If it\’s got an engine. . .

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Brock’s Inaccuracies

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on December 6, 2004

Brock Yates (Car and Driver) is one of my favorite journalists, due largely to his fantastic book Cannonball! World’s Greatest Outlaw Road Race. Each month Brock has a column in Car and Driver, and each month he clearly and concisely illustrates his point, usually with reliable accuracy.
His column in the January issue is different. I find three errors (or at least misleading statements).
First he claims that a recent sysmosium of fuel-cell advocates claim that viable, mass-produced fuel cells are at tleas 15 years in the future. So far, so good. He then goes on to claim that they reached this conclusion based on three obstacles, one of them being safety, as Brock puts it: “storing an explosive in your trunk”.
Come on, Brock. Hydrogen is no more explosive than gasoline. The reason that it is more of a safety concern is the high pressures at which it must be stored in order to have a useable energy density.
He then states that “until a miracle breakthrough in technology appears – which is possible – the fuel cell floats in the nether world of technology like cold fusion and a cure for cancer.”
At my last apartment, there was a backup generator in my backyard powered by a fuel cell. It was a prototype unit, but it worked like a charm. I wonder if Brock has a cold fusion plant in his backyard.
Further into the column, the states that at this point we know three hard facts:
1. Worldwide demand for petroleum is building by the day.
2. The global supply of this black gold is finite.
3. All advanced societies employ the motor vehicle as the elemental private-transportation device with unfettered mobility the key to economic prosperity.
Perhaps I am mistaken in my understanding of the meaning of the word fact. I was unaware that unfettered mobility had been proven to be the key to economic prosperity. Many third world nations would probably be interested in learning this.

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