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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 jhb116 on 1/1/2010 8:48:42 AM , Rating: 5
But your previous comment also disproves your "theory" about correlation over the last 20 years. In fact - you state that the Earth has been warming since the little Ice Age - DUHHH - Earth has been warming and cooling for millions of years now. But then you go on to say that 20 years of warming is correlated with CO2. This is were the rest of us find huge holes in your arguments. When the Earth has scientifically proven hot-cold cycles for millions of years - people like you come in with evidence from the last 100 or so years and say that humanity is the cause, it just doesn't add up for the rest of us. Even some of your core "evidence" has come under fire of late for data manipulation. If you want the rest of us to believe - get the real data, all of the data, out for scientific review and cite real science and journals instead of the standard argument you use "thousands agree." Thousands say they've been abducted by aliens - doesn't make it true.


RE: I might care
By roostitup on 1/1/2010 1:44:34 PM , Rating: 4
I also stated that earth NATURALY WARMS AND COOLS and that there is a possibility that that's all that is going on! I never said humanity was the cause, I stated that we MIGHT be helping it and one year of non correlated data doesn't disprove it. Show me where this "core" data has come under fire for manipulation, I have yet to see this so cite it before you make statements like that. Lets see you get real data to disprove me, cite scientific journals to disprove the correlation...this goes both ways buddy. I'm completely open to believing you and others, but you have to get the data to back up your claims. Also, what do you mean get real data? The data's out there already in scientific journals ready to read. I never stated that I believe because "thousands agree", I believe because of all the data I've seen is from scientific journals and shows a correlation. I went to school to learn about this and attended many lectures by George Taylor, I know the data they use is good data. It's how they present it that is under question, not the actual data...and it's only for ONE YEAR! Either way we should be paying attention to the amount of CO2 we put in the atmosphere even if it doesn't change the climate.


RE: I might care
By Kurz on 1/1/2010 11:49:53 PM , Rating: 5
Remember We have Huge ass Oceans in our world.
As the Global temps rise they tend to release the CO2 that is dissolved within them.

Its causation, but backwards.
Temps rise first then CO2.
There are plenty of journals that show this happening.
That Temperature rises then CO2 and they infer its the oceans releasing the CO2.

The problem I have with this Global warming fear is the fact there are trillions to be made from it.
However, those trillions will be pooled collectively from the populace hence a new tax scheme for the Elite.


RE: I might care
By DominionSeraph on 1/2/2010 10:52:11 AM , Rating: 1
So all this combustion of carbon doesn't release CO2? Well then I guess combustion of hydrogen doesn't result in H2O, either. Right?

Come on, people; this isn't rocket science.

Oh wait... that was.


RE: I might care
By Kurz on 1/2/2010 1:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget it can be offset by Natural growth like Algae trees.

I guess everyone needs a degree in biology.


RE: I might care
By roostitup on 1/1/2010 2:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
You seem to just be attacking me because you think that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that our CO2 output is increasing the temp. Well you need to read what I'm saying before you spit out your opinions. I know the earth is in a natural warming phase, but the RATE of warming is MUCH faster than it has ever warmed before which makes you wonder why? Sure it could still be natural warming, but it's something we cannot ignore and CO2 output is the biggest change that has occurred in the same time that this warming RATE has increased. The problem I see with your argument is that you have NO DATA to back it up, at least the science is out there on the increased rate of climate change and CO2. Find the data to back yourself up and I may believe you, until then I'm going with what the current data shows.


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