Friday, November 16, 2007

Green Cars

Interesting to look at the stories of green cars, the cars that are supposed to reduce our carbon footprint.

Last year Sony Pictures came out with the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car," which talks about the short life of GM's EVO. I never saw the movie, just the trailer. Now I have a bachelors in electrical engineering, so when I saw the trailer several things popped out at me. For example they say the electric car "produced no exhaust." The statement is misleading because the car doesn't produce exhaust when running, but exhaust is created when the electricity is produced to run it. Also they say the electric car isn't for everyone, "it can only meet the needs of 90% of the population." Now the EVO was expensive, and could only be used as a commuter car (the charge only lasted about the length of an average commute, then it took about 8 hours to recharge.) My guess is that the only people that can really afford the car, are about the 10% that it doesn't fit.

I had forgotten about the movie until today.

In the trailer someone says, "in the last fifteen years they've been saying fuel cells are ten to fifteen years off." But on November 15th Honda announced the, "FCX Clarity Advanced Fuel Cell Vehicle" which is to be sold mid next year. I learned about this watching TV a day or two ago and saw a commercial for it. My reaction was to say out loud, "What! They finally came out with a fuel cell car?!" So today I decided to look it up.

On the website they explain a few things, like the fuel is Hydrogen and the only emission is H2O (water.) They acknowledge that CO2 is created when getting Hydrogen, but that process generally creates less CO2 than a normal car. They're even have a station for you to make your own hydrogen at home using the natural gas line. The station will even make electricity and heat for your home. The specs are quite impressive.

Of course as an engineer, there are still several questions I'd like answered. What does this cost? You know the car is expensive, and the station is even more expensive. What about the batteries? Honda's new car has lithium ion batteries. They are compact, hold a lot of power, and highly explosive. For some reason neither Honda or the movie trailer mentioned that last one. Trust me, if an EVO got into a major accident, the batteries would make it much worse.

So in the end we are left with interesting new gadgets, but unfortunately we'll have to put up with the mundane for now.

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At December 2, 2007 at 8:21 AM , Blogger phredt said...

I don't suppose the website mentions anything about the fact that the dihydrogen monoxide emitted by these fuel cell cars is in fact a greenhouse gas with something like 240 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, do they?

At December 8, 2007 at 9:50 PM , Blogger Merlyn said...

Well they aren't going to do that because no one is willing to admit that carbon dioxide isn't what causes global warming, it's an indicator of the global warming. You see if they admited to the real reasons of global warming (you know, water and the fact that the sun is just in a hotter period right now) then they would have to realize we aren't the ones causing it.

Of course keep in mind my interest in this part isn't as much the environment (for that I'll actually go into nature) as the geeky inventions and the hubris-ness of it all. For example, why use natural gas to make hydrogen to run a car, when you can just start with hydrogen in the first place. It's hubris, and Honda is good at that. (I wish I could work there.)


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