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NASA Tests Hydrogen-Fueled BMW

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the hold-the-lox dept.

Power 420

Rio sends us word that NASA has completed an 8-week test of a fleet of BMW luxury sedans powered by liquid hydrogen at Kennedy Space Center. The new BMW Hydrogen 7 sedan uses the same fuel that powers the space shuttle and reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent, according to a news release. Its engine can burn gasoline or liquid hydrogen and can switch seamlessly between the two. From the article: "One hundred BMW Hydrogen 7s have been built, and 25 are used in test programs in the US. The cars have already covered more than 1.3 million miles in test programs around the globe."

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How efficient are they? (5, Insightful)

ThatFunkyMunki (908716) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170749)

Hydrogen may be clean to use and get, but is it energy efficient to use it?

Re:How efficient are they? (1, Redundant)

skorf (832428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170821)

Not really.

Re:How efficient are they? (2, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171261)

The really sad news is that the BMW is also planned to be the replace for the shuttle fleet when it is retired in 2010.

We're in the minority (3, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170847)

Hydrogen may be clean to use and get, but is it energy efficient to use it?

FTFA:The V12 cylinder engine delivers 260 hp; the top speed of the Hydrogen 7 is 143 mph and acceleration 0-60 mph is 9.2 sec.

I had a similar question: "What are the operating costs?"
But unfortunately for those of us who are more interested in efficiency are in the minority; so car makers market to the folks who consider automobiles to be a status sort of thing instead of a piece of machinery.
I can care less how fast it can go or its acceleration.

Re:We're in the minority (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170971)

I can care less how fast it can go or its acceleration.

Yes you do. You want it to be able to get above 60mph and do that in a reasonably small amount of time (say, less than 20 seconds?). Otherwise, you'll never be able to take it on the interstate or most roads due to the slow speed or bitched at at lights when the light turns green.

Re:We're in the minority (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171547)

Gotta love the modding here. We need a "-1 Captain Obvious". Of course the guy cares that the car accelerates fast enough to be safe. He knows that, you know that, I know that, the car manufacturers know it, hell I'm pretty sure even my hamster knows it. And it's a BMW. Everyone knows a BMW is not going to lack on speed/acceleration. Your comment is redundant. What he meant was that the point of alternate fuels is not acceleration and speed so much as it is energy efficiency. But thanks for your redundant, pedantic, useless remark.

Re:We're in the minority (2, Insightful)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171133)

Try getting on a highway/freeway where everyone else is going 65+ MPH (don't have the KPH conversions right now) and you will care about how much acceleration the car you are in has. Unless you like causing accidents. You are (well should be) responsible for getting your car up to the speed limit as quickly and safely as possible.

There are speed up lanes most people I see go slow in the speed up lane, then stop at the end of it. Then they try to merge. This is not in rush hour!

I do see you point though. I have no need to have a car that does 120+ MPH. If the max speed of a car is 80 MPH, it is fast enough to get on the highway without me losing a few years on my life, and get good mileage (over 40 MPG would be great), and I can load my stuff when I travel I am fine with it.

Re:We're in the minority (2, Insightful)

kannibul (534777) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171459)

Slow drivers don't cause accidents - idiots who aren't aware of their surroundings and/or are agressive with their driving do. When did it become OK to drive like your a member of NASCAR on public streets? It's real fun when you're on a motorcycle going 65MPH, and there's some jackhead close enough behind you in a SUV and you can hear that he has a lifter ticking in his engine...

Re:We're in the minority (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171457)

Operating cost is one thing. I'd be interested in finding out whether it's actually more or less pollution, once you factor in the need to 'manufacture' the hydrogen from existing power stations.

Re:We're in the minority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171575)

If you CAN care less, than that means you do care to some degree, maybe even quite a bit.

I think you meant you COULDN'T care less, which would mean that this is something you care about the LEAST.

Re:How efficient are they? (3, Informative)

Monkey (16966) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170871)

According to the specs on this car, it uses 3.6 kg of hydrogen per 100 km.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

Praedon (707326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170981)

Oh snap!! I wish I wasn't absent when they taught metric the one day ever in my Soviet American school... Now I will never know what that means!!!!!

Re:How efficient are they? (4, Informative)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170983)

so that's $7.20 per 100km. Or £3.55 for 62 miles in english. Equivalent in petrol about 62 mpg. That's not bad at all.

Re:How efficient are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171029)

That's great. What I want to know though is, how much energy does it take to produce the liquid hydrogen. That's the real key here. I want to know if there's any real net energy savings by using this. There's a lot more too it than simply how far your car goes per kg.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

Monkey (16966) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171217)

I think the key to making this affordable is having an abundance of renewable, non hydrocarbon generated electrical power, such as hydro, wind, nuclear etc. to create H2 using electrolysis.

Re:How efficient are they? (4, Informative)

Monkey (16966) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171095)

And to lamely reply to my own comment, this article [motortrend.com] at Motor Trend has a FAQ about liquid hydrogen in the context of using it to power automobiles.

According TFA, 1 kg of H2 has roughly the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline. The cost per kg is estimated at $3.50 /kg using the natural gas reformation process to create it or $6.50 /kg using electrolysis. This cost is expected to drop if there is widespread adoption of the fuel source.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171255)

According to the specs on this car, it uses 3.6 kg of hydrogen per 100 km.

