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Big truck hits the streets

     
2:11 am on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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3:27 am on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I knew you couldn't sit on the sidelines for long. :)

Since I live in the largest state east of the Mississippi, here's some info specific to my state:

[dot.state.ga.us...]

Other motor fuels are taxed at different rates with diesel being the highest.

Some roads are toll roads.

Maybe still not clear enough: in any case, the costs do not all accrue to the owners of these things...

Nope, perfectly clear. But since you've already given me permission, it shouldn't matter to you. Thanks for sharing expenses with me.<snicker>

3:31 am on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ugh. I said I wasn't going to play either. But....

Actually, those of us (in this state, which is the only one I'm qualified to discuss, simply because of the dubious "virtue" of living here - do NOT get me started!) who own various vehicles in the - um - what do you want to call it? - "uber-utilizer" class? will that do? - pay a good deal more in taxes, registration, etc. than do those who own those silly little "pregnant roller skate" cars which get umpteen mpg (these are of course the same vehicles which can't get out of their own way going up a hill and cause more accidents on the freeways due to not traveling even the posted LOWER speed than all the trucks in this state put together).

So yes, we ARE paying our "fair share". At least in this state.

[I am NOT advocating that everyone in this country buy a "monster truck" of whichever variety! I'm simply saying that it depends on where you live and what you do whether a small car makes sense. Out here, it doesn't. In Las Vegas, it does. Um. Or not. Last month when I was down there, I would have been panicked to drive on the freeways in anything smaller than my truck - seemed like every idiot with a death wish was out there just as I was trying to get through town.... AND I GREW UP THERE! I'm a lot safer in my truck than in any small car of any sort....]

Addendum: BTW, I drove sports cars for years living in Vegas, beginning with a Datsun 240Z in 1973 and going on from there. Small cars are not new to me, but at my age thinking about my safety IS.... small cars do NOT equal "safe"....

1:02 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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lawman:
Thanks for sharing expenses with me.

Oh, we do share your expenses - in hospitals, in the clouds of smog, reduced lifespans, road deaths...

vkaryl:

I'm a lot safer in my truck than in any small car of any sort

No, you feel safer. Driving a big truck makes you feel impervious. The reason why big truck drivers tend to drive like they have lost the will to live is because they stay cocooned in their high-chair and remain isolated from what's going on around them. But even if the driver is as careful as a small-car driver, big trucks all have horrendous on-road handling, the braking distances are significantly longer, they have an annoying tendency to roll over when cornering too fast or on ice or snow, they cause a disproportionate amount of destruction if they enter into a collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian...

There is a point that it becomes simply an arms race - you need a big truck because everyone else has one, and you feel threatened in a small car - but when everyone has one, then you're no higher than anyone else. You've gained nothing in comparison, but your vehicle is more dangerous for others around you - in terms of cost, pollution, pedestrian deaths and the rest of it.

lawman, no we're never going to agree! But the debate is interesting, and the usual courtesy of the discussions here on WebmasterWorld has been maintained throughout. And, to repeat, I'm mostly concerned about truck in an urban environment - I know they are often a requirement in a rural context.

5:37 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I thought this might fit in well with the thread:
[ironhorseclothing.com...]
6:05 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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wow, what a read! Nothing like a heated discussion to start the week :).
6:32 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Damn, spend a weekend offline in London, and look what I miss! ;)

So, get some big monster diesel brute-mobile, and then convert it to run on used deep-fryer oil. Make everyone happy, and give your local McDonalds a chance to do something good for the world for a change.

Problem solved. :)

6:39 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So, get some big monster diesel brute-mobile, and then convert it to run on used deep-fryer oil. Make everyone happy, and give your local McDonalds a chance to do something good for the world for a change.

Am I missing something? How on earth is that supposed to be a good plan?!

So, you go to the big M and pollute your innards, then throw the old chip fat in the tank of the truck and go out and pollute the rest of the neighborhood afterwards! ;)

7:24 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So, you go to the big M and pollute your innards, then throw the old chip fat in the tank of the truck and go out and pollute the rest of the neighborhood afterwards! ;)

Yep -

I won't even mention the methane issue associated with McDonalds... :-0

The whole problem of car/truck generated air-pollution is not the fuel, it's the engine. Starting and stopping combustion hundreds of times per minute prevents complete combustion and produces (in addition to the expected C02 and water vapour) those nasty NOx compounds and CO [google.com]* that are so effective in the formation of smog and so harmful to stuff that breathes.

