Photo of CNN’s Julie Vallese doing white hankerchief test on clean diesel exhaust from http://www.dieselforum.org
I was chided by a public relations person for failing to follow through on plans to incorporate diesel bus retrofitting into my story about AC Transit’s hydrogen fuel cell buses. The two are related, but there just wasn’t enough room in the story for the diesel program, however relevant it may be to the subject of cleaner air.The two are related, but there just wasn’t enough room in the story for the diesel program, however relevant it may
be to the subject of cleaner air.Tomorrow, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Managment District will gather on Treasure Island to call attention to a program to install a $15,000 gizmo called a Longview on 1,700 older diesel buses that make them run as clean as the new generation fo cleaner-exhaust buses. The relatively cheap device was developed and manufactured by San Leandro-based Cleaire. Don’t ask me to pronounce the name.
Mentioning the two efforts in the same breath is something like lumping back-to-school shopping with saving for college. There is a connection, but one is the here-and-now and the other is over-the-horizon.
And the $21 million, 3-bus hydrogen Zero-Emission Vehicle project is being waved in front of everyone, as in “hey, guys, look what we’re doing with zero-emissions technology!” The other effort, involving 416 of AC Transit’s non-hydrogen buses, will cut back 85 percent of particulate emissions, which are, in very simple terms, the exhaust that you see when that roaring diesel pulls away from the stoplight.
So, for less than two-thirds of what the hydrogen project cost, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission was, in a sense, able to put 1,445 zero-particulate emissions buses on the roads of the Bay Area. Now, some day, there may be fleets of hydrogen buses burning what is essentially water with the oxygen zapped out of it by electricity from some hyper-efficient photovoltaic solar panel that hasn’t been invented yet.
But today, that $21 million has bought four buses, three of which AC Transit is using, and five staff cars that run on hydrogen, much of it made in a little plant built by Chevron from natural gas, a fossil fuel, supplied by PG&E.
It isn’t the cure for global warming or foreign oil dependence, but they’re working on it.