To liquefy 3.5 kg of gaseous hydrogen, one would need an additional 1.5 kg even with a 100% efficient isothermal compression process. If hydrogen takes off we'll have to build a network of steam pipes like the one that exploded in New York recently. Con Ed pumps its waste heat through those pipes to large customers who use it for cheaply heating large buildings like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 30% is too much overhead to ignore.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170973)

Who cares? The planet is not short of energy. The sun keeps giving us gazillions of jiggawatts for free.
The important issue here is reducing CO2 to stop the environmental damage we're doing, not making travel cheaper to the end-user.

Re:How efficient are they? (2)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171265)

I don't think there are any solar powered hydrogen plants. The key to reducing CO2 is to reduce it's use in the production and supply chain.

If the hydrogen plant is supplied by a coal or natural gas plant, there may be little or no reduction in the net CO2 emission throughout production.

As to the supply chain, if the hydrogen car is inefficient, the trucks that deliver the hydrogen (probably burning diesel) will need to make more trips to maintain the same demand as gasoline, increasing the net CO2 per kg.

Don't be so shortsighted. The solution is not so simple as "Everybody needs to drive a different car!"

Re:How efficient are they? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171049)

Well, how "clean" is it, really?

I'm not an expert on H2 refining, but the methods I know either create quite nasty and poisonous waste products or need incredible amounts of power. So unless we got some very clean and efficient way to generate power to get this clean H2, we're just back at square one. And unless I didn't sleep through physics, the 2nd law of thermodynamics tells me that this better be some really, really clean way of generating H2.

It's a bit like the electric motor. Sure, it's the most efficient kind of engine, converting more than 95% of the energy put into it into movement, but first of all someone has to generate that electricity to run it. And that means... 2nd thermodynamic law, it would have been probably more efficient and less waste heat producing to use the primary energy source to generate movement instead of converting it to power and then use an electric motor.

Now, it might be more efficient if you convert energy large scale than in the small scale of a combustion engine. But the question remains: Where do we get clean H2? H2 isn't available naturally on earth. It has to be refined out of molecules containing it. Water would offer itself, being quite abundant and cheap, and all that's required to get H2 out of water is electricity. Which gets us back to the question, how do we get clean electricity?

Solar power? Would be cheap, but the production of those solar cells is creating a horrible amount of waste and they're far from efficient. Wind power? Even worse. And pretty much everything else isn't CO2 neutral.

Re:How efficient are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171183)

We're fucked then! Might as well not do anything.

Re:How efficient are they? (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171447)

And unless I didn't sleep through physics, the 2nd law of thermodynamics tells me that this better be some really, really clean way of generating H2.

It's a bit like the electric motor. Sure, it's the most efficient kind of engine, converting more than 95% of the energy put into it into movement, but first of all someone has to generate that electricity to run it. And that means... 2nd thermodynamic law, it would have been probably more efficient and less waste heat producing to use the primary energy source to generate movement instead of converting it to power and then use an electric motor.


The 2nd Law says nothing about how efficient a process is, only that it will not be 100%.

A power plant is more efficient than an automobile ICE. Even if both are burning hydrocarbons dug up from the ground, the power plant will be more efficient and produce less pollution largely due to the scale. It's much easier to add expensive and heavy scrubbers to a coal plant smoke stack than to the exhaust system of a car. It's easier to make an efficient engine when the weight of the engine is not a concern.

So your 95% efficient electric engine times a 40% efficient coal plant is better than your 35% efficient ICE with much better emissions controls to boot. And that's using coal, which I'm certainly not a fan of.

Which leads me to the big advantage of electricity-based transportation (whether it's electric batteries or electrically produced hydrogen from water) which is that once you have decoupled power generation from transportation, when you bring online new environmentally friendly power plants you can use this new source seamlessly with no disruption to the transportation infrastructure. Already we're producing far more "green" electricity in this country than we are using "clean" transportation, and this has happened without you even having to be aware when you flick the light switch. We should be so lucky as to be able to do the same with transportation.

Basically what I'm saying is that electric/hydrogen power has efficiency and environmental advantages now, but also has the potential for vast improvements in the future and that's even if you keep the exact same car!

Solar power? Would be cheap, but the production of those solar cells is creating a horrible amount of waste and they're far from efficient. Wind power? Even worse. And pretty much everything else isn't CO2 neutral.

If you're going to look at the environmental cost of solar power, then you should include the environmental cost of acquiring oil. Adding every cost associated with ICE-based cars or coal power plants certainly do not make them look better compared to solar power.

And what's wrong with wind power again? It's not bird deaths, those were never any more than city office buildings produce, and new designs that discourage nesting on the turbines has put it in the noise.

Re:How efficient are they? (5, Funny)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171485)

> So unless we got some very clean and efficient way to generate power
> to get this clean H2, we're just back at square one.

A man.

Some water.

A very, very sharp axe.

(And yes, it's patented, so no stealing my idea, you insensitive clods.)

Re:How efficient are they? (2, Informative)

Nerviswreck (238452) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171501)

Very Good Point.

When myself and a buddy of mine did a research project on the production of CO2, NOx, SOx, and particulate matter of various H2 production methods using a bunch of DOE data, and if my memory serves me correctly we found that using H2 fuel reduced CO2 emissions by about 15% from the most efficient current form of H2 production (Coal Gassification) as the power transfer through the H2 cells was more efficient that burning gas and the gassification process is more efficient than burning fossil fuels. The greatest impact was on SOx and NOx production which went down about 20%.

Although electrolysis seems great, most of the energy in this country is produced from coal or natural gas, which still puts us in the same situation. The one example I can think of where a large amount of clean energy is produced is in the pacific northwest where a significant amount of energy is produced from hydroelectric generators in dams. The American aluminum industry is based up here in the northwest because of the cheap energy which goes wholly unused at night(as aluminum cannot be smelted, it must be electrolyzed from ore into pure Al). In an area like this H2 could be produced cheaply and with a small ecological footprint. Electrolysis, however, is still a very inefficient manufacture method for H2 production.

