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Poll: Would you consider buying a hybrid or alternative-fuel car?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 2, 2007 6:46 AM PDT

Would you consider buying a hybrid or alternative-fuel car?

-- Yes (Which one?)
-- No (Why not?)
-- Maybe someday (What's holding you back now?)
-- I already own a hybrid or alternative-fuel car (Which one, and what do you think of it?)

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On our second hybrid.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 2, 2007 11:29 AM PDT

In 2002 we chose the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. It turned out to be out of Honda's best efforts to date. We sent our son to college with that car last year and since Honda did so well on the 2003 we picked out the 2006 Civic Hybrid. I can only say I wish Honda has done as well as they did in the 2003 to 2005 models.

While it's a hybrid, in northern climes you will notice it's mileage to be within a handful of MPG to it's non hybrid model. The magic is gone and I regret not doing more research. Don't bother with the 2006 or 2007 Honda Civic hybrid till they correct the software. You can find out more on other forums about this issue.

Today you'll want the Prius.

--> If that Chevy Volt was for sale we'd get that next.


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Hybird Cars
by ws6vivi / May 2, 2007 9:28 PM PDT
In reply to: On our second hybrid.

I know that the trend is going towards people buying hybrid cars. My husband and I own 2 Corvettes, we belong to a corvette club here in Chattanooga and I am from era where hotrods where the big thing and we raced them up and down the street. We just sold our 62 chevy street rod that I raced here at the racetrack. It had 535hp. We have 2 cars and a motorcycle that takes premium gas. I personally love this! I would not change this for anything.

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Another person misled by the big oil companies :(
by stephmipar / May 5, 2007 3:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Hybird Cars

To the lady complaining about owning two Corvettes and old school muscle cars, I have good news! Sure the current trend toward hybrid technology is low powered vehicles or in the case of some bigger vehicles, improved gas mileage with the same power. Electric and Electric Fuel Cell cars do have far more efficiency and are far more powerful than any gasoline engine period! In fact, electric motors have far more torque than any gas or diesel engine. Because electric motors are 70-80% efficient and gas engines are only about 30-35% efficient, much more of the power gets used in moving the vehicle. The problem has been so far that a pure electric vehicle using only battery technology is very difficult because battery technology is still stuck in the Stone Age. Fuel cells are the only real way to supply the power needed for long distances and plenty of horsepower. These vehicles do exist, GM builds Fuel Cell trucks for the military and Iceland has a huge amount of Fuel Cell vehicles due to their geographic advantage to generating the hydrogen cheaply. If we can just convince the oil companies to switch over to hydrogen production using electrolysis from places like Lake Meade and Lake Powell in the Southwest where they could use solar power to separate the water into hydrogen and oxygen, maybe we can get away from their resistance to getting rid of oil! And before any environmentalists start going off about destroying water, the fuel cell process produces electricity giving off water as the by product. So all you are doing is changing the water into its separate elemental components for use in the vehicle which combines them back together as water again. No harm no foul! The plant can either release the oxygen back to the environment or use a little for medical use, which mostly gets released back in the atmosphere anyway, since people don't convert all of the oxygen they breathe to carbon dioxide.

Hybird Cars
by ws6vivi - 5/3/07 4:28 AM
In reply to: On our second hybrid. by R. Proffitt
I know that the trend is going towards people buying hybrid cars. My husband and I own 2 Corvettes, we belong to a corvette club here in Chattanooga and I am from era where hotrods where the big thing and we raced them up and down the street. We just sold our 62 chevy street rod that I raced here at the racetrack. It had 535hp. We have 2 cars and a motorcycle that takes premium gas. I personally love this! I would not change this for anything.

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Another person trying to mislead people
by Andy77e / July 8, 2007 7:07 AM PDT

To the guy who makes up stuff not found in other peoples posts.

Read the young women's post carefully, where was she "complaining"? It's not there. Since you clearly didn't read her post, perhaps I can make a highlight of it: "I personally love this! I would not change this for anything." How, exactly, do you pretend this clear expression of enjoyment of ones vehicle of choice, is a complaint?

