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Hydrogen vehicles aren't too eco-friendly in terms of carbon emissions, according to an in-depth new study.  (Source: Web Wombat)
Study indicates plug-ins feature a lower emissions life than gas vehicles, but hydrogen vehicles feature greater emissions

The hydrogen vehicle movement appears stalled.  The push to use the diatomic gas as auto fuel never exactly made it off the ground due to a lack of infrastructure -- production, distribution, and storage facilities.  However, for a time automakers like Toyota and Honda were pushing ahead with testing of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 

Even this year, news leaked that GM was considering launching a commercial fuel cell vehicle in 2015, despite lack of support for the hydrogen movement from U.S. President Barack Obama.  However, of late, the big automakers like Toyota and Honda have backed off the effort to push hydrogen vehicles onto the market.

A new study might put another road block in front of the prospect of a near term commercial hydrogen vehicle release, while giving the plug-in vehicle movement a nice boost.  The study was authored by Ryan McCarthy at the University of California, Davis and published in the Journal of Power Sources. The ground-breaking study, entitled "Determining marginal electricity for near-term plug-in and fuel cell vehicle demands in California: Impacts on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions", examines the emissions impact of hydrogen and plug-in vehicles versus their gas counterparts.

Lowering carbon emissions to fight warming, along with high fuel prices and global-political instability, has been a key driving factor for the adoption of hybrids and alternative fuels.  The new study, though, judged hydrogen vehicles to be an utter failure at that objective, in their current state.  The study concluded, "All of the pathways except for [fuel cell vehicles] using hydrogen from electrolysis reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions compared to ICEs and [hybrid electric vehicles]."

It doesn't dissuade further research into hydrogen vehicles; it simply indicates they are unlikely to be ready for showtime anytime soon.  It points out that steam methane reforming is a promising emerging method of hydrogen production that may one day allow hydrogen driven vehicles to actually live up to their emissions promises.

In the near term, the study finds that plug-in electric vehicles are the best option in terms of lowering carbon emissions.  Despite using electricity mostly generated by "relatively inefficient steam- and combustion-turbine plants" the well-to-wheel carbon impact of EVs is still significantly lower than hybrids.

While by no means the definitive study on the topic, the new work does much to fill in the gap in knowledge about what exactly the true impact of green vehicles are.  While the topic of on-the-road emissions has been well researched, there's been much less progress in examining the full lifetime impact of vehicles.  Now, that lifecycle has been examined in depth and EV advocates can put another feather in their caps, while hydrogen advocates are once again handed another setback.

The study may play a crucial role in forming the policy of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, an effort to reduce the carbon impact of transportation.  And given that President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has embraced California's emissions policy, the new study could have a profound impact on the course of regulations and the auto market nationally, as well.



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RE: I might care
By roostitup on 12/31/2009 8:31:34 PM , Rating: 3
And I got rated down because? I only stated facts, people. Just because one person got caught trying to hide a decrease doesn't mean that all these years of correlation between CO2 and temperature increases are negated, that definitely isn't science. The planet warms and cools naturally no matter what you think, it would be nice to figure out why. Maybe this most recent data showing a decrease in temp is evidence that we entered into another cooling phase? It could just be natural, it could be influenced by us or even both, we really don't know for sure. Ignoring how the climate changes is not smart and ignoring the fact that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is reaching all time highs isn't smart because we don't know what will happen.


RE: I might care
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 1/1/2010 3:18:16 PM , Rating: 1
It has not been proven that the changes in CO2 concentrations will affect global temperatures. The fact that nobody can create a computer model that correlates to the real world illustrates this point. The earth is a much more complicated and dynamic system than most people think.


RE: I might care
By roostitup on 1/1/2010 3:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it has, any amount of greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere will increase the global temp. This doesn't necessarily have to be CO2, but anything that makes the atmosphere more dense will increase temps...including clouds. Difficulty in creating a computer model does not illustrate anything, it's difficult to make any computer model. Duh the earth is dynamic and complicated, I don't think anyone questions this.


RE: I might care
By RivuxGamma on 1/2/2010 2:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
Correlation is not causation. This is a cornerstone of science.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1...


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