Well, I guess the best thing to do is to hope for nuclear fusion to finally reach break-even!

--Nerviswreck

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171571)

"Solar power? Would be cheap, but the production of those solar cells is creating a horrible amount of waste and they're far from efficient. Wind power? Even worse."

Could you specify how much is "a horrible amount of" please? From what I have known, they are much cleaner than a horse or a donkey. Also the efficiency [wikipedia.org] of commercial solar power cells are much higher than that [www.upei.ca] of the grass or trees.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171099)

Not very. Electric cars are about 4 times more efficient and you can power them easily from many sources : wind, solar, mains, water wheel/turbine.

Allow me the shamelessy crib some info from wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle [wikipedia.org]

Political considerations

Most all of today's hydrogen is produced using fossil energy resources.[20] While some advocate hydrogen produced from non-fossil resources, there could be public resistance or technological barriers to the implementation of such methods. For example, the United States Department of Energy currently supports research and development aimed at producing hydrogen utilizing heat from generation IV reactors. Such nuclear power plants could be configured to cogenerate hydrogen and electricity. Hydrogen produced in this fashion would still incur the costs associated with transportation and compression or liquefaction assuming direct (molecular) hydrogen is the on-board fuel. Recently, alternative methods of creating hydrogen directly from sunlight and water through a metallic catalyst have been announced. This may eventually provide an economical, direct conversion of solar energy into hydrogen, a very clean solution for hydrogen production.

Some in Washington advocate schemes[22] other than hydrogen vehicles to replace the petroleum-based internal combustion engine vehicles. Plug-in hydrids, for example, would augment today's hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles with greater battery capacity to enable increased use of the vehicle's electric traction motor and reduced reliance on the combustion engine. The batteries would be charged via the electric grid when the vehicle is parked. Electric power transmission is about 95 percent efficient and the infrastructure is already in place (though substantial grid expansion would be needed if a sizeable fleet of plug-in hybrids were to be deployed.) Tackling the current drawbacks of electric cars or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is believed by some to be easier than developing a whole new hydrogen infrastructure that mimics the obsolete model of oil distribution. Thermodynamically, a plug-in hybrid transportation system would face the same thermodynamic hurdles as would a system of hydrogen vehicles relying on electrolysis for its molecular hydrogen. The current electric grid, which is dominated by fossil energy resources in the United States, has a fuel-to-power efficiency of roughly 40 percent. Both the plug-in hybrids and the electrolytic hydrogen system would be subject to these comparative inefficiencies.

Hydrogen infrastructure

In order to distribute hydrogen to cars, the current gasoline fueling system would need to be replaced, or at least significantly supplemented with hydrogen fuel stations. Hydrogen stations are being built in various places around the world. Private and state initiatives like California's "California Hydrogen Highway" are already starting the infrastructure transition in advance of any manufacturers mass producing hydrogen cars. Replacement of the existing extensive gasoline fuel station infrastructure would cost a half trillion U.S. dollars in the United States alone.

note: this is the EV1 argument from "who killed the electric car". Because a hydrogen cell powered vehicle would mandate an engine with many replaceable parts and a company owned refueling infrastructure it would allow control and money making for the large oil corporations who killed the electric car mandate and promote hydrogen vehicles. It is simply not in their best interests to allow the consumers to get vehicles with a low maintenance cost and which they can refuel from multiple sources which make the companies little or no money.

Hydrogen production cost

Molecular hydrogen can be derived chemically from a feed stock such as methanol but can also be produced from water. Current technologies utilize between 25 to 50 percent of the higher heating value to produce hydrogen and deliver it to the vehicle tank.[11] Electrolysis, currently the most inefficient method of producing hydrogen, uses 65 percent to 112 percent of the higher heating value on a well-to-tank basis, owing to the comparatively inefficient conversion of fuels to electric power, [12] a thermodynamic hurdle also faced by so-called plug-in hydrid vehicles, which draw significant energy from the electricity grid to charge the batteries. Environmental consequences of the production of hydrogen from fossil energy resources would include the emission of greenhouse gases, a consequence that would also proceed from the on-board reforming of methanol into hydrogen. Studies comparing the environmental consequences of hydrogen production and use in fuel cell vehicles to the refining of petroleum and combustion in conventional automobile engines find a net reduction of ozone and greenhouse gases in favor of hydrogen. Development of renewable sources faces barriers, and although the amount of energy produced from renewable sources is increasing, as a percentage of worldwide energy production, renewables decreased from 8.15% in 2000 to 7.64% of total energy production in 2004 due to the rapid increase in coal and natural gas production.[13] However, in some countries, hydrogen is being produced using renewable sources. For example, Iceland is using geothermal power to produce hydrogen, and Denmark is using wind.

The conversion of feed stock to produce hydrogen has inherent losses of energy that make hydrogen less advantageous as an energy carrier. Additionally, there are economic and energy penalties associated with packaging, distribution, storage and transfer of hydrogen. Hydrogen fuel cells are theoretically (without auxiliary devices to run the fuel cell) more efficient than internal combustion engines, achieving efficiencies of 50-60%, making up much of what is lost in producing hydrogen, and produce only water out the tailpipe, mostly in the form of water vapor.

