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Fuel Cell Car Goes Cross-Country

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the batteries-not-included dept.

Technology 299

person-0.9a writes "CNN is currently running a story about Daimler-Chrysler's fuel-cell concept car completing a trek across America. The CNN article is more about the trip, but details about the vehicle can be found here."

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Lift and Smootch! (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651418)

Get it in ya!

I love CLIT!

Tagged (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651430)

This First Post has been Tagged and Claimed by the United Troll Movement ! Props to the C.L.I.T. and all ACs !
Want to join the UTM?

Re:Tagged (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651449)

The only thing you could tag is a goat's ass with your penis.

The post remains.

Fuck off and die, you bloody cunt-swab.

I have a dream (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651462)

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for trolling by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the CLIT must not lead us to a distrust of all ACs, for many of our Annoymous brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have realised that their trolling is inextricably bound to that of the CLIT.

I have a dream, Trolls.... one day the LITs and the ACs are gonna troll together.

UTM forever!

true, true (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651473)

Brother, you have spoken true, true words.

Re:I have a dream (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651481)

Brother, you have spoken true, true words.

No he si a fagort!!!1

Re:I have a dream (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651513)

I pity you. When the UTM comes to power, your kind will be first against the wall.

Re:I have a dream (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651521)

your kind will be first against the wall.

Yeah, with thier ass facing you.

Let 'er rip boyz! UTM is gonna have some fun with your corn hole today! w00t!

Re:Lift and Smootch! (-1)

Serial Troller (556155) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651463)

What is this CLIT of yours? Is it anything like your sister's clit that I had last night? Because that one wasn't any good.

Re:Lift and Smootch! (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651476)

The only clit you have had was your own.

Any time, any place, beaver face.

Propz to non-AC fp (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651480)

th1s e4rly ps0t 1s d3d1c4t3d t0:
0n by, CLITs O th3 sp0rks,
"kl3rck" o o 4nd 4ll
n0n o. .o 4Cs
o . . o
4nd o. .o p4g3
w1d3n3rs o o 4nd 4ls0
l3ngth3n3rs O 4V3RYWH3R3!
tr0llz r0x0r !!! cr4pfl00d r3wlz !

My penis (-1)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651419)

Who'd like to smell it?

Re:My penis (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651426)

If you were a member of CLIT, that first post could have been all yours.

Tempting, eh?

Re:My penis (-1)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651433)

I tried twice, and both times I got "it's only been 17 seconds". If only I'd learn to count to 20 everything would be good.

I do not belong to a tiny offshoot of the Liberate Apes Before Imprisoning Apes movement.

join the UTM and be strong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651450)

Hey fellow, its your time to join the aspiring mighty United Troll Movement, 'cos only together we are strong against slashdot dumbness!

Re:My penis (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651499)

I was a member of Trolls In Tandem on Slashdot (TITS), be we refused to be harnessed in, we needed to be free.

Re:My penis (-1)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651512)

That's fair enough. I also need to be free so I'm not joining the UTM.

Re:My penis (-1)

CLIT (581942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651831)

Fucky! Brutha!

Come with me to the dark side!

GAY GAY GAY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651427)

ThIs eNTeRNeT SiGhT iS GaY!!! LOL!! NeRdS = H0M0S Hahahaahaha


Serial Troller (556155) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651471)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

"ThIs eNTeRNeT [sic] SiGhT [sic] iS GaY!!! LOL!! NeRdS = H0M0S Hahahaahaha"

You don't like the ANAL SEXORing? Why the hell not? ANAL SEXORing is a proud Slashdot tradition. Don't knock it. Or Hemos will knock you in your buttocks.

Safety? (2, Interesting)

Rhubarb Crumble (581156) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651429)

I keep hearing about "safety concerns" in connection with hydrogen fuel cells, which is fair enough. But is there any real test data available? Have these fuel-cell designs been subjected to the the same kind of destructive testing (drive into a concrete wall at 50kph etc) as normal cars, or are these 'concept cars' too precious to ram into a wall just to see if they do blow up?

Re:Safety? (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651443)

Have you ever seen hydrogen explode?? It makes a relatively huge fireball compared to the amount hydrogen burned.

Re:Safety? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651464)

I have seen methane explode. I had drank a 12 pack of PBR and ate a jar of pickled eggs.

You would not want to have been in the same car as I, and the fireball was immense.

I hope this answered your question.

p.s. I there a way to connect a tube to my ass from the engine? I think I could power my commute to work.

Re:Safety? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651500)

You, sir, shall never, ever get laid

Re:Safety? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651509)

Is that a bad thing? I like to masturbate... why do I need a woman?

All I need is a computer with my favorite linux distro, an inflatable Tux doll, a cinder block, remote control, a lamp, a broomstick, a stick of butter, 6-pack of PBR (fuck Heinekin) and a cat staring at my genitals.

Perhaps some human-size zip lock bags too.

Re:Safety? (2, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651583)

As opposed to gasoline that has an impressive fireball-type explosion and continues to burn until all of the gasoline has evaporated and burned?

Re:Safety? (3, Informative)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651465)

fyi, the car uses methanol, not hydrogen. still highly flammable, but at least you get a bit of a kick out of it.

And current cars do well at this... (4, Informative)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651524)

The European standards body that does this stuff has its results here [] and one to note is the abysmal results on this [] MPV. I quote The Voyager did so badly in the frontal impact that it earned no points, making it the worst of the group by some margin. The body structure became unstable and the steering column was driven back into the driver's chest and head.

So while there may be concerns about these cars if all cars had to get decent scores in these tests that it would ensure that everyone was safe. As it is the gap between the worst and the best [] is enough to make the fuel inside it only one of the considerations in safety.

