- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Something important that most advocates of alternative-fuel cars forget is that a lot of clean-sounding vehicles are just shifting the pollution to another location.
Those "pollution-free" electric vehicles loved by the California Air Resources Board wind up getting their energy from coal-burning plants in Utah, and they waste a lot of that energy pushing it through hundreds of miles of those ugly high-tension cables and towers.
A study titled "Well-to-Wheel," released at the Hart World Fuel Conference in Brussels offers some interesting insights. A sequel to a North American "Well-to-Wheel" study published by General Motors, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and the Argonne National Laboratory last year, the latest study assessed 36 fuel routes and 18 propulsion concepts in a hypothesized 2010 environment.
The latest study was based on European driving conditions using an Opel Zafira. Trudy Weber, a GM scientist, reports, "The Zafira proved to be an ideal reference vehicle, since it already exists with gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas and fuel-cell-propulsion systems."
Some study results:
On a well-to-wheel greenhouse-gas-emissions basis, the best use for natural gas was to reform it to obtain hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
To a lesser extent, natural gas offered improvements relative to conventional gasoline and diesel systems when used to fuel compressed natural gas vehicles.
The use of hydrogen from natural gas in internal-combustion engines actually produces poorer well-to-wheel results than in conventional gasoline engines.
When natural gas was used to produce methanol for an onboard reformer-fuel-cell vehicle, no well-to-wheel benefits were seen relative to conventional gasoline and diesel internal-combustion-engine vehicles or to gasoline-reformer-fuel-cell vehicles.
Bottom line, according to the study: The best alternative is to produce hydrogen from renewably generated electricity e.g. wind power and use it in a fuel cell. This will essentially eliminate well-to-wheel greenhouse-gas emissions.

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