Where do you see her say "I got this pamphlet from the oil companies and realized, yes my gas engine is the best thing on the planet!"?

Get a grip. Not everyone is always unhappy with what they have. Not everyone is complaining about everything in life. Not everyone cares about efficiency ratings and "who killed the electric car". Some people are happy with what they drive. Some people are satisfied with their lot in life. Some people are not consumed with what "big oil" "big three" "big whatever" is doing, nor do they blame them for every insignificant thing that happens in their lives.

You want to talk about new technologies that are out there? Great. But I have a huge problem with you dumping on a young women who is enjoying her car. You have no right to try and steal someone else's joy just because you have some personal problem with the thing they are enjoying.

To the young women, enjoy your husband, your family, and your corvettes and your club, and do not ever let any sniveling weasel try and take that away. This is America, we have freedom, and that is all there is to it.

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Keep an open mind
by MiaDoraMeiners / December 20, 2007 8:08 AM PST

Today is great. Tommorrow will also be great. The day after that will most likely be great too. In 50 years you and I will be dead, that won't be so great. But I have a 2 year old daughter, and she, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, will have a family. I would be so happy for her if her days were like my days, great. But what will the world be like in the future? How can we set goals for a time that will not include us? It's easy actually. Take care of the planet now and the planet will take care of you. Your comments were closed minded because you are only thinking about the "here and now". Well, that is your right. But those of us with children can't help but to consider all things, "the here and now", the future for our children and our children's children.

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You should do some more research before you preach
by SuperGeek81 / January 6, 2011 3:49 AM PST

The Hybrids of today are worse for our environment then the gas powered cars that exist. The only thing worse is the full electric cars...
When you drive a hybrid, it will not last as long as a gas powered car, the hybrid systems over time wear out, they require new batteries to be used, and if there are issues you now need a mechanic and an electrician to fix the issue. The batteries if they are NiCad or Lithium, they need to be recycled, during the recycle process they release a stream of gas into the atmosphere which pollutes the planet in ways that it would take driving your gas powered car 200K miles to reach. The Elecric cars, although a great idea, and honestly when we can convert all of our power plants to solar, and wind. this alternative will be something that even myself would look into.
But as of now you are falsely informed. The electric cars suffer from the same battery issues, they may last longer, or shorter.. really depends on your use of them. However you are now talking a 400+lb battery you are burning into the atmosphere. The equal to this would be driving 400K miles in a hummer. (EPA on a hummer is 12mpg) if that wasnt bad enough, your claims that oh, but electric is nuclear and that is clean, you were lied to my friend, it is not clean. the radiation that is produced from splitting the atoms are stored in tanks, which require constant cooling, this cooling requires power to keep large pools of water cool. During this process the radiation although contained, it will still cause some radioactive seepage into the water table.. so now instead of causing air polution, you can explain to your great grand children why they have 3 arms... the other form in the US is to get your power from coal.. which i dont think i need to explain this one to you. So for now i will drive my 500hp 9mpg Super eater mustang and enjoy it...

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A manual transmission car will do the same job
by opus11 / May 3, 2007 8:54 AM PDT
In reply to: On our second hybrid.

A car equipped with manual transmission will do the same MPG job as a hybrid with auto transmission.

Why pay the higher price for hybrid. Just a little trainning on driving skill, you will have the greener car, and save the firefighter from the headache of hybrid car accident.

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I don't think so!
by john_zocco / May 3, 2007 4:31 PM PDT

I had a Honda Civic with a 5-speed manual. The best I could do is 28 mpg, mostly 70% city/30% freeway. I know this guy who had an old Daewoo Daihatsu with a manual; he got around 40 mpg. I just bought a new Toyota Prius. I had it for only a month. I just filled it up and got 43 mpg, about 70% city/30% freeway. The Prius is classified as a midsized car, and believe me it is very roomy inside. It drives like a regular car, and while I won't win any races, I have no trouble passing or merging on the freeway. Even little cars like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit with a manual don't come close to the fuel efficiency of the Prius. Unless you have a little subcompact with a 1.0 liter engine and 60 horses, and you drive like a turtle, maybe you can come close to getting 40 mpg. Read Consumer Reports. They rated the Prius as the most fuel efficient car in North America, followed by the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Toyota Yaris (manual) & the Honda Fit (manual). What do you drive?

