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Running on hydrogen?

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  • J.H. Crawford
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/06/politics/06HYDR.html Report Questions Bush Plan for Hydrogen-Fueled Cars By MATTHEW L. WALD Published: February 6, 2004
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 6, 2004
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/06/politics/06HYDR.html


      Report Questions Bush Plan for Hydrogen-Fueled Cars
      By MATTHEW L. WALD

      Published: February 6, 2004

      WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 — President Bush's plan for cars running on clean, efficient hydrogen fuel cells is decades away from commercial reality, according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.

      Promoting the technology in his State of the Union address a year ago, Mr. Bush said a hydrogen car might be available as the first vehicle for a child born in 2003. On Monday, the Energy Department included $318 million for both fuel cells and hydrogen production in its 2005 budget. "Hydrogen is the next frontier; a hydrogen economy is where the world is headed," said Spencer Abraham, the secretary of energy.
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      The Bush administration anticipates mass production of hydrogen cars by 2020. But the academy study, released Wednesday, said some of the Energy Department's goals were "unrealistically aggressive."

      Fuel cells produce electricity by putting hydrogen through a chemical process, rather than burning, and their exhaust consists solely of water and heat. Some scientists think they have great promise, not only because they are clean, but also because the hydrogen can be produced from solar or wind power, thus reducing oil imports and the emission of gases that cause global warming.

      But the least-expensive methods of hydrogen production use fuels like coal or natural gas, and those create pollution, experts say. Hydrogen is also difficult to ship and store. In addition, power from fuel cells is far more costly than the same amount of power from a gasoline engine.

      "Real revolutions have to occur before this is going to become a large-scale reality," said one of the report's authors, Dr. Antonia V. Herzog, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It very possibly could happen, but it's not a sure thing."

      The report said battery-powered cars or hybrid cars, which use gasoline and electric motors, could turn out to be better choices. And over the next 25 years, the effects of hydrogen cars on oil imports and global-warming gas emissions "are likely to be minor," the report said.

      A second pessimistic assessment came from Joseph J. Romm, the chief Energy Department official in charge of conservation and alternative energy in the Clinton administration. His book "The Hype About Hydrogen" will be published this spring.

      "Fuel-cell cars will not be environmentally desirable for decades, because there are better uses for the fuels you can make the hydrogen out of," Mr. Romm said in a telephone interview.

      Most hydrogen produced today is made from natural gas, he said, and using that gas to make electricity, and thus replace coal-based electric plants, would do more for the environment than using the gas to make hydrogen to replace gasoline. He said society would get more energy from a cubic foot of natural gas burned in a modern gas-powered electric plant than if it was converted to hydrogen.

      Mr. Romm also said there is currently no way to deliver the hydrogen to vehicles. "People who want to build `hydrogen highways' and drive a hydrogen car in 10 or 15 years on a mass scale, are just kidding themselves," he said.

      The Bush administration has shifted emphasis from a Clinton-era program to develop hybrid cars into a far more ambitious, long-term project to commercialize fuel cells.

      Mr. Abraham, the energy secretary, said he had recently been host of a meeting of energy ministers from around the world, and they agreed that fuel cells offered promise for reducing pollution and dependence on imported energy. "I see it as not only a wise investment for America," Mr. Abraham said, "but really where the world is heading."



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      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
    • Jym Dyer
      ... =v= What Shrub s speechwriters wrote was, the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. With this turn of
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 6, 2004
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        | Promoting the technology in his State of the Union address a
        | year ago, Mr. Bush said a hydrogen car might be available as
        | the first vehicle for a child born in 2003.

        =v= What Shrub's speechwriters wrote was, "the first car driven
        by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and
        pollution-free." With this turn of phrase, they (1) reinforce
        the idea of car culture as a rite of passage and (2) quietly,
        one might even say "subliminably," try to sell the idea of this
        technology being available 15 years into the future.

        =v= The "pollution-free" part is incorrect. I'd say dishonest,
        even, since the Shrub Administration immediately followed up
        with a plan to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels and nuclear
        power.

        | On Monday, the Energy Department included $318 million for
        | both fuel cells and hydrogen production in its 2005 budget.