Re:Safety? (2)

linuxpng (314861) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651563)

I'm guessing since the article states they won't be able to make a profit on mass produced vehicles of this nature until 2010, that these are somewhere in the millions to manufacture. The breakdown that this article mentions, gives the impression that these are very much completely proof of concept cars costing millions to engineer.

Is hydrogen any more dangerous than petrol? (2)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651571)

I don't think so but where are all the safety concerns over petrol?

Re:Safety? (4, Interesting)

gewalker (57809) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651610)

Gasoline burns like gangbusters. Safety concern is not that hydrogen burns. Concern is focused on hydrogen in the gaseous form (which burns explosively when mixed with oxygen). For gasoline to be explosive, you have to heat it enough to vaporize.

I do get tired of reading that burning hydrogen produces no emissions (NOx and others), but ignoring the fact that hydrogen as to come from somewhere (you can't just pump H2 out of a hole in the ground) that tends to be fossil fuels today in another forms.

Hydrogen is a storage technology, not an energy source. Now, methane based fuel cells are much more interesting because we've got lots of methane (pumped from the ground), but there is not an infinite supply of methane, and lots of CO2 is added to the exhaust mix.

I'm no Luddite. I want microfusion powered cars, or more realistically, some decent storage technology for transportation use, and nuclear or renewable resource for evergy generation.

Re:Safety? (1)

Dalaram (447015) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651628)

Its probably a little too early to start testing the cars for user safety. After all, its not even determined if this is a viable source of transportation. Right now, the cars are prototypes, and cost a fortune to develop. When and if they become mainstream, then they will be subject to the same rigorous testing that vehicles now are.

Re:Safety? (5, Informative)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651633)

Here [] is an article on hydrogen fuel cells and safety, including results of BMW's simulated collisions:

Many real-life tests have demonstrated the safety of pressurized hydrogen storage. Simulated 55 mph crash tests left the car totaled, but the hydrogen tank intact. To prove the safety of its hydrogen vehicles, BMW tested its hydrogen tanks in a series of accident simulations that included collision, fire and tank ruptures. In all cases, the hydrogen cars fared as well as conventional gasoline vehicles. And hydrogen-fueled cars are designed to preclude the possibility of leaked hydrogen collecting within the vehicle.

"Apollo 13" by Ron Howard (0, Flamebait)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651669)

A fuel cell explosion severely disabled the Apollo 13 mission. Ron Howard made an award winning movie about it several years ago.

Re:"Apollo 13" by Ron Howard (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651822)

Actually it was an O2 tank (SN #10024X-TA0009 for those who might actually give a rats-ass) that exploded. The movie starred Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton as the unfortunate trio of star voyagers (just adding color commentary here)

yay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651438)


methanol powered? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651441)

I guess the local bums will move away from hanging around the supermarket, and move to the gas stations now.

Re:methanol powered? (1)

Doug Loss (3517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651507)

If they do, they'll go away quickly. Methanol is a poison. Ethanol is the alcohol you're thinking of.

Re:methanol powered? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651548)

I know, but imagine how attractive it must smell there for them. I've seen these guys draining the last drops from nearly emptied beer bottles that have stood around for days, they don't care much about how healthy it is.

Heading for a new era - the fuel cell propulsion (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651442)

According to the International Energy Agency, global oil production is set to peak in 2014. For many years now, researchers around the world have been striving to develop alternative methods of propulsion to ensure that mankind remains mobile irrespective of the state of the world's oil supplies. Some of the most promising reports from the field come from research engineers at DaimlerChrysler, who are intending to have a fuel cell auto ready for series production by 2004. The best thing about this item of news is that this car of the future will be every kilowatt as powerful as the ones we drive today, every bit as comfortable and just as much fun to drive.

The facts

To prove their point about the serviceability of fuel cell automobiles, DaimlerChrysler have now built NECAR (New Electric Car) 5. In this Mercedes-Benz A-Class the propulsion system fits neatly inside the sandwich floor, without compromising either seating or

luggage capacity. NECAR 5's 55 kW/75 bhp motor gives it a top speed of over 90 mph and a range of several hundred miles before it has to take more methanol on board.
In the global race to be first to market with a fully serviceable standard production fuel cell model, NECAR can safely be said to be leading the field. "We're aiming for market leadership in this sector as well," says Jürgen E. Schrempp, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler. "We've got the technology on our side, we're securing the industrial property rights, and we're creating new jobs." At DaimlerChrysler and its partner companies in this venture, over a thousand people are already working flat out on the fuel cell project in Germany alone.

The technology of fuel cell propulsion

In NECAR 5, DaimlerChrysler is banking on the methanol fuel cell - one of several options for passenger car applications. It helps to imagine a fuel cell as a kind of miniature on-board power station, generating the electric current that ultimately powers the car, and there are different ways of operating these power plants. Fuel cells need oxygen, which they obtain from the surrounding air, and hydrogen. So one option is to fit the vehicle with hydrogen tanks. The result is a zero emission vehicle with just water vapor coming out of its exhaust.

Although methanol cannot quite compete in an ecological life cycle assessment with hydrogen generated by solar power, there are good reasons for using this compound as a source of hydrogen for the fuel cell. Emission levels are far lower than with even the most eco-friendly of internal combustion engines, and emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and soot particulates drop to almost zero.
Compared with an internal combustion engine, overall emissions of carbon dioxide can be reduced by thirty percent, and if the methanol is generated from renewable resources such as biomass, organic raw materials or waste wood, then the overall cycle leads to no additional carbon dioxide being created at all. Today tests are already under way at a plant near Cottbus in Germany aiming to generate 100,000 tons of methanol a year from domestic waste.
Given the variety of ways of producing methanol, the automotive sector would no longer be dependent on the oil-producing countries. And we could finally put a stop to the enormous waste of energy currently practised at oilfields around the world. Instead of flaring off the natural gas which is a by-product of oil production, it could be converted into liquid methanol on site by relatively simple technical means. The American Methanol Institute estimates that if just one-tenth of the flared-off natural gas were to be converted into methanol it would be enough to power some ten million vehicles.

