Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ubiquitous Hydrogen Power Not Getting Any Closer

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the isn't-it-ionic dept.

Power 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."

cancel ×

267 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What I still don't get is... (1, Interesting)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918515)

... is hydrogen an energy source or a way of storing energy?

Re:What I still don't get is... (4, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918543)

Are fossil fuels an energy source or a way of storing energy? Just a question of timescales.

Re:What I still don't get is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918733)

What does it matter ? In the Pelosi-Obama-Reid recession there won't be investment in this research.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918917)

In the Pelosi-Obama-Reid recession

it would be rather more accurate to describe it as the Greenspan-Bernanke depression.

-jcr

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919201)

Even more accurately called the Franks, Dodd, Reid recession.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918813)

Fossil Fuel is 'ancient sunlight'. It is solar energy stored millions of years ago by animals and vegitation, transformed over time into liquid form.

Re:What I still don't get is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918925)

Not really "energy", just the low entropy of photons.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918993)

Well if your going to be like that about it then you could argue that nothing in our world today is an energy source. The suns energy from fusion reactions could be described as an energy source, however you could argue that it was only the big bang forming a load of particles that could fuse that gave that energy. So is the big bang the only energy source? where did it get its energy? All in all,not really worth thinking about, you could do the same for many sources in this world.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Informative)

Urkki (668283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919061)

I would not say it's a question if timescales, but a question of energy balance.

No matter the timescale, you can't use X amount of hydrogen to get more than X hydrogen. You need extra energy just to get your original amount of hydrogen, and even more extra energy to get more than you originally had. So it's not a source, it's a storage with energy loss, it has negative energy balance.

But you can use X amount of oil (and no other energy) to survey and pump up more oil, and you'll end up with more than X. So it's a source, it has positive energy balance.

Of course at some point oil will stop being an energy source, 'cos pumping and refining it will require more energy than is recovered. Mineral oil can still be used as a very efficient energy storage for a long time, but the extra energy to pump and refine it will have to come from something else (ie. either from sun or from nuclear energy).

That's also the only comfortable solution to peak oil, if we start doing it early enough: build enough non-fossil power plants and use their energy to convert energy-negative oil reserves into usable oil and gas, ready to be transported and used like conventional oil products.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918553)

Depends: Where is it?

If it's in the Sun, it's a source. If it's a tank we are shipping around, it's a way of storing energy, just like gasoline.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918563)

Storing energy. And apparently not a very efficient one.

But then again, the first internal combustion engines weren't very efficient either and look where we are now.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Informative)

Nabeel_co (1045054) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919011)

Storing energy. And apparently not a very efficient one.

But then again, the first internal combustion engines weren't very efficient either and look where we are now.

Ha ha ha... Wait...

I assume that was a joke? Because ICEs are one of the most inefficient sources of energy in the world, they waste about %80 of their energy.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919117)

True, but compared to the engine of a Model A Ford, the engine in a modern car is a paragon of efficiency.

Hydrogen technology is still in its nascent stages. The best thing to do is to adopt it and then there will be a reason for companies to research more efficient ways of converting hydrogen to energy.

Re:What I still don't get is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919205)

Yeah, no... I suggest people do some research on hydrogen power, and what it takes to make hydrogen.

The fundamental reasoning behind hydrogen power (for cars at least) goes against the laws of thermodynamics.

There is no way you will get anywhere near the amount of electrical energy out of hydrogen as you would have used to make it in the first place. Why not just store the electricity in batteries? Modern battery technology is excellent, you would get greater efficiency out of an electric car, and greater range.

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Insightful)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919501)

Let's see, ways to make Hydrogen:

1. Use algae to generate it
2. Direct solar conversion of water to hydrogen using photoelectrochemical semiconductor panels.
3. Using high temperatures from a nuclear energy plant to heat and crack water into hydrogen and oxygen

4. Oh yeah! Neanderthal-style electrolysis.

BTM

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919221)

But compared to a 90% efficient brushless electric motor, a ICE is kinda crappy.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918621)

... is hydrogen an energy source or a way of storing energy?

Depends whether you have a working fusion power plant which runs on regular hydrogen...

Well, damn, who'd have thought... (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918719)

that converting chemical energy to heat, then to movement, then to electricity, then to hydrogen, then to electricity, then to movement might not be the be turning out to be such a great idea after all...

