Is Your Car a Piece of Crap? Fight Back with a Poop-Powered Ride

Categories: Main, School Daze
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Put the key in the ignition, press it forward, hear that click, then the bronchial "ruhr-ruhr-ruhr," then the mechanical whimper and finally this lament screamed into the overhead lamp: "This car is a piece of crap."

Been there.

Ironically, a piece of crap may soon power your car.

Well, kinda sorta.

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On Tuesday, the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley is holding a private "Commissioning Celebration" to mark the opening of the world's first Hydrogen Energy Station that will not only generate heat and electricity but renewable hydrogen for fuel cells in . . . ahem . . . THE AUTOMOBILES OF THE FUTURE! (read like one of those announcers in a 1950s science reel).

Time was, human piss and poop (the name of my '80s band, incidentally) was cleaned up just enough to simply be washed out to sea, where it would never ever never bother us again.

Then the kids went crazy over recycling, and human excrement became viewed not as waste but source. What leaves skid marks in your underwear is now transformed into nutrient-rich fertilizer and soil conditioner. At the center of this very county, waste water treated until it's hyper-clean is injected into natural underground aquifers so that it may eventually be redrawn as drinking water.

The Hydrogen Energy Station is really recycling the recycling--that is, using byproducts from the sanitation process to create energy. That's novel, but it's also being done elsewhere. What makes OCSD's project unique is the application of the technology to refuel fuel cells.

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Samuelsen
Funded in part by state and federal programs, the technology was developed through the National Fuel Cell Research Center, which is based at UC Irvine and directed by Scott Samuelsen, a professor of Mechanical, Aerospace and Environmental Engineering. Besides testing a fleet of alternative-fueled vehicles, the center is working closely with industry to dot the Orange County map (and eventually the world's--bwahahaha!) with alternative-fuel filling stations.

FuelCell Energy of Danbury, CT, and Air Products and Chemicals, which is based in Allentown, PA, have nurtured the Hydrogen Energy Station project for eight years, according to Samuelsen. Those companies, OCSD and the National Fuel Cell Research Center make up the joint venture with the U.S. Department of Energy, the state Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Samuelsen claims the endeavor will produce enough hydrogen to support a public fueling station at the Euclid Avenue exit off the 405 freeway in Fountain Valley, where refueling of hydrogen fuel cell cars is scheduled to begin commercially as early as 2014.

But don't feel the need to hold it until then.

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Simon Schempp
Simon Schempp

Recycled human waste is a good alternative to fossil fuel, and I'm sure this is only applicable to selected vehicles. I hope the bi-product won't be harmful to the environment.

Chris
Chris

Besides fuel for cars there already is a an estimated $300 billion market for Hydrogen; Hydrogen (H2) Applications and Uses: Metals: Hydrogen is mixed with inert gases to obtain a reducing atmosphere, which is required for many applications in the metallurgical industry, such as heat treating steel and welding.  It is often used in annealing stainless steel alloys, magnetic steel alloys, sintering and copper brazing. Hydrogen can be produced by dissociation of ammonia at about 1800˚F with the aid of a catalyst - which results in a mix of 75% hydrogen and 25% mononuclear nitrogen (N rather than N2). The mix is used as a protective atmosphere for applications such as brazing or bright annealing. Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Petroleum:Hydrogen is used in large quantities as a raw material in the chemical synthesis of ammonia, methanol, hydrogen peroxide, polymers, and solvents.  In refineries, it is used to remove the sulfur that contained in crude oil.  Hydrogen is catalytically combined with various intermediate processing streams and is used, in conjunction with catalytic cracking operations, to convert heavy and unsaturated compounds to lighter and more stable compounds. The pharmaceutical industry uses hydrogen to manufacture vitamins and other pharmaceutical products.Large quantities of hydrogen are used to purify gases (e.g. argon) that contain trace amounts of oxygen, using catalytic combination of the oxygen and hydrogen followed by removal of the resulting water.  Glass and Ceramics:In float glass manufacturing, hydrogen is required to prevent oxidation of the large tin bath.  Food and Beverages:It  is used to hydrogenate unsaturated fatty acids in animal and vegetable oils, producing solid fats for margarine and other food products.  Electronics:Hydrogen is used as a carrier gas for such active trace elements as arsine and phospine, in the manufacture of semi-conducting layers in integrated circuits.Miscellaneous:Generators in large power plants are often cooled with hydrogen, since the gas processes high thermal conductivity and offers low friction resistance.Liquid hydrogen is used as a rocket fuel.The nuclear fuel industry uses hydrogen as a protective atmosphere in the fabrication of fuel rods.http://www.uigi.com/hydrogen.h...

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