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      04-13-2009, 07:55 AM   #23
jm1234
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[quote=Dascamel;4861649Funny part is, if you really want to go green we should all just stop having kids, live in hut and consume nothing.[/QUOTE]

Yes, that is funny What would be funnier would be if we all just killed ourselves instantly in some sort of non-polluting way. Then we could avoid years of pollution waiting for us to live out our natural lives!

Another funny thing is if you don't want to go green we should all drink gasoline and breath unfiltered cigarette smoke and lawnmower exhaust.

Wait, neither is really all that funny

It takes electricity to create hydrogen. It takes gasoline, coal, nuclear, etc... to create electricity. If electricity is not clean it hardly makes sense to propose a hydrogen future. There is a lot of infrastructure already in place to support the transmission of electricity. You can make a comparison but it should be realistic.
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      04-13-2009, 01:37 PM   #24
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Lucid,

I've bent over backwards to state that everything and anything can be "called" a pollutant and thus everything with anything leftover is polluting. When I say something "may or may not pollute" I'm not trying to imply a binary situation I'm trying to imply that the level of pollution lies somewhere on a scale from the idealistic "may not pollute" to the unknown "pollute". I'm not sure why you're trying to interpret what I'm saying to mean something doesn't pollute when I've clearly stated multiple times that in the literal sense of the word everything pollutes because any substance or energy in sufficient abundance is harmful.

I'd still like to know if that shockingly inefficient 90% loss number you posted is real or a something you misunderstood/misquoted? I originally posted because people were presenting poor quality information on pollution and quality of electricity and electric cars in this thread. Everything I've disputed I first tried to (re)validate myself so I gave a shot at diligence before posting anything. Given that, I really think that at least some people posting here have made knee jerk "green isn't good" responses to what is clearly a less polluting speed alternative (it's not "better", just less polluting). It isn't that there isn't some kernel of truth behind the statements. Just that the "kernel" is blown out of proportion to reality. Just like you stated that what I believe you to mean the thermal efficiency of the system used to generate and distribute electricity is less than 10%, when in reality the number is likely over 30% and you fail to present the comparable figure of less than 20% for a internal combustion engine plus about 0.5 - 1% loss from transportation (assuming the tanker travels an average 200-400 miles round trip to deliver it's fuel to the service stations).
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      04-13-2009, 11:05 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
I've bent over backwards to state that everything and anything can be "called" a pollutant and thus everything with anything leftover is polluting. When I say something "may or may not pollute" I'm not trying to imply a binary situation I'm trying to imply that the level of pollution lies somewhere on a scale from the idealistic "may not pollute" to the unknown "pollute". I'm not sure why you're trying to interpret what I'm saying to mean something doesn't pollute when I've clearly stated multiple times that in the literal sense of the word everything pollutes because any substance or energy in sufficient abundance is harmful.
What is the purpose of using the disjunction "or" in the sentence "The production of the car may or may not pollute" if you know that "may not pollute" is always false and "may pollute" is always true? How does that express a continuous scale?