Improving the quality of the reaction is possible, but perfecting it is not.

-B

*If someone can come up with a better link to stoichiometric diagrams of internal combustion, please post it. I'm getting dangerously close to retrieving my thermodynamics books from the storage locker, and none of us wants that...

[edited by: lawman at 8:42 pm (utc) on Sep. 20, 2004]
[edit reason] speeling [/edit]

9:15 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I didn't suggest eating at McDonalds, did I? Good lord. I'd never suggest such a thing. I was suggesting a way such a beastly vehicle could be operated more cleanly and economically than on traditional commercial fuels. Emissions tests on diesel engines running on filtered vegetable oil or "home brewed" bio-diesel show lower levels of certain regulated compounds than petroleum based diesel fuel.

People who run vegetable oil conversions or bio-diesel fuel generally get their oil by going to a local restaurant and collecting the used fryer oil (though I've heard chinese restaurants generally use a better-suited type of oil than McD's).

Sure, I don't doubt engines could be engineered for much greater efficiency, and that would be great. But running on a lower emission fuel is a good idea either way.

[edited by: mivox at 9:27 pm (utc) on Sep. 20, 2004]

9:21 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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SUVs: a debate [smartmotorist.com]

Sighs wearily...

Syzygy

10:51 pm on Sept 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know this is not really on topic (don't wanna get sucked in) but I was reminded of something that happened to me when I arrived in Spain about 16 years ago.
I was chatting to a neighbour (well, he was chatting to me) who happened to be the 75 year old father of a local mayor. I had learned to say 'yes', 'no' and 'beer, please', so I just sat back and listened. Unbelievably, I understood everything he said.
The conversation began when I commented on the shiny new tractor he was sporting.
Yes, he said, but he preferred his donkey!

The month previous, the tractor failed to funcion, while he was plowing his vinyards some 15 kms away from home. He had to walk home and wait for his son (who had bought him the tractor to retire the donkey) to come by to ask him to call the service guys (he had no telephone).
He called the tractor service the next day, they came by the following day. The next day they ordered the parts, needed for the repair, from the nearsest town's agent, who ordered the parts from the distributor, who ordered the parts from the capitol city, who ordered the parts from Japan. It took best part of a month (and a fair amount of money) to repair the beast.
The donkey on the other hand was another story.....
If one day he (the donkey) decided not to work, which on occasion he did, he would give him a mouthfull of abuse, walk him home and not feed him his supper! The next day the donkey (hungry and somewhat repentant) would run out to the field, hoping to get fed two days rations (he was not a badly fed animal at all).
So, the next day the animal would be back to working order, yet it took almost a month to fix the shiney new tractor. Sounds good, huh?
Well, his last sentence was the one that really cracked me up.
He said that apart from the work factor, he didn't feel half as stupid talking to his donkey as he did talking to his tractor!

Back on topic, it is a shame that our children's children will probably have very few resources left to enjoy this wonderful planet we inhabit.
As dominant inhabitants here, we really are screwing up quite badly, IMHO.
I must say though, I have enjoyed the ingenuity and resourcefulness of this thread, immensly.

Something in the back of my mind tells me that whilst oil companies hold financial and political sway in the world in general, there will not be any alternative fuel sources made generally available.
Just as we know that tobacco and alcohol are addictive drugs that (directly and indirectly)kill and maim causing high social costs, it will not be an easy task to remove them from the world marketplace. Just like gas guzzlers for gas guzzling sake!

I honestly cannot see as responsible, comments like, 'I can afford it, so I will', or, 'I want to, so I will'. 'Bit like, I'm bigger than you, so push off'. Which brings me back to the truck in question.......
Give me a donkey anyday ;)
Just my view, of course.

12:13 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think the donkeys may be more friendly with the environment than the bicycles.
12:47 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've got a jack and two jennies, not sure how environmentally friendly they are, but cursing them gives me the sames results I get when I curse my tractor. Zip. Nada. Nil. I can throw wrenches at the tractor though and that makes me feel better. As for efficiency, the tractor wins, hands down.

