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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The trouble with fuel cells, why biodiesel is better

" hey, using an oil-fired generating plant to charge up electric vehicles is a step in the right direction, eh?"

You guys nailed it ! The big drawback with fuel cells. Somehow you have to generate electricity. Even with hydrogen based cars you got to use electricity to generate hydrogen.

Biodiesel is much more completive alternative. In progressive states like Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington Biodiesel is taking off. In the Midwest where our most productive citizens, farmers, Biodiesel is taking off. If you consider all the economic and environmental costs Biodiesel is the best way. Current Diesel engines run better and cleaner on it. I am sure lobbyists from big oil and Detroit will try to knock it down. However, Chrysler is going to market a Jeep Liberty that runs on a Biodiesel blend. As Oil prices go over $50 a barrel, the current price of $2.30-$2.50 of gallon for Biodiesel will become competitive.

Get all the facts at Biodiesel.org

A Seattle doctor makes her rounds in a Biodiesel burning VW

Biodiesel can be made from rape seed (Canola), soybeans, mustard seed, etc. Imagine a US economy based on biofuels.

As far a motorcycles although I never heard of diesel motorcycle, but there are diesel rotary engines .....Perhaps a biodiesel rotary Buell ???

Japan probably sees fuel cells as its best answer, due to their ability to generate electricity using nuclear and electrical power plants. Biodiesel isn't an option since Japan has little farm land. However, I am sure we could sell them some in exchange for all those Hondas.

KPaul

The Great Motorcycle Prophet
 

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Re: The trouble with fuel cells, why biodiesel is better

I heard those biodiesel vehicles smell like a rolling deep fat fryer. Besides, if oil stays over $50, then shale oil becomes profitable, and there's only 300 more years worth of that stuff in western Colorado.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: The trouble with fuel cells, why biodiesel is better

"300 more years worth of that stuff in western Colorado. " Yep I used to fly over the two experimental Oil Shale tracts in Rio Blanco County, Colorado all the time when I was fighting wildfires for the BLM. But a friend of mine who has a diesel VW says the energy pay back for biodiesel is better. i.e. I takes 1 unit to get back 3 units of energy.with biodiesel, with petro payback is something like 1.25:1, I'll look it up when I get time. The whole hydro thing is a farce unless you use something like electrical power from nuclear power plants to generate the hydrogen. We still have a lot of low grade coal is this country though.
 

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Re: Fuel cell vehicles are 15 years off

According to a panel of experts at the Electric Drive Transportation Association conference last week in Orlando, fuel cell technology won't be ready for at least 15 years.
 

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Re: The trouble with fuel cells, why biodiesel is better

Take a ride through western PA and look at all of the giant propellers spinning of the ridge tops. I don't have any relative cost data but wind is kinda cheap. With the hurricane remnants that have passed through recently, it's a wonder the mountain tops didn't take off for Maine. You guys on the left coast sure put out a bunch of wind. You could make a fortune and power all of our bikes.
 

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Electicity

Just because you poor MO-rons out on the left coast have to suffer rolling blackouts do to enviro-idiocy doesn't meant he rest of us do. We'll happily produce our electricity with water or plutonium thanks.

I watch with great amusement as envirofools rant about the evils of oil, then demonize the most cost effective replacement in terms of producing electricity...

Of course.. these are the same idiots who wring their hands over 100 deaths caused by the widespread use of DDT, while millions die of malaria.
 

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(ramble)



In order to power fuel cells you need lots of hydrogen, right? You produce hydrogen by electrolysis with water. To produce enough hydrogen you need lots of oil fired power plants. The amount of fossil fuel you would need to produce the hydrogen exceeds the amount of fossil fuel you would use by simply powering current Honda Civics or VW's TDI diesels... which get on the order of 50 mpg in the Golfs. The Golfs get nearly the same mileage as the Hybrid cars. (You also aren't driving around with a major potential environmental disaster called the battery pack.) So apparently you are simply shifting the smog from the LA basin to generating plants elsewhere. You also get more greenhouse gases by producing the hydrogen with oil fired generation.



Of course, you can use solar power cells to produce the electricity to break the water down to hyrogen and oxygen also. However solar cells are really really really expensive.



Or you can use methanol with a converter to extract the hydrogen. But you still have other toxic products to deal with there. I have no idea how deadly the fuel cells themselves are if damage in a crash breaches the container.



Another interesting tidbit about hydrogen is that it cannot be contained. It leaks past any sort of gasket or packing. Admittedly the rate of leakage can be kept very small. I still wouldn't want to live near a hydrogen supply tank. A sudden cold snap breaking a pipe releasing a cloud of hydrogen is frightening to contemplate.



The there's the problem with each vehicle having what amounts to a hydrogen fuel/air bomb in place of a gas tank.



It'll be a long while before these problems are solved.



I think that using fission/fusion nuclear power (which does not produce the nuclear waste of the current fission plants) will eventually produce the power we need. At least I hope so. There's too much vested interst in keeping oil consumption high so ideas that have real potential to replace oil have a tendency to fall by the wayside.