 

Re:What I still don't get is... (2, Informative)

Cor-cor (1330671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918759)

... is hydrogen an energy source or a way of storing energy?

For the purposes the hydrogen fuel cells are aimed at, it's a method of storing energy, an intermediary much like a battery. Only, apparently, much more inefficient. Power still needs to be generated somewhere to produce the hydrogen, as it is not found in large underground deposits.

The only advantage I see in hydrogen power over pure electric vehicles is the convenience factor you get from being able to "fill it up". And while I know gasoline is explosive and we've done all right handling it so far, allowing the average person to refill a highly compressed cylinder of hydrogen in their car has always seemed like a bad idea to me. What if they drive off with the nozzle attached, leave the cap off, or get in a crash that damages the tank, as seems to happen a lot with cars that are out there today. Also, average person may be stretching it a little, as I've also heard there is not enough platinum in the world to convert all vehicles to hydrogen power. While that point may be moot with the new catalyst described they will still be awfully expensive to buy and maintain, especially if you get virtually no efficiency bonus over gas.

Overall, what I don't get is why we are not building charging stations. Even if the Big Three can't/won't produce electric vehicles, there are definitely companies out there that aren't quite so scared of change. *cough... hybrid... cough*

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918811)

What if they drive off with the nozzle attached, leave the cap off, or get in a crash that damages the tank, as seems to happen a lot with cars that are out there today.

what if they just fail to get he tank visually and/or hydrostatically tested at the proper intervals? These things are going to go through a lot more cycles in a year than your typical scuba tank.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919063)

Couldn't the safety margin be increased? i.e., if you have a tank rated for 2400 psi, you only fill it to 1200 psi? Would that solve the hydrostatic testing?

Of course, if you could ensure it wouldn't fail for two years, you could just have it done with the maintenance inspection.

BTW, I'm an EE not an ME so I'm working from a lack of knowlege and principles here.

Re:What I still don't get is... (4, Informative)

Nabeel_co (1045054) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918969)

Neither, it takes more energy to make the hydrogen then you can get from it, and it is almost impossible to store...

Hydrogen is just a distraction, not a viable source of... well... anything really...

If hydrogen was so great, we would be all using it already, you can hose it directly into an IC engine and it would run with almost no modification.

The problem with hydrogen has been, and always will be 2 things.

1. Very difficult to produce, it takes a lot of energy, in the form of electricity. (Note: The concept of fuel cells is flawed inherently, because there is no way you can get more electricity out of the hydrogen then you put in to the water to make the hydrogen in the first place. Law of thermodynamics. I propose, we take that energy and store it in... say, batteries to power cars directly... There is no way that is less efficient then going from electricity to hydrogen to electricity.)

2. Very difficult to store. Needs to be kept under extreme pressure, and in some cases needs to be cooled.

Re:What I still don't get is... (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918973)

It depends on whether you stored it, or someone/something else did.

If you are collecting light and using it to break up water, then hydrogen is storage. If you find a cave full of hydrogen and you didn't do anything to cause that hydrogen to be there, then it's a source. AFAIK, no one has any plans that involve using hydrogen as an energy source.

Of course not, Exxon doesn't make $ from H (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918525)

One thing XOM can't control?

frosty pisser on my kisser

Re:Of course not, Exxon doesn't make $ from H (3, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918659)

Sure it does. Most of the current hydrogen (in its raw form) is generated from hydrocarbons.

Re:Of course not, Exxon doesn't make $ from H (3, Funny)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919083)

Specifically, from Natural Gas. Which mostly comes from Oil Wells. Which is what XOM is in in the business of finding and exploiting.

Nobody's interested (1, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918527)

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

Re:Nobody's interested (3, Insightful)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918657)

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:Nobody's interested (2, Insightful)

Smeagel (682550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918707)

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 then getting the rest off the grid. Then the grid can be converted to green over a long period of time and it will be seamless.

Re:Nobody's interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918739)

We have hybrids for gas + electricity.

Maybe it's time for hydrogen + electricity hybrids. You charge the batteries with electricity whenever possible. When that's not available, no biggie, you buy that expensive / inefficient hydrogen for those long car trips. Sure, it'll cost you, but unlimited range always does. However, at least the 95% of driving you do between home/work will be as cheap as ever.

