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Power Technology

Ubiquitous Hydrogen Power Not Getting Any Closer 267

NewScientist has a story about the "hydrogen economy" that has been resting on the horizon for a decade or more. Despite a great deal of enthusiasm for and research into hydrogen-based power systems, the technology seems just as far away from everyday use as it's always been. A British startup, ITM Power, has recently claimed a breakthrough in lowering production costs by using a nickel catalyst (rather than platinum) with a membrane small enough for home use. But, even if their method is proven and adopted, it still wouldn't address huge energy efficiency problems in the process. "The point was made forcefully by Gary Kendall of the conservation group WWF in a recent report called Plugged In (PDF, pgs. 135-149). Kendall, a chemist who previously spent almost a decade working for ExxonMobil, highlights how the energy losses in the fuel chain - from electrolysis to compression of the hydrogen for use to inefficiencies in the fuel cell itself — mean that only 24 per cent of the energy used to make the fuel does any useful work on the road."
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Ubiquitous Hydrogen Power Not Getting Any Closer

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  • Now oil prices are falling, bobody's interested. Till the next time.

    • by sjs132 ( 631745 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:09PM (#25918657) Homepage Journal

      Thats actually Wrong... I'm not a green freak (as can be attested by a number of my posts and the truth that real environmentalists commit suicide to lessen their impact on the planet...) BUT: I'd love a hydrogen vehicle... I don't care about the carbon being released by burning hydrocarbon fuels, etc... (Heck problaby more Carbondioxide released by brewing and drinking of beer...) I think we need a way to be free of the grasp of forign powers (some not so friendly) on our infastructure. My alternative to Hydrogen vehicles would be CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and even the CNG has home filling units available now. and CNG is something we have plenty of HERE at home (if you're a Non-USA Reader... Pardon the egocentricity of my post.)

      Wind and Solar are ok ideas, but they can't be put into my tank...

      So I put forward that for national security and protection of our transportation infastructure, that we need to CONTINUE to look for Hydrogen and/or CNG solutions for our transportation needs.

      I've told my representative the same, but she replied back with a form letter about how solar is the future, etc... etc.. etc.. Even a solar panel on the roof of my car would probably just run the radio and airconditioning fans...

      Just my .02 worth...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Smeagel ( 682550 )
        Yes, but solar panels covering your house could collect the energy that could be converted (albeit inefficiently) into hydrogen which could run your car. The energy source would be solar, the storage system would be hydrogen.

        Sure you might still need to suck some energy off the grid to create enough hydrogen, but even if the grid is burning fossil fuels to provide energy, it's doing it a HELL of a lot more efficiently than a car does.

        The key is to get everyone producing as much as they can at home, and

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lupine ( 100665 ) *

          Batteries can already store electricity at 90% efficiency.
          Electricity -> Battery -> Electricity = 90%

          Electricity Hydrogen electrolysis is not very efficient, using fuel cells to create electricity is not very efficient:
          Electricity -> Hydrogen -> Electricity = 40%

          Hydrogen will only work as a fuel storage mechanism if you have an abundance of very cheap electricity(nearly free).

          • Which is why we need to start building nuclear plants like its nobody's business. Aside from fast integral reactors available with current technology which greatly reduce waste, Dr. Bussard was supposedly on the brink of energy positive fusion reactions before his unfortunate death.

            If we upgrade our power grid for more efficient transmission between different areas, built enough nuclear plants so we've got more electricity than we know what to do with, it won't matter as much that our storage mechanism isn

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by peragrin ( 659227 )

        actually as things go within 5 years it should be possible for even northern latitude homes to produce enough energy to cover 60% of there yearly energy use. Currently in active development between solar and vertical turbine wind generators the ability for roughly 10,000 watts to be generated at the average home. Now all wee need is a method of storage other than batteries, and a convertor that will allow the excess to dump back out onto the grid.(for when your not home anyways)

        cutting down the need for h

      • I really don't understand why this was modded as flamebait. The fact is that to sell new alternative fuel technologies to people we're going to need to approach the public's perception of the current problem on many levels. As long as it gets something better on the roads who cares if someone is doing it for the environment or for political reasons. I see it as win-win. In fact, I think it's going to bring about more and more people if we keep adding to the reasons why we should move in this direction. It d
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wonkavader ( 605434 )

        Flamebait? Who moderated this as Flamebait?

