By on March 15, 2013

“The only way to break this cycle of spiking gas prices — the only way to break that cycle for good — is to shift our cars entirely, our cars and trucks, off oil,”

So said President Obama during a speech in Illinois, where he outlined a plan to provide $200 million a year for 10 years to a fund that would promote the development of alternative fuel vehicles. The funds would be provided by royalties from oil drilling on the Out Continental Shelf.

One notable omission from his remarks was the absence of any mention of hydrogen vehicles. Using his noted flair for rhetoric, Obama laid out his vision petroleum-free future while ignoring the fact that multiple OEMs are gearing up for a big push into fuel-cell technology

We can support scientists who are designing new engines that are more energy efficient; support scientists that are developing cheaper batteries that can go farther on a single charge; support scientists and engineers that are devising new ways to fuel our cars and trucks with new sources of clean energy — like advanced biofuels and natural gas — so drivers can one day go coast to coast without using a drop of oil.

One insider suggested that the lack of love for hydrogen has been a result of “not invented here syndrome” that is a hold over of the Bush 43 administration. While Dubya was fond of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, Obama and former Energy Secretary Steven Chu are said to be unfriendly, bordering on hostile, to the idea of hydrogen fuel cells. Unfortunately, many feel that a government partnership with the private sector will be the key to a hydrogen infrastructure breakthrough – but those parties feel that this is more likely than a cost effective, right-sized battery pack capable for a 500 mile range.

 

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177 Comments on “Obama Proposes $2-Billion Fund For Alternative Fuel Vehicles, No Mention Of Hydrogen...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    It’s budget cutting time in D.C. What kind of shenanigan is this?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Priorities. This is impactful R&D, so expect to see bigger cuts in other parts of the R&D budget.

      As much as I love basic science, focusing on this kind of applied R&D is probably the right thing for the nation at this time. Regardless of what you think the long-term domestic oil supply picture looks like, keeping the oil business operating smoothly around the world is a big strategic hassle for the US government – and if a few billion dollars worth of R&D would make that problem go away, it would save trillions of dollars worth of military costs. Even if it only has a 10% chance of succeeding, the payoff is so huge that it’s probably worth trying.

      Personally, the LEAF is ready for my needs, so it will be a prime contender when I feel financially secure enough to buy a new car. But other people have different needs than I do, and the electric car is NOT ready for a lot of people who aren’t me. The more we can reduce our oik needs, the more of advantage our domestic oil supplies become – because oil is really useful stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      d002

      Its to propel the fracking gas speculators and keep propping up corn farmers. Everyone may be equal, but some are more equal than others.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    The former senator from Illinois wants biodiesel over hydrogen? Say it ain’t so!

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I guess you missed the part about natural gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      The fantasy “hydrogen-based future” has been used as an excuse to kick the can down the road for the past two decades.

      On the other hand, natural gas and battery-electric are already succeeding in the market, even despite the crushing subsidies for gasoline and diesel powered transportation.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It’s true – hydrogen has been “just around the corner” ever since I could read. (I was a little kid in the 1980s, but interested in everything involving science, space, and the future.)

        EVs have been getting steadily better, in no small part because of the consumer electronics industry.

        Which tech are you going to be on? The one that’s been making steady incremental progress? Or the one that’s been a pipe dream with no significant advances for an entire lifetime?

  • avatar

    If the Apollo program hadn’t been cancelled in favor of the Space Shuttle program (STS), we’d have made it to Mars decades ago.

    I have to assume “the government” knows more than I do. They have to know that “green energy” isn’t creating as much energy as our ever increasing energy demands require and I also have to assume they know that each and every “investment” they make into green energy is failing. Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered cars haven’t materialized, The plug-in electric vehicles haven’t been popularized enough to sell in high enough numbers to not need subsidies and even wind turbines are now considered environmental disasters for their unsightly looks, murdering of birds and migrane headache inducing vibrations.

    Is it possible that we’ll ever see the importance of “these investments” when we finally have technology efficient enough to get us onto another planet? Cause the car game hasn’t changed much.

    The higher MPG cars get are being offset by people driving more according to the NTSB.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Distance driven per licensed driver peaked in 2004-2005 and has been dropping since.

      FHWA data here:
      http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=gb66jodhlsaab_

      • 0 avatar

        http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2013/03/us_vehicle_fuel_efficiency_gai.html

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Sure, fuel efficiency is up, no surprise there. But average amount driven per licensed driver is still down.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Miles driven has far more impact on fuel consumption than efficiency: move to a place half as far from work and BAM! your fuel usage is cut in half without spending any money on a new car with new technology.

            Simply updating our infrastructure so that housing and employment align would do more for costs, pollution, traffic, time, and even stress than all that research combined.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @redav: very very true, but have you ever driven down the street and tried to sum up the cost of the buildings, roads, and cars that you see? You can see hundreds of millions if dollars worth of investment in just a few city blocks.

            I will be looking for the kind of place you’re describing if I have to move…. But they are few and far between, because people have only recently remembered that this is a good way to live, and because we have trillions of dollars worth of buildings and infrastructure that would need to be rebuilt. I live in something close to this now, though, and if I have to move, I’ll settle for one perfect walkable mixed-use neighborhood with the right jobs for my wife and myself. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Luke42, I don’t think it’s that terrible/expensive. There are new neighborhoods (suburbs) constantly being built–just devote some of that space to the jobs that the residents will need. Similarly, we constantly have buildings being renovated–just convert some of the space to residential use. Think of it as a form of gentrification.

            It’s just that doing this takes a little bit more work/thought than doing one’s job in a vacuum.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …..Miles driven has far more impact on fuel consumption than efficiency: move to a place half as far from work and BAM! your fuel usage is cut in half without spending any money on a new car with new technology…..

            This is everything. An not just for fuel, but more importantly, your time and quality of life. I get to spend a minimum of three hours a day commuting, and upwards of four is not uncommon. Door to door. If I lived 15 minutes from home I could guzzle along with Bigtruck and still use much less gas. And have a lot more family time. But things are expensive, following where the income is best unfortunately overrides all…

        • 0 avatar
          Otterpops

          Nothing at that link contradicts what th009 said.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        I’m not sure where you’re getting that metric specifically, but according to the site you linked, total vehicle miles driven peaked in 2007, not 2005. The very slight decline since then is largely driven by the current economic situation — and the number started growing again in 2009-2010.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “The higher MPG cars get are being offset by people driving more according to the NTSB.”

      I don’t think that’s true. I’m pretty sure distance by driver peaked around 2005 or so:

      www dot fhwa dot dot dot gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter4 dot cfm

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      You can’t murder birds, because they have no souls. Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      This is untrue – many of the government’s investments in green energy have not only been profitable but have created thousands of jobs during a brutal recession.

      The fact is unless cars can be weaned from oil – or made highly efficient – the politics of protecting fuel sources will continue to result in brutal deaths and distorted politics.

      You might not like this but you still can’t just make things up.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Withdraw the use mandates, CAFE mandates, tax breaks, grants, loans etc… and see if you have profits. Ethanol will fail. Wind and solar will overwhelmingly fail, electric cars will fail.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Kinda like how the Prius received a subsidy during its development, and is now a standalone, profitable, and popular product?

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            If you want to subsidize Toyota’s profits with your tax money, be my guest. Let me keep mine.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Luke42 brings out a good point as to government involvement. Sometimes, there are good ideas that could be a viable industry and offer a service to all, but the upfront costs are just too high for any private investment to fund given the risks. A great example of this would be Global Positioning. GPS is a byproduct of government spending that likely would never have existed in our lifetime if not for government investment and development….

            The idea that government and private should be separated by a concrete wall is a mistake in my opinion. That wall should be reserved for church/state separation.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            This is military money spent anyway for a necessary government function (national defense) and adapted for civilian use.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @thelaine: The military is the 3nd-biggest part of the federal budget, at 19%:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2010.svg

            If you have any predilection toward fiscal conservatism, you MUST consider military spending carefully.

            The other two biggies are “entitlements” at 43% of the budget. But Medicare has personally saved my from bankruptcy 3 times in the last 5 years (because of aging parents/grandparents), so I’ll be happy to pay taxes to support that system for the rest of my life. But, if you’re really a fiscal conservative, you have to consider reworking those programs, too.

            Without a full picture of the budget, it’s easy to be penny-wise and pound foolish. Declaring that military spending MUST be legitimate is exactly that.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @Luke42
            The only reason I engage people I disagree with at this site is because of courteous and reasonable people like you Luke42. I do not disagree with anything you have written in your latest post, but I consider it to be a non sequitur.