The fact that, even in the long term, adequate volumes of methanol can be produced from a number of different raw materials at low cost is not the only argument in its favor. For unlike liquid hydrogen, methanol can be transported, stored, distributed and handled in much the same way as gasoline or diesel. The only difference a driver would notice when filling up would be the sign saying 'methanol' on the fuel pump. That said, providing a market-wide supply infrastructure for methanol will still call for substantial investment. It is not just a case of rinsing out empty gasoline tanks and tankers and filling them with methanol. The problem is that methanol is more aggressive than either gasoline or diesel - too aggressive for today's tanks, fuel lines and sealants. Aluminum fuel tanks, for example, would have to be replaced with stainless steel ones. But for all the cost involved, the total investment required remains realistic and with the conversion measures in place, it would be 'business as usual' for most of the existing network of filling stations.

The NECAR 5 - tried and tested

According to Professor Klaus-Dieter Vöhringer, the Member of DaimlerChrysler's Board of Management responsible for Research and Technology, methanol has so many practical advantages that he is expecting to see the methanol fuel cell make the breakthrough into series production. "In terms of the technology on board, NECAR 5 is effectively a prototype of the cars that we could be bringing to market maturity in just a few years' time. Our next task at hand is to build test fleets to bring the technology to full readiness for series production. We need to focus on developing the production technology for the various components and bringing costs down to an acceptable level."
One important step down the road to this goal takes the shape of a large-scale project that DaimlerChrysler initiated in California. The California Fuel Cell Partnership is a joint venture involving a number of automakers and public institutions as well as representatives of the oil and energy sectors.
From now until 2003, project engineers will be testing more than fifty fuel cell vehicles in everyday use. DaimlerChrysler alone will have fifteen vehicles on test, with the latest NECAR due to cover some 25,000 miles in the next three years on the streets of California to check out and improve its serviceability.

Clearly, the fuel cell car has made the transition from an object of research to a development project. Now it's up to the developers to teach this infant to walk. But instead of closing the file on the fuel cell, the researchers have turned their attention to the next-but-one generation of fuel cell vehicles.
At the end of last year, a young DaimlerChrysler researcher by the name of Jens Thomas Müller made a striking impression at a research symposium by zipping around the congress hall in a softly humming go-kart. Although the kart itself was nothing very special to look at, it demonstrated for the first time that a direct methanol fuel cell was in principle capable of powering a vehicle. For in this version of the fuel cell, there is no need to reform the methanol into hydrogen - and this could be where the future of fuel cell propulsion.

Hahaha! (-1, Offtopic)

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Wow, we'll be driving this in 10 years. (1)

forged (206127) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651455)

That is a good insight in the type of cars which Iceland will be aiming to be using some time in 2030-2040, as featured on Slashdot [] last week!

To quote the interesting bit from the original story [] , "The scheme is backed by DaimlerChrysler, which will build the first buses, together with energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian industrial group Norsk Hydro."

In case some readers haven't realised, this is the car!

Re:Wow, we'll be driving this in 10 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651785)

"In case some readers haven't realised, this is the car!"

I hope not. It's a really ugly car, IMO.

What's really depressing is that DaimlerChrysler is quoted in the article as saying that the car won't be in mass production until at least 2010. It still costs too much to mfr this vehicle right now, in in mass.

I've been holding off on a new car for the last several years so I can buy a more green vehicle. I guess I'll have to settle for a hybrid for now, assuming I like the current hybrids.

Times running out... (2, Insightful)

fatwreckfan (322865) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651457)

"Even under optimistic predictions, fuel cell vehicles won't be mass-produced until 2010."

Won't this be a little late? Considering the dramatic climate change that's already taking place, I don't know if another 8 years is an option, considering George W.'s disgusting energy policy [] .

Let's hope better alternative energy sources appear sooner, rather than later.

Re:Times running out... (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651468)

I vote burning you and all the enviro-cranks as the best alternate fuel source.

Re:Times running out... (3, Informative)

tempfile (528337) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651490)

I don't consider this as bad. Humanity's CO2 exhaust contributes only a small part to the climate change which is mostly natural, and car exhaust is only a fragment of that.
Also remember that fuel cells are not an alternative energy *source*, but only enable a different way of storing it. Hydrogen production consumes a lot of power and is today mostly done with fossil resources, because splitting water eats even more energy. Fuel cell cars are a good way to become independent of petrol, but the main problem that there is not yet a real alternative to fossil or nuclear fuel will persist beyond 2010.
Mass-produced fuel cell vehicles might speed up science in that direction, however.

To stay on that topic: I've read about a guy who got silicon to react with nitrogen, producing sand. His idea was to use solar energy to extract silicon from African desert sand. Does anybody know anything about that?

Re:Times running out... (1)

hplasm (576983) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651555)

Would it not be an idea to remove CO2 from *CocaCola (TM)* as there must be a substantial contribution to the greenhouse gas budget from fizzy drinx? (ok and Pepsi (TM) etc, etc.....)

Re:Times running out... (3, Insightful)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651570)

Roughly speaking, of man-made CO2 emissions, roughly half is from industry/power stations, and the other half is vehicle emissions. That's a bit more than a fragment - more like a very significant amount.