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Uh, no it won't
by Mactrekr / May 4, 2007 1:04 AM PDT

That's just about the most rediculous thing I've ever heard. Do you work for Shell Oil??

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I don't think so.
by feelinjunky / May 5, 2007 6:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Uh, no it won't

Do you even know how a hybrid works? Read up on HEV's before posting possible nonsense.
If you're convinced that manuals and hybrids are in the same ballpark regarding gas mileage, name any manual car, equivalent to the Toyota Prius, that gets anywhere near its gas mileage and is roughly the same size (not some 1 seater 1 liter engine, 1 cubic meter intertior space turtle shell of a car...).

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manual tranny vs hybrid
by beninabox / May 4, 2007 6:28 AM PDT

Good in theory, but there are very few cars out there that have manual transmissions these days, sad to say.

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maybe in the US
by cb_anthony / May 4, 2007 12:12 PM PDT

It does seem that the number of manual transmission cars in the US has dropped in recent years, but I believe they are still in huge numbers abroad. One country, the Philippines, has a tremendous number of manual transmission vehicles and I would not be surprised if the case is similar in other countries where the price of an automatic transmission is too high a premium or where fuel conservation is a high priority.

That being said, I have heard that CVTs or Continuously Variable Transmissions can give very close efficiency numbers when compared to manual transmissions. I have also heard that they are easier to service when compared to regular automatics, but I'm not sure whether it is true or not. Perhaps some other knowledgeable person can weigh in on the how beneficial CVTs are and why most of the hybrids I have read about seem to use them.

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I do not understand it.
by Andy77e / May 4, 2007 12:52 PM PDT
In reply to: maybe in the US

CVT are easier to service on motorbikes and other small motorized crafts. They are not so much on cars. Parts are hard to find, and difficult to install. CVTs also have worse efficiency numbers than automatics.

In other countries, I understand that CVTs are the norm. But as of yet, I have not found a reason to why. I'm still looking. There MUST be a reason to use them, but currently a regular automatic would have better MPG, and cheaper manufacturing, easier maintenance.

But there MUST be a reason they are using them... I just haven't found any yet.

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wikipedia says...
by cb_anthony / May 4, 2007 1:20 PM PDT

I still don't know anything definitive about the pros and cons of CVTs but Wikipedia has some information. Apparently, Infinitely Variable Transmissions are a type of CVT and they are more efficient than the standard sort. Of course, due to Wikipedia's flexible nature, I am never sure if what I read there is actually true. He's a link to the article for the more technically inclined.

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Several types of CVTs
by albizzia / May 27, 2007 10:46 AM PDT

The reasons for using Continuously Variable Transmissions are many, including being able to keep the engine near its most efficient RPM, maximizing fuel economy even when the road speed varies. There is no gearshift hesitation, so acceleration is smooth and uninterrupted. There are usually fewer moving parts, and CVTs can be less expensive than other transmissions. CVT is inherent in the hybrid designs of Toyota, Ford, and Nissan.

There are several different types of CVTs. The two most commonly used in cars are the "cone and belt" type, and the "planetary geared electric" type.

Cone and belt CVT is like a pully belt, with 2 sets of cones used for pullys. The cones can be moved in or out to vary the effective pully diameter, thus varying the speed. Friction, wear, and belt slippage under high torque loads are a problem, though the use of steel belts have made it reliable enough for light duty automotive use.

