The threshold of evolution?

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At the Detroit Auto show this week, General Motors unveiled a new concept car. Called ďAutonomyĒ, it entails a hydrogen fuel cell-powered chassis, with interchangeable bodies. This is a major debut of fuel cell technology by one of the big guys. Of course, itís conceptual at best, but has the possibility to be a reality in a decade or so.

Is this a signal of the end for the internal combustion engine, and all itís industrial/economic paraphernalia? Are we as a civilization about to evolve past our dependence on fossil fuels?

What do you think? Will we see this in the first quarter of this new century? Will the petroleum industry mount an effective opposition? Will the (US) government take a lead in this direction?

I have spent the last 20 years developing two companies utilizing proprietary methodologies for environmental protection programs in the retail fuel marketplace. If fuel cell technology becomes a reality, my livelihood could disappear overnight. Of course, in another 10 years, I hope to be snugly tucked in down at the retirement home, but my sons would be left with a worthless inheritance. I can think on nothing I would like better.

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-- Lon Frank (lgal@exp.net), January 13, 2002

Answers

Lon, there's always room in new technologies for young people. They'll be ok.

I can't wait until fuel cells are widely available for home applications. Hydrocarbons have some applications for which there are no good substitutes, so they probably won't disappear from industry.

-- helen (tottering@toward.the.promised.land), January 13, 2002.


Apparently the Bush administration just retargeted an old government program that was designed to encourage auto companies to research and develop better gas mileage/low emissions technology. The new target is automotive fuel cell research.

Currently, I know very little about fuel cells. Unlike the much-hyped nuclear fusion reactor, at least fuel cells are proven technology. It's the economics of mass conversion I'd like to hear more about. Anything that gets us away from carbon fuels is worth a long look.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), January 13, 2002.


LN:

As of last year, my power provider started offering fuel cells for home use. According to the literature, they are about the size of a home chest freezer. They are hooked into the system to provide home power. Any excess goes into the out line for a credit and deficits are covered by the provider at normal rates. As I recall, they burn propane; around here no one delivers hydrogen to homes. I haven't looked into it; my experience is that there is always a problem with new applications of technologies. If they keep it up, I might look into it this year.

Best Wishes,,,,,

Z

-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), January 13, 2002.


Invest in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

-- (Hindenburg@go.boom), January 13, 2002.

A much better link to information about fuel cells. The one "Hindenberg" cited was a bunch of press releases and stock touting.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), January 14, 2002.


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