How Would You Like Your Green Car: Hydrogen-Powered, or With a Unicycle on the Side?

By Eliza Strickland | October 14, 2009 3:12 pm

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Photo Gallery, Technology
  • nick

    Okay, putting outside loudspeakers into quiet cars is f***ing ridiculous. It’s one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of.

    I mean, seriously. We already have a problem with Harleys and other inadequacy making-up-for vehicles like giant trucks having super-loud exhaust as well as blaring music half as loud as a jet-liner taking off. Do we really want to quiet down cars and then just bring that problem right back?

    If I ever have to suffer such a thing, my car will make a noise like a blaring jack-ass. And I mean that in the donkey sense of the word, not the sense that would be used in the context of drivers I have described above.

  • Doug

    Nick, did you miss the part where they mentioned that ultra-quiet vehicles can pose a danger to the blind? I don’t think that this is an ego move, but rather a safety move.

    That being said, yeah, I could envision this technology being used for other purposes, and if that should occur, I will not be at all pleased. I like quiet vehicles, just not too quiet.

  • Serrya

    Danger to the blind? Are you serious? Might be a danger to the squirrels too. I mean come on, not to be insensitive or anything, but no one, much less a blind person should be in the middle of the road. And if their crossing a street? Well that is up to the driver, not the pedestrian. Blind or not blind, if a car is gunna hit you, its going to hit you. How many people get hit crossing the street? How many of them were blind? We have to stop living behind safety bubbles. You know, all those “special” things ARE a form of discrimination. On more than one level. The blind have survived this far, I don’t think we need to baby them. And i dont think that noiseless cars will endanger anyone other than the already moronic.

  • JP

    Can you imagine a world with noiseless cars? I’d miss the sound of good ‘ol internal combustion power. On the bright side, it would help road ragers convey their angry messages to other drivers. Like Nick, I’d have to pick something ridiculous and obnoxious to mock the idea. Remember those bumper whistles that were supposed to scare away deer? Maybe we’ll need those made for a human frequency. Even if a blind person were to hear a car coming, there’s no way they could avoid getting hit if it’s coming right at them rather quickly, not many others could either. I’m sure there’s more non-blind people that get hit by cars each year and blind folks have seeing eye dogs for this very reason. In my city, we have a bird chirp speaker t0 alert blind pedestrians when it’s safe to cross. That, along with dogs, should be enough to keep them safe. The other option…we all install amplified stereo systems with an 18-inch sub and blast rap music.

  • Chris at CaFCP

    I regularly drive a fuel cell vehicle and work around them all day. The vehicles are very quiet, but still have noises. You hear the fan of the air conditioning/heater, tires rolling on pavement and some clicks and whirs. It’s similar to the hum of a refrigerator. Nothing is completely silent.

  • Naja Lindberg

    What about this Unicycle thing? cuz that could be cool.

  • Tristan

    I live right next to a very busy street so whenever I open my window my entire house is filled with the noise of cars. I think I like the idea of silent cars.

  • Tom

    Quote: “The Prius is silent under 5 mph” anybody?

  • Heidi

    Hello, loud pipes save lives. When people can hear your vehicle, they know that you’re there.

  • Barbara

    I have an electric car, and it is not totally silent. If everyone drove an electric car, there would be much less extraneous noise in the environment, and perhaps the blind WOULD hear them coming. Their ears would be tuned into that sound, instead of the sound of an internal combustion (noisy and stinky).

  • Kenneth

    Alternative fueled vehicles are the intelligent next step. As usual capitalist greed is standing in the way of it getting it done with each company hoarding patents instead of collaborating to come up with baseline technologies and standards for the entire industry that work. Technologies that the industry can build upon. Each company would then be providing it’s own branding and feature set. In the future every consumer vehicle will need to be replaced. That is a huge market that is large enough for all the current companies to remain profitable.

    There are vehicles made now that are so quiet that they are not heard coming from a distance of a few feet over the other street noises. I don’t think that is really an issue.

    As unicyclist, I take offense to the ignorant derisive statement “handy for wannabe clowns across the land”. Unicycling is a recognized form of human powered transportation. Unicycling is a popular growing sport with world wide participants of many skill levels.

    People go from learning to ride 3 wheels to 2 wheels then jump back to 4 wheels because stepping up to 1 wheel is more difficult.

    I am sure that some hardworking talented clowns will also find that ignorant statement derogatory.