Re:How efficient are they? (1, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171123)

It doesn't matter.
The reductions in C02 must happen very soon. Very soon as in human time not planet time. This vehicle will make a zero impact on C02 pollution because it can not be afforded by 90% of the population. hybrids that will slow down C02 production can not be afforded by 85% of the population and high efficiency small cars are not being produced and marketed. The Smart is FINALLY making it to the USA but at a price that makes it unaffordable. It needs to be sold at $9000.00US or less to make it so that the top 40% of the US population can afford it, the bottom 60% of the population has a $5000.00 car or less as their max affordable price. That means used and worn out gas guzzlers that also spew extra hydrocarbons because the also burn oil as well.

These BMW's are "neat" concepts and great examples that the technology can in fact work well. but it's 100% useless if they cant produce a sub $9000.00 RETAIL price car and figure out how to get all the old cars off the road.

Honestly until the figure out how to get all existing cars to be clean and high efficiency within a 5 year period, all these engineering attempts are nothing more than High IQ circle jerks.

at least they can make the Hydrogen BMW's capable of having AC that can withstand 85 DegC outside temperatures while keeping the interior cool so we can travel farther south than the 26th parallel without dying from the heat. Anyone have tires that can withstand continuous 100degC??

Joking :-) we wont get the planet that hot.

Re:How efficient are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171517)

Good thing you weren't going for the +1 Funny mod, otherwise you'd be pretty disappointed.

"clean to get"? Huh? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171159)

Hydrogen may be clean to use and get

Uh...who told you it's clean to get? The only "clean" method is electrolysis, and that requires massive amounts of electricity, which over 1/3rd in the US comes from coal. Pretty much ALL of it comes from coal in China.

The only other source is natural gas. Guess what? Gotta strip the carbon off the hydrogen somehow, and the catalysts are not exactly eco-friendly or reuseable. It's a great way to sell more natural gas, though- which is why Bush is so thrilled with it.

Hydrogen has another problem: it's a pain to store. Because H2 is molecularly very small, it leaks very easily past/through seals (remember how fast the helium escaped from party balloons?)

Re:"clean to get"? Huh? (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171289)

Run your electrolysis off nuclear plants. Boom a zero CO2 emission cycle.

"OH BUT THE NUCLEAR WASTE" you say. Who cares? Store it for 15-25 years, by then we will have cheap ion propulsion engines (running off nuclear power), to cleanly jettison the waste into mercury or the sun.

Nuclear is the source solution to most of our energy problems. If the general public was not so misinformed and paranoid about it, and did not have so much of a "not in my backyard" syndrome, we'd be much better off right now.

Re:"clean to get"? Huh? (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171371)

Gotta strip the carbon off the hydrogen somehow, and the catalysts are not exactly eco-friendly or reuseable.

I don't know jack about the chemistry of the process to strip H2 off CH4, but if the catalysts aren't reusable, doesn't that mean they're not catalysts? I thought the definition of catalyst was a substance that increases the yield or speed of a reaction without itself being consumed or changed by the process.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

zentigger (203922) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171165)

They are not are not at all efficient to use. In fact about 1.2 to 1.4x the amount of energy is required to produce the hydrogen as the hydrogen is capable of releasing. So, of course, the emissions associated with the production of that hydrogen are also released.

The advantage comes as large scale production of "clean" energy (ie. wind/solar/tidal) is developed. It is hardly practical to install solar panels on the roof of your car, but a large solar plant in the middle of the desert could easily produce enough "clean" energy for a significant volume of hydrogen production.

Re:How efficient are they? (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171187)

Can't be very efficient. The combination of pressure and refrigeration necessary to keep hydrogen liquified is excessive. The car will consume a lot of energy while idle, just to keep the stored hydrogen from explosively evaporating into a gas.

On the other hand, if the cost and environmental impact of producing electricity could be reduced by 90% that might not be such a bad deal.

Wait, What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20170751)

Liquid Hydrogen?! At least they can overclock the engine and keep it cool.

*boggle* (3, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170761)

> hold-the-lox
What the heck does smoked whitefish have to do with this story? Or am I missing something?

Re:*boggle* (3, Informative)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170801)

lox is smoked salmon. Whitefish is something different.

Re:*boggle* (4, Informative)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170805)

At the risk of your setting the hook, "LOX" is rocket-speak for liquid oxygen (the oxidizer side of rocket fuel that uses LH2 as the fuel.)

Re:*boggle* (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171393)

Hmmm, I bet this Beemer could really get going with another injector full of LOX...

Re:*boggle* (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170831)

LOX goes together with Liquid Hydrogen to make rocket fuel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_oxygen [wikipedia.org]

Re:*boggle* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171039)

You are all wrong. LOX is the corruption of LOL!

Re:*boggle* (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170841)

lox as in liquid oxygen, I guess. The space shuttle is powered by liquid hydrogen, and they have a supply of liquid oxygen for combustion. This car only uses liquid hydrogen, with the required oxygen presumably coming from the atmosphere.

That's my guess, anyway. But then, they say if you have to explain a joke it wasn't really funny in the first place. Maybe it would have worked if the car was bagel shaped.

emissions (5, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170779)

"same fuel that powers the space shuttle and reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent"

In that case, we should all be driving space shuttles to work.

Re:emissions (2, Funny)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170921)

Obligatory link [youtube.com]

Re:emissions (5, Informative)

ben_thompson21 (1140371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170977)

I think the important thing to remember in all this is that hydrogen is effectively a battery technology and is not a fuel source. The earth has few reserves of hydrogen - it has to be created by electrolysis of water which requires a lot of power. There are other small-scale methods such as fractional distillation of air but I hope you get my point. It's simply weight efficient and cheaper for motor transport to store the energy in hydrogen that can be burned than it is in batteries. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are expensive and the charging time may be unacceptable.