There is a big debate on whether the current measured climate change is being caused by human activity, or whether it is something that would have happened anyway. You certainly can't claim the case has been made that it is not due to human activity. In either case, it seems sensible to do something about it before it is too late.

One big advantage of fuel cells is that they fuel can be generated from renewable resources. For example, you could use wind turbines to generate electricity to electrolize water. I think fuel cell reactions are also reversable, so you could put 'green' electricity into a methanol fuel cell to get methanol out. The advantages are obvious compared to using up a finite non-renewable oil resource.

Re:Times running out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651843)

Unfortunately, wind turbines provide very little power, although a lot more than solar. We would new a serious lot of them.

Of course, if we had decent storage for electricity generation, we could put tons of them in the desert, with a pipeline pumping the stored (liquid?) energy to cities.

Nuclear reactors also waste a lot of energy. They keep having to be shifted in power output to match demand, which is why power costs more during the middle of the day. If they were modified to store the excess power at night into hydrogen, a lot of the hydrogen would effectively be free energy.

Ultimately, I can see where we no longer have a power grid, but simply hydrogen pumped to homes in place of natural gas. With your home fuel cell, you heat or cool your house with electricity. No more issues with gas appliances.

I'd love to see a way to harness lightning too. Billions of megawatts (I think) that just get grounded destructively. Since this power is built up over time and grounded during storms, it may be possible to draw off that energy on a constant basis for power consumption.

Climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651528)

Except there is no evidence of auto emissions having anything to do with climate change.

Re:Climate change (2)

colmore (56499) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651814)

But there's no evidence that they *don't* either, and there's a strong suggestion that they do.

Look at it this way, suppose you have the choice of drinking two kinds of coffee tomorrow morning, one of which is known to be safe, the other may or may not be deadly. Now there's no proof that the second kind is or is not deadly, but you'll probably go with the first.

Sure we don't know for certain if our actions are destroying the planet, but on the off chance that they are, I'd rather be overcautious now than be sorry later.

Bush's disgusting energy policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651557)

It is not really that disgusting at all. The policy is attacked because it does not give in to certain special interests:

- people who hate SUV's because they can't see over them.... or just get mad when they see someone in a bigger car.

- "Limousine environmentalists" who rail against SUV's and "greenhouse gases" while driving one themselves. Al Gore is one of these.

- People who want to force automakers to make smaller flimsier dangerous cars with less passenger and cargo capacity that get more miles per gallon.

- Centers for science in no-ones interest who perpetuate tentative and unproven manmade global warming theories.

Re:Bush's disgusting energy policy (1)

fatwreckfan (322865) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651846)

"People who want to force automakers to make smaller flimsier dangerous cars with less passenger and cargo capacity that get more miles per gallon."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Volkswagen Jetta TDI is an extremely confortable compact with loats of cargo room which gets upwards of 60mi/gal and has a great safety rating. Why would it be so difficult for other car makers to follow suit and build cars that are both useful AND energy efficient?

"Centers for science in no-ones interest who perpetuate tentative and unproven manmade global warming theories."

Please. Step away from your computer for 5 minutes and go outside, then tell me about "manmade global warming theories." You sound like a politician: "Are you 100% sure? Oh, only 98%. Well then, if you aren't sure, we won't worry about it."

welcome (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651458)

to hell. If you are already reading slashrot this morning - kill yourself now and save society the trouble.

DCX Also Has Directly Powered Hydrogen Car (5, Interesting)

zentec (204030) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651475)

Last year, DCX was driving a directly powered hydrogen car all around Germany, but you never hear anything more about it.

From what I remember, the car used liquified hydrogen and achieved normal speeds and fairly comparable mileage to gasoline. The only issue was keeping the liquid hydrogen cold.

Initial rear-end crash tests on this car showed that this wasn't any more dangerous than gasoline nor more explosive.

Who is DCX (2, Informative)

forged (206127) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651535)

And for those who are wondering who DCX is, it's simply DaimlerChrysler's ticker symbol. []

HydroBUSH (1)

fabjep (154553) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651485)

"The Bush administration launched a partnership with domestic automakers in January to develop a system of hydrogen refueling stations and spur the growth of hydrogen fuel cells."

Considering Bush's background, I think this is interesting. A+ for him. I would say "commendable", but really it's just "sensible". The positive connotations of "commendable" only make sense given low expectations. :-)

Emisions? (1)

zardor (452852) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651488)

Even though this car produces no pollution, what about the two SUVs and a van carrying replacement parts and tools accompanying it?

Oil companies (3, Insightful)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651501)

The article should have said something about the oil companies. I'll bet that most major oil-drilling companies will fight fuel cells with all they've got.

I am well aware that not all oil is made into gasolin and that some fuelcells can convert gasolin and that they could use the excess gas (which comes up with the oil) to power the cells. I am also well aware that it is posible through cracking to reduse the raw oil to more usable components.

Still the oil companies would suffer serious losses and so would some oil dependant contries. This might in turn lead to I price war where oil companies would subsidize traditional cars (especially american motors which uses way too much gas compared to their effect.) The fuel cell cars would then have few economical advantages over gas cars. Who would subsidize them? Green Peace?

