Monday June 8 | Hydrail Technology and Jobs

June 5, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in Coming Up | 3 Comments

We’ll discuss Hydrail technology, which uses hydrogen fuel cells instead of traditional diesel-electric generators to power rail motors. A Mooresville resident has been at the forefront of the hydrail movement, he joins us to talk about the latest advances in hydrail technology, including “hydrolleys,” streetcars powered by hydrogen fuel. We’ll talk about how this technology is faring around the world, plans to use it here in the US, and how Charlotte’s Light Rail system may benefit.
Stan Thompson – Retired Engineer and “Environmental/Transportation Futurist”
Dale Hill – Founder of Proterra, Solutions for Clean Transportation
Dr. Barry Burks – Assoc. Director, Charlotte Research Institute

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  1. After the discussion of Hydrogen and Hydrail (which we excellent) and some very probing questions by the host did a good job of giving a more complete picture, I would like to correct (and offer as a show topic) a statement Mr. Collins made. During the show, Mike said point blank that we could not get off the foreign oil dependency that we have emphasized as a priority to the country. This statement was made in light of the need to explore alternatives.

    However, during the show, and as a clarification to that statement, I would like to hear Mike talk with experts on the vast wealth of natural gas we have. I have spent years in the industry and while we preach the fact that oil is impossible to displace in society, we neglect the recent finds on natural gas and how easily those finds could displace oil (certainly from the middle east) IF we took the time and effort to develop the fields and create the infrastructure—both of which are already in place but less extensive than needed.

    We have enough gas to power every car and truck and they can all be retrofitted. And it is better for the environment than gasoline. But we don’t for some reason have the willpower to do it. We would still need oil but Canada and Mexico would probably provide all we need.

    • 6 September, 2010:

      Grafton, I was one of the interviewed guests on that show. I’m also a backer of the well-known plan to shift energy use toward domestic natural gas in the immediate run–although I’m equally convinced for a number of reasons (including carbon management) that nuclear and renewably-sourced hydrogen is the eventual trend.

      Don’t blame Mike Collins for his remark. There is a background assumption in media which can be summarized as “This is the best of all possible worlds…and it’s awful.” It’s the concensus industry story “and we’re stickin’ to it.”

      Reporters who openly encourage those advocates of change who actually help bring solutions to the table risk being branded by peers as “boosters.”

      Loudly espouse the “ain’t it awful” chant and you’ll be followed around by media like mice followed the Pied Piper. That’s “victim chic.”

      One editor even lamented on the op-ed page that too few Charlotteans chain themselves to trees to protest!

      After waiting more than two years, Dale Hill (who was also on that show) took his new plant and 1,300 technology jobs, not counting ancillary supply-chain employment, down to South Carolina [Google: proterra AND greenville] because, apart from public broadcasting, TV news and the business press, the anti-boosterism omertá kept NC in the dark about what he was trying to bring here: a new hydrogen fuel cell transit vehicle manufacturing industry.

      SC media appreciated that hydrogen smells like money.

      Don’t blame Mike Collins for that one reflexive remark. He sticks his neck out to help air innovation more than almost anyone in the Charlotte media market.

  2. […] support our local public broadcasting stations—and also let them know that we appreciate hydrogen-related programs and news […]

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