So the reductions in CO2 rather depend on whether it's more efficient or less polluting to electrolyse water using energy from power stations some of which burn oil, store the hydrogen and burn it than it is to refine oil, store it and burn it.

The emissions at the car may be reduced by 90% but the total emissions will be similar.

Body shops would love it (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171201)

Just be careful not to get into a fender bender, them heat shield tiles are awfully damned expensive to replace. And don't forget to park at the far end of the lot at the mall. Those door dings are murder on them, too.

Finally, action movies are vindicated (5, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170791)

We finally have cars that are actually likely to explode violently when shot! Stallones, Schawrzneggers and Norrises of the world rejoice!

Re:Finally, action movies are vindicated (1)

Praedon (707326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170927)

Oh goody! Finally some action and adventure on the road just like Hollywood!!! I love Soviet America!

Mod Parent Down!!! (0)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171043)

It is a well known fact Chuck Norris does not use guns only roundhouses of death.

Re:Finally, action movies are vindicated (1)

General Lee's Peking (954826) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171321)

I never thought there was a problem with using hydrogen as fuel, and I don't believe I ever heard or read that there was a problem there. My understanding is that there are other problems, one being able to safely carry the hydrogen in your vehicle. Another problem is being able to safely distribute the fuel. And so on. This article doesn't exactly sound like a breakthrough to me. Even if it sounds like it might allow the driver to transition from gas to H2, once they figure out how to solve the real problems, that feature will probably be lost.

Reduces CO2 emmissions 90% ??? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20170797)

Quote: "and reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent,"

OK, where did the other 10% come from?

Re:Reduces CO2 emmissions 90% ??? (1)

Praedon (707326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170885)

The other 10% is intended for the driver to flick his/her cigarette, food wrappers, drink containers, etc.

Re:Reduces CO2 emmissions 90% ??? (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170929)

Burning rubber.

Think of what this means:
  • No carbs. No intake. They can run underwater!
  • No turbo. Just pour in more LOX
  • Reverse thrusters for easy braking... AND you can fry the guy who pulled out in front of you with your rocket wash.
  • Cold drinks
  • No more A/C
Downsides? Strip mining Antarctic ice. :(

Re:Reduces CO2 emmissions 90% ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171281)

OK, you got a couple of stupid answers.

Starglider - where does the O2 come from underwater?

Where does the O2 come from with no intake?

Put a spark to Hydrogen all day long, it won't ignite without oxygen.

Where does the 10% come from? Reactions with the other gasses in air that aren't oxygen.

In other words, reacting with the 70% of air that isn't oxygen.

Re:Reduces CO2 emmissions 90% ??? (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171401)

In a piston engine, small amounts of lubricating oil will always sneak into the combustion chamber. Usually by leaking past the piston rings or valve seals.

Oh boy... (0, Troll)

Praedon (707326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170807)

I can't wait to get my hands on the next model!! The next model comes with retractable wings and allows you to fly up and break through the atmosphere, along with the titanium plated body and frame and oxygen supply. Maybe I should wait for the model after that, cause it comes equipped with an anti-matter warp core.

Re:Oh boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20170925)

Less funny than a mencia. Lame.

Expensive (2, Insightful)

wiggles (30088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170813)

Even if they do come out, unless they sticker under $40k, nobody's going to buy them. Nice idea, but way too impractical.

Re:Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171051)

Even if they do come out, unless they sticker under $40k, nobody's going to buy them. Nice idea, but way too impractical.

WTF are you talking about. The base car alone (without the H mods) costs over $70K, and BMW doesn't seem to have any problems selling them. Unless what you meant to say was that the mods shouldn't add more than $40K to the cost of the vehicle?

Re:Expensive (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171149)

Even if they do come out, unless they sticker under $40k, nobody's going to buy them.
You do realize this is made by BMW, right? Most of their cars are already over 40k and even their cheaper ones can approach $40k once you add-in a few options.

In any case, I don't think that's really the point. I'm sure this car is just a concept car, proving that it's possible. Developing cars like this gives them good press and if hydrogen cars begin to make sense economically then they've got a headstart on working with the technology.

Re:Expensive (2, Interesting)

dwlovell (815091) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171171)

Although I understand the point you are trying to make, these are Liquid Hydrogen versions of their 7-series sedan. The normal gas-guzzling 7-series has MSRP of 75k-122k, so I think the people already buying the 7-series (plenty) will be happy to buy the cleaner version.

http://autos.msn.com/research/vip/overview.aspx?ye ar=2007&make=BMW&model=7-Series [msn.com]

This is actually a smart way to do this. It will be expensive to manufacture new technology like this, so start with the sector of the market that is used to paying a lot of money, and as the technology is proven and commoditized, they can work it down into the lesser expensive lines.

-David

Re:Expensive (1)

immel (699491) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171303)

A stock (gasoline-only) BMW 7-series easily starts at over $75,000 [bmwusa.com] USD. The top-end ones with V12 gasoline engines start at $120k, and people still buy them. Granted, it's a niche market, but these things still sell. I understand your point, though; The ones modded to run on rocket fuel will cost a lot more, possibly out of the price range of everyone except collectors.

Re:Expensive (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171453)

We're talking BMWs here. The standard model is over 40k.

Hydrogen Electric? (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170819)

because the responsible oil companies will still control their fuel.

at least that was an argument made in the Who Killed the Electric car movie, more or less. They also implied the thing was like 40 years away from being available. Since I gather it will be disected on here anyway, just wondered how thin it would be sliced, as it were.

err that was supposed to be Hydrogen > Electric (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170849)

it at my greater than, and didn't preview the title.

