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View Full Version : The current lineup of alternative energy vehicles


Ugg
Jul 9, 2003, 10:39 PM
link (http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/feature/story/0,13026,994733,00.html)

A very interesting article showcasing vehicles that use fuel cell technology and other alternative fuel sources (one uses compressed air!) and either are available now or will be by the end of the decade. It is a very interesting read.

tpjunkie
Jul 10, 2003, 12:02 AM
Wow, interesting stuff! By the time these come out, hopefully I'll have a real job and be able to afford them

cyberddot
Jul 10, 2003, 08:11 AM
Thanks for the link! I compromised on my "cleaner" burning VW diesel because of the 52 mpg. I'm really looking forward to the BROAD application of fuel cells. Affordable vehicles will mean I can make up for the years I will have spent driving this rig.

dot

Billicus
Jul 10, 2003, 11:56 AM
That's interesting. Sounds like alternative fuel sources will finally be making their way into the mainstream market.

QCassidy352
Jul 10, 2003, 12:53 PM
that one with the "skateboard" steering system seemed really weird to me. wouldn't you need a whole new driver's licence? I mean, it's not the same set of controls as driving a car, and just cause you can do one doesn't mean you'll be able to do the other! (I'm sure you can learn, but right off the bat I mean.)

Ugg
Jul 10, 2003, 01:05 PM
Originally posted by QCassidy352
that one with the "skateboard" steering system seemed really weird to me. wouldn't you need a whole new driver's licence? I mean, it's not the same set of controls as driving a car, and just cause you can do one doesn't mean you'll be able to do the other! (I'm sure you can learn, but right off the bat I mean.)

It's hard for me to grasp the concept behind that one. We are creatures of habit when it comes to driving, but on the other hand change isn't a bad thing. Two systems would be confusing though.

I think the carbon fibre idea is great, much stronger yet more resilient so it would mean safer travel.

Mr. Anderson
Jul 10, 2003, 01:21 PM
Originally posted by QCassidy352
that one with the "skateboard" steering system seemed really weird to me.

Nah, its drive by wire - sort of like a video game in reality. Very cool and by making the 'skateboard' platform standard you can do just about anything above the floor.....:D

These are great cars, but the efficiency is still not quite there. I love the Natrium :D

Handful of sodium borohydride pellets, add some water and off you go....that's hi tech!

D

Ugg
Jul 10, 2003, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by Mr. Anderson
These are great cars, but the efficiency is still not quite there. I love the Natrium :D

Handful of sodium borohydride pellets, add some water and off you go....that's hi tech!

D

The Natrium is incredible! I'd never heard about it before.

Even though the tech isn't quite there yet, it is a heck of a lot closer than I had imagined it was. It's great that there are so many competing technologies, I really thought it was all still about natural gas based fuel cells.

Too bad that there isn't a viable solar car yet. For areas with lots of sun I would think they would be ideal.

MacManDan
Jul 10, 2003, 01:38 PM
Does anyone happen to have a picture of that HyWire (skateboard) system?? They say GM is going to produce it .. but I'd want to see it before trying to give an opinion on this crazy-sounding idea (oops, too late). I think I'd rather stick with the feel of a steering wheel under your hands and the accelerator at your foot .. :)

Abstract
Jul 10, 2003, 01:58 PM
HONDA FCX

When the hydrogen is pumped into the fuel cell, it heats up and each hydrogen molecule is split into two positive ions and two electrons.

How does a hydrogen molecule split into 2 +ve ions and 2 electrons? :confused:

MacFan25
Jul 10, 2003, 03:11 PM
I think Ford is working on a hybrid version of one of their SUVs, the Escape. I think that the new Toyota Prius looks much better than it did, too.

rainman::|:|
Jul 10, 2003, 05:15 PM
you can find pics of the hywire on the net, look for newspaper reviews and such. It's a really fabulous concept, long overdue since we've been using the current system for so long... It does not take advantage of our abilities in an increased world of hand-eye and technological coordination, and it's expensive to make and maintain. I'm hoping the hywire will be nice and cheap, if i can afford one i'll be waiting in line the day they show up in lots...

pnw

Phil Of Mac
Jul 10, 2003, 06:46 PM
I'm a big fan of fuel cells, but don't they need a supply of hydrogen? In other words, won't I be driving the Hindenberg to work every morning?

Such is life...