            No one believes we should not have a military. After that, anything goes, from libertarian defend our shores types to whatever. Regardless, none of the money that is spent or wasted on the military is justification for wasting money on green energy fiascos. It is a classic “look, squirrel!” argument that is just an attempt to rationalize waste or change the subject. I agree emphatically that waste exists everywhere the government exists. The government is a waste-production machine.

            The topic here is the government wasting money on green energy scams. I’m against it. Money for the military is irrelevant.

            (Even the space shuttle and the ISS are irrelevant, but I can’t help myself, stupid fking ISS :).)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        If the bussinesses were profitable they would have repaid their loans, instead they are producing products that a market does not exist for, therefore they cannot make money.
        Thousands of jobs? yea the people that start these bogus “green” companies to line their pockets with cash because their are tools that believe everything they hear.

        No matter what you want to believe I challenge you to talk to some petroleum engineers, oil is not a finite resource like many are quick to believe.
        The politics for oil are brought on by domestic terrorists

        Your entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @Hummer: Oil can be renewed – but only on geological timescales. Do you want to sit around and wait for a few dozen million years for more of the stuff? Good luck with that! :-)

          If you want to help the process, we need to start with a swamp. Then bury it. And wait. If you’re lucky, Dr. Who will show up and take you forward 10 million years so you can check in and see how it’s going.

          Dude, you really need to hit the books.

          Personally, I’m living on a human timescale, so oil is finite as far as I’m concerned.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            As hydrocarbons get scarce, the price will increase. Alternate sources will become more competitive and will be increasingly offered and adopted. It is the market. No need to suppress the former and subsidize the latter. You are just distorting the market, creating inefficiency, raising prices, reducing wealth, distorting incentives, growing the parasitic class, increasing corruption, etc.

            Hydrocarbon reserves are rapidly growing right now, not shrinking. They have no real competition. When they finally start to dwindle, nuclear is already mature and ready to go and will free up hydrocarbons to continue to be used for transportation. Your great grandchildren will be living in a hydrocarbon based economy and will laugh at our windmill farms and solar energy fantasies.

            Anyway, if I am wrong, you do not suffer, because I do not want to take your money to pay for my predictions or create taxes and regulations to distort incentives and markets because I think I know better than you.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Sorry luke but I’m well aware of how long it takes, Your in need of the science lesson.

            I’ve been around a lot of people who know their stuff.

            Unless your so quick to give into everything your uncle Al tells you then take a second look yourself.

            In multiple cases oil reserves that were depleted have been rechecked in as little as 20 years,and found with such a highly increased level of oil that it was actually viable to be used as an area to extract from.
            Again unless your under Al’s spell then you I and everyone with a brain knows that it takes a lot of oil in an area for a company to invest money to setup the extracting process.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @hummer:

            We are getting way better at finding and extracting oil and gas – but getting better at finding and exploiting a finite resource does not allow you to claim oil is “renewable”. It just means that out earlier estimates were inaccurate. No more oil is being made, even if we didn’t know about it.

            Being better at finding and refining oil expands the envelope, you are confusing an expanded envelope with the absence of an envelope. Renewables are supposed to work for the foreseeable future, and oil does not meet that standard – even with improved recovery.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    –yawn–

    Here’s a radical concept, B.O.:

    1.End the subsidy for methanol

    2. Use OCS oil extraction taxes (“royalties”) to pay down some of the national debt. At some point, Bernanke and friends aren’t going to be able to keep interest rates close to zero, and the interest we will have to pay on that debt will eat us alive.

    Here’s the operating principle of B.O. and his big-government academic left friends: If one idea proves to be dumb, then suggest another dumb idea (but, of course, never admit that the first idea was dumb).

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I won’t make this too detailed, but the main contributing factor oil and gasoline (as well as all things derived from oil; as well as MOST commodities) are OVER-valued relative to actual/true demand is the passage of the The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which is also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.

      Before anyone reflexively chimes in with a “China, India, Russia, Brazil!” here or a “the world population is growing!” there, I’d suggest pulling up a chart of ALL commodity prices, including oil, from ANY point through the time that GLBA was passed, and then pull up a chart of all commodity prices, including oil, since the passage of GLBA.

      The most obvious thing that will be PRONOUNCED to all but the oblivious is the incredibly volatility of commodity prices between the before and after GLBA, and the extremely high relative smoothed-average price of most commodities post-GLBA.

      That’s what happens when a piece of legislation is passed by criminals, under the pretext that it will allow corporations to better hedge against commodity price volatility (which was an outright lie), when the true intent of the legislation was to ensure Wall Street could rape and plunder consumers on the basis of speculative, leveraged contracts far more than anything remotely resembling supply/demand issues.

      Demand for all commodities has been rising throughout all of human history, as the globe’s population has continuously increased. Yet until GLBA was passed, the chart you’ll pull up showing commodity prices will be incredibly non-volatile and reflect far lower real commodity prices than the post-GLBA period.

      For those who think I’m wrong or that many who claim that which I do are wrong, a simple test as to whether you’re mistaken or not about the effects of the GLBA would be to see what would happen if financial entities could no longer “purchase” significant amounts of of any commodity, including oil, on leveraged contracts (meaning 1 USD allows them to purchase 31 USD of oil or more), on 30 day or longer contracts, effectively taking that amount of whatever commodity of the market and out of the supply channel, NEVER HAVING TO TAKE DELIVERY of actual commodity, and then simply cash out of the contract and do it all over again…and again…and so on.

      If the speculators, rather than companies truly hedging against price volatility, had to take physical delivery of these commodities, including oil, and furthermore, couldn’t buy these commodities with such high leverage, the prices would crash, and volatility of the prices of these commodities would return to the period of time that existed prior to GLBA.

      It’s all another big scam by the financial complex, at the expense of the real economy, that acts just like a giant tax on consumption.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        Leverage works in both directions.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          That’s not the point.

          The point is that the GLBA essentially created a new “space” for financial firms to game (massively distorting what prices would be based on market supply/demand fundamentals).

          Ask anyone who is competent and is involved in a job whereby they have to hedge against commodity price “events” or “risks” on behalf of businesses that actually take delivery of and use commodities (i.e. real businesses that make real products) whether Wall Street has and is more directly distorting prices of commodities more disproportionately relative to actual demand than ever since the passage of The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act/Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Hmmmm big business manipulating commodities’ pricing without ever taking physical delivery of the item… weren’t these the type of shenanigans Enron was up too (among other things)?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and other “financial firms” (aka “do nothing that makes anything of tangible benefit”) are trying to stay two steps ahead at all times, even positioning for changes in the GLBA, which is probably one of the (many) reasons they have bought a network of warehouses by which to store (and disrupt the supply of) base industrial metals such as aluminum, copper, etc.

          Goldman’s new money machine: warehouses
          http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/29/us-lme-warehousing-idUSTRE76R3YZ20110729

          Goldman and JPMorgan enter metal warehousing
          http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5025f82a-262e-11df-aff3-00144feabdc0,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F5025f82a-262e-11df-aff3-00144feabdc0.html&_i_referer=

          Goldman’s Secret Cash Cow: Detroit Warehouses Full of Metal
          http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/07/goldmans-secret-cash-cow-detroit-warehouses-full-metal/40525/

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Small businesses manipulate commodities prices without the ability to take delivery, too.

          One of my college friends works for a three-man shop that does high speed commodities trading.

          It does provide some liquidity in the market, but it’s really disconcerting to hear him talking about milliseconds and to hear the farmers in my area talking about months. This brings up more questions than answers!

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        You’re right -the price of oil is largely inflated by the commodities market – and the price jumped right as the Iraq war began.- -fear and uncertainty are great ways to make a big buck. But the issue isn’t all money – we still have the cheapest pump price in the western world. The price is paid up the distribution network
        2 things: – much of our military is used to protect/control oil distribution networks -this is what our men and women in the military fight and die for. And, as you note, these networks become more critical as India and China become more affluent – we are talking about 3,000,000,000 people wanting the dolce vita.

        To put that some perspective we have 5% of the worlds population, they have 50% -despit this population disparity we are the second largest energy consumer in the world and most of that is oil – and most of that is cars.

        The math from there doesn’t bode well for all the 4x4s idling outside the Kum & Go convenience store. ALternative energy is not an idle boondoggle – it is what we have to do to maintain both political independence and a life we want to live.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          I agree. The problem we have is American cities and suburbs were designed with cheap oil in mind.

          We must convert to alternative energies, or redesign all our cities, homes etc.

          There is a reason European countries use less energy, even countries such as Russia. Cities are designed for people, you can walk to all the stores you need, or use public transportation. You don’ t need a car, trains will serve you quite well for long distances, and planes if you want to go really far. The apartments while smaller are comfortable and nice.