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Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
I'd still like to know if that shockingly inefficient 90% loss number you posted is real or a something you misunderstood/misquoted? I originally posted because people were presenting poor quality information on pollution and quality of electricity and electric cars in this thread. Everything I've disputed I first tried to (re)validate myself so I gave a shot at diligence before posting anything. Given that, I really think that at least some people posting here have made knee jerk "green isn't good" responses to what is clearly a less polluting speed alternative (it's not "better", just less polluting). It isn't that there isn't some kernel of truth behind the statements. Just that the "kernel" is blown out of proportion to reality. Just like you stated that what I believe you to mean the thermal efficiency of the system used to generate and distribute electricity is less than 10%, when in reality the number is likely over 30% and you fail to present the comparable figure of less than 20% for a internal combustion engine plus about 0.5 - 1% loss from transportation (assuming the tanker travels an average 200-400 miles round trip to deliver it's fuel to the service stations).
The 90% figure I used is associated with the entire production and distribution cycle that begins with an energy source buried in the ground such as coal, oil or natural gas (which amounts to over 70% of the electricity production in this country), and includes mining, processing/refining, and transportation processes. The electricity transmission loss number I remember seeing in the image I mentioned, including low voltage losses, was around 9-10%. I do remember that the example used a coal plant, and its efficiency was taken to be ~30% I think. (~50% of the electricity produced in the US is from coal, so this is relevant.) So if you apply the electricity transmission loss numbers to that, you'll be at ~27% efficiency. If you account for the energy required to mine (include mine rehabilitation), process, and transport the coal to the power plant, you'll most likely be around 80% loss, but I can't recall those specific loss figures for coal and that is primarly what I was hoping to get out of the image I referenced. I spoke with my friend about this briefly, but he could not identify the image I saw (that was some time ago). But he did say that the example might have included an application to get at useful energy, which is apparently a common type of analysis. If you consider the use of an appliance, and account for its efficiency, ~90% overall loss might make sense in terms of useful extracted work. This is my best shot at reconstructing what I saw, and it is plausible to me. So, it looks like my initial recollection of 90% loss for electricity at the socket was indeed off by about 10%, not by more than 20% as you claim. Regardless, 80% overall inefficiency is still rather high in my opinion.

I already mentioned twice that my M3 is not as efficient as a plug-in electric, so I don't see where I am failing to include IC engine or gasoline transportation losses. Actually, my friend mentioned that there are similar analyses for gasoline powered cars that result in 1-2% efficiency estimates. Like I said earlier, an electric plug-in is indeed more efficient than a gasoline powered car. Tesla claims their car is twice as efficient as the gasoline powered Honda Civic in this regard.

That said, however you slice and dice it, electricity is very far from being a clean type of energy in this country. Many people do not get this. They assume that plugging in a car will mean their behavior will not result in pollution. That is the "kernel" of truth that is being blown out of proportion to reality from my perspective, and you contributed to that when you stated the car in the video does not pollute (post #4 in this thread) and tried to rationalize that statement by defining an irrelevant system boundary later. If you were to ask where electicity is coming from, what do you think most people would say? Is the population indeed aware of the fact that 50% of our electicity coming from burning coal? How about China and India? How much coal are they burning to produce electricity and how efficient are their mining operations and power plants? Plug-in electrics would cut down energy consumption and emissions significantly (my guess is by a half in the Tesla vs Civic example for CO2 emissions and coal), but the problem will persist. In order to make progress toward a more sustainable regime, we need to generate electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power on a national scale.
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      04-14-2009, 02:11 PM   #26
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That said, however you slice and dice it, electricity is very far from being a clean type of energy in this country.
very true - howver in CA 50% is renewable sources, wind, sun, water. back east its mostly coal still.

the advantage for electricity is it can power cars in a metro area cleanly, while the electricity used can come from a polluting power plant 200 miles away in the unpopulated desert.


also its not dependant on foreign oil (which could be solved by drilling in ALaska)
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      04-14-2009, 11:40 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
What is the purpose of using the disjunction "or" in the sentence "The production of the car may or may not pollute" if you know that "may not pollute" is always false and "may pollute" is always true? How does that express a continuous scale?
In my mind, it sounded better than saying "The production of the car produces an unknown level of pollution." Again, in my mind some levels of pollution are the same as no pollution. Technically, pollution is any substance released into the environment that can be harmful. As such, things like water and oxygen in sufficient abundance can be harmful and thus are "pollution". Regardless, I have trouble thinking of them as such. I've already agreed that the semantics were technically wrong. Not being 100% familiar with the production of the car I do not know if the levels of residual material could be harmful or not and/or how much are released, etc... but I wouldn't want to argue a silly point. If you're 100% positive then it's not that important to me and I'll just say I was wrong.