Back to the big truck thing. Zillions of little cars running all over, stopping and starting, hither and thither, all hours of the day, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Big truck, used for specific functions, not likely to be driven to the local grub pub or to the post office, or for general errands. Oh, and they're making a whopping 60 of them for this year. Environmental impact? Nil. Yes, they speak of "gearing up" and possibly making "thousands" How many "eco-friendly" sub-compacts are running around?

The eco-impact of making bike tires and alloys for bike production, not to mention all the people driving to and from bicycle factories will be far greater than the impact of those trucks. Let's not forget that they have to ship those bikes, all over the world, using gas-sucking planes and tractor-trailers...

1:48 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think one of the fundamental issues everyone has gotten to in this discussion is culture.

In some cultures, independence and individualism are predominant characteristics. This leads to the "we can buy whatever cars we want" philosophy.

In other cultures, collectivism and dependence on the group is the more predominant characteristic - leading to the, "everyone needs to respect our common resources and do what's right for the collective whole" idea.

Neither of these cultural and/or personal traits is inherently *wrong* - but they're different. And that makes it hard for the two groups to find common ground.

Personally, I go back and forth between, "I'll drive what I want" and "I need to consider what impact my choices have on others." Quite frankly, when it comes to "the impact my choices have on others" - I think there are more important things to worry about than what car I drive.

2:26 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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*quiet agreement with Hawkgirl's statement*
2:39 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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...when it comes to "the impact my choices have on others" - I think there are more important things to worry about than what car I drive

Such as whether you drive a car, right? ;-p

{Runs away}

-B

Sorry, I couldn't resist...was a good point you made though.

3:14 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Don't run away, bedlam, because that's also a good point. Here in this little valley we tend to just walk to the mail and back (5 miles appx.) rather than driving. So that's a choice of the sort you postulate....

Of course, if it's deep winter and there's 4 inches of ice under 6 inches of snow, it's safer just to drive (sometimes - see below) - SSSSLLLLOOOOOWWWWWLLLLYYYYY and in 4wd.... and no, neither of us is so stupid as to believe we're invincible just because we have a big truck with 4wd. We're both quite old enough and experienced enough to know that's a total fallacy.... (and in fact, we spend a good part of our time during the winters pulling those sorts of idiots out of ditches with our 4wd mega-diesel, including the occasional 18 wheeler....)

Follows something I sent sticky to someone else (regarding bikes and vehicles with bike racks etc), and I wasn't going to post it, but it's true for some of us so maybe it's okay after all because it does illustrate life somewhere beside a lowland city:

>>>

I'm not necessarily trying to add fuel to anyone's fire here, but again, where I live if you want to use a bicycle, you NEED A VEHICLE WITH A BICYCLE RACK. Here there's 8 miles of narrow two-lane mountain road (with NO extra on the edges) with a LOT OF TRAFFIC even when there's snow on top of ice (4-5 months a year....) So riding down out of here on a bike is NOT BRIGHT - besides which, in order to get to work from here on a bike it would take you probably 3 hours (in good weather).

Then, if you live in town (40 miles south one-way), it's too hot most of the year to ride (90+F on a COOL day) so you have to load the bike to go somewhere riding is even quasi-comfortable.

As an aside, this last winter I left for work three mornings at about 5:15 am, and it took me 40 MINUTES to go 8 miles - because of ice, snow over the ice, snow falling, and fog - in my "mega-truck", in 4WD (without which I would not have made it at all, and would have lost my job as a result thereof). On one of those trips, I rounded a turn at WAY less than 15mph to find a truck parked in the middle of the road.... with the driver's side door wide open. Through the grace of whichever diety you believe in, I had a split second of time to notice that THERE WAS A PERSON IN THE ROAD WITH A FLASHLIGHT behind the open door!

You CANNOT brake on 4 inches of snow over several inches of ice [even with 4wd in low range (and believe me when I tell you it was in low!)]. You CANNOT steer, and that's especially true if you are in a "common garden variety" automobile. I hauled on the steering wheel to the point of total debilitation for a week - couldn't lift my arms, almost couldn't take a deep breath - and I managed not only NOT TO KILL THE MAN, but to miss his truck AND the fence on the other side of the road.

What was he doing? He was looking for cougar tracks in fresh snow. I don't have a quarrel with that, only with the fact that he didn't bother to get off the road. My point? If I'd only been driving a car, that man would no doubt have been dead. I would have been responsible. And I might have been seriously injured myself, as well as having killed someone.