          Also things i find fascinating about Russia is district heating, and hot water. It’s everywhere. Central steam plant piped to all the apartments. Less green house gas usage right there assuming they could replace uninsulated soviet era piping.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          We have all the hydrocarbons we need right here in North America, along with unlimited nuclear power potential. Energy is wealth. Given our population and our economic output, we are one of the most energy-efficient nations on earth, and have one of cleanest environments. We have virtually unlimited energy potential, if eco extremists and governments simply allow it.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            I agree on the nuclear level yes. But you have the waste to deal with which is a huge problem and something that can’t be ignored.

            The air here is damn clean compared to Russia. Thanks to the epa in the last 2 decades.

            That stuff would make me my cough sometimes. Never do that at home.

            I don’t agree that we should keep using it all with disregard. Less energy usage is always a good goal.

          • 0 avatar
            Otterpops

            No, we aren’t one of the most energy efficient. At best we’re near the middle.

            http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.GDP.PUSE.KO.PP.KD

            Or, correspondingly:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_ratio_of_GDP_to_carbon_dioxide_emissions

        • 0 avatar
          CarnotCycle

          Natural gas is no longer an ‘alternative’ energy, it has been cast from the Pantheon of Good Joules because it is a carbon and fracking boogeyman.

          The shyster-shill that the Feds need to get into CH4-powered cars to ‘advance the technology’ is laughable given how mature of a technology it already is. Its a question of capex being blown on a market that may-or-may not exist. The potential profits there are private, hence the investment risks should be as well.

          The government has either spent, raised prices by fiat, or taken losses on taxes giving away credits, hundreds of $billions$ on ethanol schemes and EV schemes for decades, pretty much ever since the DOE has existed, and on net the biggest changes that affect the consumer in these areas are natural gas fracking and the Toyota Prius – some investment. We want to throw two billion more down the hole? Wake up people.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Another + million internets CC. Much appreciated

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I once had a dream that I would form a new political party in the U.S. which would lean Libertarian, but have as an exception a core economic goal to absolutely eliminate any ability of the financial/Wall Street/banking Parasite Complex to extract any taxpayer subsidies, let alone the relatively massive ones it now does (relative to other industries, and especially relative to U.S. manufacturing).

            I was much younger and naive back then, not in believing a goal so realized would bolster the economic health of the United States and its citizenry, but naive to believe that the financial/Wall Street/banking Parasite Complex didn’t already own the legislators and regulators in this country, lock, stock and barrel, who are on the revolving door fast track to service this very same Complex at compensation many multiples higher than that which can be earned in any government gig.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @Dead weight:
            That’s what I thought the Republican party was 20 years ago… Boy was I wrong!

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Hydrogen is a stupid, stupid, fuel. It requires a tank and plumbing system that is very difficult to seal (because H2 molecules are so small) to hold a gas that is either energy or hydrocarbon intensive to generate, at truly ridiculous pressures. (The energy per liter of gas is pretty miniscule, compared to Hydrocarbons) Oh, and compressing that gas won’t be energy-cheap either.

    About the best you can say about it is that the fuel is light weight for the energy returned, the tailpipe emissions are utterly harmless, and that fuel cells are REALLY efficient… too bad about the volume/pressure and generation problems.

    Battery research is a way more productive use of research dollars than pursuing H2 as a fuel source. H2 will only be relevant if we master something like controllable fusion, and all that energy to generate and compress H2 becomes “free”.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      How does that compare to making electricity? Can it be taxes and heavily regulated? It doesn’ sound like some of the politicians think it can be.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        NormSV650: The normal way of making hydrogen requires making that electricity first. Therefore, because the greater contains the lesser, using hydrogen is necessarily a less efficient energy system.

        sirwired: There are other methods of storing hydrogen than high pressure tanks. I don’t know if any will be feasible, but I believe it is not best to assume that future tech will look like current tech.

        Similarly, I believe strongly in unintended consequences. For decades no one thought there was any problem with CO2, and now people think there’s no problem with water vapor as exhaust. I have doubts about that given that after 9-11 when planes were grounded, there was a measurable effect on global weather & sunlight brightness thought to be due to the absence of contrails.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The preferred way to make hydrogen is to start with electricity and water. And, of course, due to the thermodynamic rule about energy being neither created nor destroyed, the energy required to split the water must necessarily be more than you get back when you oxidize the hydrogen.

          The way hydrogen gas is usually made involves starting with natural gas (CH3+O2) and reforming it into H2+CO2. I’d you order a canister of hydrogen from AirGas (which is how a lot of these research rigs are fueled), this “reformed hydrogen” probably what you’re going to get….

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            But if you start with natural gas, it’s still a fossil fuel, and you still have a CO2 problem. Except instead of just using the natural gas, you’ve used energy to convert it into another form that requires more expensive technology to use.

            I just don’t see any advantage to it.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @redav: Me neither! That’s why I’ve personally stopped hoping for hydrogen!

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          For all practical purposes, hydrogen is not a fuel (a substance burned to release energy) but a battery (a storage system for energy).

          I can’t be certain, but it seems like betting on batteries that use an existing distribution system (the electric grid) rather than an unbuilt network of filling stations seems like a safer place to invest.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      Agreed 100%. Hydrogen is a terrible fuel. Even ethanol would be better, since it’s at least a liquid. I think plug-in hybrids are the best solution currently.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      1) No one is considering storing hydrogen as a compressed gas. Storage will be done using zeolites, metal-organic frameworks, carbon nanotubes or an as-yet undiscovered solid-state adsorptive storage medium. Progress is moving fast in this area which is why most of it is still in the scientific literature and not in the main stream media.

      2) Hydrogen can be generated by the catalyzed hydrolysis of water using sunlight. The trouble here is catalyst poisoning from impure water; but the costs of distilling the water before hydrolysis are too high.

      Hydrogen is no panacea but the information you are passing along is outdated.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Doctor

        Fuel cells can potentially be run off of liquid propane or compressed natural gas. Running a fuel cell with hydrocarbon-based fuel will still generate small amounts of CO2 but they’re still more efficient then a traditional ICE.

        • 0 avatar
          HerrKaLeun

          if you burn one pound or methane or propane in a combustion engine it will produce the exact same amount of CO2 as “burning”it in a fuel cell (or its generator, which separates the hydrogen from the hydrocarbon and release the carbon part as CO2)

      • 0 avatar
        d002

        The other methods of storing hydrogen are even more expensive than using tanks. They also are expensive to fabricate (very expensive) and some use quite rare materials.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Blowhard spendthrift…

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Spendthift ex-community organizer proposes spending more money we don’t have on stuff that will probably echo the success of Solyndra.

    The deuce you say!

  • avatar

    This will certainly end well. Who, if not politicians, are elected and able to solve engineering problems?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Hate to break it to you, but as a refugee from Big Science(supercomputing), engineers don’t have jobs without funding.

      If the funding comes from the private sector (like my current job where I’m employed by a dot-com), then they’re going to be working on projects that will be profitable within the company’s horizon for profitability. This is often pretty short term – at my company, 3 months is a long time.

      Projects with a longer horizon or which require several steps to profitability will probably need some government funding to alleviate risk and extend the horizon.

      I used to be a libertarian, and it irks me to admit that the government really is necessary if we’re going to lead the world in technology (and the technology business). If we want to be an agrarian backwater, though, and buy high tech goods from the people who are willing to invest in the R&D, then we can stop government funding of speculative R&D. You can have it one way or another, but there really is a tradeoff here, due to the interests of the entities with the cash(power).

  • avatar

    Hydrogen is going no where fast, much too complicated period imho!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Which is why W backed it. No way it was going to be practical while was in charge (or, possibly, ever), so he got to make his oil buddies happy while conning the greens into believing he was doing something. Nice racket.

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        I remember cringing when W mentioned Hydrogen in some speech. He was still not as bad as O though.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You have to get up very early in the morning to be worse than W, and this man goes this distance.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            Yeah, I was a Republican with Libertarian leanings before W. Now I’m the Liberal that Fox News warned you about.

            That’s how bad W era was. The way Bush and Rove mixed politics and religion was particularly toxic to the kind of civil conservatism that resonated with me. Also, I tend to respect expertise more and authority less than those guys. I was done with being a conservative around the time that jerk sent my classmates off to a transparently fabricated war.

