By on January 10, 2009

There’s a piece in the Sunday NY Times automotive section (we get it a day early) about a New York congressman, Eric Massa, who drove a Chevy Equinox fuel-cell vehicle from Corning, New York (his hometown) to DC as a demonstration of personal greenness, forward thinking and the potential of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. How is that possible; it’s 280 miles form Corning to DC and there are no hydrogen stations en route? Turns out greenmeister Massa actually drove two Equinoxes. One he drove from Corning to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he changed horses to the fully fueled second Equinox. How is that possible, since you’d think a fuel-cell Equinox would use a certain amount of hydrogen just getting to Harrisburg? Well, it turns out GM towed the Harrisburg Equinox– and also the Corning Equinox, which had to arrive there fully fueled– with a pair of hybrid Tahoes. So Massa actually used four cars and a fair amount of fuel, and produced a goodly amount of CO2, to get to Washington while “burning no fuel and producing zero emissions.”

This reminds me of the infamous RAF Vulcan bomber mission to the Falklands during Margaret’s War. A single huge Vulcan V-Bomber bombed the runway (and missed, by the way) at Port Stanley, which at least scared the beejesus out of the Argies. But it took 13 Vulcans and air-to-air tankers to get that single airplane there and back from Ascension Island.  There were tankers that refueled the Vulcan, and there were tankers that refueled the tankers. And at least one backup Vulcan in case anything went wrong with the lead bomber, and it also had to be refueled even though it simply went home from the go/no-go point. The flight of 13 dwindled down to the single bomber and the couple of tankers it took to get it home again as airplane after airplane peeled off and went back to Ascension. Hard to imagine how many hundreds of thousands of gallons of jet fuel were burned per bomb, since the Vulcan could only carry something like four thousand-pounders or whatever they were.

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14 Comments on “Fuel Cell Pols Gone Bad Vol. 1...”


  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    While I agree it’s a stunt, IF there were hydrogen stations along the route… you know.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    That is an impressive effort to look green. Now if they had anticipated the sham being discovered and taken precaution to ensure their green-ness. IF GM had towed those two vehicles into place by using GM trucks burning biodiesel which would show they kinda get it and know that we’re going to pick apart what they do.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Is Eric Massa usually associated with green-ness?

    If true, these sorts of things tend to give ammunition to the rabid anti-environmentalists, helping create complete distractions.

    Again, it just makes it that much harder to have a sensible discussion about what needs to be DONE, especially with the drill-baby-drill, nuclear P-o-w-a, waste waste waste, global-warming-is-a-scam nutters.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    A single huge Vulcan V-Bomber bombed the runway (and missed, by the way) at Port Stanley, which at least scared the beejesus out of the Argies. But it took 13 Vulcans and air-to-air tankers to get that single airplane there and back from Ascension Island. There were tankers that refueled the Vulcan, and there were tankers that refueled the tankers. And at least one backup Vulcan in case anything went wrong with the lead bomber, and it also had to be refueled even though it simply went home from the go/no-go point.Hard to imagine how many hundreds of thousands of gallons of jet fuel were burned per bomb, since the Vulcan could only carry something like four thousand-pounders or whatever they were.

    No Stephan it was 3 Vulcans. 1 on the mission , one mission spare and a third at accension as backup for the two flying. The Vulcan carried 21 1000lb bombs on the first mission or if we use another clarksonism the a total bomb weight of 21 average americans. 11 Victor tankers were used on the mission so that is at least one thing correct. oh and if you look you’ll see one bloody big hole right in the centre of the runway. not bad for a plane that flew 4 times its maximum range and which used a bicycle chain in the analogue targeting computer.

  • avatar
    nonce

    We lose money on every sale, but we make up for it in volume!

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I think this is the item you are discussing.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    DrBrian, that’s what I said: “One Vulcan and at least one backup Vulcan.” Okay two backup Vulcans, which is squarely in the window of the above “at least.” And only one of the two backups was actually in the package.