        CNG is worth thinking about. South Korea has been pushing CNG (and natural gas, in general) for vehicles.

        The politics implied by his post are worth thinking about. Paying a premium (even a 75% premium) may be better than sending our money out of the country for oil. Compare hydrogen's inefficiency to paying money to other countries, then using energy to transport the oil we buy.

        And yes, some of that money we pay definitely does get spent on bullets on our tradi

      • I've told my representative the same, but she replied back with a form letter about how solar is the future, etc... etc.. etc.. Even a solar panel on the roof of my car would probably just run the radio and airconditioning fans...

        Given current solar panel efficiencies, a roof panel won't even run your AC, it might be able to run your radio, assuming you don't have some crazy one, and keep the volume down.

        I've looked at the sizes of solar panels, with the intent to maybe get one to keep my battery on a float charge.

        It should be noted that the solar car competitions in australia are done with NASA grade panels that are twice as efficient as the normal 'best' - but ~100X the cost. They're still essentially ultralight sleds and average

      • The reason why we are on oil is because energy companies and gov wave the majic wand and show you different tech. So where is the problem? FEW OF THESE CAN WORK. Hydrogen is really one of them. H2 is pretty much stripped from NG. IOW, if you are burning Hydrogen, you would convert CNG to hydrogen, have to ship it (pipe will not work), have to store it on the ground as well as in the vehicle(very pricey or very low density), then you either burn it or convert to electricity. The problem is that not only do
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:00PM (#25918581)

    I'd love to have an alternative - a real, no compromise one - for fuelling my activities without destroying the planet. Really.

    But we ain't there yet. Not just because nothing - repeat nothing - comes remotely close to matching the energy density AND cost of fossil fuels. (And this after we've shipped the fuel halfway round the world).

    No, the main problem is infrastucture. Be it public charging sockets for your Tesla or Chevy Volt, or H being available at your local gas (sic) station.

    The only organisations with enough power - and money - to enable the promising technologies of the future to flourish is central Gov. As usual, they're doing nothing.

    So how about it Pres Obama - ditch no-future subsidies for ethanol & Detroit, and use them to build nuclear powerstations (no CO2) and a nationwide H and elec infrastruture. Now that would be change I can believe in.

    • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:29PM (#25918799)
      ditch no-future subsidies for ethanol & Detroit

      Unless I'm reading into this wrong, you're missing something...

      For Obama's plan for the US to be the leader in alternative fuels we're going to need Detroit. He needs an auto industry that he can lay hands on and manipulate. Otherwise he's going to be relying on the goodwill of other auto makers to meet him half way to his goal and that's probably still going to involve subsidies. If these subsidies are going to exist either way I'd much rather have them here than abroad. By using resources in the US he will have some say and legislation will give him a hand to work with these assets.

      We need to draw a line between the oil industry and the auto industry. As long as we treat them as the same we're never going to rise above the muck that keeps alternative fuels beached. It's a hard pill to swallow but it's still there regardless of our outlook on all of it.
      • We need to draw a line between the oil industry and the auto industry. As long as we treat them as the same we're never going to rise above the muck that keeps alternative fuels beached.

        Actually, we need to MAKE a line between the oil and auto industries. Do you honestly believe that one could exist without the support of the other in their present situations? And the subsidies? Do you reward your kids for making F's in school? They shouldn't receive subsidies, they should be PURCHASED and new management installed. Old management should be blacklisted. (Yes, blacklisting does happen).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      We're not building nuclear power stations for one simple reason: We don't know what to do with the waste byproduct yet. There are very few places on this planet that we can store it, and even then there's doubts. While I'm fairly certain that future generations will solve the problem of how to make it safe, that logic has not worked well for us in the past (hence the cause of any number of current social issues) so I will certainly respect if someone disagrees with my position here.

      If you're that worried ab

      • This compressed into blocks and placing at the bottom of the ocean sounds interesting. Do you have any links to share?

        How do you compress it into blocks? Are we talking about making dry ice, here?

        What keeps it in block form, down there? Is the pressure so great that it stays as dry ice? Or do you really mean increase the ocean's CO2 levels throughout?