Quote:
The 90% figure I used is associated with the entire production and distribution cycle that begins with an energy source buried in the ground such as coal, oil or natural gas (which amounts to over 70% of the electricity production in this country), and includes mining, processing/refining, and transportation processes. The electricity transmission loss number I remember seeing in the image I mentioned, including low voltage losses, was around 9-10%. I do remember that the example used a coal plant, and its efficiency was taken to be ~30% I think. (~50% of the electricity produced in the US is from coal, so this is relevant.) So if you apply the electricity transmission loss numbers to that, you'll be at ~27% efficiency. If you account for the energy required to mine (include mine rehabilitation), process, and transport the coal to the power plant, you'll most likely be around 80% loss, but I can't recall those specific loss figures for coal and that is primarly what I was hoping to get out of the image I referenced. I spoke with my friend about this briefly, but he could not identify the image I saw (that was some time ago). But he did say that the example might have included an application to get at useful energy, which is apparently a common type of analysis. If you consider the use of an appliance, and account for its efficiency, ~90% overall loss might make sense in terms of useful extracted work. This is my best shot at reconstructing what I saw, and it is plausible to me. So, it looks like my initial recollection of 90% loss for electricity at the socket was indeed off by about 10%, not by more than 20% as you claim. Regardless, 80% overall inefficiency is still rather high in my opinion.
Speaking of being clear, this analysis mix and matches terms and is only partially clarifying from an ignoramus' (not you, the people you try to educate) perspective of pollution. A fuel source's "energy efficiency" (lumping thermal and process efficiencies) does not correlate to pollution levels. There are situations where falling thermal efficiencies have a positive correlation to lower pollution levels. An example automobile aficionados are familiar with is the catalytic converter which lowers pollutants but decreases thermal efficiency. By including processes that likely utilize other fuel sources (mining and transportation processes for a coal plant) you potentially have an alternate pollution source that should be separately evaluated from a pollution (not energy efficiency) standpoint. So, you've introduced a number to help educate the ignorant but understanding what that number means isn't trivial and even a lower number doesn't necessarily imply more pollution. The original quote (post #5) might lead the ignorant to believe that electricity is very polluting because of the gross inefficiencies in the process when in fact the process is comparably very efficient and comparably less polluting per original unit of energy "burned". In addition, the number quoted is apparently for the most inefficient process in the US and yet you know that it accounts for only 50% of the electricity generated in the US. The final thought in this quote that "one can argue" doesn't convey the truth (stated clearly later in the thread) that any reasonably efficient electric car will pollute less per unit of performance. It's funny that my definition of a system boundary clearly delineated in the words I use (car) is "irrelevant", suggesting the power could come from solar energy is unrealistic but you quote figures for the worst case power production scenario in the US and lump in the inefficiencies of household appliances and somehow that's not worthy of an apology?

Quote:
I already mentioned twice that my M3 is not as efficient as a plug-in electric, so I don't see where I am failing to include IC engine or gasoline transportation losses. Actually, my friend mentioned that there are similar analyses for gasoline powered cars that result in 1-2% efficiency estimates. Like I said earlier, an electric plug-in is indeed more efficient than a gasoline powered car. Tesla claims their car is twice as efficient as the gasoline powered Honda Civic in this regard.

That said, however you slice and dice it, electricity is very far from being a clean type of energy in this country. Many people do not get this. They assume that plugging in a car will mean their behavior will not result in pollution. That is the "kernel" of truth that is being blown out of proportion to reality from my perspective, and you contributed to that when you stated the car in the video does not pollute (post #4 in this thread) and tried to rationalize that statement by defining an irrelevant system boundary later. If you were to ask where electicity is coming from, what do you think most people would say? Is the population indeed aware of the fact that 50% of our electicity coming from burning coal? How about China and India? How much coal are they burning to produce electricity and how efficient are their mining operations and power plants? Plug-in electrics would cut down energy consumption and emissions significantly (my guess is by a half in the Tesla vs Civic example for CO2 emissions and coal), but the problem will persist. In order to make progress toward a more sustainable regime, we need to generate electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power on a national scale.
I am very happy to have questioned your original post because indeed the power industry can do more to give us clean electricity. I'm not sure that we will see higher efficiencies (who cares if the source is abundant enough) but we should see lower pollutants per unit of output with alternate sources.