Until I quit working recently, I drove 80 miles per day down a two lane highway infested with idiot teenagers in sports cars all going upwards of 90mph. I've had WAY more than my share of close calls (leaving out of consideration the man looking for cat tracks!) when some stupid kid chose to pass on a blind curve/hill and I had to head for the ditch. I stand a far better chance of living over a highway-speed crash in my truck than I do in a 40mpg wonder car [or said stupid kid's supercharged Cobra].

Are the 40mpg wonder cars better? Maybe - in the city, in their place. On my highway, they're not - they're death traps. Am I justifying driving a mega-truck? Yup. I am. MY LIFE is the most important thing to ME. If you tell me that YOUR life is NOT the most important thing to YOU, you're either lying, or you're the next messiah. If that's the case, bless you my child, but I'm still gonna keep my truck.... (well, have to anyway - there's the horse trailer, and the travel trailer....)

I'm not wanting to put anyone down or be obnoxious beyond my ordinary bent. But not every circumstance allows for "vanilla" solutions. Those of us who choose to live OUT have specific needs as far as transport that those who live in cities never address. As I asked in one post on this thread, surely you don't want EVERYONE on this planet to move into the cities simply to enable "full-scale" mass transit?

>>>

I would say that Hawkgirl's point about cultural referrents comes into play more than most would like to admit. And my bottom-line point is still: do any of you REALLY WANT everyone on this earth to move into the cities just to use whatever mass transit is available, just to get rid of personal vehicles? Huge cities are the pits. Been there done that. Sure there's a bus to wherever, or a subway/underground/el. But that doesn't make me want to move back there because among other deterrents, the crime rate is probably 10k percent higher than where I live.... Sure, there's car pools - and back in the late 70s I bought into the car pool thing, which made my day stretch from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm - because Las Vegas is spread out over several hundred square miles of valley with no definable "business center".... it's probably better now, though I wouldn't want to bet on it....

Environmentalist efforts are important. No one can disagree with that. However, any environmental initiative needs to take into account many many differing lifestyles and needs for transport. You simply cannot force people into cookie-cutter niches....

[Well, I didn't mean it to wind up this long.... Sorry!]

8:14 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<<Sure, there's car pools - and back in the late 70s I bought into the car pool thing, which made my day stretch from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm - because Las Vegas is spread out over several hundred square miles of valley with no definable "business center".... it's probably better now, though I wouldn't want to bet on it....>>

It's not better, it's worse. So, me 'n my SUV drive to Starbucks, the grocery store and the vet. Two 100lb dogs wouldn't fit comfortably in an Echo and I can't afford a hybrid van or SUV.

Save the environment, work from home! ;)

9:30 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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How much does petrol cost in the US? To run a truck like that in the UK you would have to be stupendously rich (you might have to add a giant snowplough widget too - you'd need to widen the roads a little ;) ) A car such as the landrover - at half the size, price and fuel consumption and equal capabilties would be a better bet. *That* truck is a horrificly designed status symbol - nothing more. And by, more knowledagble contribuors admission, probably wouldn't be able to take it in the rough anyway.

Form over function was not observed here! It is a travesty of overexhuberant design that opitimises the new super rich and will probably only ever be bought by Puff-Daddy's and Football Players types.

12:22 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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do any of you REALLY WANT everyone on this earth to move into the cities just to use whatever mass transit is available, just to get rid of personal vehicles?

vkaryl

No, I dont wish for everyone to move in cities, and no, I am not against personal vehicles. I still own the minivan I purchased when I was a glass artist to move stained glass panels. I used it only three times this year because it was really needed. I use my bike and public transportation because they fulfil my needs better. It just get me pretty upset when I see all those supersized SUV and gas guzzling 4X4 with their engines running idle in traffic jams with a single person aboard. It's a waste of air, it's a waste of fuel, a waste of time and space. It's not that those people dont know about the problems, it's just that they dont care.

When I picture this, I think those people are not persons anymore. I just see a herd of consumers playing with their big toys.

I am pretty convinced that if you could purchase a zero emission vehicule to fit all your needs, you would do it. Isn't it?

1:02 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>will probably only ever be bought by Puff-Daddy's and Football Players types.

I think that is exactly right. The company admits they only plan to sell about 60 of them a year.