        And the $16 trillion -- I'm asking, not attacking, I really want to know -- is that a replacement cost, or is that primarily realestate for gas stations wh

      • We're not building nuclear power stations for one simple reason: We don't know what to do with the waste byproduct yet. There are very few places on this planet that we can store it, and even then there's doubts.

        France seems to have a good handle on it. They generate almost 80% of their power from nuclear and reprocess the waste.

      • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:11PM (#25919671) Journal

        We're not building nuclear power stations for one simple reason: We don't know what to do with the waste byproduct yet

        I assume you're rejecting the solution presently used by the fossil fuel industry, which is just to dump it directly into the environment at the point of generation, right?

        'cause if that's on the table, well, problem solved.

        But if you, quite reasonably, reject this solution then it shouldn't be permissible for the fossil fuel industry either. So comparing apples to apples we see that nuclear power is much better off.

        • The volume (and mass) of waste per kilowatt hour of power is orders of magnitude lower for nuclear than for fossil fuels.
        • The bulk of nuclear wastes can be cost effectively reprocessed to make more fuel, reducing the amount of new fuel that needs to be mined at the same time as you reduce the amount of wastes that need to be disposed of; neither is the case for fossil fuels.
        • Much of the remaining nuclear waste material has a short half-life, meaning after a relatively brief period of storage it is no longer dangerous. Not so fossil fuel wastes, which are essentially stable and remain just as dangerous forever.
        • The remainder of the nuclear waste material is long-half life solids which, due to the very nature of half lives, aren't very radioactive. This means they can be handled with reasonable precautions which is a double win since many of them are economically useful--unlike the waste products of fossil fuel use which are either to valueless (like CO2) or too dilute (like mercury) to be economically recovered.


        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          The volume (and mass) of waste per kilowatt hour of power is orders of magnitude lower for nuclear than for fossil fuels.

          Yes, but nobody's going to die from inhaling an equivalent mass of CO2 versus, say, a radioactive isotope of cesium. And if somebody releases a thousand pounds of CO2 over a populated city, I doubt anyone would notice... A thousand pounds of any radioactive compound and you're talking major ecological disaster. (and yes, everything is radioactive, for those in the peanut gallery... you know what we're talking about here though)

          The bulk of nuclear wastes can be cost effectively reprocessed to make more fuel,

          The bulk of nuclear fuel can only be reprocessed if and only if the plant was des

          • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

            Nobody's going to die from inhalation of CO2, but many people are going to die from hunger, draughts, hurricaines once the climate changes due to high levels of CO2.

            Also, you DON'T need breeder reactors to reprocess fuel. Your current nuclear waste can be reprocessed just fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kaos07 ( 1113443 )

          And why exactly are you comparing two, outdated technologies when you really should be comparing them to solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, hydro, tidal and geothermal?

          It's because rusted on nuclear proponents are still living in the 70's and honestly believing that nuclear is so good compared to coal, but they can never win the debate against renewables.

          • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

            Look at Germany and France. Germany tries to build renewable energy infrastructure.

            France has already built essentially all-nuclear electrical grid.

            Currently price of electricity is 2.5x lower in France than in Germany.

            So stop comparing your outdated brain-dead USA nuclear industry and real efficient country-wide solution.

      • by abigor ( 540274 )

        You need to do some reading on fast breeder reactors. The waste problem was solved years ago - the issue now is one of political will. Your nuclear knowledge sounds like the "common wisdom" sort of thing, not something based on fact.

        The only scheme I've ever heard of for storing CO2 in the ocean is to pump it beneath the ocean floor. There is not enough pressure to keep it in a solid state. Instead, it becomes a liquid:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5255444.stm [bbc.co.uk]

        Can you point to evidence that shows

      • We're not building nuclear power stations for one simple reason: We don't know what to do with the waste byproduct yet.

        Arguably speaking, the nuclear waste is a whole heck of a lot easier because we're talking about a dozen or so orders magnitude less of it vs the amount of CO2 we produce any given year. Of course, I'm one of the ones that believes the problem is mostly political - the stuff remaining after reprocessing or running it through a breeder reactor lasts a lot less time. France has been reprocessing for years. And no, I don't buy any proliferation concerns - if anything all that waste sitting around increases

    • Ethanol works just fine when done right. Problem being, due to sugar tariffs, corn subsidies, Detroit not making effective engines, etc. it is pretty much deliberately being done wrong.