            I’m so glad Obama is in the office. I don’t agree with every policy and position (particularly the drone kill lists, and their continuation of the domestic spying operations), but he’s a huge improvement. I’ve happily signed on to the bleeding-heart liberal agenda after seeing how bad Rove could make conservatives.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            If the Bush-era was a bitter pill, Obama is cyanide…

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    We spend $1.5B on direct payments for drilling oil wells and $1.137B on coal investment under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, so $200M on alternative fuels is probably a good idea. Solar already employs more people than coal now, last I checked, and the entire green energy industry is almost 3 million jobs.

    The reality is that we need to investment more in innovation and education for our economy to continue growing. It’s all nice and cute to say we should just cut spending, but the reality is that we also need to invest in smart things and stop investing in stupid things.

    A bunch of ideological types will say “Solyndra” until they’re blue in the face, but last I checked, (a) the Republican Walton family invested heavily in Solyndra, and (b) Solyndra was less than 1.5% of the government clean energy portfolio.

    So far, the government portfolio is doing far better than the typical VC-backed portfolio. They planned losses of 12.85%, by the way, and many experts don’t think they’ll hit that. That’s about 1 in 8, whereas the typical VC fund assumes 7 out of 10 will fail.

    People forget that the government was one of the biggest supporters of the semiconductor industry back in the day, and that’s one of the chief reasons Silicon Valley is as successful as it is and produces as many jobs as it does.

    What’s also hilarious is that people think Obama personally approved the investment in Solyndra, when it was the Bush administration that did all the legwork under the 2005 act and started the process of conditionally approving an investment in Solyndra in 2007.

    Anyway, Richard Branson has already made big investments into biofuels (and he invested in Solyndra), so it’s not like it’s just government who believes in them.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    We wasted it on x, so why not waste it on y? Some people never tire of that argument. I think it is better to oppose all of the waste. Let private investors invest and reap the benefits or take the losses. This seems pretty basic. We are borrowing about 4 billion dollars a day, but the giveaways never end. Neither do the justifications and rationalizations.

    • 0 avatar

      We could have taken the same tack with the space program back in the 1950s and 1960s.

      Speaking of which, we’re kinda doing it now with the Space Shuttle program practically dead and gone.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        The space shuttle program was a colossal waste of money that did nothing but kill astronauts. The Apollo program should not be used to justify every wasteful government nightmare marketed as an “investment.” Energy subsidies are just graft and eco fantasy.

        Just end all the energy subsides and let the market work. Hydrocarbons dominate because they are energy dense, affordable and plentiful. They don’t need subsidies and should not get them. Neither should wind, solar, hydrogen, natural gas, ethanol, or anything else. Let them compete and prove their worth. One wasteful subsidy does not justify another, regardless of what administration backed what.

        The government is fundamentally incompetent because decision makers are not risking their own money and are corrupted by potential recipients. It’s the same story over and over again, but people never learn. Solyndra is not the problem, it is just the poster child.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The space shuttle did inspire a generation of engineers and scientists, including me and a lot of the people I’ve worked with. It also flew well over 100 successful and worthwhile missions.

          It was as bad as discovering there was no Santa Claus when I discovered exactly how the shuttle fell short of its engineering goals, and also how much of a pork project it was. (Remember that all of the money spent on the space program is really spent on earth.)

          I discovered this, of course, due to another case where government funding got the ball rolling: the Internet.

          But, yeah , thinking of this makes me want to watch the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey while eating a quart of ice cream…. :-(

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            There is no evidence that the space shuttle accomplished a damned thing. It was, however, extraordinarily expensive. Anyone with the least experience with government could have and did predict that it would be a giant pork project. It is no different than any other big government project. We accept this fact when we let the government do the things that government must do. That is why sensible people try to limit the things government does.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @thelaine
            >>There is no evidence that the space shuttle accomplished a damned thing

            It accomplished a lot of damned things! It was used to repair / replace the Hubble Telescope lens. It did the heavy lifting for building the international space station. Countless experiments were done to determine the effects of long term zero gravity — knowledge which could be used toward manned missions to Mars.

            Expensive and porky, yes. But I won’t blindly ignore the program’s achievements.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            WheelMcCoy. You got me on the the Hubble repair. That was truly amazing. The rest: sh@t. Please do not get me started on the useless insanely expensive pile of floating dog sh@t that is the ISS. If the space shuttle had been built to destroy the ISS, it might have been worth it. What a complete fraud. These projects have been scandals.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @thelaine

            >>Please do not get me started on the useless insanely expensive pile of floating dog sh@t that is the ISS. If the space shuttle had been built to destroy the ISS, it might have been worth it.

            Ha! That’s a funny thought. Yes, the ISS doesn’t deserve our help. But we’ve learned great skills just by building in space. I think @Dynasty mentioned that while solving for X — and even failing to solve for X — we learn a great deal.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I am going to assume that Obama’s general comments included fuel cells in this statement’ “support scientists that are developing cheaper batteries that can go farther on a single charge”

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Actually, fuel cells are mentioned at the White House website:

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/infographic/energy-security-trust

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      He probably omitted the mention of fuel cells so that he wasn’t drowned out by an argument between PHD-level engineers and PHD-level physicists over whether fuel cells are worth pursuing…

      Not good for the interests of anyone in the room!

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I’m mostly against subsidizing anything, but if we absolutely must let it be on something consumers actually WANT. With the exception of a few whiners that shriek loud enough that they’re sometimes confused as a majority everyone else WANTS cheaper fuel. Subsidize that.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, I’m with you on this one. There’s nothing wrong with gasoline or diesel fuel. Subsidize that!

      They helped America get to the greatness and the industriousness we are today. Electricity is still in short supply across much of America and the electrical grid sucks!

      Wait until the blackouts and brownouts that await many of us this summer. They seem to be getting more frequent and worse with each passing year.

      There’s no shortage of oil, and there is an overabundance of natural-gas, in addition to coal. Obama’s plans and philosophy won’t be around by the time the planet runs out of oil in 200-300 years from now.

      Obama is clearly representing the ultra-left uber-liberal green weenies without regard to what the majority of Americans want. Many of us have seen major increases in our electric bills in the past 4 years.

      But we don’t have to play along with Obama. We can still buy what we want now. And this is an excellent time to buy any ICE-powered vehicle. Subsidize that!

      Even at $5/gal gas is cheap for what it returns for our money: mobility without range anxiety!

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @hds….Well said. Now lets put the B.S away and start building that pipeline.
        The Canadian “lonny left” {we got lots of them,but they aint the majority}..Anyway thier down in Washington right now wringing thier hands and stomping thier feet.

        Please send them home, and get your leadership to build Keystone.

        The U.S. needs it,and so do we.

        • 0 avatar
          Juniper

          Not against the pipeline, but if this is such a good deal why doesn’t Canada build refineries add value and sell us the finished product. Instead of exporting natural resources and pumping it half way across a continent? Just asking.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @juniper….We don’t have the money, or the political will. The loony left,may be a minority,but thier vocal and well funded.
            North America needs oil. I’d rather see the crude flow to Texas down to the exsisting refineries.
            Yes,indeed, they are our natural resources. Personally I don’t want to see super tankers loaded with crude steaming across the Pacific to Asia.
            Better to sell it to our neighbors, and friends.
            Just my opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Your thoughts mirror my own, Mikey.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “why doesn’t Canada build refineries add value and sell us the finished product”

            Because America already has the existing infrastructure to refine crude and transship oil products through existing pipelines throughout the US and to ports on the coasts for export worldwide.

            The most economical solution is to transport crude oil from Canada directly to the refineries in the US, rather than have Canada build refineries AND a national pipeline system for distribution to points of export.

            Building the keystone pipeline would create jobs but it would also marginalize the EV manufacturers and the developers of solar, wind and geothermal energy sources. None of them are as cheap a source of energy as oil is.

            Natural gas is even cheaper and will require more pipelines of its own in the near future.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @hightdesertcat…Yes it a win win for all of us. Its not everyday I agree with you,however I also believe we have the right to drive the vehicle of our choice.

            I own three cars,and my wife dosn’t drive anymore. People ask me “isn’t that kinda wastefull?” NO! Who gives a f– if it is?

            Most of the time I drive a 4cyl Cobalt. However if I feel like taking a cruise,its either my gas guzzling Camaro, or on a nice day, the 6cyl Mustang drop top.
            We had a group of tree huggers up here that wanted all of the old show cars taken off the road and just put on display somewhere Said they were too poluting..
            Well it touched a nerve with us old guys.Politicions know better than to f– with us old guys,so it never got past the protest stage.

            HDC..I’M with you 100 percent on this one. Drive whatever you want,whenever you want, for whatever reason you want.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mikey, I appreciate the kind words.

            I would venture a guess that on many things the diverse people who choose to comment on ttac may not be too far apart when it comes to applications in the real world. Only the greenweenie whackers would object to expanding America’s carbon-based industry.

