Monday, March 28, 2005

Fuel Cell Motorcycle
Another item I missed while I was on vacation was the launch of a hydrogen fuel cell powered motorcycle in the UK. Setting aside some obvious concerns about cost (unspecified), limited range (60 mi.), and low power (6 kW = 8 HP), the thing looks great and could catch on based on sheer coolness alone. Criticizing it for lack of the usual motorcycle roar seems to miss the point, in my book. I doubt they're going to sell many of these to heavy-duty motocross types, anyway, but can't you imagine a fleet of sleek, fast, and quiet motorcycle couriers in cities like London?

I still can't resist picking on the name, though. Calling a fuel cell vehicle of any type "Emissions Neutral" demands a great deal more information about the hydrogen source. Some of the early H2 supply is likely to come from electrolysis of water, using electricity generated by whatever fuels the local grid, including coal. The rest is likely to come from the same place that most hydrogen does today: chemical reforming of natural gas, with definite emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants. Just because a vehicle emits only water from its tailpipe doesn't mean it is totally clean.

Despite this, I wish Intelligent Energy well with their nifty gizmo. It represents another small step on a very long pathway towards a possible hydrogen economy.

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