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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 shin0bi272 on 1/3/2010 8:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
co2 and temp correlated from 1982 (when the IPCC started their modeling based on their theory that co2 was the cause of global warming... before that it was cfc's) till 1998. The data that they used to extrapolate (i.e. guess) the temps was from a whopping 3... count em 3... hand picked for their large rings... trees in siberia. Tree ring extrapolation isnt even a really accurate way of stating the temperature either. Sure you can say it was warmer or colder near that tree x number of years ago but to pick 3 specific trees for their wider than normal rings is totally not scientific and lets be honest immoral. Its pushing a political agenda to get more money for more research because thats how the "scientists" in environmentalism get paid. Its not about the green on the trees its about the green in your wallet! Its about hindering developed countries and making them give billions of dollars to petty 3rd world dictators (most of whom are in africa) to make reparations for our success while they were more worried about killing their own people or the next tribe over. We in the US and some other developed countries worked to become more developed (profit motive is a wonderful thing) and the blame America first crowd (like you roostitup) are trying to say that we somehow owe people who didnt do as well as we did money. Its not about the climate at all its about demonizing capitalism and "the rich". Go look at the copenhagen treaty that no one signed... apendix one (page like 128 or so) states that there will be a global government set up in order to police the world's use of co2. You ever wonder where the communists went after the fall of the ussr and eastern bloc countries? They moved behind the scenes into pushing for climate legislation... hence the term "global government". Its not your fault Roostitup, you're a rank and file lib who still believes in the message and has yet to see the truth behind it all. its about political power over as many people as possible and was almost an entire world government.


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