Wednesday, July 23, 2008

fuel &engines

Fuel cells work by chemically combining a medium with oxygen to produce electrical energy, which is converted into mechanical energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells are seriously flawed- even though a car might run entirely without gasoline, the hydrogen has to come from somewhere. The hydrogen used for these cells comes from oil or natural gas, in a process called 'reforming.' Instead of each car emitting pollution each time it is run, the pollution is generated when the hydrogen is reformed at the factory. Talk of 'sequestering' the released poisons hasn't gotten very far. If the hydrogen could be cheaply produced from water through electrolysis-the cracking of the bond between oxygen and hydrogen in the water- then the hydrogen alternative would become feasible and healthy. Solar holds great potential for this action, as new breakthroughs in solar energy technology have increased its potential usability in this area- currently, only about 4% of hydrogen is cracked with electrolysis.

The EV1 electric car made (and destroyed) by GM in the mid 1990's would have been a sound step in the right direction to bring a fuel efficient option to the masses. This car could go over 80 mph, and about 100 miles, before needing a 4-6 hour recharge while you slept. The 1,000 people who leased this vehicle loved it in every way- it was aesthetically pleasing and handled well, as was quiet. GM killed the project, due to pressure from oil baron- owned politicians. (www.whokilledthe

Caveat: the EV1 was $45,000, and parts and mechanics that worked on electrics were rare. But the car was novel and needed; its successors would have ironed out the difficult issues and we could have been semi- free from foreign fuel by now if GM had shown some guts and vision.

Whatever limitations electric car batteries may have had have been eliminated (via fuel cell/battery merger and evolution )

Ethanol as a fuel actually could be an almost sound alternative to oil- if corn was never used. Corn for ethanol/gas is a dumb idea, as you really don't get any energy surplus from the conversion/use. Plus, using corn can only raise food prices. Ethanol derived from other plant sources- sugar cane, or switch grass- would make more sense. Ethanol production centers are owned by Exxon-Mobil, who in turn own Cheney, Bush, Bernacke, and Pelosi.


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