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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-13-2007, 08:29 PM   #41
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

We don't have a truly free market.
The oil companies recieve both government subsidies as well as huge tax breaks. While some alternative energy is given small tax breaks, they are nothing compared to the ones big oil get.
If there were no subsidies/tax breaks for any energy sources, alternative fuels would get more attention. The exception to this is, in my opinion, solar. The cost of solar is prohibitive without tax incentives. I would guess solar would be less prevalent, however research in it would probably be greater as the potential is huge.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-13-2007, 08:47 PM   #42
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Ed,
Thanks very much for the view from the inside. Now, can a dull student wander up to the lectern after class and ask a few questions?

1) Natural gas vs gasoline vs methanol: In this string of posts, we have said at various points that:
a) Today, methanol is less expensive than gasoline
b) Most methanol is produced from natural gas, which is the least expensive way to make it
c) That the conversion from natural gas to methanol costs energy
d) That one route for a fuel to get into general public use is to start with fleet sales (where the distribution can be centralized), then the low costs will eventually spur wider retail availability and sales

If these statements are true, then (by a, b, and c): Natural gas should be a less expensive motor fuel (per unit of energy available) than gasoline (barring some type of NG logistics/handling issue that makes it much more expensive to distribute than gasoline).

If (by the above logic) natural gas is a less expensive motor fuel, why hasn't it (under antecedent "d" above) come into widepsread use at the retail level? I know it is popular in some fleet uses (esp natural gas company service trucks--go figure), and I have heard of some folks converting their cars to run on it, but it has never taken off.

One advantage of mandating that new (liquid fuel) cars be flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) is that this makes the retail sales of alternative fuels much easier (facilitating antecedent "d" above). If a system other than liquid fuels (compressed gases, electric charging stations, etc) is needed, then there is a huge hinderance to eventual widescale acceptance.

2) Prof, while I've got your ear--do you have a guess on the cost of methanol production using various feed stocks (agricultural feedstocks/plant waste vs natural gas vs coal?) The last two materials have other uses in our energy stream, and burning them increases atmospheric CO2. Plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and produce O2, and virtually all the carbon in them came from the atmosphere originally, so using them to produce methanol will not increase atmospheric CO2 overall. I think this is a big plus.

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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-13-2007, 09:49 PM   #43
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zathras
We don't have a truly free market.
The oil companies recieve both government subsidies as well as huge tax breaks. While some alternative energy is given small tax breaks, they are nothing compared to the ones big oil get.
If there were no subsidies/tax breaks for any energy sources, alternative fuels would get more attention. The exception to this is, in my opinion, solar. The cost of solar is prohibitive without tax incentives. I would guess solar would be less prevalent, however research in it would probably be greater as the potential is huge.
True, the govt always manages to complicate things don't they? I'm not in favor of tax breaks or subsidies to the oil companies, I'd prefer to see the free market work w/o interference. The ironic thing is though, that many of the people that I talk to that object to the tax breaks to oil producers also complain about the cost of gasoline. Well, theoretically at least, most of those tax breaks are geared towards further exploration of oil, so that helps to lower the price of gasoline. They want their cake and eat it too.

The one area that I would say (and said earlier) that govt interference is OK, is if we agree we want to reduce greenhouse gas, then tax greenhouse gas. That is, in effect, a subsidy to alternative energy - but one we may need to get the results we may want.

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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 09:27 AM   #44
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Everyone notices Exxons record profits. Not many remember the really, really lousy profit years they've totaled up not that long ago.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 10:33 AM   #45
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

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Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Everyone notices Exxons record profits. Not many remember the really, really lousy profit years they've totaled up not that long ago.
True............I wonder HOW GM was able to put hybrid Chevy Suburbans out there that get 25% better gas mileage...............right under Exxon's nose!!! I bet there will be a BIG SURGE in insider stock options being cashed in..........
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 12:45 PM   #46
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Hi, samclem,

I'll try.

1) a) By the way, about half the price of gasoline at the pump is road taxes. All road fuels should be taxed the same. 'Price' is not the same as 'cost'.

Quote:
...Natural gas should be a less expensive motor fuel (per unit of energy available) than gasoline (barring some type of NG logistics/handling issue that makes it much more expensive to distribute than gasoline).
Yup.

Quote:
If (by the above logic) natural gas is a less expensive motor fuel, why hasn't it (under antecedent "d" above) come into widepsread use at the retail level?
The retail distribution system is set up for liquid fuels. It is ideal for fleet use, as you say. The State of Oregon tried out fleet use of natural gas fuel many years ago but gave it up.

I am guessing that for the same engine displacement, natural gas fuel gives significantly less power than gasoline. The difference is the density of gasoline sprayed into an air stream vs. a light gas being put into the air stream. Natural gas for vehicles will be delivered as a compressed gas and used as a gas. Turbocharging will increase the density of the charge to the engine, but liquid fuels still have the advantage. The energy content of hydrocarbon fuels (including natural gas/methane) is about the same on a weight basis, so lower density means less power.