Re:Oil companies (3, Insightful)

sffubs (561863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651545)

I think most major oil companies have realised that they only have a limited time left selling petrol; most of them are funding research into alternatives such as direct combustion of ethanol, and various types of fuel cell. This means that when the time comes, it will be the oil companies selling you fuel cells, and/or hydrogen/ethanol/methanol to go in them. I mean it's not as if they haven't seen this coming. The real losers will be countries that depend on exporting oil, but they will still be able to sell a large proportion of their oil to the chemicals industry. -s

Re:Oil companies (2)

halftrack (454203) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651577)

Of course most oil-companies have multiple legs to stand on, but it is still estimated that the current oil reserves will last for decades. They wont give up gas until the reservs have run out. Only then will they truly be comited to fuele cells.

Re:Oil companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651631)

The oil companies make more than petrol. Just about everything you use - your PC, your automobile, your home, and even the packaging for the food you eat is made of, at least in part, a class of chemicals made from petroleum.

If they stopped making gasoline, industries dependent on petroleum products would find themselves with a glut of new resources from which to make their product.

Besides, as has been commented elsewhere, fuel cells are only an energy conversion device. They are not an energy source unto themselves. Their prime advantage is that they have greater efficiency per watt generated than heat-cycle engines.

practical fuel cells run on hydrocarbons (4, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651693)

An alternative fuel cell technology extracts hydrogen from hydrocarbons on the way to combustion. These are more likely to see implementation because there is a hydrocarbon deliver infrastructure in place. Probably will start with laptop fuel cell batteries that have triple lifetime over alternatives.

Re:Oil companies (1)

imperator_mundi (527413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651724)

These are research made by car makers, that are powerfull enough to face oil companies. It's obvious that if a beared ex-hippie would build an engine powered by love and cosmic harmony the oil companies would immediatly find a way to shut his mouth, but this is Daimler-Chrysler, a giant that move more money than many little countries. A new type of engine could harm or even destroy the petroleum market, but the car maker will easily switch to the new technology and continue selling millions of vehicules (I think that in future I'll dream the hydrogen Lamborghini as much as now I dream the benzine powered one).

why so long??? (1)

primus_sucks (565583) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651519)

Other problems will keep the technology from reaching the mass market for at least a decade, experts say, including onboard storage of flammable hydrogen, reliability, durability and cost.

DaimlerChrysler plans to have 30 fuel cell buses working in 10 European cities next year. Ford Motor Co. has a fuel cell Focus, aided by a battery for acceleration, that it plans to lease for fleet customers in early 2004.

So why the heck will take another 10 years to reach mass market? Are they saying that these buses and fleet cars are unreliable, expensive, and ready to blow up?

Re:why so long??? (1)

aderuwe (539595) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651534)

So why the heck will take another 10 years to reach mass market? Are they saying that these buses and fleet cars are unreliable, expensive, and ready to blow up?
Not at all, it's just that the oil industry (including the oil exporting countries) will oppose the technology strongly.

Re:why so long??? (1)

IainHere (536270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651601)

Actually, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to spout cliches. --Yes, I can reply to sigs if I want.

metal sponge tanks (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651710)

Material scientists have come up with all kinds of nifty hydrogen storage schemes. There are metallic sponges that store hydrogen in dense and fairly safe manner, expecially in an impact accident. I dont not know the economcis of such systems.

Nice technology, but pointless (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651520)

Well it's interesting technology, but unfortunatly it's been overtaken by events. First of all it's been reported recently that oil supplies will not run out in the near future, possibly not at all, as it's likely that oil is not in fact a "fossil fuel" but remains of methane spread throughout the earth. And secondly it's becoming increasing clear that the environmental issues are just hype and disguised anti-capitalist rants and have little basis in fact. There is in increasing amount of evidence that so called global warming does not exist

Re:Nice technology, but pointless (2, Informative)

div_2n (525075) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651613)

And of course there is increasing evidence that global warming does indeed exist.

What happens if you close your garage door and run your car for a while? The air turns quite unbreathable. Change that to a warehouse. Same thing, just takes longer. Take Mexico City. Same thing, it has taken a long time, but they have a serious problem.

Now take earth. How long will it take? No one knows, but all of these emissions sure as hell aren't escaping into space.

Global warming or not, air quality is degrading in cities that have heavy traffic. Population trends are continuing to rise and so is the amount of vehicles in use. At what point to those that don't believe us "environmentalists" start facing facts? Will it be before or after walking outside in cities requires an oxygen tank?

Re:Nice technology, but pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651617)

Did you copy and paste that from the Ayn Rand website?

Re:Nice technology, but pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651630)

>> First of all it's been reported recently that oil supplies will not run out in the near future, possibly not at all
sooner or later *everything* on this planet will run out....

>>And secondly it's becoming increasing clear that the environmental issues are just hype and disguised anti-capitalist rants and have little basis in fact.

you're saying car smog is NOT dangerous for your health? try to lock yourself into a garage, turn on your engine and take some deep breaths for a few minutes....

>>There is in increasing amount of evidence that so called global warming does not exist

this seems to be true. all they know is that they don't know anything for sure....

Not the only one (3, Informative)

Doug Loss (3517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651525)

For those of you who don't already know, GM has shown a concept car called AUTOnomy [] which is fuel-cell-powered too, but has a bunch of other interesting features.

Is there an alternative to Hydrogen? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651538)

Hydrogen is quite useful in may ways, but it has a lot of small problems.

1. Its rather bulky to store.
2. It doesn't exist in large quantities in nature, so requires energy to produce.

Would it be possible to use methane or alcohol for a fuel cell, or would this interfore with the way it works?

Re:Is there an alternative to Hydrogen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651627)

Add one to your list:

3. It blows up.

Now you might not think that this is a problem per se, but when you consider the Hindenburg, there's no way I want to be anywhere near an accident at a filling station.

