Gas2 Week in Review, August 20: Non-Electric Low Emissions Transport Systems

During most weeks on Gas2, readers respond primarily to stories about electric vehicles and a seemingly not so far-in-the-distance future in which electrified and even shared low emissions transport is the norm. This week, however, the stories that inspired the most comments from our loyal readers centered around different transportation options that might reduce emissions— fuel cells, compressed natural gas, diesel, and even a new wheel concept that will aid automatic emergency braking systems.

And another non-electric vehicle story warmed our readers’ hearts this week: a tale reminiscent of those golden days of the 20th century in which the throaty growl of a V-8 with tail fins brought us together as U.S. citizens through a collective if environmentally degrading automotive identity.

Here are those stories and more on this week’s edition of the “Gas2 Week in Review.” (Of course, in case you missed them, you may also want to check out the ever-popular Tesla treatises about software updates and the dilemma about finding charging stations on long distance drives.)

low emissions transport

Hyundai Pushing Ahead Fuel Cell Strategy, New SUV Slated For Production

The fourth generation fuel cell for the new Hyundai is more powerful, more efficient, and has longer range than the unit used in the current Tucson FCEV. Efficiency of the fuel cell is now 60%, range is up to 800 kilometers (500 miles), the rating is coming in at 161 horsepower, and the low temperature operation has improved to as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees F). Even with all those caveats, Gas2 reader comments reminded us that “hydrogen is NOT clean. 95% of hydrogen is produced from natural gas in a process that produces, yes, carbon” as well as “over $1 TRILLION to build a hydrogen infrastructure.”

NREL Study Compares Costs Of Operating CNG Buses Versus Electric Buses

This article looked at multiple angles around the hypothesis that, although electric buses tend to cost more, they are expected to cost less to operate over their anticipated 12 year useful life. Tabulating and comparing data in southern California collected by Proterra electric buses versus those powered by compressed natural gas, the National Renewable Energy Lab determined that the Proterra buses were up to eight times more efficient. The data was so compelling that one Gas2 reader suggested, “I encourage everyone to read the source NREL study (the article author included a link at the bottom of the article). It’s pretty interesting and an easy read.”

Merkel Talks Tough on Diesel, ICE Phase-Out

Many people around the world continue to hold onto the power of diesel engine technology. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have conceded that Great Britian and France’s plans to phase out internal combustion-driven cars by 2040 “were the right approach.” Her announcement came just days after she met with German automotive manufacturers who had pledged to contribute to a fund worth 500 million Euro (approx. $590 million) to finance measures to reduce urban pollution while at the same time opposing urban combustion engine ban plans. Gas2 reader comments centered around how multinational corporations have the power and potential to influence and corrupt political parties globally.

Is Nothing Sacred? Continental New Wheel Concept Reinvents The Wheel

There’s a New Wheel Concept from Continental that may significantly improve the way that automatic emergency braking systems function. The process starts with an innovation that separates the wheel into two components — an outer rim that carries the tire and an inner truss that is permanently bolted to the hub and which carries the brake disc and caliper. Using aluminum for both those components of the wheel, Continental attempts to tackle one of the ongoing issues with conventional brakes: the accumulation of rust on the disc. That rust coating has the capacity to degrade braking performance and compromise automatic emergency braking system activation. With overall larger diameter, the New Wheel Concept improves brakes’ clamping forces, or similar stopping power with much less abrasion and less wear. Gas2 readers were curious about the tie-in’s to cars that make use of regenerative braking,

“I Am A Tail Fin Road Locomotive” — A Journey Down Memory Lane To Yesteryear

At a time in which most of us who are car lovers are acquiescing to a low emissions transport future, a part of our collective psyche still yearns for those big, slow turning V-8 engines, to an era when the U.S. believed it could accomplish anything through sheer willpower and meritocracy. This story about the love affair between America and its famous gas powered behemoths, captured by the iconic tail fin cars, spoke to several of our Gas2 readers, who reminsced how viewers delighted to hear Dinah Shore sing her theme “See the USA in your Chevrolet” on her popular TV show. Yes, the combustion engine car and the Eisenhower highway system opened up horizons for U.S. citizens, but they also created traffic sprawl and noxious exhaust fumes that continue to contribute today to our need for radical transportation rethinking. Ah, but wasn’t ignorance bliss?

Photo credit: Jeanne Menjoulet via / CC BY

Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn grew up in Stafford Springs, CT, home of the half-mile tar racetrack. She's an avid Formula One fan (this year's trip to the Monza race was memorable). With a Ph.D. from URI, she draws upon digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+