Cheap Fuel, SUVs and Trump May Sideline Zero Emissions Momentum


Despite cheap gasoline, alternatively motivated transportation is gaining favor in the U.S… Granted, California leads the nation in reaching a zero exhaust emissions goal by drop-dead-year 2030. With G.M., Honda and Toyota leading the manufacturing initiative to meet or beat 2020 C.A.R.B. emission reduction levels, the first major hurdle in reaching a 75% total fleet electrification by 2030. In steps the Donald Trump administration, with plans to hobble the E.P.A., and extend the auto manufacturing deadline for lofty C.A.R.B. emission restriction compliance.

Parks R. McCants  for The Advanced Car  2017

Honda, General Motors Hydrogen Fuel Cell development partnership

Interestingly enough, despite current low retail gasoline price trends, the largest auto manufacturers on the planet line up in alliance toward the development and market implementation of alternative, low to no carbon emitting personal conveyance propulsion, in this case, hydrogen fuel cell electric.  At first, one might ponder the implications of a natural gas derived compressed gas, requiring copious amounts of electricity in its refinement.  While the residual of compressed hydrogen gas may be water, how much energy is spent in deriving compressed hydrogen?

Well, that depends on the source of the natural gas, and the sourcing methodology of the generated electricity used in the process. Today, it’s a known fact, despite the intentions of the Trump administration,  that coal-fired power plants in the U.S. are a thing of the past.

Today, 40% of all grid-power produced in the U.S. comes from wind or solar, both are on the rise.  Diesel fired turbines are no longer cost-effective. And while N.G.(natural gas) may be the power plant fuel of choice in America when compared to other fuel sources, N.G. is relatively clean, and then there is hydraulic.

While attending the recent media rollout of 2017 Honda Clarity FCV (fuel cell electric) the first question that came up in conversation with Honda engineering and environmental was: what is the source of the natural gas required for hydrogen fuel compression? And, what is the environmental impact of acquiring the raw fuel, and the mass amount of electricity used in the compressed hydrogen osmosis?  The answer depends on where the refining process takes place.

Southern California may be “greener” than Arizona

No, it’s not a play on words. According to Honda, 30% or more of natural gas used in the cracking process in California must be derived from green sources, specifically, methane gas recovered from covered garbage dump reclamation. Furthermore, either derived from seawater osmosis, green algae, or natural gas produced as a by-product of crude oil exploration and production, the electricity required in the process can and is often generated from natural, low impact sources -hydroelectric, wind-generated electric, solar farm, and thermal steam-driven turbine.  Hydrogen fuel production in practice, may leave a smaller carbon footprint on motor earth than the production of battery modules, and certainly the exploration and refinement of fossil fuels.

Final Thoughts

Setting all politics aside, we as consumers have a responsibility to pass on a livable environment to a future generation. Alternative personal transportation is a roll in the right direction. As consumers teeth off of internal combustion motivated cars and light trucks through gasoline/electric hybrid technology, the end game rests with an extended range, low to no carbon emitting electrified vehicle. I’m going with hydrogen fuel cell electric.

Photo Attributes Go Daddy 2017


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