            We in America live everyday with the disaster that America’s solar and wind energy programs have been and what a flop America’s battery industry turned out to be.

            When a topic interests me and only if I have knowledge of the subject at hand, do I choose to comment. I write from personal experience or otherwise “have lived” whatever I choose to address.

            Some people are more incredulous than others when it comes to my views, and I can respect that since they are entitled to believe what they want. But I never impugn anyone for their views or beliefs. That’s how they see it. I may see it differently based on other knowledge I have.

            So I will say that for every comment I have ever posted anywhere, at anytime, that I have lived the experience, been there and done that, or have experience with the matter through others in my circle of friends and family, regardless of whether readers choose to believe me or not.

            There’s no incentive for lying when you are 67 years old and so it is with this topic. I have knowledge based on people who actually work in the petroleum industry.

            Canada would benefit greatly from this energy-alliance with the US, and even Mexico would enjoy an enormous boost in petroleum-based revenue from their exports to elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Otterpops

        It IS subsidized.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..Yeah, I’m with you on this one. There’s nothing wrong with gasoline or diesel fuel. Subsidize that! …..

        You’d be hard pressed to find something that has more generous subsidies than Big Oil…

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> … as a majority everyone else WANTS cheaper fuel. Subsidize that.

      Thing is, people really don’t know what they want. Henry Ford said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

      Dig deeper and people want cheaper fuel that’s kinda’ clean.
      Dig even deeper, and they realize they’d rather not have blood in it either.
      To paraphrase a software engineer: “cheap, clean, or non-controversial. Pick 2.”

      So why does the U.S. government subsidize EVs more than Hydrogen Fuel Cells? A little googling showed me that the choice is between an almost ready but less perfect technology (EVs) versus an exceptionally clean solution that’s farther down the line (H2). Implementation gets more weight.

      And while private companies — big oil — has a research arm in alternative fuels, I can’t believe they are very committed to it (yet). They are experts on finding, extracting, refining, delivering, and managing oil — it’s not in their financial interest to seriously pursue alternatives yet… note: market forces at work here.

      So the government has a role to play, and it needs to look to the future.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        If oil companies can’t find a way to make other sources of energy extremely efficiently then monopolize that industry, then I believe that is a clear indication that we’re on the wrong track.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          I don’t share your faith in the adaptability of oil companies.

          All companies die. Successful ones do something well, grow, and then shrink and go out of business as what they do becomes obsolete. There are very few companies that can re-invent themselves every few decades to match the world.

          This is one reason why conglomerates exist – they can operate several different businesses-lines and spread pit the risk. As a side note, there are other reasons to be a conglomerate – if those businesses happen to require common facilities or expertise, then they can cut costs by sharing infrastructure or talent between the businesses.

          But, the business lines still follow those famous s-curves and eventully decline and die. I’d be might impressed with any oil company that succeeded. BP just bailed from from the solar business, because they couldn’t hack it (paraphrasing their statement) – and that’s not surprising because there’s nothing about their other businesses that makes them more competitive in the solar business. BHP Billiton is diversified among different kinds of mining and extraction, so they may have some resilience. Not sure about Exxon-Mobile – I don’t know much about them.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Luke42 –

            Thanks. You said it much better than I could.

            Just wanted to add the oil companies that have research arms in alternative fuels are probably in it for tax credit and public relations.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        WheelMcCoy, if the government stuck to funding basic scientific research, I doubt there would be much to discuss. In any event, if there are practical alternatives to hydrocarbons for fueling cars, the oil companies and government science bureaucrats are not the ones you should be counting on to find them. The government shouldn’t subsidize any of it. People tell you what they “want” buy buying things. Rich people who live in gigantic houses make themselves feel better by buying electric sports cars. Other people are fascinated by new technology and are willing to put up with inconvenience. Everybody else buys cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines fueled by hydrocarbons. Yes. People know what they want and sure as hell don’t need the government to tell them what they need.

      • 0 avatar
        reclusive_in_nature

        Pick 10 random people. Ask them, “Do you want fuel to be cheaper?”

        9 of them won’t care how it’s done so long as it’s not affecting them. I’m not ashamed to be a part of that majority. Perhaps if the alternative energy crowd would push the concept that “green energies” would be competitive enough to lower fossil fuel prices via the free market maybe the majority of Americans would hop on board.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Unfortunately, of that 9 out of 10 that know cheap energy is the best thing for our standards of living instinctively, nearly half of them are malleable enough to vote against their own best interests.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @CJinSD
            They wouldn’t have the first clue as to why corn or sunlight wouldn’t be just as good a fuel as gasoline or natural gas or why the government shouldn’t have an investment portfolio just like a private equity firm.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Clues are like eagles: We don’t have either of them here. I saw some ‘objective’ environmentalist making the sensational news tour today. He was capitalizing on the notoriety attached to pointing out that electric cars only save $44 worth of monetized CO2 over their lifetimes compared to average internal combustion cars while costing society tens of thousands of wasted dollars a piece. He then went on to say they’d do better if they were refueled via wind or solar power, ignoring that both wind and solar power generators require energy inputs to create that will never be recovered during their useful lives. He did point out that they account for tenths of a percent of energy consumed today, with the most ridiculous projections indicating they’ll be up to a few percent of energy consumed in 22 years. I don’t know if they’re taking into account the additional energy consumption involved in building wasteful wind turbines and solar panels. Never mind that they’re both eyesores which destroy whatever ecosystems they’re defecated into.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          >>Pick 10 random people. Ask them, “Do you want fuel to be cheaper?” 9 of them won’t care how it’s done so long as it’s not affecting them

          I’d say “yes” too, so make that 10 out of 10. No shame in that.

          But if you ask 10 people do they want clean fuel, most will say “yes” to that too. And ask about independence from oil in the MIddle East? “You betcha’!”

          It’s how you phrase the question. I’m trying to say is yes, people have individual needs to take care of. Government policy, in contrast, is supposed to address the needs of society.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Sophistry. You are just looking for a justification for massive government programs. No government program has ever gotten us measurably closer to independence from Middle Eastern oil. It has all been wealth taken from the productive economy and thrown down a suckhole or regulations that actually prevent energy independence.

            For the first time in any of our lifetimes, we can now look forward to substantial independence from Middle Eastern oil, and it is because of hydrocarbons right here in North America and elsewhere outside of the Middle East. The government just needs to enforce reasonable environmental standards and get the fk out of the way.

            If you want to build a windmill, be my guest, just don’t set up a giant money-sucking government agency to do it. If it is such a great idea, use your own money. I’m sure you are brilliant, but you are not smarter than millions of people making decisions with their own money.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @thelaine
            >>No government program has ever gotten us measurably closer to independence from Middle Eastern oil.

            Under Jimmy Carter, the U.S. did achieve a large measure of independence from OPEC. I know he wasn’t a popular president, but I’m giving credit where credit is due.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @wheelmccoy
            Well, I missed this entirely. Which alternate fuel source did Jimmy use to wean us from hydrocarbons? Peanuts? Recession? Embargo? Hostage power? After he left, the secret fuel of the future was buried by the oil companies and all traces were wiped from our memories? Come on. Hydrocarbons before Jimmy. Hydrocarbons after Jimmy. Hydrocarbons after you and me. If not, go out and invent the alternative.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @thelaine

            http://www.sfgate.com/green/article/Carter-had-a-powerful-energy-idea-2563879.php

            He achieved it mostly with policy, some technology, and considerable sacrifice by the American people. His achievement was negated though, when OPEC retook control of the market in early 2000.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Hydrocarbons and recession. We just need the first.

  • avatar
    imag

    Give me a break. Hydrogen was always bogus. It’s not an energy source; it’s an energy storage device.

    Bush and Co. used hydrogen as a way to appear “green”, while actually supporting the status quo. It would have required simply burning more oil to create the hydrogen.

    And natural gas burning vehicles are not exactly radical. They work and they are cheap. The knee jerking around here is ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Yup. Add extending daylight savings time as another way for Bush and Co. to appear “green” without really doing anything substantial to become energy efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      +1, imag.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “And natural gas burning vehicles are not exactly radical. They work and they are cheap.”

      Yes, they are even cheaper now, given the fracking boom.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Agreed on natural gas powered vehicles, especially larger ones, like buses and big-rigs. They make all the sense in the world. Natural gas is abundant and domestically produced. The technology is not new. It is not radical. It is not exotic. It is not expensive. It is clean. It is already in widespread use. So why does it need taxpayer money?

        Which companies will slurp up this windfall, I wonder?

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Another nail in the coffin called America Deathwatch.