        =v= One has to wonder how long that'll last.
        <_Jym_>

        P.S.: As the State of the Union Address has become little more
        than a showboat for lies, after last year's I looked up the
        actual budget proposal. The $1.2 billion figure wasn't there.
        The entire "renewable energy" budget was pegged at $9.5 billion
        for 10 years (and I put quotes around "renewable energy" because
        it includes such nonrenewable efforts as spending $2.1 billion
        bailing out nuclear energy utilities for their decommissioning
        costs).
      • mauk_mcamuk
        ... Nuclear-produced hydrogen may not be pollution-free when looked at on a life-cycle basis, but it is vastly cleaner than our current fossil fuels. I mean,
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 6, 2004
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          > =v= The "pollution-free" part is incorrect. I'd say dishonest,
          > even, since the Shrub Administration immediately followed up
          > with a plan to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels and nuclear
          > power.
          >

          Nuclear-produced hydrogen may not be "pollution-free" when looked at
          on a life-cycle basis, but it is vastly cleaner than our current
          fossil fuels.

          I mean, how would you power a carfree city? 100 percent windmills?
          It'd never work. Tuck in a pair of nuclear plants out in the
          industrial districts and now you're talking! :)



          > | On Monday, the Energy Department included $318 million for
          > | both fuel cells and hydrogen production in its 2005 budget.
          >
          > =v= One has to wonder how long that'll last.
          > <_Jym_>
          >
          > P.S.: As the State of the Union Address has become little more
          > than a showboat for lies, after last year's I looked up the
          > actual budget proposal. The $1.2 billion figure wasn't there.
          > The entire "renewable energy" budget was pegged at $9.5 billion
          > for 10 years (and I put quotes around "renewable energy" because
          > it includes such nonrenewable efforts as spending $2.1 billion
          > bailing out nuclear energy utilities for their decommissioning
          > costs).


          Decommisioning costs? Are you sure? As I understand it, every
          nuclear plant has to have a decommisioning fund attached to it by the
          owner that is paid-into over the lifetime of the plant. Indeed, some
          recent nuclear plant sales involved very large cash infusions by the
          sellers to bring those funds up to par before the sale could proceed.

          Thus, how is the .gov "bailing out" these companies for their funds?
          Are you saying some are underfunded? Which ones, and why?
        • Jym Dyer
          ... =v= I m not going to rehash an off-topic nuclear power debate on this list. Anything I might have to say on the matter was said 30 years ago by Amory
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 7, 2004
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            > I mean, how would you power a carfree city? 100 percent
            > windmills? It'd never work. Tuck in a pair of nuclear plants
            > out in the industrial districts and now you're talking! :)

            =v= I'm not going to rehash an off-topic nuclear power debate
            on this list. Anything I might have to say on the matter was
            said 30 years ago by Amory Lovins, and about the massive costs
            of decommissioning in particular, 20 years ago by Karl Hess.

            =v= As for what I'd so, it's the same thing I've been saying
            for the four years I've been on this list: work on the city's
            infrastructure, particularly the transportation infrastructure,
            so as not to waste so much energy in the first place. That way
            they can be powered largely, if not totally, from clean energy
            sources.
            <_Jym_>
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          • Erik Rauch
            I don t know much about transportation engineering, but pondering why a metro is expensive brought to mind a possible alternative. The great advantage of the
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 7, 2004
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              I don't know much about transportation engineering, but pondering why a
              metro is expensive brought to mind a possible alternative.

              The great advantage of the metro is its grade-separated, dedicated right
              of way. But tunnelling and underground stations, though cheaper in a new
              development than in an existing city, are still expensive. In building a
              new carfree area where money is scarce, could one simply dig a shallow,
              cut-and-cover tunnel and run self-guided vehicles through it, of the type
              described in the January 2004 Carfree Times? At its most basic, the tunnel
              could be nothing more than a trench covered by grates. The small size of
              the vehicles would require only a shallow tunnel: the vehicles can be only
              about 2 meters high. Stops could simply be pits with stairs surrounded by
              fencing. Crossing lines would need to be handled, but with automated
              guidance, it should be possible to do this at the same grade, avoiding the
              need for tunnelling under a trench. This idea has some things in common
              with a people mover, but without the drawbacks of elevated structures.

              Though not as nice as a full-blown metro, such a system, if feasible,
              would have some of the most important advantages that the metro has over
              surface transport - even trams.