Methane would be out. Methane contributes to the greenhouse effect when it's burnt off. Alcohol maybe a useful alternative. Electricity is out. After years of crap cars and poor laptop performance, I'm convinced there's a Moore's law equivalent for batteries - something along the lines of: "As devices double in power consumption, batteries will increase by only 50% and will never last a full day."

Hey I saw this.. (2)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651542)

We were driving home to Wisconsin from Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25th and we drove past that thing. It was in Nebraska around 3pm.

I swear, besides the NECAR logo it said something about "Nitrogen / electric", but I couldn't find anything about Nitrogen on their web site. I figure going past it at 85mph was enough to blur it.

There was another minivan ahead of me that was passing it at the same time. Imagine my surprise when this guy opened up the back hatch of his minivan on I80 to start filming. (yes it was an actual crew.)

Re:Hey I saw this.. (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651585)

Wow! You are on top of it all! When are you getting married with Brittany Spears?

What Needs To Happen (1)

K_E_Morr (463022) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651543)

And probably won't. The oil industry needs to look ahead and start working, seriously, on providing alternative energy sources. I don't think they will because larges corps only seem to be concerned with today's profits, who cares about 5-10 years from now. That said, it seems to me that if a visionary in the industry jumped in and built the infrastructure needed to distribute methanol they'd be ahead of everyone else and they could clean up while the others caught up. Natural gas is becoming more commonplace at gas stations around me because local/federal governments require it for their vehicles. Maybe a little arm twisting....

Sure Blame the Oil Companies Now ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651547)

.. but when the next Ice age hits, you'll be wishing there was a nice layer of "green house gases" to warm your sorry ass!!

check out the hottest chick on the internet! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651549)

she' hot! []

Big Auto vs. Big Oil (1)

Prof.Nimnul (583515) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651558)

I've been following the fuel-cell car for a while now, and something that I've noticed is that no matter who the manufacter is, they all tend to point to replacing the supporting infrastructure as the biggest challenge.

The twist to this is that in terms of the fuel infrastructure, the car companies really have little to say about it -- that's up to ExxonMobil, BP, and the other oil giants. So far, I haven't heard any of them really give a response to this alternative fuel choice, but I have to wonder if this is something that they'll fight against (as it would totally change the way they do business), or if any of them will actually work towards supporting fuel-cell cars, and get a jump on their competition.

It's possible, I suppose, that some smaller start-up companies might be able to take off in the future by providing "hydrogen" and "methonal" stations, but given large companies massive desire to maintain the status quo, I doubt any type of transition will be easy to pull off.

At least in the meantime the new hybrid cars are getting more popular, and I'm all for it. 75 miles to a gallon can certainly hold me over until 2010. Matt

not in the near future (2, Insightful)

paradesign (561561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651561)

being that my job and education are closely tied to the automotive industry, i laugh every time i hear about the next gen of autos comming from detroit. theyre not comming! its all a dog and pony show to get media attention, they are not seriously thinking of producing mass alt vehicles, at least not until they get in bed with another industry other than oil. the oil lobbyists are too strong.

note that the countries where the oil lobbiests are not strong actually prodice economical cars, eg. Korea, Japan. look who is seriously pushing the next gen cars, Honda and Toyota. the american companies stage these shows so that they dont look too out of touch.

Re:not in the near future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651609)

note that the countries where the oil lobbiests are not strong actually prodice economical cars, eg. Korea, Japan.

This has nothing to do with oil lobbies. The evidence for this claim is that these cars in Korea and Japan are very small and light. Such cars have been made, are being made, are being sold in the US. They are much cheaper too. Yes, you CAN get a Toyota Tercel, and the oil companies are doing nothing to stop you!

GOOD!!! (0)

OklaKid (552472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651586)

i am for anything that removes the public from dependence on fossil fuel, especially arab\middleeast fuel, i think out dependence on arab oil is why those arabs are so damn cocky they think they can get away with anything since we are dependant on their oil, well the USA & the west need to QUIT buying middleeast oil and let the arabs economy be humbled...

Kind of reminds me of... (2, Funny)

goldorak_dan (409400) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651592)

Mad Max 3. Pig shit to create methane.

Re:Kind of reminds me of... (-1, Offtopic)

OklaKid (552472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651758)

those MadMax movies are cool... MadMax, Beond the Thunderdome, Road Warrier...

Fuel cells eco-friendly (2, Informative)

cholokoy (265199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651595)

The good thing with fuel cells was that the exhaust gases emitted by the engine is pure water. I remember I saw a demo of how the concept works at a Ford museum in Dearborn, MI.

The company that is developing the technology was balled Ballard Power Systems and was a joint venture including Daimler-Chrysler and Ford.

Ford is now developing a fuel cell Focus and was introduced in the NY auto show early this year.

More info can be found here: [] tml []

BioDiesel (5, Informative)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651600)

Every time the issue of alternative fuel vehicles comes up, I want to find the nearest "eco-friendly" type and beat some sense into them. This is going to be a longish rant, and like all people's rants is largely my opinion....

As I see it, most of the people who push for hydrogren powered vehicles don't want to make clean cars, they want to make expensive cars. They seem to feel that if they can just make it a legal requirement that all cars cost US$100K and US$10/kilometer, then we will all happily stop driving cars and go back to walking.

Why do I feel this way? Because the folks who push hydrogen never seem to consider the facts that make hydrogen a poor fuel choice, and never consider that better alternatives exist.

First, let's consider the goals of alternative fuels:
  1. Use a renewable resource for fuel
  2. Reduce the amount of carbon oxides released into the atmosphere
  3. Reduce the low-altitude pollution (unburned hydrocarbons, ozone, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, etc.)

