Re: Fuel Cells

Forrest Bishop (
Tue, 08 Jun 1999 04:45:46 -0700

> From: Eugene Leitl <>
> Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 13:24:10 -0700 (PDT)
> Subject: Fuel cells

> ... (if necessary, since methane can be used in fuel cells,
> whether directly, or via reformers) without modifications.

Do you have a reference for unreformed methane fuel cells?

> From:
> Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 19:51:09 EDT
> Subject: Re: Fuel cells
> In a message dated 99-06-05 16:27:24 EDT,
> (Eugene Leitl) wrote:
> > On the other hand, in Germany there is a trend to build small-scale
> > (10..50 home units, or a communal pool) natural-gas driven electricity
> > generators which also utilize thermal power for heating purposes.
> ...
> I keep popping into this thread to ask for references . . . here I am again:
> Gene, do you have some readily available source describing these small gas
> turbine combined-cycle systems. Lately I've been doing a lot of work for the
> mushrooming independent power industry in the States (typical installation
> 1-5 30-150 MgW gas turbines)

Solar Turbine of San Diego?

> From: James Rogers <>
> Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1999 22:26:42 -0700
> Subject: Impact safety (was Re: Fuel cells)
> At 01:39 PM 6/5/99 -0700, gene wrote:
> >
> >No, no, no. Using electrical cars ...

> While safe in a structural sense, I am not so sure such a vehicle would be
> very safe for a human passenger. When two vehicles collide, the difference
> in relative momentum has an enormous impact on the injury suffered. While
> a lightweight vehicle may offer similar structural impact resistance to a
> steel framed vehicle, the protective value to a human is considerably
> different.
> As purely anecdotal evidence, I have been hit many times while in a variety
> of different vehicles. In one case I was hit by a Honda Accord while
> driving a '79 Toyota Corolla (a dinky tin death trap). Needless to say,
> the impact was quite bone-jarring and it shoved the car pretty hard, but I
> walked away the worse for wear. I have also been slammed by a similar
> Honda Accord while stationary in a Ford Bronco. It totalled the Honda and
> I was mildly annoyed when the Bronco shuddered under the impact, but
> otherwise barely noticed I'd been hit. I've been hit a number of times by
> a lot of other vehicles (and once or twice, I did the hitting), but I chose
> these two because the circumstances were very similar but in wildly
> different vehicles. I can say with great certainty that structural mass
> makes a big difference where vehicle-vehicle collisions are concerned. For
> this reason alone, I drive heavy, steel-framed vehicles. Considering the
> relatively high odds of dying due to traffic fatalities, I view big, heavy
> vehicles as an insurance policy. (On the other hand, I am increasing the
> odds that the other person involved in a collision with me will be mortally
> injured.)

As another anecdote, my friend was rear-ended at a high closing speedin his Geo Metro on I5 by a large sedan ('70's Ford Galaxie-class). The Geo was accelerated forward and did a full 720, dodging traffic and ending up facing the right way (still at speed). Damage was amazingly minimal, particularly as the rear bumper is "reinforced" with styrofoam. Sort of a ping-pong ball effect. Remarkably, I was talking to him on the phone, having picked up on my answering machine, which recorded the whole thing. It took about 20 seconds to complete the above maneuvers. (This had little to do with phoning while driving- the driver of the sedan was extremely drunk, his car was discovered a few miles up the freeway facing uphill on the embankment.) Still, I vote for big iron every time- I want to 'win' the accident, and be available to

hash out the details in court.

> From:
> Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 13:31:28 EDT
> Subject: Re: Impact safety (was Re: Fuel cells)
> In a message dated 99-06-06 01:27:18 EDT, (James Rogers)
> wrote:

> > relatively high odds of dying due to traffic fatalities, I view big, heavy
> > vehicles as an insurance policy. (On the other hand, I am increasing the
> > odds that the other person involved in a collision with me will be mortally
> > injured.)
> As a notorious sports car fanatic, I had to grit my teeth at this. Of course
> the physics of your post is unassailable, but I find my little fiberglass
> hotrod increasingly threatened by massive steel SUV behemoths.

So did I, so I bought a Dodge Ram 1500 4WD. :)

> Thinking up new, higher-tech auto safety systems is a drive-time hobby of
> mine.

Hey, me too!

> I've imagined compressed-gas (or even explosive) reactive crush zones,
> automatic fire-fighting systems and a whole panoply of intelligent
> driver-augmentation IT systems, from collision avoidance laser radar warning
> systems to intelligent emergency management "assistants" that take over more
> or less control of the car in fast-breaking situations.

Let's not forget reaction control system rockets.

> Of course, as fast
> as I think of these things, I read about them as just-over-the-horizon
> developments in actual automobile engineering practice.

My personal favorite is an airborne escape pod or ejection seat, let the rest of the auto figure out what to do with itself.

Forrest Bishop
Interworld Productions, LLC
Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering