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Sunday’s Green Car Parade heralds Denver Auto Show week

The 2012 Nissan Leaf is an all-electric zero-emissions vehicle getting an equivalent of 106 mpg and costing $38,270.
The 2012 Nissan Leaf is an all-electric zero-emissions vehicle getting an equivalent of 106 mpg and costing $38,270.Photo © 2014 by Don Bain

Yesterday, The Green Car Parade showcased the latest and greatest green technologies at the State Capitol Circle Drive from 1 to 3 pm. Over 20 vehicles utilizing hybrid, clean diesel, electric, natural gas, and plug-in technology were on hand to demonstrate the availability of fuel-efficient and lower emission vehicles.
The star of the show was to be the Mercedes-Benz new hydrogen fuel cell technology that converts compressed hydrogen – which makes up roughly 74 percent of the entire cosmos – into electricity. The electricity powers an electric motor with a range of about 190 miles, getting the equivalent of 50-mpg and releasing nothing into the air but water vapor.
Notably, half way through the event the exciting new Mercedes was a no-show, perhaps illustrating the main problem with this new technology – the need to create fueling stations. It is also worthy of note that fueling a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will take little more time than fueling a gas vehicle once the infrastructure is in place. Hydrogen fueling stations are most prominent and numerous in California at present.
Green Car Technology – the various types of Green Cars include the following.
Hybrids – These cars normally pair a gasoline engine with an electric motor, though diesel and other hybrid forms are sure to develop.
Clean diesel is ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) refined to reduce sulfur content to 15 parts per million or less, making diesel engines 97 percent cleaner than the fuel busses and interstate trucks once used. Sulphur is naturally occurring in the crude oil diesel fuel is derived from and thus one of the key causes of smog-producing particulates in diesel. Clean diesel technology is reducing the harmful exhaust emissions of diesel engines to improve air quality.
Biodiesel – is a renewable alternative fuel made from various sources ranging from waste vegetable oil to soybeans that can be used in diesel engines. Biodiesel is a cleaner fuel than standard petroleum diesel and can be produced locally, though it tends to make the exhaust smell like french fries. Still a grassroots movement towards this fuel decreases dependence on foreign fuel.

This Lexus hybrid is the perfect urban runabout for the urban professional.
This Lexus hybrid is the perfect urban runabout for the urban professional. Photo @ 2014 by Don Bain

Electrics – use one or more electric drive motors, powered by batteries, producing zero-emissions motoring and are recharged by connection to the electrical power grid, which sometimes produces emissions anyway.
Flex Fuel – such vehicles can run on 85 percent ethanol, usually made from corn but best sourced on sugar cane, used in the form of E85 to power flex fuel vehicles that can also run on standard gasoline, thus creating the flexible fueling capability. Though E85 generally costs less, there is an associated power difference with the use of this fuel.
Natural Gas – is a domestically abundant fossil fuel that burns somewhat cleaner than gasoline, but works great to power internal combustion engines. In some places, like Colorado (an exporter of natural gas) the ready availability of this resource makes it a logical alternative fuel.
Plug-In Hybrids – add an electric range to gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles so they can run a certain distance on battery power alone. The hybrid drive extends the range after the battery power commutes may use nothing but electricity. This combination of technologies can achieve the equivalent of 150 mpg.
Hydrogen cars – use a catalytic medium to generate electricity when hydrogen is released creating the cleanest cars on the road, emitting oxygen and water vapor only. Hydrogen is the cleanest burning of all liquid and gaseous alternative fuels.
The Denver Auto show convenes at the Convention Center downtown this Wednesday evening from 5 to 10 pm. It continues through the weekend from noon to 10 pm Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 10 pm Saturday and 10 am to 6 pm Sunday.