      Doing it properly requires 2 things;

      1. A proper feedstock. Corn sucks for this, period. Sugar cane or sugar beets are far, far better and can be grown domestically just fine.

      2. Proper engines. Current flex-fuel vehicles pretty much just replace fuel line components with stainless steel (high concentrations of ethanol will

    • It would take a number of decades and great expense to develop and deploy a national hydrogen infrastructure. For the same amount of money and in considerably less time we can promote more efficient building codes and other energy-efficiency initiatives, carbon capture and sequestration, non-fossil energy (hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism, not an energy source), plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles (where low carbon power plants are available), etc. Read Joe Romm's book [wikipedia.org]. A hydrogen transportation in

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      You want an alternative that helps the environment but compromises nothing at all?

      And also, I suppose, to still be able to eat whatever you want without losing weight?

      And also, I suppose, to buy all the gadgets you want without having to face credit card bills afterwards?

      I think the best way forwards would be for society to lose the attitude it's gained in the past fifty years that we can get what we want without paying the cost.

    • No, the main problem is infrastucture. Be it public charging sockets for your Tesla or Chevy Volt, or H being available at your local gas (sic) station.

      Those of us who actually drive electrics realize pretty quickly that infrastructure is only perceived as a problem. Electricity is already everywhere, but the reality is that several standard deviations of your charging is done at home.

      Don't have a garage, or need to take long trips? That sucks for you, but statistics rather unassailably demonstrate that's not a problem for the other 80 or 90 percent of us. Electrics aren't going to be a 100% solution, but a 90% solution is well within our reach.

  • I'm not. Things died and got buried long ago (thousands to millions of years) for all that plant and animal matter to turn from living things into propane, oil, and what not. Quite a time investment, that.

  • I have a solution.

    Clone dinosaurs. Bury them. Use the oil they turn into.

    Cryogenic freezing in the meantime powered by the sun.

    Over-seen by Skynet.


    • Not necessarily. There has been small, tiny voices peeping for a long time that dinosaurs, or plants, for that matter, might not be the source of oil. Recently some bacteria were discovered which create hydrocarbons.

      Conventional wisdom definitely supports you, but you might just turn out to be wrong, and then we'd have wasted money cloning dinosaurs, and time, by waiting millions of years for them to turn into oil.

      But what the hell. Let's give it a try. It'll be cheaper than bailing out GM.

  • To imply that the process is somehow flawed because it consumes more energy overall than it produces is a trivial, straw man argument. The alternative would be a net positive energy, ie. perpetual motion/"free energy".

    However, Kendall does imply the fact that the existing hydrogen production models consume hydrocarbons that are usable in the present form without additional processing. A hydrogen production method that does not use fossil fuels would be a boon. One that relies on fossil fuels serves only to

    • by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:20PM (#25918731)

      We have net positive energy right now with hydrocarbons, and it's not because of perpetual motion. It's because the energy we put into it (drilling, transport, etc.) is less than we get out when we burn it. That's because the majority of the energy to make the stuff was already put into it by the sun with some geothermal processes thrown in.

      Thermodynamics applies to the universe as a whole. You can have net energy production or a decrease in entropy if you're limiting the scale (either in time or space) of your solution.

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        This is what bugs me about the "Thermodynamics" criers. They love to claim that X energy production wont work because of the law of thermodynamics, but they always forget about the huge amounts of energy that gets put into the contraption in the first place.
    • The issue is that you can either use the energy source directly, which is always going to be more efficient, or you can use a more efficient method of storage / transfer than hydrogen.

  • by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:14PM (#25918697)

    Kendall, a chemist who previously spent almost a decade working for ExxonMobil, highlights how the energy losses in the fuel chain - from electrolysis to compression of the hydrogen for use to inefficiencies in the fuel cell itself mean that only 24 per cent of the energy used to make the fuel does any useful work on the road.

    That's an important point but how come these issues are never brought up in discussions about the inefficiencies of conventional fuel? It takes energy to pump oil out of the ground, ship it to a refinery, distill it into gasoline, and transport the fuel to a gas station. With conventional internal combustion engines you get about 25% efficiency from the time you fill up at the gas station. Fuel cells get over twice that.