The planetary geared electric CVT has a planetary gearset and two motor/generators to vary the speed. There is no clutch, no torque converter. There is little friction or wear, and the torque is limited only by what the motors can produce. This CVT type is extremely reliable, with fewer moving parts than other transmissions. This design is used by Toyota, Ford, and Nissan. The GM "two mode" CVT is similar but more complicated, with two planetary gearsets and some clutches.

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Hybrid Owner-Driver Relativisistics
by Catgic / May 4, 2007 10:04 PM PDT
In reply to: On our second hybrid.

Hi Bob --- Is it because you have been assimilated into the "Hybrid Hive" and now have special "relativistic" powers or simply because you have the inside track with my Uncle Al, that you were able to make your Bakatcha post to Lee at 5/2/07 6:29 PM, while Lee made his primary Car Tech Forum: Poll post at 5/3/07 11:55 AM on the following day?

I am disappointed to learn that you, your dealer and Honda have still been unable to resolve the "not-so-lean-burn" control software problem with your 2006 Civic Hybrid.

I have had my new 2007 Prius going on five months now. I keep a top-level driving log, and as I rattle this off to you, I have driven it for 4383 miles, and sipped down 73.167 gallons of Regular Unleaded petrol since putting it into service. For this same distance my Mercedes would have guzzled down ~292 gallons of Premium Unleaded gasoline.

My individual City-Around Town and Highway-Interstate fuel economy actuals (measured by refill method) to date are, City: 62.3 mpg (around town speed 30-45 mph) and Highway: 54.8 mpg (66 mph target Interstate cruise speed w/ intermitent A/C use). These FE numbers are mostly with the A/C off (soon to change with summer coming upon us). I also employed and continue to employ, "Pulse and Glide" and "Warp Stealth" Hybrid Hypermiling driving techniques to achieve and maintain these "stellar" FE numbers as well as keeping the tires inflated to 44 psi.

I initially commented on my 2007 Prius in CNet?s Automobile Reviews back in January, and have not changed my positive opinion of the Prius expressed there. It is my opinion that the production GEN II HSD Prius is an Engineer?s Dream that some how survived having the "suits in the corner office" ruin it by "productizing it" for mass production. I do not just "like" mine I "LOVE" it. When the "100 mpg" 2009 GEN III Prius comes out in two years, I will be trading my GEN II 2007 in on the new GEN III 2009. JP Cool

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Prius Fuel Economy v. Manual Transmission
by rcorley / July 7, 2007 1:29 PM PDT

While I agree that a manual transmission vehicle, intelligently driven, can get far better fuel economy than an automatic, neither can approach the fuel economy of the Prius. The best economy that I was able to achieve from a 350 ci SS Camaro 6 speed manual, which is roughly similar in size and weight to the Prius, was 40 mpg per Imperial gallon, about 33 mpg per US gallon driving at moderate highway speeds and making effective use of neutral, whereas I have achieved 70 mpg, per Imperial gallon, about 58 mpg, per US gallon averaged over a longer distance with the Prius. That being said, I think that the fuel economy of the Prius, especially for highway driving, could be very substantially improved if the gas engine were to be replaced by a clean running diesel engine.

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Dodge announced a PHEV Diesel hybrid for the Sprinter van
by Melyash / July 8, 2007 2:35 AM PDT

NY times is testing it on their fleet of distribution trucks either as we speak or very shortly. Source: Diesel Power magazine July 2007. Article starts on Page 190. The test is with Dalm/Chr and the New York Power Authority, and Con ED. Hopefully this will become an orderable option soon....

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I don't get it
by Andy77e / July 8, 2007 7:08 AM PDT

I thought Chrysler was sold. How are they getting money to keep bringing out new cars?

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by cb_anthony / July 8, 2007 11:58 PM PDT

Let's compare apples to apples here. If you're going to compare manual transmission versus automatic transmission, then the next logical comparison would be against the Prius' specific transmission, not the car itself. While I support the use of hybrids in order to reduce emissions, I think we should be fair when evaluating and making comparisons. After all, a lot of factors go into making the Prius a fuel efficient vehicle. The transmission it uses is only part of the big picture.