  • tomulcak

    why does Discover magazine continue to show prototypes and golf cart like electric cars and fuel cell powered cars that look like toys? The electric cars are already out there with 300 mile ranges with 45 minute quick charge. And why is everyone refusing to discuss HHO? There are 100,000s of cars world wide that have been running on water since 2000 – using a $300 dollar device that simply bolts in to a regular vehicle – car, truck, SUV. ( HHO is also described in the latest DOT publication on hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles. HHO delivered on-board does not need the infrastructure to deliver hydrogen…. we have the technology, we are just blind to it – thanks to publications like Discover.

  • Jonnie-Bob

    Tomulcak says: There are 100,000s of cars world wide that have been running on water since 2000 – using a $300 dollar device that simply bolts in to a regular vehicle – car, truck, SUV. That it produces Hydrogen for fuel to run the car. Fantastic! What powers the device? Gasoline? Diesel fuel? A big wind-up spring? It can’t be the car battery to run the machine to produce the hydrogen to spin the generator to charge the battery to run the machine…
    Of course, the word “fantastic” really refers to a fantasy. Too bad.

  • Jason Ford

    It’s a nice idea…as it also helps to improve our environment and avoids our etra expenses…great.

  • CG

    Jonnie-Bob Says:
    … What powers the device? Gasoline? Diesel fuel? A big wind-up spring? It can’t be the car battery to run the machine to produce the hydrogen to spin the generator to charge the battery to run the machine…

    I have just checked out the site that Tomulcak supplied… It says that a hydroxy compound is pumped into the engine, not only hydrogen…

    Simple chemistry:

    Electricity powers the electrolyzer, for sure… But, it is the hydrogen that burned in the combustion chamber, which would replace the gasoline, and oxygen, who helps “better” burning…

    When the energy circle is investigated, electricity energy (from engine-battery), becomes engine power resulting in no gain probable (as the water is the last product for H2), besides there are losses in alternator/battery/electrolyzer, etc.
    The only think that might cause an increase in efficiency in the combustion process maybe the increase of oxygen rushing into chamber, helping fuel to burn better, with the help of recalibration of the ECU…
    I could say that, not 50%, but 5-10% of savings might be possible.. without depleting energy from the battery…

  • judithanne

    An energy research group reports on burning an aluminum – magnesium alloy wire under water. (Auto. Eng. Aug 1985 + 4 L for a possible installable second gastank for ICE’s). Aluminum definitely has far better energy-holding capacity than current batteries. (That’s per unit weight).
    Weight is a car’s enemy, especially in city traffic. Only a flywheel or some devicethat would save up braking energy to reuse it for accelerating (regenerative braking) will improve it.
    We’ve seen hybrids, which overcome some of the worst inefficiencies of the Internal Combustion Engine without too many batteries (by recharging them with gasoline).
    Considering traffic jams and too-busy roads, I think busses operating from collecton stations in suburbs and having travel priority would help alot. If such a station were at-grade loading and had a ramp so wheelchairs and other heavily-loaded carts (tot, baby, or luggage carriers for instance), life would also be better at the far end. And people peddling or walking to the station would make us all a lot healthier.

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  • daproffessor

    Why can’t someone think about an electric car that has wind turbines on each side similar to the look of the bat mobile for instance, The wind turbines could then generate enough energy to keep the electric car charged just by simply going down the road. the more speed you go the more energy would transfer back to the batteries and the car itself.

  • aleron

    @daproffessor: If that concept really worked it would have been done by now. That would violate the second law of thermodynamics. It is an impossible perpetual motion machine. Energy is lost to the air and those turbines would create drag on the vehicle.

  • ezautoshippers

    I own an car shipping company and have shipped a few of these quiet cars. I don’t see what the big deal is. I actually thought it was pretty nice. I would kind of like it if my auto transport was silent!

  • Jennifer Angela

    Serrya, blind people are in cars, as they are passengers, they also have to get around somehow. And certainly you (well not you Serrya, but others) would like them to be able to hear what´s going on. They have enough issues already being blind so you (everybody except for Serrya) wouldn´t want to cause them any additional ones. I think this new car IS a huge progress and I most sincerely hope that more affordable brands will also consider it worth trying in the future (GM or Mitsubishi e.g.). As for quiet cars… well a horn is something that is supposed to save lives and sometimes does, but in most cases it is being used for abusive reasons, and yet I am afraid that I need to agree with Heidi on what she said… eventually it is a necessity, despite being annoying.


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