Also, let's review the barriers to adoption of any new system:
  1. Cost of the vehicle
  2. Ease of fuel containment
  3. Presence of a distribution infrastructure (this includes both moving bulk fuel around as well as providing fuel to end users)
  4. Cost of fuel

Now, consider hydrogen in light of those requirements:
  • Hydrogen is hard to contain - you either use expensive cryogenics, or you have to use zeolite entrainment to contain it. It weakens steel containers by diffusing into the container and migrating to the ever-present microfractures and expanding them (hydrogen embrittlement)
  • You have to make hydrogen from something - you therefor have to have some other energy source. Either that source is burning carbon in some form, or it's splitting atoms. Wind and wave are cool, but not universally available nor do they have the power density to meet all needs (not to say that they shouldn't be harvested....)
  • There aren't hydrogen stations on every corner. Until there are, anyone driving a hydrogen car will have to plan any long trips very carefully. True, this would correct itself if enough people drive H2 vehicles, but they won't drive them until the stations exists, but the stations won't be built until the cars are bought....
  • Hydrogen requires a special engine to burn - either a fuel cell, or a modified internal combustion engine. If you DO take a trip and screw up your planning, you are stuck.
  • Hydrogen engines DO reduce the low-altitude pollution - no unburned hydrocarbons, and fuel cells produce little NOx and no SOx
  • Fuel cells are expensive right now. They might get cheaper later, however

Now, let us consider biodiesel - made from peanut oil, canola, corn, hemp, or whatnot.
  • The net carbon released is zero to negative - the plants PULL CO2 from the air when they grow, and the fuel releases CO2 when burned. If anything is left of the plant after making the fuel, then you have a carbon sink. (This is why the hemp fans have a good idea - grow hemp, make fuel and paper, and you have a dandy carbon sink).
  • The energy to make the fuel comes from that big fusion reactor 93 million miles away. And unlike methanol, the energy requirements to turn a canola plant into biodiesel are pretty small - you end up with an energy surplus. Methanol requires you to get rid of most of the water, which takes a lot of energy.
  • Biodiesel contains little sulphur, and when it burns it burns more completely since it already contains some oxygen, unlike mineral diesel. So you reduce unburned hydrocarbons. I don't know what the NOx emissions of a diesel engine are relative to a gasoline engine, however
  • Containing biodiesel is easy. If you have a decently stocked kitchen, you have some already - cooking oil. Also, biodiesel is considerably less toxic than mineral diesel.
  • Because it is easy to contain, shipping it around and dispensing it to end users is easy.
  • IIRC, an engine that can run on biodiesel can also run on mineral diesel without modification. As a result, if you drive you biodiesel car to the Grand Canyon, and you need fuel at the rim, you have mineral diesel. Also, a station can start pumping biodiesel whenever - no special equipment needed. This decouples the support network from the vehicle uptake, allowing each to grow on their own merits.
  • Diesel engines are a known quantity, and are already being mass produced relatively cheaply.
  • The only issue is the cost of biodiesel relative to mineral diesel. Compared to hydrogen, biodiesel is MUCH cheaper.

So, if your goal is to reduce pollution and dependance on a non-renewable resource, you logically would be pressing for biodiesel. So why do so many of these people push for hydrogen? I believe it is because they want cars to be expensive in the mistaken belief that this will push us toward their utopian ideal of us all living in bark houses, wearing bushes and eating bugs.

Re:BioDiesel (5, Insightful)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651670)

a decent 'non tree hugging' post about *green* fuel.

The real reason you see so much pressure for hydrogen is because it can be distilled from current petrolium products.

Lessens the blow to the oil tycoons when GM says .. yeah .. it runs on Hydrogen, but the hydrogen plants will still buy gas from you - so don't worry about it.

Personally im all for BioDiesel .. Its REALLY renewable .. I mean .. Hemp is a weed. [or is that Hemp is weed .. I forget which.]

In baltimore alone there are some 40 odd abandoned blocks in the city .. mow em down , plant Bio-crops .. and make a little $$ on the deal. [and add some oxygen back to the atmosphere while we are at it.]

Anyways .. very good points .. Hopefully folks will read your post.

Re:BioDiesel (2)

G-funk (22712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651893)

Stuff it... Legalize weed, and the tobacco companies can get rich(er) selling their waste plant matter at rock-bottom prices to biodiesel manufacturers.

Re:BioDiesel (2, Informative)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651889)

Now, let us consider biodiesel - made from peanut oil, canola, corn, hemp, or whatnot.

Well, there was a big drive for BioDiesel here in Sweden a few years ago (two if memory serves) and I've discussed the issue with my wife (who was then working with environmental issues at a large Swedish heavy truck manufacturer) and unfortunately the availability equation just doesn't add up.

I believe the figures were that even if we converted all Swedish farmland to BioDiesel (i.e. RME here) production, we still wouldn't cover more than a fraction (less than 10%) of the necessary transportation needs.

Granted, the US has lower population density, a nice flat bit in between the coasts that is available for agriculture, but you also drive a lot more (almost no public transportation to speak of compared to northern Europe). I'd be surprised if the calculations would be much more favourable for you than for us.

So, no, won't fly, which is a pity for sure. (And then it's not exactly zero emission either, there was a famous test in Sweden with a used heavy truck engine that was worse emission-wise with RME than with mineral diesel. You do get rid of the CO2, but that's about all of it. Don't get me started on the health catastrophy wating to happen that is particulate matter, and how diesel engines and now even direct injection petrol engines have become steadily worse in that respect over the years.

Numbers? (1)

Hellkitten (574820) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651603)

Looking at the article and the site I could find no information about the economy of it all

Sure there were numbers about the energy used vs energy wasted when using fuel cells compared to gasoline. But not any predictions about what it would cost per mile/km when it becomes mass market

Will this be an option for regular people (cost of car plus cost of methanol/hydrogen fuel) or will it simply be too expensive?