Re:Hydrogen Electric? (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171195)

Here is the fundamental flaw with Hydrogen, as clearly as I can explain it.

Hydrogen, as we all know, is not an energy resource -- we have to make it somehow. (There isn't a vast pool of it somewhere just waiting to be tapped.) In this sense hydrogen is a battery. But we already have much better batteries.

To make hydrogen, you can split water, using electricity, in a process called electrolysis. The round-trip efficiency for this process (energy -> hydrogen -> energy) is quite poor -- around 25%. This means you get one unit of energy out for every 4 you put in. If you put the same electrical energy into a lithium-type battery pack, you could drive ~4 times farther using the same energy.

The other practical way to make hydrogen is to reform it from other hydrocarbons -- typically natural gas. The problem in this case is that, if you have natural gas, you're far better burning it directly in a reciprocating engine. Converting the gas to hydrogen is inefficient, regardless of whether you burn the hydrogen (as in this BMW) or convert it to electricity (as in a fuel cell).

In addition to being inefficient, hydrogen fuel cells (which convert hydrogen into electrical energy) have a long list of problems that are presently not talked about much, because they're obscured by more fundamental problems. One amazing dealbreaker is the fact that hydrogen fuel cells only have a useful life of a few years.

Solution to Global Warming! (5, Funny)

Antarius (542615) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170823)

The solutions is right here:

The new BMW Hydrogen 7 sedan uses the same fuel that powers the space shuttle and reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent
If this remarkable fuel powers the space shuttle and reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent, then simply send up more space shuttles! Duh!

If we send up a shuttle per year, we can pollute as much as we like! The plants will take care of the other 10%!

Internal Combustion! (3, Interesting)

josquint (193951) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170877)

I like the fact that it uses a standard(ish) internal combustion engine. Most of the work seems to be focused on fuel-cell/electric vehicles. While eleectric is probably the eventual future, I think dual-fuel systems like this would be a very good transition.

Not to mention i rather like my rough loud piston engine... sometimes. Granted, I will be weined off and eventually learn to like the quiet boring (but REALLY high torque) electric motor.

It was weird enought driving the company hybrid with CVT transmission, no shift points and odd engine RPM sequences makes driving less-than-intuitive. I find myself having to look at the speedometer far more with that than any other car.

Re:Internal Combustion! (2, Informative)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171153)

I actually got to talk with someone doing research on hydrogen fuel systems for BMW, and he explained that because so many companies were dependant on making the thousands of parts for the combustion engines, there was a lot of lobbying to steer the research in that direction.

Of course, it's also currently the most viable option, as fuel cell systems are about ten times as expensive, but until we find a way to make the fuel cheap enough, and without emitting even more CO2, they're both moot.

Re:Internal Combustion! (1)

josquint (193951) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171569)

I never thought of this from a manufacturing standpoint, and that is very interesting. Re-tooling and redesigning all the core components is expensive, this is basically "off the shelf".

I think you're very corrent in finding a cheap/less-CO2 producing fuel though... I've seen quite a shift to propane in Canada, I wish this would be more popular in the US. It seems a decent interim fuel as almost all cars can run on it, and they burn cleaner and last longer.

i'm all for new tech (4, Insightful)

acvh (120205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170913)

but why does NASA need a fleet of luxury BMW sedans?

Re:i'm all for new tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171139)

Providing the hydrogen fuel I guess.

Re:i'm all for new tech (2, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171377)

ut why does NASA need a fleet of luxury BMW sedans?

Well, lets say you're an astronaut and your car's in the shop, but you really need to drive cross country to hunt down the new girlfriend of your ex-lover - one of these would be ideal.

Re:i'm all for new tech (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171601)

They don't, but who else is making hydrogen cars?

How do they get the hydrogen? (2, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 7 years ago | (#20170979)

Well, much like electric cars, I'm wondering: Does this actually help? I mean, petroleum burning is actually fairly energy efficient. OK, so you pollute a bit. But ... so do power stations. And last I checked, your average power station, producing hundreds of mega watts, is actually substantially less efficient than a (relatively) small petrol engine.

So, you're presumably using rather a lot of oil, coal or natural gas, in order to make these things run. Is that actually helping our environment at all? Or are they looking at some other reason to do it, like making them able to go really really far?

Yeah, I know there's nuclear, solar, geothermal, and wind power available. Fact remains that these are all way more expensive than burning fossil fuels, otherwise we'd have switches _ages_ ago.

Re:How do they get the hydrogen? (1)

skiingyac (262641) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171199)

I think NASA has some other vehicles which burn liquid hydrogen, the little bit used for some BMWs is probably not even noticed.

Seriously though, I think the theory is that once cars can burn something environmentally friendly like hydrogen (burning it is clean), and the infrastructure to make/transport it is in place, then its almost trivial to later switch between making the hydrogen using coal or whatever vs some better (but currently more expensive) method. Plus, hopefully centralizing the pollution makes it easier to manage. I'm not saying I buy all this, but that seems to be the line of thinking.

Re:How do they get the hydrogen? (1)

notmuchtosay (850664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171519)

I would think that a power plant no matter the size is always going to be more efficient than a small gas engine. The power plants operate at a specific load instead of a variable load and at a higher temperature. The temperature is important as the higher the delta T the greater efficiency is possible via the Carnot cycle.

I would say gas engines are horribly inefficient, they make lots and lots of unused heat. Granted they may be very close to the maximum possible efficiency of the Carnot cycle but that doesn't mean they are efficient. This is why i thought there was an effort to get away from internal combustion to a fuel cell power source. A fuel cell is not bound by the Carnot cycle so it has a better theoretical maximum efficiency.