Mr. Anderson
Jul 10, 2003, 09:56 PM
Yeah, just google up Hy-wire fuel cell and you'll get plenty - looks pretty cool :D

The Natrium is a great concept - only thing is the vehicle they're putting it in -Chrysler Mini-Van - blah! They'll need to work on that one - but I'm all for fuel pellets :D

D

3rdpath
Jul 10, 2003, 10:26 PM
the city where i live recently added a fleet of hydrogen cars...heck, we even have our own hydrogen filling station. the city has used electric rav's for quite a while too.

toyota's rumored to be introducing a small suv hybrid soon...that will do me until the fuel cell cars become affordable( and available).

one of my clients has an electric honda and it is so hard to get used to riding in it. it always surprises me when we zoom off without hearing the motor start first.

LethalWolfe
Jul 10, 2003, 10:56 PM
I don't think I like the hy-wire's all hands, no feet approach to car control. I don't think it would be all that comfortable for extended periods of driving.


Lethal

Phil Of Mac
Jul 10, 2003, 11:00 PM
Originally posted by LethalWolfe
I don't think I like the hy-wire's all hands, no feet approach to car control. I don't think it would be all that comfortable for extended periods of driving.


Isn't that what cruise control is? And cruise control is specifically designed for extended periods of driving.

I do enjoy using the gas pedal myself, however, but on the highway it's so much easier to maintain your speed with cruise control.

LethalWolfe
Jul 10, 2003, 11:24 PM
Originally posted by Phil Of Mac
Isn't that what cruise control is? And cruise control is specifically designed for extended periods of driving.

I do enjoy using the gas pedal myself, however, but on the highway it's so much easier to maintain your speed with cruise control.

I was thinking more of city driving, stop 'n go traffic jams, and bumper to bumper traffic where you are creeping along at 5 mphs.


Lethal

Phil Of Mac
Jul 11, 2003, 02:50 AM
Originally posted by LethalWolfe
I was thinking more of city driving, stop 'n go traffic jams, and bumper to bumper traffic where you are creeping along at 5 mphs.


Yeah, I wouldn't feel safe in that without being able to put my foot down on a brake. But then again, if I used one of these collective control systems I might feel better about it.

Imagine that. I'm sitting there in traffic, freaked out because I'm not so sure about how securely my car is stopped, and about the giant tank of hydrogen gas under me. And we call it innovation :)

pseudobrit
Jul 11, 2003, 03:15 AM
In Autoweek's review of the HyWire, they said the controls were not implemented very well.

GM used a very short steering ratio to make the car more manoeuvrable -- a neat idea until you think of the problems -- imagine having a PS2 joystick to drive with and sneezing on the autobahn -- whoops! Full left lock at the flick of a digit isn't so smart anymore!! A twitchy thumb isn't going to do much damage on a conventional steering wheel at any speed.

So, to make sure sudden inputs at highway speed wouldn't throw the wheels sideways, GM had the software vary the ratio depending on speed, which can be seriously dangerous to try to calculate and limits what you can do to avoid an accident.

In Autoweek's test drive, they had to slow down to take a corner at speed; the car would have kept going straight through it rather than let them take it fast. Rather dangerous.

link (http://autoweek.com/search/search_display.mv?port_code=autoweek&cat_code=coverstory&content_code=01247822&Search_Type=STD&Search_ID=1378066&record=1)

Mr. Anderson
Jul 11, 2003, 07:41 AM
Originally posted by pseudobrit

In Autoweek's test drive, they had to slow down to take a corner at speed; the car would have kept going straight through it rather than let them take it fast. Rather dangerous.


Ha, sounds like they've got a bit of work. I don't see the reason for changing the pedal, steering arrangement. And they might be forced to implement it here. But another thing by having everything on the steering wheel, you'd have to keep both hands on most of the time. I could see how that gets to be a problem.

One other thing, though, is that cars fitted out for handicapped individuals sometimes have all controls on the steerwheel, so its not that it can't work.

D

tpjunkie
Jul 11, 2003, 10:44 AM
How does a hydrogen molecule split into 2 +ve ions and 2 electrons?

If I remember correctly the water is split into an oxygen atom, which has a neutral charge (yes, I know its diatomic, but this reaction is taking place in parallel across a fairly large catalytic membrane), two H+ ions and their associated electrons. The electrons are stripped from the hydrogens because of oxygen's high electronegativity.