              I wonder if such a system would be feasible and indeed be significantly
              cheaper than a metro.
            • J.H. Crawford
              ... This may have some merit, especially in small projects where a full-scale metro would be too expensive. It should be designed so that a EuroTram can run it
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 7, 2004
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                Erik Rauch said:

                >The great advantage of the metro is its grade-separated, dedicated right
                >of way. But tunnelling and underground stations, though cheaper in a new
                >development than in an existing city, are still expensive. In building a
                >new carfree area where money is scarce, could one simply dig a shallow,
                >cut-and-cover tunnel and run self-guided vehicles through it, of the type
                >described in the January 2004 Carfree Times?

                This may have some merit, especially in small projects where a
                full-scale metro would be too expensive. It should be designed
                so that a EuroTram can run it in (these are low-floor and thus
                not a lot higher than 2 meters). These are run underground for
                a kilometer in Strasbourg and function just like a metro in this
                instance, except for not being as fully powered, with resultant
                modest acceleration and low top speed, neither of these a real
                problem.

                >At its most basic, the tunnel
                >could be nothing more than a trench covered by grates.

                This is really about what's proposed in Carfree Cities, in the
                Moving People chapter. The structure above has to be enough to
                carry the weight of whatever traffic is allowed in the area.
                It closely resembles what's proposed for metro-freight, except
                that the required clearances are not as great for a EuroTram.

                >Crossing lines would need to be handled, but with automated
                >guidance, it should be possible to do this at the same grade, avoiding the
                >need for tunnelling under a trench.

                Don't like this, as it's a serious risk for collision.
                Ideally, topologies don't call for crossing lines; rather,
                lines are brought alongside each other for transfers.
                Crosses can't be avoided in very large cities, but are
                otherwise not always needed.

                >This idea has some things in common
                >with a people mover, but without the drawbacks of elevated structures.

                yup

                >Though not as nice as a full-blown metro, such a system, if feasible,
                >would have some of the most important advantages that the metro has over
                >surface transport - even trams.

                Grade separation is extremely desirable.

                >I wonder if such a system would be feasible and indeed be significantly
                >cheaper than a metro.

                No hard numbers, but I think so.

                Regards,




                -- ### --

                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
              • Richard Risemberg
                Most Metros are built using cut-and-cover these days, I think. The system you envision would not have the capacity of a metro. Even LA s Metro Red Line (the
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 8, 2004
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                  Most Metros are built using cut-and-cover these days, I think.

                  The system you envision would not have the capacity of a metro. Even
                  LA's Metro Red Line (the other lines are surface light rail) can carry
                  800-1000 passengers per train, and rush hour trains are pretty full.
                  New York's and some of Tokyo's can carry more, with headways as low as 3
                  minutes sometimes. Small stations limit train size, so you just end up
                  with an underground bus--in which case you may as well just have busways.

                  My 2 cents.

                  Richard

                  Erik Rauch wrote:
                  > I don't know much about transportation engineering, but pondering why a
                  > metro is expensive brought to mind a possible alternative.
                  >
                  > The great advantage of the metro is its grade-separated, dedicated right
                  > of way. But tunnelling and underground stations, though cheaper in a new
                  > development than in an existing city, are still expensive. In building a
                  > new carfree area where money is scarce, could one simply dig a shallow,
                  > cut-and-cover tunnel and run self-guided vehicles through it, of the type
                  > described in the January 2004 Carfree Times? At its most basic, the tunnel
                  > could be nothing more than a trench covered by grates. The small size of
                  > the vehicles would require only a shallow tunnel: the vehicles can be only
                  > about 2 meters high. Stops could simply be pits with stairs surrounded by
                  > fencing. Crossing lines would need to be handled, but with automated
                  > guidance, it should be possible to do this at the same grade, avoiding the
                  > need for tunnelling under a trench. This idea has some things in common
                  > with a people mover, but without the drawbacks of elevated structures.
                  >
                  > Though not as nice as a full-blown metro, such a system, if feasible,
                  > would have some of the most important advantages that the metro has over
                  > surface transport - even trams.
                  >
                  > I wonder if such a system would be feasible and indeed be significantly
                  > cheaper than a metro.

                  >


                  --
                  Richard Risemberg
                  http://www.living-room.org
                  http://www.newcolonist.com

                  "I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity,
                  an obligation; every possession, a duty."
                  John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
                • J.H. Crawford
                  ... Not always; here in Amsterdam, world capital of soupy soils, they are going to bore the new metro deep underground using a tunnel boring machine. Metros
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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                    Richard Risemberg said:

                    >Most Metros are built using cut-and-cover these days, I think.

