energy in the system. Hint; there is a net loss of energy in all closed systems. No working machine has 100% efficient energy use. In a fully charged electrical loop the transmission is 100% efficient but as soon as you plug into it, you start to get heat loss that comes with the Work. Solar to hydrogen to water with electrical ignition is one of the more efficient mobile systems.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:46:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All cars are inefficient by nature (0+ / 0-)

        no matter what power they use.  Moving tons of metal at high speeds requires a lot of energy.  That's why conversation efforts should focus on public transportation and other forms of transportation that don't involve tons of moving tons of metal with every person who wants to go somewhere.

        Environmentalist have a pipe dream of creating a perpetual motion machine, and that violates the laws of physics.  Creating a truly environmentally friendly car is about as plausible as inventing warp drive to travel above the speed of light.

        Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

        by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 03:07:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great idea! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mndan, Calamity Jean, Inky99

    My suggestion to the auto companies -- have Big Oil bail them out.

    It makes so much sense. Thanks.

    Of course, we could also stop subsidizing oil companies and taxing them a bit more and use this money to bail out the car companies after replacing top management with smarter people.; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:44:35 AM PST

  •  I saw this while watching Nicholson vids (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That guy's awesome

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happy Hour

    by PerryX on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:46:41 AM PST

  •  Water vapor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alefnot, JeffW

    I've been wondering - whenever I hear hydrogen discussed as a fuel source someone mentions that hydrogen is a zero emission fuel with no byproduct other than water vapor.  The implication is always that no one could possibly be concerned with releasing water vapor into the air.  

    However, isn't water vapor a greenhouse gas?  Has anyone looked into what effect it would have on the climate if we switched to a hydrogen economy and started releasing presumably large amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere?  Even if it doesn't have an effect on global temperatures, would it have an effect on weather patterns?  Or does it not matter because the hydrogen is coming from water in the first place?  

  •  Not an energy source. (3+ / 0-)

    Hydrogen made from water is not an energy source -- it's an energy store.
    If teh electricity is made from coal, it's worse than gasoline.
    If it's made with hydropower, it doesn't contibute to global warming.

    "I'm not opposed to all wars; I'm opposed to dumb wars." -- Obama in 2002

    by Frank Palmer on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 09:49:51 AM PST

  •  You're wrong. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We've forgotten just how cheap gas was in the last decade. In the 1990's, the price of oil, per barrel, fluctuated around $20. It was as low as $10/barrel. In the US, unlike Europe, there has never been the political will for a large gas/energy tax, similar to that in many European countries, which would effectively increase energy cost to consumers. To blame the auto industry for building gas guzzling SUV's is ridiculous. When gas ranges between 40 cents and 80 cents per gallon, as it did throughout most of the 1990's, it was the right economic decision to purchase a gas guzzler. You got extra cargo space, better visibility, and so what if you got 10 miles per gallon? A humongous SUV that got 10 miles per gallon would cost $13.80 to go 230 miles (a week's driving at an average of 12,000 miles/year). A super efficient Hollywood moviestar car that got 100 miles per gallon would cost $1.38. Trade the relatively low cost and the convenience of the SUV for the equivalent cost of three venti lattes for a week's driving? Most people said "no". AND IT WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE.  

    Stop blaming the auto industry, and the oil companies, and start blaming us. It's our fault. We need to make gas, oil, electricity, and plastic more expensive.

    •  I agree with most of that (0+ / 0-)

      but the auto companies fought increases in CAFE standards tooth and nail.  I can't give them a pass on that.  But you're right - we're all to blame.