    • I have not yet seen someone mentioning it, so I might just report the concept of well-to-wheel efficiency, i.e. the efficiency from extraction until consumption in a vehicle. IIRC That's about 10% for the oil-to-gasoline cycle. That makes hydrogen a 140% improvement over current situation, and that's according to a critic.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:27PM (#25918775) Homepage

    The "Hydrogen Economy" was partly the result of a stupid book by Jeremy Rifkin [amazon.com]. Read it and note how little it says about where the hydrogen comes from. It was promoted by the Bush/Cheney crowd as a means for diverting attention from electric cars.

    Using electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen, then liquefying the hydrogen, storing it as a liquid, then recombining it in a car (either in an engine or a fuel cell) is incredibly inefficient. The only advantage over batteries is that it looked like it might provide more range. Battery energy density has improved in the last decade, though. Battery cost is still a problem. But none of the hydrogen cars are cheap. Nor do they really have that much range. Arnold's hydrogen-powered Hummer only has a 60-mile range.

    BMW actually built about 100 "hydrogen powered" cars. But they mostly run on gasoline; although they can optionally run on hydrogen, that's mostly for PR purposes. The liquid hydrogen tank has a "use it or lose it feature"; the BMW vehicle will evaporate all its hydrogen in about 10-12 days.

    It looks like an idea whose time has passed.

    • Another reason why governments don't want to push for electric vehicles is that you can not tax them. People will charge at home so the only option is to place a tax on all electricity - people would revolt. Hydrogen maintains the current structure for fuel / road taxes. Governments like this because it is a significant source of income (especially here in Canada). So even if electric vehicles are better, governments will still support building an expensive hydrogen infrastructure.

      And fyi, with a little

  • I still don't get it. Why the insistence on a fuel source that needs new tech to store it effectively, transfer it to a vehicle, and to put it to use in a vehicle in the first place when we ALREADY have well established infrastructure for storage and distribution of methane and propane and conversion kits to run existing cars on it.

    No new storage tank tech to avoid embrittlement and diffusion losses, etc. We even have fuel cells that can run on methane.

  • by Coldeagle ( 624205 ) * on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:43PM (#25918881)
    I've been scratching my head ever since I saw this, because we've had several new methods for producing/harvesting/storing hydrogen on /. for a few years:

    I got all of those by doing a search here on /. Those are just some of the top ones too. These methods are to new to have become a fees-able opportunity so far; however, given a few years and another few gasoline panics (we all know they're coming), and they'll probably come around to being more standardized.

    • by Timmmm ( 636430 )

      Slashdot has stories about speculative technologies. None of those are actually a reality yet.

    • No new technology will come close to the 90% efficiency that is provided by current battery technologies. The batteries that power your cell phone are good enough and more efficient than any emerging technology.

      Hydrogen doesn't occur naturally and any process that can be used to create hydrogen can be used to create electricity more efficiently.

      90% efficient storage
      existing distribution grid
      domestic production
      renewable sources

      low efficiency, very very expensive fuel cells
      hard to store,

    • Not a one of these have changed a thing. Hydrogen is still a bad choice.
  • Batteries heat up when you charge them. They heat up when you discharge them.

    I suspect that there might be other forms of energy loss, too.

    So if we took the same energy we were making hydrogen out of, and put it in a battery, then put the battery in a car and got miles out of it, in the same way we would with a fuel cell, how efficient are batteries compared to this?

    Anyone know?

    What about ultracapacitors? Are they more efficient than batteries?

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#25918977) Journal

    Not now, not ever, never.


    Because it takes more energy to MAKE hydrogen (i.e., snap the chemical bonds that embed it in various compounds) than you get out of burning it, EVEN AT !00% efficiency (which is impossible, of course.)

    So, straight off, it's not a fuel. At best, it is an energy carrier.


    A: Batteries and ultracapacitors are much better, and can be woven into the present infrastructure at a far lower cost.