                    Not always; here in Amsterdam, world capital of soupy soils, they
                    are going to bore the new metro deep underground using a tunnel
                    boring machine. Metros close to the surface probably are built
                    mostly with cut-and-cover, but many have to be deep in order to
                    clear existing underground works.

                    >The system you envision would not have the capacity of a metro. Even
                    >LA's Metro Red Line (the other lines are surface light rail) can carry
                    >800-1000 passengers per train, and rush hour trains are pretty full.
                    >New York's and some of Tokyo's can carry more, with headways as low as 3
                    >minutes sometimes. Small stations limit train size, so you just end up
                    >with an underground bus--in which case you may as well just have busways.

                    Not necessarily; the EuroTram is nearly as wide as a metro car and
                    can be lengthened as needed to reach about the same capacity for a
                    given length of boarding platform/train. It has to do more with the
                    designed capacity than the particular mode.

                    And, of course, any system in a tunnel avoids street traffic.

                    Regards,



                    -- ### --

                    J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                    mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                  • Matt Dobbing
                    Hello all In response to discussion about energy provision for a car free city Jim Dyer wrote work on the city s infrastructure, particularly the
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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                      Hello all

                      In response to discussion about energy provision for a car free city Jim
                      Dyer wrote

                      'work on the city's infrastructure, particularly the transportation
                      infrastructure,
                      so as not to waste so much energy in the first place'

                      I agree with this and it should be a central concept in 'green' design.
                      simple design features such as a rise into a metro station and a fall out of
                      it save energy on deceleration and acceleration and can easily be
                      incorporated as the infrastructure is put in place.

                      Matt Dobbing

                      _________________________________________________________________
                      Get some great ideas here for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day - and
                      beyond. http://special.msn.com/network/celebrateromance.armx
                    • Patrick McDonough
                      I had to link to this... http://www.theonion.com/4005/news1.html
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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                      • mauk_mcamuk
                        ... How is this off-topic? You gotta power that huge rail system with something, right? Have to keep the lights on in all those high- density housing units.
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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                          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Jym Dyer <jym@e...> wrote:
                          > > I mean, how would you power a carfree city? 100 percent
                          > > windmills? It'd never work. Tuck in a pair of nuclear plants
                          > > out in the industrial districts and now you're talking! :)
                          >
                          > =v= I'm not going to rehash an off-topic nuclear power debate
                          > on this list.



                          How is this off-topic? You gotta power that huge rail system with
                          something, right? Have to keep the lights on in all those high-
                          density housing units. Got to keep the economic engine ticking over
                          reliably, right? Magical pixie-dust power won't cut it.

                          Also, to be honest, cars use a fairly small percentage of the USA's
                          energy. A modern industrialized economy is a hungry mother, and
                          unless we want to look at radical changes in the economy even beyond
                          ditching the automobile, we're going to have to feed the economy lots
                          of energy.

                          Here, check this .pdf:

                          http://eed.llnl.gov/flow/pdf/ucrlID129990-00.pdf

                          That paper shows that in 2000, the USA consumed a total of 98.5
                          Quadrillion BTU's of primary energy. Of that, only 26.6 Quads was
                          used for transportation, and even carfree cities won't displace all
                          of that.


                          > Anything I might have to say on the matter was
                          > said 30 years ago by Amory Lovins, and about the massive costs
                          > of decommissioning in particular, 20 years ago by Karl Hess.
                          >

                          So, you're basicaly stuck in the past and have no defense for your
                          baseless comments? :)

                          How about a more up-to-date look at things:

                          http://www.nei.org/doc.asp?docid=501

                          According to that paper, $22.5 billion has been set aside already to
                          decommission the US nuclear fleet, with many more billions to come.
                          This is money charged to you, me, and everybody else who uses nuclear
                          electricity, and is not charged to the government.


                          > =v= As for what I'd so, it's the same thing I've been saying
                          > for the four years I've been on this list: work on the city's
                          > infrastructure, particularly the transportation infrastructure,
                          > so as not to waste so much energy in the first place. That way
                          > they can be powered largely, if not totally, from clean energy
                          > sources.


                          Name said sources, please.

                          Windmills? Excellent powersource, except that wind has low capacity
                          factors and is intermittant.

                          Hydro? Wonderful source of power, except it has stringent siting
                          issues, and droughts can be worrisome.

                          Solar? Passive solar thermal is on the ragged edge of viabillity,
                          photovoltaic is completely out of the question.

                          Natural gas? Seen the price of gas lately? :)





                          > <_Jym_>
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