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I haven't figure this out either
by Andy77e / July 9, 2007 10:17 AM PDT
In reply to: transmissions

The CVT transmission requires more mechanical energy loss to function than a regular 4 speed auto. I have not figured this out myself, because CVTs seem to be the default standard in other countries.

The efficiency evidence, as yet, just doesn't support it. *shrug*

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by cwerdna / July 9, 2007 5:36 PM PDT

Have you even seen how the CVT/PSD (Power Split Device) on the Prius even works? It has no loss from a torque converter like on an automatic transmission. Some CVTs on non-hybrids do use power sapping torque converters.

Take a look at and (under Understanding Your Prius)?

BTW, if you check the CVT, 4 speed auto, and 6 speed manual versions of the 2007 Nissan Versa at, the MY 2008+ EPA ratings are:
CVT: 26/33, 28 combined
4 speed auto: 24/32, 27 combined
6 speed manual: 26/31, 28 combined

So, the CVT does help the cars perform better in the EPA tests.

If CVTs were less efficient, it'd seem illogical (that besides Toyota putting them on because of their HSD implementation) that Honda and Ford would put them on their hybrids too.

I will admit that Car and Driver in a recent column (can't find the article online) did not find any improvement of a CVT equipped Versa vs. either a manual or auto (don't remember which), contradicting Nissan's claims.

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One possibility
by Andy77e / July 9, 2007 7:03 PM PDT
In reply to: CVTs

I too saw the article about CVTs not showing improvement over regular automatics or manuals.

It is possible that it's the variation from different auto-makers that is the key. As in, one automaker makes a really crappy automatic, but makes a better CVT, so in that case the CVT does a better job. Then another does a real good regular automatic, but makes a crappy CVT, so the automatic is more efficient.

In thinking about it, this does make logical sense. Remember that most European autos always used manual transmission. However, CVTs have been common there for years in small scooters and mopeds. Meanwhile, here in America domestics have made regular automatics for decades. So it's likely domestics have improved automatics, while imports have perfected CVTs in Euro markets. Of course this is all speculation that just happens to fit the facts at hand.

As for the Prius CVT, that makes a lot of sense. First, it really is not a typical CVT. A typical CVT uses hydraulic pressure to slow activate clutches and planetary gear sets. Creating that hydraulic pressure is what leaches power from the drive train making it less efficient.

In this case, it uses electric motors which are more than a transmission, but actually create power. This is completely logical sense, because there needs to be a way to use electric power in the drive train anyway, given it's a hybrid.

But this doesn't exactly support typical CVTs, since a non-hybrid wouldn't use electric motors in the transmission.

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CVT's primary advantage?
by geeman1082 / July 9, 2007 10:59 PM PDT
In reply to: One possibility

The CVT in the Prius (et al.) is another of the things that takes some getting used to when driving a hybrid ... for example, my mind has had to adapt to hearing a constant engine speed even though the car is smoothly accelerating ...

I have always assumed that the primary advantage of a CVT in a hybrid is that it can be used to keep the small engine operating in its most efficient ranges a higher percentage of the time versus a transmission with only 4 to 6 discrete gears to play with ... that being the case, and given that most cars are (hopefully) designed with top gears that put the engine in an efficient mode at highway speeds, one would expect somewhat more benefit from a CVT during variable speed (e.g., in town) or variable terrain (e.g., hilly roads) driving than on a relatively flat highway ... the Nissan EPA numbers would seem to support that conclusion, albeit by such small amounts that it could be mostly due to rounding errors ... but it at least makes for interesting discussions around the engineering water cooler ...