Quote:
If a system other than liquid fuels (compressed gases, electric charging stations, etc) is needed, then there is a huge hinderance to eventual widescale acceptance.
Yup.

Quote:
2) Prof, while I've got your ear--do you have a guess on the cost of methanol production using various feed stocks (agricultural feedstocks/plant waste vs natural gas vs coal?)
Solid carbonaceous feedstocks will always cost a lot more to process into syngas than natural gas. I haven't run the numbers for many years, but it used to cost twice as much. What is the dollar number? My cost info is much too out of date. I would have to spend some time to re-calculate it and the relative number would still be high.

Quote:
The last two materials have other uses in our energy stream, and burning them increases atmospheric CO2. Plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and produce O2, and virtually all the carbon in them came from the atmosphere originally, so using them to produce methanol will not increase atmospheric CO2 overall. I think this is a big plus.
True. This would help everything by not putting any more new CO2 into the atmosphere. But there are difficulties: Beside the high capital and operating costs to replace a barrel of gasoline with an equivalent energy amount of alternative liquid fuels, the total quantity required is HUGE! Bigger than big. The only place this could be done is in some little country like Denmark that is small enough to convert the whole country and Green enough to try, but even the Danes aren't that crazy.

OK. Time for my nap.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 03:31 PM   #47
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
Hi, samclem,

I'll try.

1) a) By the way, about half the price of gasoline at the pump is road taxes. All road fuels should be taxed the same. 'Price' is not the same as 'cost'.
Not true.

Federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents/gal. National avg. of state gas tax is 21.6 cents/gal. So, at $2.40 a gal, 16% of that price is tax. Or, at $2/gal for gas, 20% is added for tax.

Diesel is 24.4 fed. and state avg. is 22.6 cents/gal. For a total of 47 cents/gal avg.

-CC
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 07:07 PM   #48
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Ed (AKA Professor)

For extra credit, I researched the cost of methanol produced from various sources. It looks like methanol made from natural gas might be made for about 1/2 the price of gasoline (per unit energy) and that it might be made from biomass for somewhere near the price of gasoline, if we can efficiently gather the biomass (the issue you previously identified).

Direct costs FUEL EUR/GJ
(Estimated production cost 2001)
Gasoline (RFG, 10% MTBE) 9.8
MeOH from natural gas 4.7
MeOH from biomass, Finland 16.4
MeOH from biomass, Far East 9.6
Electricity, Finland average 7.0

Maybe produce it cheaply from NG at first, and get widespread acceptance due to the low price and let it displace gasoline in the marketplace. When we get serious about conserving NG or reducing CO2 emissions, then we'll have the option to produce methanol using biomass.

CO2 emmissions:
Here's a chart showing the amount of CO2 produced per km of travel for methanol produced in/used in a number of ways. I would think the 185 g/km figure for gasoline with MTBR additive is fairly close to what conventional cars produce today.

Process g CO2 (eq)/km
Methanol produced from natural gas 117

Methanol produced from biomass 6

Reformulated gasoline including MTBE from biomass 185

Reformulated diesel from crude oil 111

Hybrid vehicles 85% methanol 117
biomass blended with 15% gasoline

Hybrid vehicles 85% methanol from 145
natural gas blended with 15% gasoline

http://www.iforest.com/docs/FactSheetMethanol_Final.pdf

By the way, methanol turns out to be a very good fuel for fuel cells. There's still the problem with the cost of fuel cells (expensive catalysts, etc).
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 07:21 PM   #49
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

This thread is quickly becoming a candidate for "best of" board. The talk about alternative fuels and conservation methods comes up so often here, this is a thread that could be continually linked to.

Originally, I had a plan to run my two cars into the ground, keeping them running until a plug in hybrid car is mass produced by a major player and has reasonable prices (a.k.a. past the early adopter phase). The argument about "just polluting somewhere else with the powerplant" was countered in my mind by the increased efficiency of the power plant when compared to my vehicles gas engine. Are we saying that, rather than being exponentially more efficient, power plants are only marginally so? I have been accused of hypocrisy on another thread, and I have unwittingly been so. What is the best vehicle solution if walking/biking/mass transit is not a solution? Just a plain old vanilla compact car that pushes 40 mpg? Are any of the advances in car technology going to make a difference in total emissions?
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 07:36 PM   #50
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Laurence,
Wait--not so fast! We haven't talked about the amount of fuel/energy used and CO2 produced in the scrapping of one vehicle and the manufacturing of another. This embodied energy is a huge part of the environmental impact of driving. Without doing much research, I'd guess that the lowest impact thing you can do is buy a used economy car and nurse it along for 10 years longer than most folks would have.

