CATS: Fuel cells coming to a big rig near you?

Number 21 in the Clean Air Technologies Series.

Hydrogen_station_pump[1]When the Air Quality Index is 147 – the more unhealthful end of the “Unhealthy for sensitive groups” range – which it is today in Fresno, California, in terms of writing on air quality matters, it is easy to get inspired. Adding to that inspiration, today’s air temperature is expected by late afternoon to reach 110 degrees – that’s Fahrenheit. There will be no use of major appliances except for the air conditioning (cooling) system, the thermostat set higher so the system doesn’t come on as often as would otherwise be the case with a lower thermostat setting. Lights will be kept off and window shades closed during the day as well. Also limited will be refrigerator visits. I figure staying at home beats driving and being outdoors. If ever there is a day to conserve, this would be it.

Without further ado, it is time to turn attention to transportation technology.

Going back to June 24, 2013, posted is “Uptick in road congestion in 2013 means worsening air quality?

In that post I wrote: “An improving economy and hence a corresponding increase in not only motor vehicle traffic but domestic waterway navigation, railroad and aviation activity, could result in further damage to the air on account of upped transportation emissions. However, this could be offset by:” and then I listed some options. Among those was: “Improving technology and fuels: This could involve shortening the distance between vehicles traveling the same direction on a given corridor while ensuring safe operation, or, in the case of fuels, promulgation of biofuels.” It was fifth on the list.

Well, have I got news (in this regard) for you.

In “Big rig goes green: Hydrogen-fueled truck offers emissions-free solution in [San Joaquin County],” the Stockton Record’s Alex Breitler on July 2, 2013 provided the low-down.

“This rig, in fact, emits only water. You could see it dripping onto the pavement, forming a puddle that seeped into some nearby grass.”

Not to worry.

“‘I’ll put a cup under [the truck] and drink that. Not even kidding,’ said Tim Mabry, with Rancho Dominguez-based Total Transportation Services, Inc.,” wrote Breitler in citing Mabry.

I knew the exhaust from fuel cell technology was clean, but drinkable clean? Now I’m enlightened.

Breitler went on to relate that the prototype truck was developed (built) in conjunction and collaboration with Vision Motor Corp. of Long Beach, also in California as a marketing (if you’ll pardon the pun) “vehicle” to introduce to prospective customers the technology.

I thought the exhaust discharge being remarkably clean was amazing. Maybe even more amazing is when Breitler added: “The hydrogen feeds fuel cells below the cab. Oxygen is taken out of the air and combined with the hydrogen; that produces not only water, but also electron ions which go through a converter to charge batteries beneath the hood.”

And there is enough on-truck hydrogen supply “to drive 250 miles or more,” Breitler remarked, all done with a motor the size of a suitcase, which by the way, is fed off of the batteries, the seasoned reporter pointed out.

If it is what is under the hood that counts, then this one definitely qualifies, and by that I mean it could probably run circles around the competition – meant in the literal sense – without so much as a single toxic emission released into the air in the process. The truck even has a name – “Tyrano.” And this rig is no slouch as far as pulling its weight goes; the truck is capable of hauling up to 80,000 pounds, reportedly, according to Breitler.

Talk about inspiring! Does it get any better than this?!

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