Re:How do they get the hydrogen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171521)

Umm... No. Flagrantly wrong. The engines inside cars are *significantly* less efficient than a power plant running on oil. Now, if you also take the inefficiency of splitting water to get the hydrogen in the first place, the relative advantage of centralized power production diminishes a bit, but trying to claim that the dinky heater (read: engine which wastes 80% of the gasoline's energy as heat) under your car's hood is anywhere near as efficient as oil power plant is a sign of intentional ignorance.

Fuel Costs (2, Insightful)

uncreativeslashnick (1130315) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171019)

What's the cost per mile for the fuel? It seems to me that the practical consideration that makes or breaks any technology for oil replacement is the cost per mile of the fuel. What ever that cost is, it's got to come pretty close to gasoline if anyone expects a majority of people to make the switch.

I suspect with all the research into ethanol, and the availability of dual fuel ethanal/gas cars, ethanol will get there first. I have certainly read/heard of crunchy rich enviromental types who already use ethanol just to get the look-at-me-i'm-not-polluting holier-than-thou feeling. Is suspect as ethanol gets cheaper, that population will grow, funding more research and better delivery infrastructure. It seems as if it should work similarly to consumer goods where the early adopters pay the premium for new technology and eventually the price drops and then the rest of the population jumps on the bandwagon.

Yay for hydrogen and nasa though.

Re:Fuel Costs (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171169)

"Yay for hydrogen and nasa though."

eh?

BMW made the cars and the hydrogen systems. B M W You know, that car company from another country?

All NASA has to do with this story is some 'testing' - you know...get in, turn the key, drive around in circles, smile for the cameras, grab some stickers and promo sheets...could have been the Girl Scouts.

The "Real" Emissions (2, Insightful)

Gman14msu (993012) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171023)

Don't get me wrong, hydrogen fueled vehicles are a great thing for the future but we really need to look at the overall environmental impacts of the hydrogen fueled vehicle. Right now the life cycle emissions of a hydrogen car depend heavily on how the hydrogen is created. While the vehicle itself may have no emissions, the process of creating that hydrogen can be nastier for the environment than a gas powered car. If you are creating hydrogen from coal power plants or compresses natural gas (which is the norm for quite a few operations), then you are having a higher impact on the environment overall than a gas vehicle. But if you`re using renewable resources like hydro power to create the hydrogen, then we are starting to look at true zero emissions vehicles.

This is not to mention the life cycle of the vehicle itself. The manufacturing of hydrogen vehicles can be 3 times more detrimental to the environment than the manufacturing of a gas powered vehicle.

Clearly we are on the right path to less impact on the environment from vehicles, but it really depends on how nations/corporations choose to get their hydrogen fuel. Putting all the emissions in one location rather than from millions of cars is a good start.

Still not impressed (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171025)

I guess that's the point, isn't it? They'd have a handy refueling station on-site. Is NASA going to go into the business of building the infrastructure for the country?

Still the same freak niche as poultry farms running vehicles on chicken crap methane or neo-hippies burning McDonald's grease. Maybe even less efficient since hydrogen isn't so much a fuel as energy storage?

Re:Still not impressed (1)

FozE_Bear (1093167) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171343)

The nice thing about this car as a "Hybrid" is that your not dependant on the H2 infrastructure. You can fill up with petrol fuels, and then stop at the H2 station when you see one. If every car in the US was instantly and magically converted to a Gas/H2 hybrid, then the H2 delivery systems would capitalistically develop. That is the benifit I see. It promote H2 without the delivery system dependance.

Well (1)

Xenogyst (1052270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171055)

It's not really useful since we have no way of producing a lot of hydrogen without oil. Until we find a better source/method, or if the hydrogen extraction process is somehow better than burning petrol in cars, there isn't a lot of use for the technology.

Why is NASA not buying American Cars!!!! (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171065)

Geez, German taxpayers aren't supporting NASA. US Taxpayers are. So, why couldn't NASA do this with an American car?

Come on.

What a joke.

Re:Why is NASA not buying American Cars!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171249)

I've seen these vehicles parked in reserved spaces at the headquarters building. Parked next to them at various times are quite a few other makes and models of hydrogen/low-emissions vehicles they are testing. IIRC at least one model is a ford... Which shouldn't really matter, this is a tiny pilot program where they are conducting science. Fleet vehicles are American makes, rest assured on that.

NASA can get a Ford any damn time they want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171271)

You seem to be quite confused on who has what role in this.

NASA is researching German luxury cars because BMW is the only car company in the world investing this much R&D into hydrogen combustion engines.

Re:Why is NASA not buying American Cars!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171275)

Probably for the same reason that nobody else smart is driving an American car: they suck. Don't get me wrong though, BMWs suck too, for all the talk German engineering gets, most German cars (BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagens, Porsche) are remarkably unreliable.

Inside the box (3, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171093)

Do you get the feeling that manufacturers are stumbling around in the dark a bit when it comes to replacing the 'classic' automobile? "Gosh, Juergen... let's run our century old internal combustion engine on a new fuel! We should make it unnecessarily large and capable of blinding (and unnecessary) performance! Ausgezeichnet!!" and off they go to spend millions on an idea that isn't sensible in the grand scheme of things. It would be far better to rethink the automobile altogether. It's possible to design something very small and lightweight - like the www.twike.com - except with the benefit of hundreds of millions of euros design and research. A true "personal" vehicle would be far easier to propel with electricity or extremely small internal combustion engines. It would also require significantly less fossil fuel to manufacture (because we can't make plastic out of hydrogen...)