For those who demand a new car (for reliability/safety/vanity reasons, whatever) then I'd recommend they look for a flex-fuel vehicle that gets good mileage and buy alcohol-based fuels if they are available in your area. Take the money you saved by not buying a Prius and send it to your favorite environmental organization--or plant a few hundred trees. Then, in 10 years when you would have needed to replace the Prius batteries, send another few thousand bucks to the charity.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 07:41 PM   #51
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

That was definitely why I planned on running the cars into the ground. I could have chosen better vehicles when I bought them, but now that I'm in, I should nurse them along and not contribute to landfill toxic seepage and the need for more environment bombs to be manufactured.

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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 08:01 PM   #52
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
The argument about "just polluting somewhere else with the powerplant" was countered in my mind by the increased efficiency of the power plant when compared to my vehicles gas engine. Are we saying that, rather than being exponentially more efficient, power plants are only marginally so?
Yes, and remember, our cars have catalytic converters on them, power plants do not. Cars burn incredibly clean these days - but still emit CO. But, power plants emit CO also, and you have the transmission line and battery charge/discharge losses on top of that. Clean electric vehicles require clean power plants.

Here's a few links - one ref from wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in...ehicle#_note-4
http://tinyurl.com/3c72oo

Quote:
in regions with coal-heavy electricity generation, the plug-in would not reduce CO2 emissions at all.

In most locations, achieving a major CO2 advantage from plug-ins will require greatly reducing power sector carbon emissions.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 08:08 PM   #53
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
That was definitely why I planned on running the cars into the ground. I could have chosen better vehicles when I bought them, but now that I'm in, I should nurse them along and not contribute to landfill toxic seepage and the need for more environment bombs to be manufactured.
Yep, one example of how complex this all gets: A friend was recently 'bragging' that he sold his gas hog and bought a hybrid. Sounds good, but... he does not drive many miles per year. So, if the guy that bought his old gas hog drives more miles than he does, it could actually be a net negative - oops!

That is one of the reasons that, like air quality in the 70's, to make real progress the govt needs to step in with a broad range plan. Something that motivates everyone to pollute less.

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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 08:34 PM   #54
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Waitaminit...I thought nothing qualified for "best of board" unless it contained at least one reciprocated diatribe with moderate name calling...
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 09:28 PM   #55
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Waitaminit...I thought nothing qualified for "best of board" unless it contained at least one reciprocated diatribe with moderate name calling...
Now if we could bring in moderator name calling, then we'd really have something!

-CC
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 10:11 PM   #56
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

CCdaCE, you are a !@#$% and CFB, you are a %^#$#@!

...oh wait, or did you mean the other way around?
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 10:21 PM   #57
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
CCdaCE, you are a !@#$% and CFB, you are a %^#$#@!

...oh wait, or did you mean the other way around?
The other way around as in, "CCdaCE, you are a %^#$#@! and CFB, you are a !@#$%" ?

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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 10:23 PM   #58
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
in regions with coal-heavy electricity generation, the plug-in would not reduce CO2 emissions at all.
I don't believe this is true. Oil/gasoline contains more co2 than coal.
On top of that, if the plug-in uses an electric motor as opposed to an internal combustion engine you get much greater efficiency.

I do agree that the amount of 'greenness' for an electric car does vary with the type of plants used to generate the electricity.

This is one of the strengths of electric cars though. As the technology changes to produce electricity in different ways the car doesn't need to be modified to use the electricity, as electricity from a wind generator is the same as electricity from a coal plant is the same as electricity from a nuclear plant.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-14-2007, 11:24 PM   #59
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

I'll do the design. You guys run the numbers.
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
Old 02-15-2007, 12:04 AM   #60
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Re: Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zathras
Quote
Oil/gasoline contains more co2 than coal.
Nope, sorry. You get more energy per CO2 for gasoline than from coal. Using values for graphite for coal and n-octane for gasoline gives 163 kcal of energy per mole of CO2 produced for gasoline versus only 94 for coal. For natural gas (methane) you get 212. The valence of carbon in gasoline is about -2.25, graphite is 0 and coal differs from that only because of the impurities, and CO2 is +4. Thus the oxidation state of coal is an intermediate state in the oxidation/combustion path of gasoline to CO2 and from that it should be obvious that one would derive more energy from gasoline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zathras
Quote
On top of that, if the plug-in uses an electric motor as opposed to an internal combustion engine you get much greater efficiency.
But you just transfer the carnot/heat engine (in)efficiency, the single largest source of inefficiency, from the internal combustion engine to the power plant where you combust the fuel to make electricity. I recall studies showing that it doesn't make sense from an energy efficiency point of view to power electric vehicles from electrical power produced from liquid fuels. The argument for electric vehicles then reduces to one of pollution control - it is easier to control pollution from one source (the power plant) than from many sources (all the cars). The numbers are of course different for electrical energy produced from coal where you would have to liquify or gasify it or from nuclear or solar where you would have to reduce CO2.

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