Monday, July 14, 2008

Holy Water

Looking at the ads that google so thoughtfully serves up for this site, I have often wondered about the "hydrogen-powered car" ideas. These are NOT about future fuel-cell vehicles, but about retrofitting your gasoline engine to "run on water." I went to a couple of the advertised sites and found very little to indicate credibility. The sites themselves neither look nor feel professional, the rough sketches they offer of the theory behind their miraculous invention are uninformative and offer no real evidence of success. I've been planning to write about it for ages, but planning is no substitute for action. Thankfully, Adam Stein at Terrapass has had a go at these scheisters.

Mythbusters did a segment on hydrogen powered cars as well, proving that it didn't work. The only info I could find on that episode is in the forums. It's mostly telling them that they did it wrong or overgeneralized their conclusions.

Don't buy this stuff. These people are preying on your desperate desire to save money at the pump. If you want to use less gas, drive less. Buy a bicycle. Walk.

Enjoy.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

JetBlue goes Green

CSRwire reported this morning that JetBlue has announced a green initiative. The press release from carbonfund.org addresses several steps that JetBlue is taking to clean up their act. They will be making operational changes (read: increasing efficiency), working in conjunction with Airbus, Honeywell Aerospace and International Aero Engines to develop a sustainable jet-bio-fuel, and offering carbon offsets to their customers through carbonfund.org.

This move to help customers purchase carbon offsets for their flying is one that I have been expecting for a while. It seems natural. PG&E has an offset program that goes right on your monthly gas bill (I wrote about it here).

I have been wondering why car dealerships aren't offering Terrapass offsets right from the salesperson. They could even offer offsets as an incentive.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Foreign policy and fuel alternatives

One of the important points of Sherry Boschert's "Plug-in Hybrids," is the significant overlap between national security interests and environmental concerns. Something Glenn Beck said this morning reminded me of this. Beck laments the fact that America is beholden unto countries who share neither our ideals nor our interests and who in some cases, use the money we pay them for oil to attack us. He goes on to harp on how we should have started tearing up Alaska years ago so that we could get at the oil there (ANWR), but then he says something surprising:

But ANWR is not the answer, it's a Band-Aid, and I worry that our shortsighted politicians would use it as an excuse not to look for viable replacements for oil, which is what we really need.

He's right. But here's where we diverge. He believes in synthetic fuels (essentially burning coal in our cars) whereas I think combustion is a mistake altogether. Mr. Beck seems concerned about the high cost of oil and the foreign policy implications of our dependence on oil, but thinks the solution can be found by burning other things.

This 'if you run out of fire wood, burn the furniture' approach is fine if it's the dead of winter and you need to keep warm, but if you burn the furniture just for ambiance you're being a little short sighted. I think that a hefty percentage of fuel consumption in this country is unnecessary. We're using up our fire wood because we can and it's nice to have a fire. But if we want to make sure we can make it through the winter, maybe we should use less wood now.

It is through conservation and thoughtful use of alternatives that we will reduce our dependence on oil. I suggest that at a time when alternatives are still a bit hard to come by, and the economy is in the toilet, conservation might make the most significant difference in the near term.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Plug-in Hybrids

I've been saving up links for ages, reading books, watching trends, etc. I'll probably be trotting out quite a few of these old links for a while, just as background information. who knows, some of them might turn out to be important. If not, at least they are things that I find interesting and maybe you will too.

I'm going to start with a book that I read over the summer. It's called Plug-in Hybrids (The Cars that Will Recharge America). This book answered a lot of questions I had about plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. It also addresses the viability of alternative fuels like bio-diesel and hydrogen, and how the use of these compares to the feasibility and benefit of plug-ins. Based on the title, you can guess where it goes, but it's worth the journey to get to the end. It is well a reasoned and thoroughly convincing argument in favor of electricity as our primary means of personal locomotion.

Author Sherry Boschert also dedicates some time to the auto industry's plot to murder electric vehicles. Reading her account of this made me absolutely furious. Like Medea murdering her own children for the pettiest of reasons, the waste was appalling.

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