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  • Billion Dollar Bet

    Last night 60 Minutes ran a segment on GM's newest alternative fuel vehicle (see story here).

    I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on Hydrogen-powered vehicles are as it relates to putting out car fires (or fueling station fires) and responding to motor vehicle accidents.


    Rev
    Resident Chaplain of the IACOJ

  • #2
    I think that the vehicles will end up being a whole lot safer than the cars we have today, from a fire suppression standpoint, for a couple of reasons.

    First, the total amount of fule that will be in the vehicle will be much less than the total quantity of gas, LPG, or deisel that we see today. Secondly, it appears there will be whole lot fewer moving parts that would tend to malfunction. There will be no ignition taking place in the vehicle. The fuel will be used to generate electricity, not be exploded to push a piston down. The biggest problem with the electrical systems in cars is the overcurrent protection devices. They are too big. Alot of cars, especially older cars, have fuses that would be akin to you putting a house lighting circuit on a 100 amp breaker.

    The safety of the vehicle that should be engineered in, should override the inherent dangers of the material. Hydrogen has a huge explosive limit, a low ignition temp and high rate of burning velocity. The gas mixes well with air and is very light. The NFPA Fire Protection Handbook notes that a massive release of the material in large quantities could actually be coinfined by the weight of the air, causing clouds to develop. It burns with a colorless flame and is odorless. Meaning that some sort of odorant should be put in.

    Engineering will be the key here. Safety issues of the vehicle and the fuel distribution stations must be addressed at design. i doubt you will see Goober selling hydrogen on the corner.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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