Nostalgia Chowkit and Initiatives for Clean Energy
It was lively in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, as I hopped out the minibus no 40 that took me from Taman Maluri to Chow Kit. Not only that it was lively, the air was suffocating due to dust and black smoke gushing out from the exhausts pipes of busses, taxi, cars and not to forget the motorcycle – even if they were small, the smoke was total black. Well I was used to it and it didn’t bother me a bit. I would then walked to another bus stop, waiting for mini bus No 20 or 19 to get to Jalan Gurney (now Jalan Semarak). It was a routine for quite some time. That was 1986.
It is now 2014, close to 30 years later. The city is now almost free for the sound of car honking, but the number of vehicles on the road had multiplied by many folds. Although it is much less dusty than it was before, the air is far from clean, not anywhere near the standards that we desire. We have made some progress, especially on public transport in Kuala Lumpur with Rapid KL LRT train, KTM Commuter train (although lots of improvement needed, especially the frequency of services), KL monorail. I would love to see the RapidKL buses operate using electricity (overhead supply, battery or fuel cell). As a whole, I think we haven’t done enough to combat air pollution.
Various different approaches have been made elsewhere. People talked about the NGV policy on the public transport in New Delhi and its impact of air quality. As I walked through the old city of Spain a few weeks ago, it was nice to see electric vehicles used in the historic areas where pedestrians are plentiful. It was both quiet and smoke free.
I belong to a group of researchers who try to help clean the world by developing a source of energy that can be applied without polluting the environment. Yes, using hydrogen and air, electrical energy is produced with water as the by product, much of which can be recycled and reuse. It can be applied for both mobile and stationary applications on small or large scales. This was the subject discussed in the European Hydrogen Energy Conference held in Sevilla in March 2014, and I delivered a talk on the safety aspects of hydrogen energy.
As usual, I prefer to stay in the old the historical parts of a city and use public transport to travel for the meetings or conferences that I attended. So, the first thing to do was to look for the train station and buy a season ticket. This time, it was a 10 Euro discount ticket for multiple use, and it came with 33% discount compared to tickets for single journey.
A number of promising applications of hydrogen energy have been demonstrated and developments of the much needed infrastructures are growing in various parts of the world including Europe, Japan, North America, Korea and China. As early as 2015, we might be able to see hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road at various parts of the world. Most major car companies have successfully tested prototypes of their own, and governments in collaborations with the car manufacturers and energy companies have agreed to build infrastructures.
Last year, I visited an application of fuel cell as a back up power supply for telecommunication tower near Yokyakarta, Indonesia. Interestingly, there have been over 200 similar installations in Indonesia, with more coming in Timor Leste, to be installed by the same company, strongly driven by the needs of good communication services in the environment of electrical energy supply grids that are susceptible to instability.
Another interesting thing that I came across in Spain was the way garbage were disposed. In all the cities that we visited, we found these – garbage collection system. All domestic refuses were categorized at source. Very interesting, and I really liked the idea. The garbage bins in the hotel had various compartments and wastes are segregated at source.
On this, I have to admit that we in Malaysia are quite a distant behind. In our case, even the schedule waste management company must still preprocess the wastes they received before feeding them to their kiln and the subsequent incinerator. In theory, the preprocessing should be minimal since the wastes had been classified according to the prescribed categories, but as usual, between theory and practice, there was a gap !
Hope that this will change. And we know very well, the fact that changes like this must begin in the mind of everybody. I just hope that more campaigns and educational efforts are done by the government and media companies through televisions.