I can hear the naysayers now: "But it'd get squashed by a Hummer." or, "I need a high performance car." But the reality is that *if* scientists are right and we've reached Peak Oil, fuel is going to get incredibly expensive and shortages will become a regular occurrence. Once that happens, companies will start to aggressively compete to create a solution and the car will evolve into something that fits the new reality of a fossil fuel depleted world.

I don't think adapting existing designs t hydrogen is the answer for one moment - the infrastructure would cost billions, the technology would cost billions, and it doesn't solve the root problems: 1. Our transportation devices are wasteful and 2. We're turning a blind eye to the benefits of mass transportation, and 3. Planned obsolescence has trained generations of vehicle purchasers to devalue six or seven year old cars as "old" and replace them unnecessarily.

Business as usual for NASA... (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171117)

I wonder if they plan to drive these drunk, too.

Fueling Stations & Price of Fuel (1)

ZOMFF (1011277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171131)

Taking a quick look at the list of available fueling stations [fuelcells.org] , there seems to be a rather limited number of stations currently. The state I live in (CT) has only two available stations, both of which are primarily used for fueling public transportation. California on the other hand, does have a larger number, but again, in relationship to population density / size of the state, it is still a rather small number of stations.

Even if Ford or other domestic car company were to produce a reasonably priced economy hydrogen cell car, AND fueling stations become more common, what is the average price per gallon? All the emission reduction in the world isn't going to mean shit if it costs me $5 / gallon to fill up.

Re:Fueling Stations & Price of Fuel (1)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171567)

You care about the price per mile, not gallon. If it costs me $5/gallon to fill up, but the 300 mile tank holds 5 gallons I'm still a happy camper.

Not a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20171147)

Hydrogen production if not based on fossil fuels would use electricity and water. These two things alone are in short supply and I hardly think there will be enough available to fuel the transportation sector without shortages somewhere else.

It's way simpler and much more efficient to just put the electricity into the car to begin with. There was an article on Slashdot a while back that showed some MIT scientists who invented carbon nanotube capacitors that could solve the whole battery problem. As to the electricity issue, as soon as the government stops with the dirty bomb bullshit, we can get back to recycling nuclear fuel which alone has been projected to allow for the next few (maybe several) hundred years of energy use.

Re:Not a solution (1)

FozE_Bear (1093167) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171455)

How is water in short supply? It does cover 2/3 of the earths surface. Plus when you burn hydrogen, you get WATER.

Solution to the H2 problem (4, Interesting)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171215)

Using earth-based H2 power doesn't make a lot of sense, since there's no real energy-efficient way to make it. However, what if we (seriously) built enormous space tankers capable of making the trip to Jupiter and scraping H2 out of the surface of its atmosphere and compressing it into liquid to bring back ginormous amounts to earth? It's a long round-trip, but if there was a fleet making continuous deliveries, at some point this would scale to to the point where it was an incredibly cheap form of energy. The only real downside, is we're making the Earth no longer a closed system -- what will be the long-term effect of the added H2? Will the world's algae keep up with the loss of oxygen as we burn all of that?

Huh? (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171267)

90% CO2 reduction? Where is the other 10% coming from?

And exactly how do they store the liquid hydrogen? Did they use up all the luxury trunk space with a vacuum-lined flask? That would explain why they chose a luxury car-- the other ones didn't have the room.

BTW how many miles can one go on a tankful of that stuff? It's mighty light,e ven in liquid form, so there's not a whole lot of energy in a standard car tankful.

Feeling (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171319)

I have a feeling NASA plan on mining hydrogen based planets in the not so distant future.

Most hydrogen today made from hydrocarbons (3, Insightful)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171351)

The problem with hydrogen today is that most of it is made from fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, so the process of making pure hydrogen releases CO2. Also, I would think moving to a fuel cell would be much more efficient than an internal combustion engine, though at this time more expensive.

Sadly right now I have not seen any affordable technologies that can eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels for cars (though electric cars are coming down). We can't grow enough ethanol to fill our tanks (over 20% of all corn in the US goes to making ethanol, and the national average of ethanol use in fuel is about 3%).

Hydrogen is really an energy carrier rather than a fuel. It still is not that practical as a fuel since it requires refrigerating it to a very low temperature or compressing it to a very high pressure (both of which require a fair amount of energy to do). And hydrogen loves to leak. It will seep through the smallest holes and has a habit of making metal brittle.

-Aaron

I wonder... (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171405)

Did the good people at NASA get hammered before they drove these beeeemers too?

90% less CO2 emission, eh? (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171511)

Statements like that, while factual as far as the tailpipe are concerned, are really fallacious.

That statement should really be, "only 20% more CO2 emissions that a normal car", or "only x grams of nuclear waste produced per mile." There's no way, unless the H2 was produced via nuclear-produced electricity, that the car really produces less CO2 than burning gasoline. We only have 2 ways of making H2 right now. Electrolysis and essentially burning natural gas. Burning natural gas (due to the relatively low energy density of H2) must obviously produce quite a bit of CO2 for every usable unit of energy. Or if it's electrolysis, that's a certain amount of coal burned, which also produces CO2. Or the cleanest is nuclear powered electrolysis, which does have a nasty bi-product of nuclear waste.

Contrast this with the dream of someday having fuels produced by plants or bacteria. Still emits CO2 into the air, but since the fuel was made from CO2 out of the air, the environmental impact is almost nonexistent.

Not backing hydrogen yet (2, Insightful)

camg188 (932324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20171563)

I still think the compressed air powered car looks the most promising. And I think we should focus on producing and delivering cheap electricity, then base our transportation on that.
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