    Of course the Vulcan flew four times its range. The operational radius of any heavy bomber is never assumed to be its unrefueled range, which would be ridiculous. B-2s routinely fly what probably is something like eight times their “maximum range.” Aerial refueling makes maximum range if not infinite only because crews can’t live forever.

    The rest of my mistakes are poor memory of a quarter-century ago. Had I known my e-mail to Farago would be a post, I’d have done a two-minute Internet check…

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I don’t think anyone is “anti-environment”

    Some people just don’t care, but most are actually anti-stupidity and backdoor government control. Furthermore, if you think wheatgrass and wind are going to supply enough power with out nuclear you are sorely mistaken.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ Detroit-Iron

    …..if you think wheatgrass and wind are going to supply enough power with out nuclear you are sorely mistaken.

    Who said they were going to supply enough … yet? Nuclear is a component that has it’s own set of problems and is also a non-renewable.

    These problems aren’t solved with one solution OVER another, they’re complimentary, for a time. If you have a finite resource (uranium), logic tells you that you have to move to a renewable at some stage.

    Walt Patterson who is a world respected energy consultant wrote;

    “As ….. fuel security dominate the energy agenda, the battle between traditional and
    innovative electricity intensifies around the world, notably in fast-growing economies such as China. After half a century, nuclear power is the ultimate in tradition ….. why pick the slowest, most expensive, most limited, most inflexible and riskiest option? In 1957, despite the Windscale fire, nuclear power was worth trying. We (UK) tried it: its weakness proved to be economics, not safety. Now nuclear generation is just an impediment to sustainable electricity.”

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    DrBrian:

    “…you’ll see one bloody big hole right in the centre of the runway. not bad for a plane that flew 4 times its maximum range and which used a bicycle chain in the analogue targeting computer.”

    Bicycle chain must have been loose to get the attack line twenty degrees off the runway center line.

    Ascension.

  • avatar
    nonce

    Nuclear is a component that has it’s own set of problems and is also a non-renewable.

    Do you have any idea how long it will take to run out of known uranium reserves, even if we use them to generate 100% of our power? And not even talking about using breeder reactors?

    And if you’re going to pretend that future technology exists today, then we can talk about how long it would take to deplete the deuterium in the ocean.

  • avatar
    nonce

    I can’t edit so I’ll have to follow up. I saw in the other thread that you think there are only decades of uranium left, which is clearly wrong. I’ll let you fight with Wikipedia on that.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ noone

    Actually, this is what Wackypedia actually says;

    Current economic uranium resources will last for over 100 years at current consumption rates.

    China and India plus Indonesia have plans to nearly triple the rate of consumption. Oh dear.

    while it is expected there is twice that amount awaiting discovery.

    Completely unproven so far, despite 30 years of trying, and a worsening future for uranium use, although some think investment in exploration should be made now because of the Chinese, India and Indonesia.

    With reprocessing and recycling, the reserves are good for thousands of years.

    Breeders! Absolutely filthy. This just adds to an already very dirty and uneconomic fuel process.

    It is estimated that 5.5 million tonnes of uranium ore reserves are economically viable, while 35 million tonnes are classed as mineral resources (reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction).

    So 5.5million tonnes gets you 100 years at current rates of consumption. See above regarding the Chinese, India and Indonesia.

    There is a 300-fold increase in the amount of uranium recoverable for each tenfold decrease in ore grade.” In other words, there is very little high grade ore and proportionately much more low grade ore.

    Aw, damn. There’s uranium everywhere, but it’s just not economically possible to make use of it.

    I’ve seen the seawater stuff over the years; it will cost more in (fossil fuel) energy to retrieve it. Which is what the USSR and the Japanese discovered.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Speaking of striking a green pose, I get the sense from this piece that Ford is about to ask for some subsidy money — for the children, bien entendu:

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/Cars/Ford+unveils+electric+future/1166062/story.html


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