Phil Of Mac
Jul 11, 2003, 04:25 PM
Mercedes-Benz is also developing a single collective control system, on the Vario Research Car, more akin to the control system on a jet. The F 300 also excites me. Here's a link.

http://www.mercedes-benz.com/e/innovation/fmobil/default.htm

Abstract
Jul 11, 2003, 04:38 PM
Okay, the F-300 Life-Jet is sic!!! :eek: Yes, I said sic. Don't know why.

@ tpjunkie: Thanks, thats what I thought. The quote made it sound as if they were turning a single Hydrogen atom into 2 H+ (ie: 2 positive charges) and 2 electrons. I thought that maybe they were referring to subatomic particles when they mentioned 2 +ve charges but didn't call them H+ atoms. ;)

Crazy world we live in. One day, I'll feel like driving and taking a bath at the same time, and maybe with automated steering, braking, and accelerating, my dream of complete lazyness will come true. :cool:

Frohickey
Jul 11, 2003, 07:14 PM
I think it might be better to use ethanol for burning or for fuel cell instead of hydrogen.

That is, until they find a bug that can turn biomass into hydrogen gas without using fossil fuels

Phil Of Mac
Jul 11, 2003, 08:49 PM
I think with ethanol, it takes more fuel to harvest it that you end up with. Hardly an economical solution, unless you're in the fuel or agricultural industry :)

Or that might be biodiesel. There's some type of clean-burning fuel that works that way.

Frohickey
Jul 11, 2003, 08:54 PM
I've heard the same thing about ethanol, that it takes more energy to produce than the energy you get from burning it.

I'm not sure if thats real though... I mean, man has been making ethyl alcohol since someone left a bottle of grape juice out.

Could be in the purification process, maybe.

Phil Of Mac
Jul 11, 2003, 09:12 PM
It's definitely the purification process. I mean, it's one thing to make liquor, or even beer. (And beer is $5.62 a gallon, bought by the keg...not exactly economical fuel.) But to purify the alcohol would be even more difficult, since most liquors are 100, 120 proof at most.

Ugg
Jul 11, 2003, 09:35 PM
Methanol/ethanol is only a short term solution. The energy it takes to sow, harvest, convert and the oil-based fertilizers and pesticides that are needed to grow the green stuff makes it non-economically viable. The only way that it is appealing now is due to federal price supports for American farmers. If a reasonably fair market approach were applied, it would be twice as expensive as it is. Plus, it is really based on the idea of grain surpluses, and they are dependent upon weather and world demand amongst others factors.

The IDEA of bio fuel always appealed to me until I looked into it and when I realized all the above, well, it's still a good idea on a limited local level but not for a national energy plan.

Phil Of Mac
Jul 11, 2003, 09:45 PM
Well, it makes the agricultural industry more money. Many national policies are designed toward that end :)

Frohickey
Jul 11, 2003, 10:22 PM
Oil, geothermal, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal/hydro.

The first 3 stores pretty good, while the last 3 are pretty much transient energy sources.

Oil and nuclear are not tied to a specific geographical location, as soon as you extract it.

pseudobrit
Jul 12, 2003, 12:41 AM
Biodiesel's cheap to grow (veggie oils), cheap to crack (lye and methanol, the methanol is recoverable, the lye becomes glycerol -- soap), the infrastructure is already in place (diesel fuel), vehicles need no modification, it's much cleaner burning than regular diesel and has a higher cetane rating (like octane; but it translates to more power potential in the fuel)...

the only reason it doesn't take off is because the small batches currently produced do not allow for it to match the price point of petrodiesel and the national supply depots where it's available are few and far between.

That said, it runs great in my TDI!

pseudobrit
Jul 12, 2003, 12:43 AM
Originally posted by Frohickey
Oil, geothermal, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal/hydro.

The first 3 stores pretty good, while the last 3 are pretty much transient energy sources.

Oil and nuclear are not tied to a specific geographical location, as soon as you extract it.

Neither are the others when converted to electricity.

Frohickey
Jul 13, 2003, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
Neither are the others when converted to electricity.
Electricity is the grid... you don't need to move it. It moves itself.

I was talking about primary sources of energy. Electricity is a secondary source, unless you start putting up lightning rods all over the place and can count on regularly scheduled lightning strikes.

I thought that methanol (http://www.solardome.com/SolarDome22.html) was made from petroleum, because this is the most economical way to do it.