    B: There is no vessel on earth than can contain Hydrogen. It consists of a proton and an electron. Period. You cannot tighten the lid on a jar or whatever to contain it. It just leaks out. If it leaks out it either quickly bonds to something or it flies out of the atmosphere, gets ionised and then it's not even hydrogen - it's just an energetic proton. electronic bottles make the negative energy value of hydrogen as a fuel utterly farcical.


    Those who seek "Business As Usual", i.e. the permanent continuance of the present energy glut circumstance are simply going to have to suck it up and deal with The Facts:

    Petroleum is a limited resource that is either at or near peak or just recently past peak production. Its energy density and malleability are unparalleled - there is simply nothing like it. Hydrogen cannot substitute for it. We are simply going to have to re-order our society along the lines of the new reality. Don't like it? Tough shit. Those who resist will simply die off. Make plans or have them made for you.


    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:13PM (#25919687)

      [Hydrogen] SUCKS AS A CARRIER

      A: Batteries and ultracapacitors are much better, and can be woven into the present infrastructure at a far lower cost.

      Actually, in terms of energy density per kg or per $, batteries are much, much worse than hydrogen. A typical 11V 6000 mAh laptop battery costs about $100 and holds 0.066 kWh of electricity (237,600 joules). Figure electricity costs $0.11 per kWh (average residential price for the U.S.) and your $120 battery is carry 0.726 cents worth of electricity - that's right, you pay a hundred dollars for your laptop battery to carry around less than a penny's worth of electricity. If you use it for 500 cycles (which is the typical life of a Li-ion battery pack), it's carried a whopping $3.63 worth of electricity in its lifetime.

      Otherwise I don't disagree with anything specific you say. However, you're making the mistake of thinking that this is about making the cheapest fuel/battery possible. It's not. It's about making an energy storage medium which is a combination of cheap, lightweight, doesn't take much space, is safe, and doesn't destroy the world we live in. The best solution doesn't have to be the best in all those categories, heck it doesn't even have to be the best in any of those categories. The fuel/battery with the best mix will end up the winner. It can be sub-optimal in one or many of the categories as long as the combination is best. That's why petroleum is so ubiquitous - it fails miserably in the environmental category, but is or is near the best in all the others. Current electric vehicles can travel more than twice as far per dollar of energy as ICE vehicles, but the ICE still dominates because of its superior performance in the other factors.

      • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:40PM (#25919905) Journal
        Actually, in terms of energy density per kg or per $, batteries are much, much worse than hydrogen.

        Oh, please. Talk about selective data and card stacking.

        1. $ per joule don't make any sense in this discussion. $100 per battery - sure - for retail!
        2. right now eestor and others are developing ultracapacitors that have 3x the energy density of the best LIon batteres, and have many orders of magnitude more charging rounds than batteries, AND are cheaper to build AND they charge Really Really Fast. They will be expensive at first, but industrialism knows how to fix that through production.
        3. The amount of energy per dollar per kg in gasoline blows all of them away. But gas is going away, so it doesn't matter.

        I'm not worried about "cheapest" I'm more concerned about simple FACTS OF PHYSICS that people don't seem to understand too often or selectively forget when they talk about hydrogen.

        Hydrogen is a BAD IDEA as a fuel. It is better left in water.

        The other problem w/ICE vehicles is What Are You Going to Drive Them On? Peak Oil == Peak Asphalt. You can build your spiffy vehicles running on fucking pixie dust - if the roads are reduced to muck in the Springtime and frozen ruts in the winter, your aerodynamic cruiser car with its 4 cm clearance is going to stay in the garage...forever.

        There's a lot more to the energy debate than substituting fuels - our entire way of life has been centred and modelled on a specific energy arrangement and density provided by fossil fuels. Without them, our civilisation itself is going to have to change, radically.

        We've done it before. If you were born in 1850 and died in 1940 - think about it...


  • by smist08 ( 1059006 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @06:00PM (#25919017)
    The movie "Who Killed the Electric Car", showed hydrogen powered cars as just a huge delaying tactic used by GM/Ford/Chrysler to delay an alternative to gas. They had commercially viable electric cars (which they crushed) that were far more efficient than hydrogen will ever be, but didn't want to switch. A main reason being that you don't get all the other revenue from electricity like oil changes, selling gas, etc., etc.

    Exclellent movie, well worth watching. Really makes you want to see the big three go under rather then receive another big subsidy.