As to what people "do not get" that is not at all clear to me. When some people hear things like "the power industry is inefficient and polluting" and batteries are a major source of pollution and combine that with their inbred bigotry of anyone with any "green" sympathies the result is they hear "one [green idiot] can argue that electric car pollutes less overall" they literally translate that as "one green idiot's opinion" and place it in the appropriate mental bin. Given the rather low interest in the US for electric cars I find it highly improbable that there are many people who care so much about pollution that they have a positive interested in an electric car but then do not realize that power plants are a major source of pollution. In this thread alone (which one would suppose people with a positive/negative interested in electric cars would read it) there were several people groping to point out that the electric car and every aspect of it's creation/operation/destruction/disposal was "polluting" or inefficient but not one post about how clean electric generation is. As in your post, no comparison's were made between gas and electric but the implication that electric cars are more polluting was certainly left open as a viable conclusion for the uninformed. To view those posts as "educational" is above me. Poll after poll (research it) shows a significant majority of Americans in support of "clean renewable" energy resources. I'm sure they can't cite the specifics you've outlined but that is the best I could find to address the root of your question. I do not believe that many of those people would prioritize developing these resources. I do believe that many of those people realize that the reason for clean renewable energy resources is because the sources we have now are dirty and non-renewable. Perhaps not everyone knows that both "dirty" and "non-renewable" are separate words with different meanings. The same could be said that not everyone knows that cars are not "energy resources". If you choose to believe that these people do not know the obvious meanings of the words in the poll that is your choice. I don't even know that I would disagree with you but objectively that isn't supportable. After wasting much time searching, I can find no objective support for your contention that "most people do not get [that] electricity is very far from being a clean type of energy". BTW, if you are into semantics (and you have been when I'm talking), then electricity is clean, it's some of the generation processes that create pollution. Saying that "electricity is very far from being a clean type of energy" is not correct and implies that the problem is the electricity which most certainly is not a truth if you are wish to educate the ignorant.

I stand (mostly, I'll allow some thermal pollution) by the statement in post #4. The operation of the car (mostly) does not pollute. You don't need to pretend that I don't stand by those words and they clearly delineate the boundaries of what I am talking about. You'll see a distinct apology from me to the extent that I back away from any statement. I've agreed many times over that the car is likely based on a power generation system that is dirtier than it can be but not what you represent. I still feel it's irrelevant to the video and if you wanted to talk about the worst case power generation system in the US then you might have been more clear that is what you were talking about and not that the car wasn't a cleaner solution.
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      04-15-2009, 02:49 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
Speaking of being clear, this analysis mix and matches terms and is only partially clarifying from an ignoramus' (not you, the people you try to educate) perspective of pollution. A fuel source's "energy efficiency" (lumping thermal and process efficiencies) does not correlate to pollution levels. There are situations where falling thermal efficiencies have a positive correlation to lower pollution levels. An example automobile aficionados are familiar with is the catalytic converter which lowers pollutants but decreases thermal efficiency. By including processes that likely utilize other fuel sources (mining and transportation processes for a coal plant) you potentially have an alternate pollution source that should be separately evaluated from a pollution (not energy efficiency) standpoint. So, you've introduced a number to help educate the ignorant but understanding what that number means isn't trivial and even a lower number doesn't necessarily imply more pollution.
The overall energy efficiency indeed does not pinpoint the extent to which pollution is produced, especially when different types of power generation methods are used. That is the common criticism against this particular metric. The problem is that you will run into that issue with any metric. No single metric will reveal the entire environmental impact of electricity generation, and different metrics are more descriptive of different processes. That is why I actually brought up CO2 emissions at the end of my previous post. Overall energy efficiency and CO2 emissions are the most commonly used metrics that I am aware of, and as I mentioned earlier, there are various composite metrics that reflect a broader understanding. And, just to clarify, I did not estimate that CO2 emissions would be halved in the Tesla vs Civic example just because the overall energy efficiency is doubled (as stated by Tesla). Tesla also states that the operation of its product results in a third of the CO2 emissions caused by a Civic. They based that on what seems to be a rather optimistic scenario of natural gas driven electricity production process (I say optimistic because they quote a 52.5% "well-to-station" efficiency--I assume by station they mean socket--which is technically possible as a plant thermal efficiency figure with the state of the art combined cycle natural gas power plants, but that is far from the status quo as the current norm for natural gas power plant thermal efficiency in the US seems to be below 40%). My understanding is that burning coal results in about 60% more CO2 emissions than natural gas in power plants, and hence the "half the CO2 emissions" statement (0.33/0.60~1/2) if the Tesla is pluged into a coal based process (and if we accept Tesla's numbers). Clearly, if it is plugged into a natural gas based process, then it is 1/3 the CO2 emissions of the Civic.