(end ramble)
 

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I just happened to write a paper on the issue.....Here are some links if anyone is interested:

Diesel/Biodeisel Hybrid Electric Motorcycle http://www.ecycle.com/powersports/hybrid.htm

Hybrid Electric Motorcycle http://www.ecycle.com/powersports/electricmotorcycle.htm

Parker Vectrix Fuel Cell Scooter http://www.parker.com/markets/FuelCells/Parker-Vectrix Scooter Brochure 10-13-03.pdf

APFCT FC Scooter http://www.apfct.com/main02.html

There are several out there, along with boats, utility vehicles, and golf carts. Unfortunately, no dirt bikes so far. The APFCT and Parker are planning on commercialization within the next few years (though where do you refuel). The goal of fuel cells is long term reduction of emissions and pollution. Currently most hydrogen is produced from natural gas. In quantity it would have to be produced from coal or foreign oil. You can get it from water, but it is inneficient at the moment, and besides that means you produce electricity to produce hydrogen to produce electricity and you can never make that cycle 100% efficient.

I think motorcycles are a great application, though performance will be lacking for a while. The main issue is fuel and fuel storage (and/or range). Hydrogen packs a lot more energy per pound than gas, but far less per gallon. On a bike there just isn't room for large gas cylinders.

In the short term there are asian countries where 50-75% of all motor vehicles are two wheeled and often below 500cc. Often with a dense popultion as well. So one hydrogen station could service many people. A FC motorcycle could be made competative in this environment and it would be a start.

Of course there are pure electric motorcycles, but no one has produced an acceptable one performance/range/cost wise in anything over 50cc size equivalent.

Yea, I'm a little into fuel cells. Just my $0.02 (or maybe 5) - Nate.
 

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Hydrogen isn't really worse than gas, but it does have different properties. Yes, they can make containers that for all intents and purposes totally contain hydrogen. Furthermore, it's leakiness is an advantage in a crash, where it quickly dissipates and is shortly in the upper atmosphere. In fact if you compare it to say propane (which many of us keep around the house) it is probably safer. Propane tends to float along the ground (where people are), whereas hydrogen would collect in high spots.



A gallon of methanol or ammonia actually contains about as much hydrogen as a gallon of liquid hydrogen. So there are options other than pure hydrogen. No one is considering electrolisys of water as a viable production method in the short term. The advantage of moving the emissions from car to the plant is that instead of needing millions of low polluting cars with costly cali-emissions components you can have on plant that with costly emissions control and millions of non-polluting cars. It's all about control. Todays cars produce incrediably low levels of emissions, but the experts say it won't be enough.



Yes, there are a lot of problems to be solved. But so there was with PC's thirty years ago (remember those old macs). Also, there's many options, and why not use things in conjunction while we get there, biodiesel, nuclear plants, solar, wind, etc.



The two key problems, cost and fuel (infrastructure and storage/range). As we all know cost of new technology comes down (they could make CBR600F2 today for a lot less than an F4, or new Pentium 4 desktops cost less than what new P2 ones did ten years ago). Implementing the trasition will be difficult and lengthy. Things like hybrid vehicles, solar power etc. will help in the transition. Either way, gas vehicles ain't goin nowhere for the next 50 yrs or so. - Nate
 

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Sorry, just one more thought. I was going to build a fuel cell 250cc equivalent motorcycle (style wise, not a scooter) for my master's thesis. It was going to cost about $50k, most of that for the stack. I did the background research, but unfortunately my advisor didn't pull through with the funding so....nothing. Now i'm doing a cheap experiment on flow in fuel cells. There are a couple of others that have built there own bikes (smaller and cheaper). Arne Laven of the Desert Research Institute (a few yrs. back) and Seth Lerner of Kettering U. - Nate.
 

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Re: Electicity

Um,

I don't think the worry about DDT had a whole lot to do with 100 people dying. The issue has a lot more to do with bio-accumulation in other species. Humans are filling up the planet just fine even with all the funky ways to die (I had malaria, it sucked, not as bad as dengue fever did though)

While I am sure you would lump me in with the envirofools, I don't think oil is evil, just a society overly dependent on it does not have a really healthy outlook for the future.

Go live in mexico city for a year and tell me the environment and clean air don't matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
An experiment to try? Hydrogen vs....

Go buy some diesel and put it in a open coffee can. Now light a match and through it in. See what happens.

"The flash point of a fuel is defined as the lowest temperature at which the vapor above a combustible liquid can be made to ignite in air. Biodiesel's flash point is over 260° Fahrenheit, well above petroleum based diesel fuel's flash point of around 125° Fahrenheit. Testing has shown the flash point of biodiesel blends increases as the percentage of biodiesel increases. Therefore, biodiesel and blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel are safer to store, handle, and use than conventional diesel fuel."

From <a href="http://www.biodiesel.org/pdf_files/Environment_Safety.pdf"> The safety of biodiesel </a.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Excellent Point

The ogranization "Scientist and Engineers for a Change" agree

"The central technology objective of the Bush administration is hydrogen - a technology that has many potential liabilities and can at best can only have a major impact a generation from now. Hydrogen clearly merits support as a long- range research project (and is supported by Kerry), but only as a part of a balanced program of basic and applied research and appropriate incentives for adopting innovations. "

click here for more
 

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I have the original Bridgestone BT020s on my Triumph Speed 4 and have logged over 11,000 miles on the bike - nearly all commuting on the freeway. I expect to get another 2,000 miles out of them before any loss of traction.



Since you don't ride like me I have no idea what to tell you. If you do decide to ride like me you save a lot of money and any bike made today will last you forever. I'm still commuting one day a week on my '70 Tiger 650 or '74 Norton Commando. I mean, how much bike do you need when your top speed between the lanes is about 40mph? I'm thinking of getting a Suzuki DRZ400S and be done with it.
 
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