I don't think 60 more trucks on the road at the end of 2005 will result in the end of society as we know it. Seems more like a publicity-getter and a fun project for their engineers than anything else.

2:18 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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An interesting & timely piece from the BBC:

Looking to the hydrogen horizon [news.bbc.co.uk]

Syzygy

2:52 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Quote from Syzygy's BBC article

Freedom Car

Last year, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, President Bush announced a $1.2bn research programme into hydrogen fuel technology. Labelled the Freedom Car, the Bush plan sees 90% of the hydrogen coming from fossil fuels, with the other 10% from nuclear.

Sounds like a perfect plan isn't it? :)

3:15 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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WOO! I can swap my petroleum emissions for smog and nuclear waste! Hurrah!

(Though most hydrogen is produced from natural gas right now... which is an improvement in emissions.)

3:22 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, just because Bush is the Pres doesn't mean some of us agree with his many and varied <ideas>, y'know!

Besides, whether hydrogen came from fossil fuels or not, wouldn't the use of it in some ways still add to stuff like perceived global warming? Anything you do to "fire" up an engine is still going to do something nasty as far as emissions go.

Mac - that's one of those trick questions. There will most likely not ever be a zero emission engine in a vehicle which will cover all my needs, living out as I do. If there were, I would be abysmally stupid to turn it down. Not too bright sometimes as I am, I've still never been called completely stupid....

As it happens, I've written numerous letters to various folks in various gov't agencies, beginning in about 1965, advocating the installation of mag-strips in the highways and interstates, and the development of vehicles to utilize them for long-distance here-to-there travel. This would of course necessitate another version of the "hybrid" vehicle - one which would be managed on the highways at a set speed by magnetics, and would run on whatever fuel when it dropped off the highway to its destination. This would also limit speed on highways, etc. I'm quite sure it'll never be practical on THIS earth, but no doubt there's a planet out there somewhere using some version of this.... and laughing at us because we're to dumb to live....

[edited by: lawman at 4:22 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2004]

3:28 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Photovoltaic solar cells reached 21 % of efficiency last year. They come in shape of rolls like we use for roofing.

I didn't do the math, but I guess an average suburban house could supply enough power for a couple of small cars, if not, it surely wont hurt.

4:18 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Actually, a hydrogen fuel cell running off pure hydrogen only produces water as exhaust... So if you had a hydrogen powered car, there is no "combustion" in the first place, and then the hydrogen is just stuck to some oxygen on the way out.

So, the roads might be chronically damp, but that's not so bad, is it? ;)

The main problem they'd been having when I last checked is that they're building them with lpg or natural gas 'reformers' to create the hydrogen on-the-spot, and they get contamination in the fuel cell from impure hydrogen input.

4:42 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Anything you do to "fire" up an engine is still going to do something nasty as far as emissions go

Not quite - there's nothing inherently nasty about burning which is, after all, just oxidation (rust forms by oxidation...) It's why hydrogen seems to be such an attractive fuel in some ways; you take hydrogen, oxidize it and get water (and, of course, some energy):

2H + 02 => H20

The problem, as has already been pointed out, has to do with where the 'cleaner' fuel comes from (if you have to burn anything less clean to get your hydrogen, you may wind up reducing smog in the cities by moving the pollution outside them...Not an ideal fix you might think). If you could produce hydrogen without burning hydrocarbons...

But burning hydrocarbons is inevitably a problem since even the cleanest reaction still yields CO and CO2 (though a perfect reaction wouldn't produce the nasty NOx compounds that are some of the worst contributors to smog.)

-B

4:48 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So, the roads might be chronically damp, but that's not so bad, is it? ;)

In hot countries that might be welcome..;-)

Syzygy

Tongue firmly in cheek...

4:55 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The fuel reformers generally work via chemical reaction to extract the hydrogen from the NG/LPG source... so even then, it's not being burned. But, it's rarely a 100% reaction, which is where the cell contamination comes in.

As for wet roads, I suppose there's always the option to vent the fuel cell into a water jug. So, you run your car with 0 emissions, and get purfied water on the side... ;) Have a nice hot cup of tea from the car "exhaust". hehe

If only a reliable, efficient method could be found for getting the hydrogen... well, it just seems like it could work so perfectly.

This 118 message thread spans 4 pages: 118