What about the environment, the methanol/hydrogen fuel has to come from somewhere, what is the cost of producing this fuel? Will we simply be moving the pollution from the roads to the "fuel plants"

What about safety? Some posters have asked for crash tests, I still think it's to early for that since we're talking prototypes here. But can fuelcells be made 'blow-up-proof' at least in theory?

Fuel cells and oil tycoons (1)

NaveWeiss (567082) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651618)

Fuel cells are great, and I hope they evolve nicely.. it's a pity that it takes so much time to develop them, and so far, they have been most useful in space.

My question is - how will it work in the future? If I remember correctly, one of the reasons that the US government support fuel cells is in order to break the arab oil dependency. How do you think the oil tycoons will react when they'd notice that those fuel cells are endangering their profits? I hope their lobbyists won't make much effect..

Oops (4, Funny)

4of12 (97621) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651643)

Traveling time was 85 hours over a span of 16 days, an average of about 38 mph, but DaimlerChrysler says the car reached speeds of more than 90 mph.

In other news, late yesterday, state police officials from Nevada arrived in Washington, D.C., for the extradition of the driver of the Daimler-Chrysler fuel cell powered car.

Crime Scene Investigators from Las Vegas confirmed that a vehicle with tires matching those of the unique fuel-cell car was responsible for running over a Wayne Newton billboard near the entrance of the Mustang Ranch.

"We think the testimony the engineers gave to CNN will clinch this case and help to save America from terrorist speeders."

Yeah, but how's the tranny? (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651676)

Nice to see that they're working with alternative fuels, but if the underlying mechanics of their vehicles still suck (I lost reverse gear in my 1996 Ram 1500 at 38K miles) then what's the point? Even my 2001 Ram 1500 was a lemon (pray you never have to have Chrysler buy back a vehicle..). 6 trips to the dealership to fix a computer problem and the dealership was forced to buy it back.

Re:Yeah, but how's the tranny? (-1)

OklaKid (552472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651749)

should have bought a Chevrolet pickup Silverado with a big 350 V8 VVVVRRROOOOMMMM VVVVRRROOOOMMMM

What about biofuels? (4, Interesting)

jkichline (583818) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651730)

I've been evaluating both fuel cell and another technology that is well on its way to mainstream use... biodiesel. This diesel fuel is made from vegetable oil and methonol. It runs on all existing diesel trucks and cars, has a 100% clean production cycle (no fossil fuels required to make it), heck, it can be made with recycled cooking oil! It mixes with petro diesel allowing a easy integration plan (use a little at a time...). Also, its production requires agriculture which equals oxygen... creating a method to take whatever CO2 is produced and convert it.

Now, this isn't as clean as burning pure hydrogen... but is MUCH better than burning gasoline or diesel. It reduces emmissions by more than 50% and eliminates sulfur, odor and reduces the stuff that make smog by a good bit (all this is commonly associated with petro) And when you take a look at what you need to do to produce hydrogen you're looking at producing electricity (fossil fuels/nuclear) or some other chemical process that is harmful. You still end up putting pollution into the air. It seems to me that fuel cells are a way around battery technology, but I feel it is a very inefficient way to do it.

Also, the fuel cell car cost 1 million to build and broke down once? The National Biodiesel Board drove to the nearest Ford dealership, picked up a diesel pickup, filled it with 100% biodiesel and have been driving it around with no problems for 500,000 miles. They just completed there 10th trip across the country! The fuel cell car got up to about 90 MPH... My Jetta TDI (VW) gets up to 90 everyday! The speedometer goes up to 140 and I have no doubts that it can do that. 750 miles per tank, 55 MPG, road rage baby!

So think about it. A fuel source that is renewable, is produced with no waste or by-product, and its growth produces oxygen and cleans the air. Its also a domestic product and is already in use in Europe and the States. It can also be used on all existing diesel vehicles. I say we take all that money we're burning in research and start to build some pumps, fund agriculture and kick start the future!

This will never catch on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3651829)

This sounds great and all in the press release, but it is simply too radical to catch on. We are stuck with gas for a long long time. You have been watching the Sci-Fi channel too much if you think this is gonna happen. Why? The gov't has no reason to back this, a lot of us are heavily invested in oil stocks (including the govt), many [even if ignorantly] will fear the stability and safety of this, and people won't bother because they know they may have trouble finding a Hydrogen Sation nearbye.

Great in theory, not in reality.

repairs. (1)

InnereNacht (529021) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651847)

They said that 4 fuel filters and 2 belts were replaced on the trip, and say that this could be a normal scenario for an "average" car on a trip of that level? If I took my new grand am 3000 miles, I wouldn't expect to have to do a DAMN thing except put gas in it and get an oil change when I start and when I'm done..

If I have to replace 2 belts and 4 fuel filters, you can goddamn well bet I'll be stopping at the nearest dealer on my way.

There is one great benefit to fuel cells (3, Interesting)

chuckgrosvenor (473314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3651897)

which is that it doesn't matter how the hydrogen is created, all the vehicles run off of the same power source.. this means that if petroleum can be cheaply used to make hyrdogen, than it will sell the best.. if it happens that methane can be used cheaply, than it can be.. it would go a far way from divorcing the current "it has to be gasoline, or nothing can run" mono-culture that prevails now.

What I would love to see, is something that used solar or wind power to trickle charge a fuel cell.. so I could just set something up in my backyard.. a distributed source of energy would be less vulnerable to attack than the current system is.
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