      I'm not anti-environmentalism, I'm anti-colonialism.

      by sneakers563 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:05:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course they fought CAFE standards (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        andrewj54, Futuristic Dreamer

        And as it turned out, that was a poor business decision, after 9/11 started an increase in oil prices that was more precipitous than most predicted. But we wouldn't have needed to have CAFE standards if gas had been stabilized by a gas tax at $2.00 - 3.00/gallon. And if that gas tax had been rebated to middle/low income consumers in the form of a check from the government (similar to the Alaska rebate), and the amount that had been gathered from high income consumers had been used for an individual rebate for consumers who weatherized their houses (the MOST cost efficient way to save building energy), we'd be way ahead of where we are now.

        CAFE standards are stupid. They didn't even apply to most SUV's because the SUV's themselves were a way around the CAFE standards, being "trucks". Regulating your way to a goal is an inefficient way to achieve the goal. There are many, many more clever people who can come up with workarounds for regulations than there are who can modify the regulations to fix the workarounds (see: IRS or any zoning regulation).

        Go to Paris or London. A mini-cooper in Paris looks like a Suburban because it is that much larger than the Smart cars around it. Are there CAFE standards in France? I don't know, but I can tell you that there is no parking in Paris and gas is astronomically expensive. Here of course we make sure that any building is provided with a number of 9' x 20' parking spaces adequate for the number of customers who show up on Black Friday (i.e. 200% of what is needed for most days of the year). So here there was no downside to getting a car that fills up the parking space that every city requires every new business provides. And there was no real economic downside to a 10 mpg behemoth. So why didn't the auto companies embrace CAFE standards? Because people didn't want CAFE standard vehicles. There is a reason that SUV's were the big three profit centers for a decade.

        •  Respectfully, I disagree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          about regulation.  It's true that SUVs were a way around the CAFE standards, but that's because the truck loophole was deliberately included in the CAFE standards.  It's not like it can't be closed, and if there's so many other loopholes, there would have been no reason for the auto industry to fight raising the standard.

          I'm sympathetic to your point about raising the price of gas.  My concern is that it's a terribly regressive way of getting the country off oil, particularly in a down economy.  $4 per gallon is an inconvenience for the rich, it's a crisis for the poor.  I'm sure we agree that we need more and better public tranportation, but right now it hardly exists in this country (with a few exceptions).  I don't want to see it built on the backs of the poor.  

          I'm not anti-environmentalism, I'm anti-colonialism.

          by sneakers563 on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:58:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are ways around that. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            $4 per gallon is an inconvenience for the rich, it's a crisis for the poor.  I'm sure we agree that we need more and better public tranportation, but right now it hardly exists in this country (with a few exceptions).  I don't want to see it built on the backs of the poor.  

            Change the income tax structure so lower-income people pay little or no income tax.  
            Create transportation-assistance programs modeled on the heating-assistance grants that many lower-income people currently use.

            Create more and better public transportation, and give lower-income local people preference for the jobs building and operating those systems.

            Renewable energy brings national security.

            by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:31:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  We (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      We are powerless to do so because WE are mostly middle class and poor people who can't afford these things.

      That's why we should have government looking out for us and our planet. Moving to more clean technology is not going to happen because WE make the right choices as private citizens. It's only going to happen through government investment and policies.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:10:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a lot you can do. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        Write to your elected representative expressing your support to a comprehensive gas tax. Talk to people about how much a gas tax makes sense.

        Go to your local planning and zoning department, and support a parking requirement for new businesses that requires fewer and smaller parking spaces (while you're at it, support landscaped parking spaces -- huge expanses of unshaded black asphalt contribute hugely to urban temperature increases).

        Weatherstrip your doors, have your HVAC ductwork insulated.

    •  Right, it's out fault (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that Big Auto didn't come up with a Prius.

      So it's some sort of perverse, happy accident for Toyota that they did?  Or were they clairvoyant?

      You make some good points, but it doesn't explain how there are car companies doing well and others doing terribly.

