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Articles by Chris Schults

Web Developer for PCC Natural Markets

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  • Hybrids tested and reviewed — Wired style

    Thinking about buying a hybrid car?

    Paul A. Eisenstein, founder of TheCarConnection.com, write's up the results of Wired's road tests of the following vehicles:

    Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
    Ford Escape Hybrid
    Honda Accord Hybrid
    Honda Civic Hybrid
    Honda Insight
    Lexus Rx 400h
    Toyota Prius
    Toyota Highlander Hybrid

    They drove them down city streets, up freeway on-ramps, and along the tight twists of a mountain road. They judged the cars on acceleration, maneuverability, comfort, features, esthetics and fuel efficiency.

  • Sky Blue

    It is the year 2142. Earth has suffered severe ecological damage due to billions of humans inhabiting the planet. The sky is black and acid rain has been pouring down for a century.

    Fortunately, for some, a sanctuary was constructed: Ecoban, a living city genetically engineered to house an elite society. As with many cities, Ecoban exists thanks to the tireless work of an impoverished underclass -- the Diggers. But the very city that they strenuously work to keep alive is killing them. Mercury and sulfur are poisoning their environment, and children are being born blind. So it is up to Ecoban's creator, along with a group of rebel Diggers, to restore balance to the world, to once again see the blue sky -- but at the cost of Ecoban and its inhabitants.

  • Diesel or hybrid? How about both?

    Wired News has reported that General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford are working on diesel-hybrid prototypes.

    According to Charlie Freese, executive engineering director at GM Powertrain:

    ... many factors that make diesel engines more efficient include operating unthrottled and more efficient oxidizing of fuel. Diesel engines also have a higher compression ratio, and the heavier diesel fuel has a higher energy density ... diesel and hybrid technologies have synergies because hybrid systems reduce fuel consumption by relying on the electric motor while idling and during acceleration of stop-and-go traffic. Diesel engines are optimized for hauling heavy loads and for steady-speed highway driving.

    Now, longtime Grist readers will know that Umbra has had some harsh words when it comes to diesel (but not biodiesel and SVO though). While responding to a reader asking if a higher gas mileage diesel car is better than a less-particulate-emitting gasoline engine, she offered the following analogy:

    Let's recall some stale high school stereotypes: the cruel football player and the catty cheerleader. Diesel oil is the football player -- big, strong, lunk-headed, unwashed, and mean. Gasoline is the cheerleader: slimmer, well-groomed, and socially manipulative. They're both toxic to the school atmosphere, but people are more inclined to avoid the bully, because he is more immediately physically hazardous.

    Umbra sums up her article by saying, "... all diesel cars are considered 'inferior' in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's Green Book." But what would Umbra think of a diesel hybrid engine? Here's what Dan Benjamin, an analyst at ABI Research, had to say:

    "Can hybrid engines help (reduce) diesel emissions? Absolutely," Benjamin said. Although diesel vehicle manufacturers will likely add filters or catalytic converters to reduce emissions, "hybrid systems can cut emissions by eliminating situations where NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions are at their very worst," according to Benjamin. Meeting California's tougher emissions requirements, which have been adopted by four other states, presents more of a challenge, Benjamin said.

    So maybe those nasties Umbra is worried about won't be as much as a concern. What say you?

  • Low-energy indoor composter

    Thanks to frequent Gristmill commentor Mike Capone, I came across this very cool product on Treehugger: Naturemill Low-energy Indoor Composter. While I'll stick with my green cone, since I have a yard, this would have been awesome while living in an apartment building in New York City.

    Unfortunately, there is a waiting list.