    Here’s a free idea from the think tank known as my brain: stop burning food and, instead, sell it for oil, chimps, and typewriters.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It’s a big waste to use natural gas for transport unless it used for power generation to drive public transport ie trolleys, subways etc.

    25% of the US’s crude oil cut goes to domestic and commercial heating oils. Why not create infratstructure and regulations to promote natural gas to be used on “non” moving objects. It has a very low specifice energy content.

    What a waste not to use energy with high specific BTU’s for transport. A huge chunk of particulate and photo chemical pollutants come from the heating oil.

    Plus, when in debt spend more.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Just noticed…. aren’t those Prii only getting 110 volts?
    Wouldn’t that make an instructive little time-lapse video… watch the sun set as they’re still feeding?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Our Supreme Leader should keep his opinions about oil to himself and focus on what he’s good at, taking from the productive and giving to the non-productive.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    All these 10-year figures are useless and just made up to look big. The budget is for one year anyway, so no matter what they say now next years congress can change it again.

    These 10 year numbers are like saying my car drives 240 miles in 3 hours, which sounds faster than saying 80 mph.

    and for the people complaining about the lack of hydrogen, do some research on hydrogen first. It is utterly useless unless you just use it for rocket fuel.

    There are 2 ways of making hydrogen and both show that using hydrogen is a wasteful detour only politicians without science degree would favor.
    1. made of natural gas or other hydrocarbon:
    – this releases the same amount of CO2 as just burning it in an IC
    – why then not just use compressed natural gas or propane to fire an IC? the reformation process (taking the H2 out of the hydrocarbon) is inefficient and makes CO2 without even using the energy that was in the carbon. The reformer just gets hot without using that energy. this reformer can be off the car and then you need to compress the H2 (energy intesive, and H2 leaks like crazy, and you need tremedeous pressures, making the tanks expensive and heavy), or you have the reformer built int the car. but then you need the compressed methane or proane int he car.. and then why not just use an IC?
    2. H2 is made from electricity:
    – this including the fuel cell to make electricity again is much less efficient than a battery, and you still have the infrastructure, pressure etc. problem.

    The fact that fuel cells are large, expensive, and have a long startup time is just the least of the problems and the only part that could get resolved. unless we can create an alternate universe with different physics, the thermodynamic problems that come with artificially creating H2 will stay.

    These are problems based on real thermodynamics, you can’t solve them. the same way a coal power plant over the last 100 years didn’t make it much above 40% efficiency. Maybe some politicians think it can be improved with enough money, but reality begs to differ.

    There is a reason why the industry (with or without governmental intervention) is all up on batteries, and not hydrogen. It is not for lack of trying.

    The car future will (based on simple thermodynamic reality) be based on hydrocarbons (gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, biodiesel etc.) burnt in ICEs, or on batteries, or a combination of both (plug-in hybrids). Obviously politics will allocate resources the the one or the other, but hydrogen will never be a viable fuel. unless someone finds pure hydrogen in the ground and can compress it with a unicorn-driven compressor.

    Hydrogen used to be one of the hyped things in the 70’s. and every hippie sold that as a solution to world starvation. But even hippies realized the ridiculousness of hydrogen as a daily fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “The car of the future will be based on hydrocarbons (gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, biodiesel etc.) burnt in ICEs, or on batteries, or a combination of both (plug-in hybrids).”

      Why just one? I see needs for all three technologies coexisting at the same time.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    The best use of gov’t power is to set standards which must be met, then stand back and watch businesses compete to meet those standards most efficiently. Older readers may remember the first automobile smog standards. EPA set emissions standards, and boy, cars sucked for a few years around 1972, then slowly but surely we got where we are today, with 400 hp engines that can meet any smog standard.

    This did not happen by letting gov’t choose a presumptive winner. It happened by all the car companies quickly realizing that if they didn’t figure out a way to meet the standards in a manner that satisfied consumers, another company or technology would.

    FYI, Bush is gone, so can we just evaluate Obama’s proposals on their own merit, or lack thereof?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The best use of gov’t power is to set standards which must be met, then stand back and watch businesses compete to meet those standards most efficiently

      Very ironic statement, you want the gov’t to set standards and have private bussiness compete to those standards? The market demand is what sets standards, the gov’t corrupts the entire system.
      The best use of gov’t power is to get the hell out of the way

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Except that there is an asymmetry of information in most markets, so it can be very difficult for buyers (in most cases) to evaluate products.

        One car-related example that’s been irritating my wife lately is the market for child safety seats. There’s almost no way for a parent to compare the actual tested safety of the seats. She suspects (but can’t prove) that, since all of the seats meet the same government standards, they’re all about equally safe and the companies are competing on cosmetics and convenience features. But she really wants to own the safest seat on the market, regardless of price. How exactly is the market supposed to get her the kid-safety that she values here?

        This is especially frustrating, since the tests are performed by the manufacturers, and checked by government labs. So the data exists, but its not publicly available. And so she can’t buy the demonstrable safety that she values, at any price. And this probably suits the manufacturers just fine, because they’re in good legal standing if they meet the standards, and they can segment the market with fashion and features…

        Markets are incredibly great, but they are easily distorted by as symmetric information, protectionist regulations, some kinds of taxes, and many other things. They also cannot create information they don’t have – the wisdom of crowds has limits. So, we need to add rules that can actually help the market work. In this case, disclosure rules that would remedy the information imbalance would probably fix everything.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          CR Highest rated 22lb Infant Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit – $170 – Score 79 (next highest, 67)

          CR Highest rated 30 lb Infant Car Seat:
          Chicco KeyFit 30 $180 – Score 80 (next highest, 74)

          40 lb. harness capacity toddler booster seats:
          Cosco Highback Booster (aka Cosco Ventura) – $50 – Score:69 (Next Highest, 58)

          >40 lb. harness capacity toddler booster seats:
          Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 – $165 – Score:75
          Graco Argos 70 – $180 — Score: 74 (Next highest: 66).

          CR Online Subscription: < $30/yr.

          :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            The carseat people don’t believe Consumer Reports testing methodology. My wife is likely to figure out how to bridge the gap, though – she’s sciency and persistent on this topic.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            I just cancelled my CR subscription. Their irrational Subie love perplexes me.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          The closest you will probably find on actual child safety seat data is the following:

          www dot nhtsa dot gov/Cars/testing/comply/fmvss213/

          Interpreting the raw data is somewhat difficult, however. Actual real world data is hard to come by, obviously. There is almost no data on side impact claims that carseat manufactuers make, btw.

          I’ve seen anecdotes of course — e.g. the car got absolutely crushed but the baby in the rear-facing carseat was barely aware that anything happened while mom and older sibling were being taken out of the car with the jaws of life (all three lived).

          Most other car seat rankings about which one is the “best” are based on features, e.g. if it has lock-offs or cupholders, it often gets a higher score. Those seem like a waste of time and don’t tell you anything about actual safety.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            My wife is one step ahead of me, and spent last night going through those reports. I wasn’t following that closely, but at some point during the evening, she started making pivot tables. The NHTSA compliance testing reports don’t seem to be common knowledge within the CPST community, and she wants to make sense of the data and then start explaining it.

            I keep suggesting that she should submit some carseat-related articles to this blog, since it’s car-related, important, and something that hasn’t really been discussed much here.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Kicking Tires has many automotive articles that are of interest to the ladies, and has covered child safety seats on several occasions.

            http://blogs.cars.com/

            One of my daughters-in-law did research using the articles on kicking tires before her twins were born. Really good stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            The other place to look for a lot of information like this is car-seat.org. They have a great forum, and there are many car seat techs that regularly participate on the forum. The forum is also good if you are trying to figure out which car seats fit into your car, because it’s likely that someone else has tried it. The techs do fitments in all kinds of vehicles, so they have a lot of good information and tips.

            I’ve mentioned some car-seat related issues on TTAC before, but it’s certainly something that’s not discussed here very often. Maybe I should consider writing an article…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Very ironic statement, you want the gov’t to set standards and have private bussiness compete to those standards? The market demand is what sets standards, the gov’t corrupts the entire system.
        The best use of gov’t power is to get the hell out of the way….

        Yup, that worked great. Look at unsafe, dirty cars. Unsafe food supply. Horrid working conditions. Zero responsibility for company actions. And on and on. The “market” is great in many ways. But any idea that a full hands off approach will be to the benefit of society as a whole only has to read a history book. That is why we have a mixed approach of free market forces with a varying degree of regulatory oversight. The debate really should be where that line is drawn. You really don’t want to go back to the Industrial Revolution. Unless you are one of 1000 people…

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          You honestly believe people won’t demand certain things in vehicles? manufactorers aren’t going to just drop all safety features and expect people to come in droves, they will lose market share to other companies that do give the peopel what they want.