      •  Ford Escape Hybrid (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        is a pretty nice car. And it's true that the american automakers have been managed poorly. But it's also true that they are more burdened by legacy costs and healthcare obligations than foreign-based manufacturers; that the crisis is greater because the increase in oil prices has been much more precipitous since 9/11 than anybody anticipated (everybody knew oil prices were going up, they just expected the process to take longer); that the Japanese government largely subsidized the development of the Prius fuel cell; and that the recent crisis in the financial markets was totally out of the control of the american automakers.

  •  Nattering nay bobs of negativity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mediaprisoner, Obamacrat

    I always find diaries about alternative fuels fascinating. Not only because of the subject matter but the fact that they bring out people that say the technology doesn't work etc etc.

    The reason the technology does not work is because we never focus our resources on it. If we spent 25% of the money we spend on fossil fuel technology on solar, wind and expecially battery storage units, there would be no energy crisis.

    -7.5 -7.28, What's a guy gotta do to get impeached around here?

    by Blueslide on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:07:56 AM PST

    •  The technology works, but until recently it's (0+ / 0-)

      been a lot more expensive than it's been to pump out the concentrated biofuel the sun and the dinosaurs made for us a long time ago and stick that in our vehicles/powerplants/furnaces (oil/coal/natural gas). As soon as it gets more expensive, we concentrate on different methodologies, and they're all over the place.

      Right now, I think the variation in prices is most damaging to the development of new technologies.

      When you know that natural gas is going to cost X dollars, you know it will be cost-effective to invest Y dollars into the development of a new HVAC system that will cost 1.5 times what a current system costs, but which is more efficient. When you know that gas will be X dollars per gallon (whether X is $3, $4, or $5), you can think about oil shale (bad idea) or tar sands (also bad idea) or bags of algae next to coal powered power plants (good idea) or a way to turn lawn clippings into biofuels (my idea, which so far nobody has pursued). When you know that electricity is going to cost X dollars, you can start to plan new nuclear power plants, or solar farms tied to the existing highway system/electric grid (good idea), or wind farms (excellent idea).

      But you can't do any of these things until you have a cost that you know is not going to vary a whole lot so that your engineers don't get nervous.

    •  Hydrogen from H2O is a thermodynamic loser (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Futuristic Dreamer

      and no amount of technology gets around that. The question is whether it will ever compete with batteries, and currently battery technology is moving faster than hydrolysis + hydrogen storage technology.

  •  30 wasted years! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a nation we chose the quick fix, cheap gas.

    Now we pay the price in the form of war, pollution and global warming.  How stupid.; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:08:20 AM PST

  •  Send the national guard after the Oil Execs now (0+ / 0-)

    This is soul-killingly depressing to watch.  Is this somehow fake?  


    Assassin: Its worse than you know. Malcolm: It usually is. 宁静

    by TalkieToaster on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:30:12 AM PST

  •  BMW, Honda have hydrogen cars now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There's a fleet of hydrogen powered Hondas tooling around LA.  Hydrogen fueling stations in key locations.

    BMW Hydrogen 7

    Honda FCX

    Hydrogen works in planes also so we could have pollution free transportation system fairly quickly. We have an industrial hydrogen mfg. and distribution base. You see the hydrogen tankers on the road every day going to hospitals, industrial sites to fill the on site liquid hydrogen storage tanks.

  •  Hydrogen? FEH! (4+ / 0-)

    Go with anhydrous ammonia. It has 30% more hydrogen than plain hydrogen, liquifies at higher temperatures and lower pressures, needs no additives to be detectable, doesn't embrittle metals like plain hydrogen, already has a bit of transport infrastructure in place, will burn in some ICE's and fuel cells.

    _Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight!_ Joe Lieberman=Momzer!

    by JeffW on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 10:53:10 AM PST

    •  My dad developed oil shale extraction technology (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the early 60's, and he was infuriated whenever anybody mentioned hydrogen fuelcells. He always said "where are you going to go get the hydrogen, the hydrogen mines?"