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my hybrid

I have a 2002 Toyota Prius and it is the best car I have ever owned. Mine came standard with GPS and its wonderful. I never get lost. The best part of the car is the mileage that I get. I get 48 to 50 miles to the gallon around town and 40 on the freeways. A hybrid is the only way to go and my next one will be another Toyota because they started this hybrid thingy and they know what they are doing

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hybrid math
by mittens / May 2, 2007 12:49 PM PDT
In reply to: my hybrid

I did the math last year on hybrids, mpg, price, all that cool stuff. considering the price of the car (I was seriously interested in Honda Hybrid), the price of gas now, and the MPG, it worked out to be feasible ONLY if I kept the car for fifteen years and drove it continually. In our New England climate a fifteen year old car is considered a junker, ready for the crusher. The hybrid boasted of getting something like 34 mpg, which was supposed to be impressive, except that my y2k Honda Civic regularly gets 35 highway and 34/around town! So, where's the savings?
I can't wait fifteen years to get my money back, thank you.

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peter brow's efficiency comparison
by sKaar / May 2, 2007 1:25 PM PDT
In reply to: hybrid math has a rather old, but still though provoking comparison of gasoline/diesel/steam/electric cars, boils down to the thing that hybrids are no more efficient than full gas cars. the only engines that have high efficiency are those that don't run the engine at a stop, and that run the engine at best efficiency when it's not stopped. gasoline hybrids might best steam and electric, if they were designed properly, but even the big manufacturers just slap them together.
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forgot to say what i'd do
by sKaar / May 2, 2007 1:36 PM PDT

i'd buy parts to build a hybrid or alt fuel car, woodgas fired boiler to run my car on steam is my preference. i won't need a car till i can finally get back to the countryside, stuck in a city i don't need a car, the bus is fine, and the busses here run on a biodiesel/fish oil mix. so when i'm not walking or developing sores on my bum from my computer seat i'm using alt fuels to get around.

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Direct wood gas combustion would be far preferable
by mariasman / June 8, 2007 2:56 PM PDT

Why consider using a wood gasifier to produce steam? Why not filter and cool wood gas for direction combustion in a stock engine?

Just wondering if you're aware that quite literally more than one million vehicles were fueled by wood gas in Europe during WW2? While there are difficulties involved, if done properly a standard automotive engine operated on wood gas will see less cylinder wear than refined fuels.

My primary interest is steam power, but I have come to the conclusion that steam is best used for stationary power production. If alternative fuel sources are desired, then the versatility, simplicity, reliability, and longevity of a steam system is unparalleled. However, if the goal is converting a vehicle to operated on unrefined biomass (such as wood), then steam is not a practical alternative.

I've looked into operating internal combustion engines on wood gas off and on for last year or so. I'm convinced that the most practical alternative is to built a small wood gasifier and filter system to provide just enough wood gas to sustain the vehicle at highway speeds on level ground. The vehicle would be operated on both gasoline and wood gas. I believe that this can be done with NO engine modifications beyond piping filtered and cool wood gas into the intake manifold.

If you have any questions, then I'll answer what I can and provide some resources.

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steam on woodgas vs ic on woodgas
by sKaar / June 8, 2007 6:37 PM PDT

originally i figured that the big reason for using woodgas was that it was easier to throttle than plain old wood on a pile, but i learned that pollutants from a furnace used to make steam are less problematic. ic gasoline engines burn the fuel in a way that causes high carbon monoxide production in part of the cycle and nitrous oxides in others, burning the fuel in the presense of large amounts of oxygen in the proper temperature range produces almost no nitrous oxides or carbon monoxides.

i knew that during the war there were a lot of vehicles powered by woodgas, but they used a more basic type than current technology, when opened, the fuel would spill out of the top of the generator causing long moments of illness for the person who filled the tank, and took a lung of it. modern woodgas generators are much safer, but they take a lot more work to build.

in opposition, i believe that a properly designed powerplant can be used for running a road vehicle, for instance, the field steam motorcycle is powerful, compact and attractive(though i'd change the way the water tank is connected to the boiler). for dual fuel use i would choose a fuel that is already gaseous, like propane, no carbeurator or injectors needed, lot less messing around. even further on steam powerplants, for short trips a steam vehicle could get by without a boiler, just a steam storage tank, run down to the grocer after a fill from the home boiler, hook in when you get home, easy, and safer than vehicles with a boiler.

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