Anyway, the "overall" energy efficiency metric is indeed not straightforward to interpret, but it is being commonly used to get a very simple concept across: how much energy was released into the environment as heat that was not used to do useful work. That does not nail down how much pollution was created in the process of releasing the non-useful energy into environment, but it is still a relevant thing to consider, especially when dealing with fossil fuels. I could have mentioned CO2 emissions or another metric in my original post, and we would most likely be having a similar discussion about CO2 emissions being far from telling the whole story. I just picked one to make a very simple point, that when the system boundary around the consideration is expanded in a relevant manner, our understanding of the true environmental impact deepens and becomes more meaningful, and that focusing entirely on narrowed down system boundaries can be misleading, which is what the video does. The video failed to make a single reference to how the electricity the car used was produced. Completely ignored it.

To illustrate my point further, I’m posting a link to a DOE study of life cycle analysis of coal powered electricity production:

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/25119.pdf

Skim through the exec summary if you have time. The “Average” category represents the current status quo in the US. Plant efficiency is 32%. When the entire “system” is considered (mining, transportation, and generation), the efficiency drops to 29%. When the upstream processes associated with the system processes are considered, the efficiency drops to 24%. Section 6 reports the findings in specific impact categories. It would be interesting to see a similar analysis for natural gas powered production. The overall efficiency should be higher, but I doubt it will be too much higher than 30%, and there will still be very significant emissions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
In addition, the number quoted is apparently for the most inefficient process in the US and yet you know that it accounts for only 50% of the electricity generated in the US. The final thought in this quote that "one can argue" doesn't convey the truth (stated clearly later in the thread) that any reasonably efficient electric car will pollute less per unit of performance. It's funny that my definition of a system boundary clearly delineated in the words I use (car) is "irrelevant", suggesting the power could come from solar energy is unrealistic but you quote figures for the worst case power production scenario in the US and lump in the inefficiencies of household appliances and somehow that's not worthy of an apology?
"Only" 50%??? So, you don't think 50% is a significant number? You can't be serious.

Here are the stats on how we currently produce electricity:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electri...m/epm_sum.html

The largest slice in that pie is coal, by over a factor of two. And you claim I deceptively picked a scenario that is misleading? Coal IS the dominant scenario and that's why it was used in the example.

Moreover, fossil fuel based electricity generation as a whole accounts for 71% and the overall energy efficiencies of the natural gas and oil driven process in the US are currently not that far from to the energy efficiencies of coal driven processes although I don't have the exact figures. And burning fossils fuels, regardless of how efficiently and "cleanly" done, results in significant emissions. Finally, coal alone accounts for 2/3 or more of electricity generation in China (and their power plant and mining operations are significantly less efficient as far as I can tell). So, using a coal driven electricity generation process in the example is appropriate.

I don't see the need for an "apology". Yes, the overall efficiency figure I remembered was not accurate, and I corrected that, but it's not as if what I remembered was 10% efficiency where the actual figure is 50%. My point, which is explained in the first part of this post, stands.