          Same for food, and anything else you can think of.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Federal money needs to be blown on “researching” natural gas and biodiesel vehicles? On taxes levied on, among other things, natural gas no less? What?

    Or building a better battery? I think heat-cycle motors that burn anything are pretty well researched, they’re kind of a mature technology. And Asia Inc./Silicon Valley crowd is all about batteries for consumer electronics already.

    This is another handout for Prez’s ivory-tower and rent-seeker pals, institutionalized kickbacks for ten years. Nothing but a sop handout to the Prez’s marketplace loser allies, borne on the back of an energy revolution on his watch he did nothing to earn. Disgusting.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Right! Just outrageously DISGUSTING to invest money in R&D and employ scientists and engineers who will create technologies that give the US a competitive advantage. Gummint has no business in that…

      Seriously, 90% of the comments on this thread clearly show me the stupidity of the TTAC B&B…

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Dynasty….

        Most of the folks posting on TTAC have valid, constructive views.

        However, this “Hydrogen Question” comes up periodically and seems to be polarizing. If the issue were already solved that hydrogen had no future, we would not be seeing large intelligent car companies like BMW and Toyota joining forces to perfect H2 fuel-cell technologies. Yes, those are expensive now, but, like batteries, their prices will go down.

        A very clever way to store AND burn hydrogen came from Audi last year. They have a patent on the process of harvesting CO2 from the atmosphere, and reacting it with H2 obtained by wind-powered electrolysis of sea water to form methane (CH4). The CH4 can be burned in an ICE, as it is even now. But here, CH4 can be considered as a tight-packed storage device for hydrogen atoms in which the “matrix adsorbant” is a carbon atom, which also happens to be combustible. BUT the CO2 that this produces already came from the atmosphere, so the process is substantially green-house neutral.

        ——————

        • 0 avatar
          Dynasty

          “Most of the folks posting on TTAC have valid, constructive views.”

          I would say some have had constructive views.

          And I would also say, Pres. Obama could have come out with a statement saying the U.S. Gov’t was not going to invest any money in alternative fuels, and let the private sector worry about that. And the exact same 90% of the people lamenting about Obama on this thread would have the exact opposite tune of how DISGUSTING that was…

          I agree with your assessment on hydrogen. The U.S. government should still be supporting research on that as well. At the very, very least even if nothing came out of it for the purposes of being able to use hydrogen as an energy source, there would be still be pure research that would provide benefits later down the road.

          And I also believe, had Pres. Obama had a press conference stating the U.S. was going to be putting money into Hydrogen research, the majority of the B&B would be moaning about that as well as a complete waste of money and waste of taxpayer resources.

          Really, there is just no winning…..

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Dynasty
            Is the US using current technologies to there fullest? No. I always hear the US is trying to protect its energy future. But where is this done seriously? Look at the style an size of vehicles used.

            The US wants lots of cheap energy, not to conserve energy.

            To invest you must see a return, if you don’t get a return your country is go into massive debt. That goes for any government subsidy, rebate, handout etc.

            The market is a much better place to determine the viability of an idea or product, not the government.

            By all means have research paid for by the government (taxpayer), but by universities and have the private sector pay for the technology if they think its viable.

            Your country and many others have wasted billions of dollars that could have produced better returns and reduce pollution levels. I pointed out above that taxpayer money would have been better spent installing pipelines and infrastructure to supply gas to as many homes as possible.

            I do realise some people feel warm and fuzzy when the think they are green, but some can’t see the forest through the trees.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            To invest you must see a return, if you don’t get a return your country is go into massive debt. That goes for any government subsidy, rebate, handout etc.

            The market is a much better place to determine the viability of an idea or product, not the government.

            By all means have research paid for by the government (taxpayer), but by universities and have the private sector pay for the technology if they think its viable.

            Yes.

            Just basic economics, not politics.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Dynasty, try bringing up ethanol. I have never seen anyone on this site defend it. Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen from both parties have drunk deeply from the distilled purity of its agribusiness corruption.

            It is scandal of epic proportions which combines consumer ripoffs with corporate welfare and has the added benefit of raising food prices for starving people. How awesome is that for a bipartisan program that politicians can rally around?

            People defend their chosen president just as reflexively as others attack him. Who cares? I am happy to assume for the sake of argument that the last guy was a fking idiot. So what? The programs should be defended or attacked on their own merits (but mostly attacked).

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            Most of you all are missing my point.

            The first point is private capital is in the business of quick return on investment.

            Using your house as an example, would you invest in a 65,000 dollar roof that would last 300 years? No. Because you’d never see a return on that investment. You’ll spend 15K on that roof. If you were 70 years old, you gonna plant some gingko biloba trees in your yard that grow 2″ a year? Probably not. More than likely you’d plant some Red Oaks or a Maples that grow 24″ a year to see some return on your investment before you die. However, the government could plant an entire forest of gingkos and not have to worry about whether anyone in our lifetime will get to see that forest at full maturity in 300 years.

            The second point being, no matter what the current president says, (Dem. or Rep.) 90% of the comments will be against it just because they don’t like the guy.

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            @ Big all in Oz.

            Some ROI take longer than others. And when it comes to research, a lot of inventions and discoveries are made in the process of trying to figure out X.

            So.. while on the path to solving X, discoveries a, b, c, and d were found, which leads to solutions 1, 2, and 3, which is beneficial for solving Y, and Z which have been sitting on a shelf for the past 10 years..

            Private capital is in the business of quick return on investment. That leads to iPods, and iTunes.

            Long term research that has a span of decades is up to the government and Universities.

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            “Dynasty, try bringing up ethanol.”

            I think that is a disgusting waste of money actually.

            I’m not defending Obama. My second point is people are going to disagree with whatever the Pres says or does based purely on not liking him. Whether that be Bush or Obama, or name your own president.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          I did not research this, but it may be reasonable to assume that *some* funding from the German government may have been involved with the Audi e-gas project.

          It’s an intriguing proposition, though the source of the CO2 was not the atmosphere, but a co-located biogas plant – in other words, the inefficiencies of planting, harvesting, acreage, water supply, etc. are all involved in “capturing” the CO2 used in the Audi process. They seem to be implying that it’s CO2 neutral because the biogas plant was already in operation (?)

        • 0 avatar

          @ NMGOM,

          Well said. The fact that plenty of OEMs are jumping ship from EVs to Hydrogen is something that cannot be ignored. They do not just wantonly switch from one alternative fuel to another without careful study and investigation. Therefore, us writers have to pay attention.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Derek

            >>OEMs are jumping ship from EVs to Hydrogen

            But what has changed? Was there one big break-through in Fuel Cell tech? Or were there individual achievements from each automaker? And why would automakers even want to share any advances? Wouldn’t they want a competitive advantage?

            Much of this renewed vigor in fuel cells doesn’t make sense to me. What could make sense is big oil buy-in. They have no interest in EVs, but fuel cells still require fossil fuels to create H2 as well as transport it.

            Follow the money.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        This government hasn’t been investing taxpayer money in R&D, it has been investing in companies, most if not all of them run by cronies and campaign contributors.

        There’s nothing like a self-anointed arbiter of enlightenment to brighten one’s day…

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          +1 General. Government support for basic scientific research has been going on for many decades and has generated little controversy.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @GeneralMalaise: “This government hasn’t been investing taxpayer money in R&D”

          You are incorrect, because my previous job was to do a small part of that R&D. I supported researchers all over the country who were doing exactly that R&D, who were supported in large part by the National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation is a taxpayer-funded government agency whose main operation is to evaluate research projects and decide which ones will provide the greatest benefit. Other government agencies fund a great deal of research, such as DARPA and the National Institutes of Health.

          That’s government money, doing real research. And it’s getting done.

          Regardless of whether you think that spending government money to support R&D is a good idea, or whether you think it’s done efficiently, this R&D does occur and a lot of very smart people work very hard to provide discoveries and advances.

          Alas, these decades and careers of solid competent work rarely makes the media — and while Fox News is still hemming and hawing about a minor business-friendly cl*st*rf*ck like Solyndra…

          I do miss the meaning behind my old job. But the private sector pays WAY better for similar work (because I was a spoiled rotten and overpaid government employee, so I got a 30% raise when I left to use the same skills in the private sector). I’d love to go back, but the pay-difference means it’s a one-way trip.

          Anyway, it must be really easy to just say this stuff when you don’t have any knowledge of the existence of our nation’s R&D institutions and infrastructure!

