(This is a repost from my old site, but it is still relevant)
So, the Bush Whitehouse has announced that they are going to put 1 billion dollars into researching hydrogen fueled personal vehicles. I have issues with this. I honestly think that it is a waste of money.
We have an existing infrastructure that costs billions of dollars to put in place. We have an automotive industry that is tooled around building internal combustion engines. Why would we want to spend the money to retool this entire infrastructure?
There is another option out there. Modern diesel engines are very fuel efficient, and when coupled with Biodiesel fuel they are very environmentally friendly.
Volkswagen makes a model of their Jetta with a 2L TDI (Turbo Diesel Injected) engine that gets 50 mpg freeway and town. Couple that with a 14-gallon tank, and you have quite the cruising range. My F250 gets 16 in town and 20 on the freeway - pretty good for a 7.3L V8 with 525 f/lbs of torque. Here is a good page with lots of information about diesel engines, how they work and more.
According to the EPA's studies in 2002, when you run biodiesel three of the four major regulated pollutants drop by 50%, 50% and 80% (C02, Particulate Matter and Hydrocarbons), and NOx rises by about 10%. Note that these were done in 2002 with engines built before 1997. According to the National Biodiesel Board, B100's emissions are as following: HC:67%, Carbon Monoxide:48%, Particulate Matter:47%, NOx +10%, Sulfates:100%, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons:80%, Nitrated PAH:90% and Ozone potential of speciated Hydrocarbons: 50%. All of this was taken from the National Biodiesel Board's Research.
A little about biodiesel. Many of the biodiesel fuels are blends with standard diesel. This is notated as B where the number is the percent of Biodiesel that is in the mix. So, B5 is 5% biodiesel and B100 is 100% biodiesel. Biodiesel in the US tends to be made from Soybeans.
Biodiesel is also supported in existing engines - you do not need to modify the engine to run it. The National Biodiesel Board has information about specific companies and if their warranties are voided by the use of Biodiesel.
As of this writing, Biodiesel is more expensive then normal diesel, however Congress just lowered the Excise Tax on it, and as soon as that goes into effect, it will become much more competitive.
So, let's all help out Mother Nature with the tools that we have right now, and not pour billions of dollars into new infrastructure. Let's use what we have now, buy diesel and pour that vegetable oil into it!