  • From the people who brought you mail order polonium and other useful technologies such as portable butane bunsen burners, I proudly present http://www.switch2hydrogen.com/ [switch2hydrogen.com]

    It should be noted that research in this field has been stunted by politicians on the left and right side of the aisle, and that is the actual reason why hydrogen research has been as far out of reach as it has been.

    When I can't even buy chemicals for my chemistry lab without the BATFE knocking on my door, don't expect scientists to come u

  • And another ad of how good smoking is by Marlboro

    Geesh, are people really buying this junk science?

    Go look up Humboldt State University, almost 10 years ago they had a very efficient and effective system of using solar energy to create Hydrogen cells and were driving cars around that took water and solar cells to produce ALL the energy for the car.

    This is not 'rocket' science. Oh wait, the space shuttle uses hydrogen, weird I wonder why diesel isn't ALSO a better solution according to the gas companies?


  • As I understand it, hydrogen is simply an energy storage medium in the grand scheme of things and should be compared mostly to battery/capacitor technologies; at least in the short term.

    In the short term we are talking about replacing the hydrocarbons of gasoline et al with the pure hydrogen burning in moving vehicles. How much energy it takes to create the hydrogen has to compare favourably with the life-cycle cost of creating and feeding batteries or capacitors including externalities such as polution.

  • 24 percent.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig ( 621737 ) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:07PM (#25920149)

    Kendall is apparently one of the few people who can analyze chemical energy storage systems rationally; the sorry truth is that hydrogen GAS - its default phase at the surface of this planet - is one of the least energy-dense materials we have. It's complete lunacy to think it can ever be EFFICIENTLY used as a fuel or source of stored energy.

    What Kendall said of the "hydrogen economy" is also sadly true of virtually every other form of stored chemical energy we have or can envision: it takes more energy to create the stored form than can be recovered later as useful work. That is just my own restatement of what Kendall said. This is true of petroleum (though Mother Nature paid down the energy cost for us over millions of years), biodiesel, hydrogen as a fuel, batteries, and all the rest. Solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and tidal generation are different, since they are not STORED chemical forms of energy, though even they are heavily dependent upon at least one form in order to be fully useful (to modern human society).

    From where does the energy come to create the stored chemical fuels in the first place? We might possibly use solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and tidal systems, but if the creation is significantly dependent upon the use of the very fuels created then it's a losing game of slow energy starvation.

    If that's going to be the case, then we'd best just start getting comfy with having and using a LOT less energy than we do now: no more street lights, no neon signs, no more endless numbers of "wall warts" sipping power 24/7, no stadiums lit up bright as day in the dead of night, no more computer screens running screensavers every idle minute, no more "security" lights appeasing fears, no more giant metal birds shooting across the sky... and no more two hour commutes in Lincoln Navigators or Hummers.

    I've been suggesting for some time that the "petroleum age" has been an energy anomaly, and one that we have not exploited wisely; we still don't have a sustainable presence in space or on another planet, for instance. Once the petroleum runs truly scarce, we will no longer even have the means to establish that sustainable presence; the heavy industry necessary to accomplish it is utterly dependent upon limitless supplies of petroleum.

    Wanna know the real reason why we haven't been visited by ET? Poor little ET's species wasn't any more disciplined than we have been, they had their own Peak Oil event on their planet, and got trapped on their little rock for lack of energy to finish the exodus.

  • I read a few pages of the pdf report. They're more interested in nitpicking, making rhetorical points, and attacking oil companies than providing good best-estimate analysis.
  • Gasoline engines get only an average of 25-30% efficiency out of the gasoline we fill them with. And it costs a lot of energy to make that gasoline from oil, and to get it out of the ground as oil. So if hydrogen's overall efficiency is 24%, then it's better than gasoline's. And that's without the scale economy gasoline has. So bringing hydrogen up to gasoline's scale is worth expending the extra efficiency from hydrogen to get there.

    Unless there's something even more efficient than hydrogen, in which case

  • by rssrss ( 686344 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:10AM (#25922253)

    Grams of Hydrogen in 1 liter:

    Liquid Hydrogen -- 71 g.
    Gasoline (C8H10) -- 118 g.
    Diesel (C12H26) -- 130 g.

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