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Do some research, Luke. Then enlighten us with a comparison of what the fed government gives to universities and think tanks and what they’ve handed to the green energy companies. Not even close.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @GeneralMalaise: The NSF’s budget was $7.373 billion for fiscal year 2013 (presumably before the sequester). See:
            http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2013/

            The vast majority of that is used to sponsor research projects at universities and national labs.

            That’s peanuts compared to the military budget, but very big compared to Solyndra. Remember that Solyndra was a loan, so government would have gotten their money back if the business hadn’t folded. I haven’t been following the details, but lenders typically get so,e of their money back after a bankruptcy, and Solyndra did have some IP and some capital equipment.

            Anyway, I’ve lived the life. And done the research. And served the public by supporting American R&D in various staff roles all day every day for ten years. You’re welcome.

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            Luke, the General is going to demote you to private if you keep spouting off facts that can be substantiated!

            Or maybe the General should have some stars taken away.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            The 2009 stimulus alone set aside $90 billion to subsidize politically preferred energy projects. The federal government finds itself subsidizing products people either don’t want or won’t spend money on. This isn’t an area where it should be involved.

      • 0 avatar
        CarnotCycle

        You are saying competitive technologies will result from these investments? We have plowed $30 billion into ‘alternative’ dynamos and energy sources in past five years alone – and that’s not counting Dubya Shrub’s switchgrass dreams, which have cost us billions more.

        So far the return on those investments? Hordes of windmills that don’t make a dime without the sovereign’s mandated and price-fixed crutch, several battery and solar companies – and now it looks like a car company – capitalized with $billions$ and sold to the Chinese in bankruptcy at a huge loss.

        We’ve got one pseudo-viable car company, Tesla, which makes rich-boy toys with a $7000 subsidized tax break on the hood. The aforementioned Fisker will soon be the prestige badge for Geely. Where these competitive technologies are I have no idea – do you see them somewhere? I see the President’s bundlers and fundraisers getting rich with companies that have never made a penny on the ‘investment.’

        And don’t forget, we are more than ‘investing’ in these schemes, we borrowing money for these specious investments, we are trading on margin to buy the equivalent of penny stocks. Stop being such a sucker, and look at what you’re actually getting for this money.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          + one million

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Forgot about “switchgrass.” Someone roll me one. I think I’m gonna be sick.

          Yeah, the government is great at this.

          No corruption here. Keep moving. Nothing to see. Look, a windmill!

        • 0 avatar
          Dynasty

          I’m not the sucker.

          Stating a fact that research leads to competitive advantages.

          Dispute that statement instead of cherry picking talking points, which don’t have any merit anyways.

          • 0 avatar
            CarnotCycle

            “Stating a fact that research leads to competitive advantages.”

            Facts? You like facts? Let’s roll some facts about the government’s alternative energy program in organic fuels – because unlike the hydrogen malarkey the organic-fuels lobby is at least more than a pipe dream in today’s economy.

            Fact: We have researched and invested vast sums, in a bipartisan effort I might ad starting with Carter, into ‘biofuels’ like biodiesel and ethanol. Mandates, subsidies, tax breaks, whole government corporations that have come, burnt billions and gone. The individual ‘research’ grants and programs for academia and Big Ag for such organically-sourced fuels I guarantee runs into the thousands over past forty years.

            Fact: The net effect has been to make fuel more expensive, deplete the Ogallala aquifer and saturate the downstream Mississippi with nitrates (ironically ethanol boosters care about this resource when Keystone is slated to go over it), and create a whole politically dependent class throughout (mostly but not all) the midwest.

            Fact: Those efforts have made at best a negligible impact on foreign hydrocarbon dependence, carbon footprints not reduced one bit (if you count the land use to grow it the carbon footprint is much worse), nor improved efficiencies, technologies, or anything else remotely ‘competitive’ about American cars.

            Fact: In the meantime, a wildcatter in Texas figured out how to access hordes of domestic fuels far superior – chemically, environmentally, and thermodynamically – to any biofuel and this changed the energy situation of the world. It has made countries like the United States increasingly self-sufficient and more than any politically-approved alternative fuel has lowered our carbon footprint to below targets of the Kyoto Protocol we never ratified, and is freeing us from King Coal. Plus its cheap.

            So, we’ve found something that actually-sorta works as an energy answer for the 21st Century, and this president and his marketplace-loser enablers want to mooch off it to keep financing their mistakes.

            Those aren’t talking points, those are material facts.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Dynasty
            Good research will produce good results.

            But what about poor research? What will it produce? Poor results.

            Corn farmers recieve between $125 000 – $250 000 subsidies from your federal government. How much would that add to a gallon of fuel?

            This is paid for by the tax payer.

            Let the markets decide, they will know what is best.

            I like to know how much subsidisation and handouts Henry Ford got to develop and market the Model T.

            Was it a success and did it suit the times?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Dynasty
            Sorry, wrong person the above post should have been directed to CarnotCycle.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Wrong again. You are that sucker.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Highdesertcat
    I’ve read that the Canadian’s are going to spread their risks, particularly concerning energy sales.

    They are building a pipeline to a port on the west coast to pipe oil for the Chinese. I even think the Chinese are going to partner in some of the projects.

    Like Australia, Canada is following the dollar.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Big Al, that would be the prudent thing for the Canadians to do. You never put all your (financial) eggs in one basket.

      Just as any investor should diversify their investment portfolio and reduce their beta-risk, so should oil-producing nations increase their venues for raising revenue, i.e. in this case, a pipeline to the south and pipelines to warm-water ports for exporting from Canada to elsewhere.

      The bottom line is to expand on the existing global resources we already have to benefit the planet while hedging our bets on the prospects of new energy sources for the future, like solar, wind, wave, geothermal and even light-water nuclear.

      That should be Obama’s balanced approach instead of heavily investing and subsidizing the ideologues of the far-left uber-liberal wing of the ‘crat Party to wean America off oil and carbon-based products. I got news! It ain’t gonna happen. It will never happen, until we actually run out of oil or carbon-based resources. The fans of battery power and renewables is inconsequentially small in any statistical population.

      Many centrist Democrats support the Keystone pipeline and oppose America’s policy of exporting gasoline to Europe and other countries because the oil companies can sell it for more money over there, thus raising the price of gasoline inside the US, while benefitting from current US subsidies for oil extractors.

      With the current lack of leadership in American government and the abysmal divide in national American political ideology, there won’t be any improvement on the current global situation for at least the next 4 years.

      But people in the US are resourceful and they are finding ways to mitigate the effects of bad national energy policy while at the same time circumventing ineffective government.

      As we have discussed before, I’m addicted to gasoline. I need it for my daily life and I’m a heavy user of gasoline. I try to keep two 55-gallon drums of gas at my place to power cars and generators and various implements like a lawn tractor.

      Like many Americans, the cost of gasoline does not deter me from buying it. But it can, and already has in my case, diverted my spending on Lattes and fast-food to spending on gasoline instead. So who got hurt? Not me.

      It’s my local coffee shop, diner and restaurants in my area I used to frequent that are getting pinched by the drop in business.

      Multiply that times all the people who have been forced to do the same, and it is no longer an inconsequential drop in customer traffic for businesses.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Obviously I’m not saying there will be one single car only….
    Like in “man will survive” the singular can mean all mnankind consisting of more than one person…

    there will be 3 drivetrains in most cars, IC, battery-electric, and plugin-hybrids

  • avatar
    shaker

    And on the eighth day, God said: “And I will give Man enough fuel to burn for survival until his intelligence evolves enough to use the Sun and the Wind that I’ve provided him.”

    Of course, along came Money and Politics…

  • avatar
    BrianL

    The problem here is gov’t deciding what the market should do. Whether hydrogen is the solution for tomorrow, or further into the future shouldn’t be for gov’t to decide. It might be hydrogen, it might be natural gas, it might be something we haven’t thought of yet. But gov’t involvement will likely mean it is wrong.

  • avatar
    stuki

    “….We can support the over educated, under intelligent children of my most reliable supporters, who have their whole life been told that having the job title “scientist” justifies them fidding around with useless nonsense they barely understand. Otherwise, they would have to actually produce something of value to someone to be able to claim a paycheck. Which is infinitely less cool than being paid to preen around with a job title us half literate progressives have been indocrinated into holding in high esteem…..”

    “…And also, we can make sure that any actually promising researchers cannot just go out and found a company based on their own research; but must first hire several of my very, very bestest and most reliable supporters, the lawyers, in order to figure out how to get my support money, lest their competitors get it and use it to out compete them. After all, the last thing we would ever want, was for someone to actually solve some scientific problem without half literate little me and my fully illiterate little meaningless supporters, being able to take a good share of the credit for it…”


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