      •  science (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Futuristic Dreamer

        I am as sceptical about hydrogen as your father. The energy required to split a water molecule is greater than the amout derived from putting it back together. I see no way it can ever work aside from nuclear, which despite what a lot of folks are saying right now, still presents a whole host of problems, the worst being the possibility of making a large landmass sterile for thousands of years in the event of an accident (or terrorist attack!).

        But oil shale? Sheeesh. The environmental damage from oil shale is pervasive. The very best present energy solutions are solar and wind. Offshore oil platforms are ideally designed to take the stresses of the vibrations from wind machines. They are also often in the ideal locations. Adapting these rigs should be one of our countries foremost priorities.

        •  The reason we know about the environmental damage (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, Calamity Jean

          from oil shale extraction technology is because of the work my dad did in the '60s. As far as I know, he was seminal in the design of the only plant ever prototyped for oil shale extraction. By this year, when he died, he was vehemently against taking any oil from the US (including ANWAR) at all. He said we should use up everybody else's oil first, and save ours for medical feedstock. He said that the time will come when people will be amazed that such a valuable resource was burned to power vehicles.

        •  The energy required (0+ / 0-)

          to mine and refine a gallon of gasoline is much larger than the energy you get out of it. That's true in any energy equation. Hydrogen's biggest technical problem is safe storage and transportation. In that car they were using it as a com[pressed gas and the array of bottles used up a lot of space and a lot of weight. It was also explosive.

          "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:17:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Or what about this "150 mpg" car today? (0+ / 0-)

    There are so many ways for us to innovate.  

  •  FUCK THE OIL COMPANIES!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We could have been driving pollution free cheap ultra effecient car 20 YEARS AGO!?!?!?!

    And now the ice caps are melting, car companies are looking for a handout and oil is killing us quickly?


    President-Elect Barack Obama: is he, perhaps, too awesome?

    by Rockpopple on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 12:37:30 PM PST

  •  Sorry if this has been posted (0+ / 0-)

    But if not, this movie is an eye opener.

    They were getting 300klm per charge but GM recalled them all and crushed them

  •  And Henry Ford (0+ / 0-)

    had a car that got 80 mpg, one hundred years ago.

    I have all the evidence I need - SUV's and 20mpg cars are a BIG FUCKING RACKET.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:45:29 PM PST

  •  Auto industry supressing innovation since 1949 (0+ / 0-)

    An Open Letter to The Automobile Industry In The Interests Of The American Motorist By Preston Tucker

    But there is another group-a very powerful group—which for two years has carried on a carefully organized campaign to prevent the motoring public from ever getting their hands on the wheel of a Tucker.

  •  Wow. And here I thought this was a novel (0+ / 0-)

    concept. We should be ashamed.

    President-elect Barack HUSSEIN Obama!!! Eat it, suckaz!

    by mselite on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:12:49 PM PST

  •  Solving the Truck Problem (0+ / 0-)
    The problem with most alternative automotive approaches is the truck. Electric motors have a problem with trucks. To get the power necessary the the windings must be large causing the weight to increase.  The batteries necessary also add significant weight.

    The use of a hydrogen stripper with a steam engine provides the necessary power ratios.

    The steam engine was used in cars a hundred years ago and can provide as much power as necessary. Much of the knowledge base developed for internal combustion engines can be used because the steam is basically a piston engine. The concept uses water broken down into hydrogen and oxygen then burns it in a chamber to create the steam. The explosive gases can be completely encased from generation to burn.  Steam engines have large amounts of power an can work for the largest vehicles.

    The hydrogen stripper uses the fact that water has a resonate frequency of 48Khz, and a voltage potential across a plate to breakdown water into hydrogen and oxygen.  The technology is in the research stage. Water source must be pure because anything in the water will precipitate out during the process and may clog the membrane. Holes in membrane are one wave length which will cause drum head vibration before breakdown. The layered membrane can be tuned and draws off the component gasses. The technology has significant potential.

    The membrane is made by weaving wire and then pressing the resulting screen which creates the small holes.

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