This perhaps illustrates the key issue in our exchange. Rather than responding to the point I was trying to make--and I agree that I did not do a good job in articulating the point in that original post--you started accusing me of intentionally bending and twisting the truth in pursuit of some anti-green agenda. Ironically, I am very much on the "green" side of things. I elected to pay more for electricity in my residence, and if you believe the power company, the electricity I use originates from a wind mill in upstate New York (not literally of course). I donate to other renewable energy causes. I would be happy to pay a substantial gasoline tax provided it would be used to generate energy from renewable sources. I put on another sweater as opposed to turning the heat up during winter (oil furnace) although my landlord pays for it, don't use the AC system during summer unless I absolutely have to (5-6 days in a year), etc. The M3 is pretty much the only luxury in my life that stands out from that norm, and like you, I would be willing to give it up for an electric version (the Tesla is not it for various reasons). The position I took was against equating electricity usage to no pollution. Again, currently in this country, that is very far from the truth, and statements such as my plug-in electric car does not pollute should always be carefully qualified until we stop producing electricity by burning fossil fuels. You can chose to narrowly delineate the boundaries of what you are talking about, but that doesn’t make what you are saying relevant or meaningful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
As to what people "do not get" that is not at all clear to me...
I simply stated that as an opinion (and I said “many” people not all people). I don't know of any generalizable study that proves or disproves it. However, there are some relevant points and observations. First of all, of course people will say they support renewable energy in a survey. What does it cost them to say so? Nothing. What are people actually willing to do about it? Not much apparently since we still rely on fossil fuels to an overwhelming extent. If people’s primary sensitivity was pollution, we would have done something about renewal energy a long time ago; pollution has been around. We only start seeing the public “express” significant sensitivity toward pollution when the price of oil goes up. The SUV market crashed when gas hit $4/gallon (before the entire automotive market crashed). To the best of my knowledge, people started driving less and gasoline consumption dropped when the price of oil went up (as basic economics would suggest). So, people, in general, are primarily price sensitive. Of course, there are groups of people who are primarily pollution sensitive and are willing to put their money where their mouth is, but they don’t seem to be in the majority here. Moreover, even those people might or might not be cognizant of the upstream environmental impact of plugging an electric car into the grid. Anecdotally, I’ve met many such people, whose understandings of the upstream effects were very limited. They either did not know the extent to which we rely on fossil fuels to generate electricity, or were ignorant of the information life cycle analysis such as the one disseminated in the DOE report reveals. Again, the video in question unfortunately reinforces that type of thinking by ignoring those key issues. (You are saying I did something similar by not discussing the efficiency or pollution dimensions of IC engine operation, but does that really need to be established? Doesn’t the population already know that gasoline powered cars are inefficient and polluting? Yes it would be useful to consider them as a benchmark if you really wanted to be specific, which is what I eventually did, but I didn’t think it was necessary at the beginning.) Then you have the general public, who is even less informed about those issues…

I will move this thread to the off-topic section soon since there has not be a single track driving specific post.


EDIT: I just ran into the LCA for a combined cycle natural gas power plant done by DOE. Plant efficiency is 48.8%. Efficiency of the entire system (pipeline construction, natural gas production and distribution, ammonia production and distribution for NOx removal, and power plant operation) drops down to 40%. When all upstream process are accounted for, the efficiency drops down to 29.9%, which is not far from the external efficiency of the coal plant as I said above (5.9% difference). CO2 emmissions seem to be ~50% of the coal plant.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy00osti/27715.pdf
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      04-15-2009, 03:17 PM   #29
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you guys have too much time on your hands.
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      04-15-2009, 08:57 PM   #30
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you guys have too much time on your hands.
The topic interests me, so I find the time; I just did another search and added some new info on natural gas power plants to my previous post.
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      04-15-2009, 11:06 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by jm1234 View Post
Yes, that is funny What would be funnier would be if we all just killed ourselves instantly in some sort of non-polluting way. Then we could avoid years of pollution waiting for us to live out our natural lives!

Another funny thing is if you don't want to go green we should all drink gasoline and breath unfiltered cigarette smoke and lawnmower exhaust.

Wait, neither is really all that funny

It takes electricity to create hydrogen. It takes gasoline, coal, nuclear, etc... to create electricity. If electricity is not clean it hardly makes sense to propose a hydrogen future. There is a lot of infrastructure already in place to support the transmission of electricity. You can make a comparison but it should be realistic.
Get a life, your debating being green on M3 tracking forum and your taking offense to a joke? Seriously, wtf?

Transmission of electricity to your house isn't exactly a clean efficient process. And yes no kidding, hydrogen isn't a viable option in most places. But the bottom line is, if I lived closer to a hydrogen fueling station, I would make that a commuter car in a heartbeat. California already has a good number of them.
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