Re:Nobody's interested (2, Interesting)

Smeagel (682550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918777)

"As cheap as ever" is even an understatement. We're talking a couple pennies a mile if you could run your car off of electricity off the grid. Even if the hydrogen were an order of magnitude more expensive, if the car could be built so that it could run 50-75 miles a time on a battery, most people would get their commute drive for extremely cheap and it would offset the higher expense of hydrogen.

Re:Nobody's interested (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919125)

Estimated cost for electricity, based on 40miles/8kwh (small car, Chevy volt), translates to roughtly 1-2 cents/mile. (5-10 cents/kwh) Cost of Hydrogen, based on 25% efficiency (which is probably true) would then be 4-8 cents/mile.

I'd say it's debatable if Hydrogen is worth it. Although, I'd be curious about manufacturing methane from CO2 and hydrogen and comparing the efficiency then.

Re:Nobody's interested (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918785)

We have hybrids for gas + electricity.

Maybe it's time for hydrogen + electricity hybrids. You charge the batteries with electricity whenever possible. When that's not available, no biggie, you buy that expensive / inefficient hydrogen for those long car trips. Sure, it'll cost you, but unlimited range always does. However, at least the 95% of driving you do between home/work will be as cheap as ever.

Agreed, but I didn't think we even had gasoline+electric hybrids. Most I've seen only have one fuel port: gasoline. No way to charge these from the electric grid.

Re:Nobody's interested (0, Offtopic)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918771)

You forgot to capitalize some words in your post. I've corrected most below (boldfaced), though I might have missed a few:

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:Nobody's interested (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918805)

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 home heating oils, and electrical usage will go farther in the short term than electric cars. of course that some storage cell will be good for electric cars too. Cars really don't generate a lot. they have been cleaning up their arse emissions for 15 years.

Re:Nobody's interested (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919537)

"produce enough energy to cover 60% of there yearly energy use"

T-H-E-I-R

No matter how well you know a subject, if you can't even use the proper version of there/their/they're (which is about 3rd grade English), you end up looking like a moron.

Re:Nobody's interested (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918863)

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 doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that.

This is another area of a common ground that many of us can agree on but we let nit picking lead to infighting that holds us back. Common goals shouldn't suffer because someone else who's working towards them is doing it for a different reason than you are.

Re:Nobody's interested (2, Interesting)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918919)

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 trading partners' side, and causes us to spend even more on bullets on our side.

Don't like these ideas? Think they're not correct? Reply to the parent, rather than stifle with a "Flamebait" tag.

Re:Nobody's interested (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918867)

The oil price scam was going to collapse. The article is full of eco-drivel and whining which is typical of such but is disappointing from an article with science in the name.

Hydrogen SUCKS as a transport medium. That's all it is a way to transport energy and it fails miserably compared to oil and several alternatives. It's dirty to make and it's dangerous to use.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918531)

If you are using electrolysis to make hydrogen, it doesn't matter how efficient your fuel cell is, it will still be a net energy loss. This is why most real fuel cells use a reformer to strip hydrogen from hydrocarbons (and emit CO2). Electrolysis is only an option if you are willing to operate at a loss and allow some large power plant to make your hydrogen.

Just Stop! (0)

XTrollX (1398725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918535)

Jeez. It seems like every week there is a new alternative energy source that scientists are trying to make. We should develop what we know for sure is going to work. A few examples would be solar, wind and hydro-electric. Once we have these energy sources mastered then we can go onto something new. Like nuclear or hydrogen power.

Re:Just Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918593)

Hydrogen is fuel for vehicles. Nuclear, solar, wind and hydro-electric are mass electrical production systems.

Re:Just Stop! (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918623)

First of all, hydrogen isn't a power source, its a way of storing power, like a battery. Secondly, how can you say we "know" solar and wind work? Yes, they produce power, but the cost/benefit ratio isn't huge, not to mention the area needed to generate any real power. Finally, since when is nuclear new?

Re:Just Stop! (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918885)

Jeez. It seems like every week there is a new alternative energy source that scientists are trying to make. We should develop what we know for sure is going to work. A few examples would be solar, wind and hydro-electric. Once we have these energy sources mastered then we can go onto something new. Like nuclear or hydrogen power.

I have absolutely no understanding why you got modded insightful, considering that is the very last thing your post is.

Do you think there is one team of scientists and engineers who work on "alternative energy"? Such that if we go to research another source, 10 guys have to get pulled off solar power research -- thus diluting it? You do realize that these are wholly different areas, using totally different people, and funded by different organizations.

There is NOTHING to lose by researching new ideas. EVER. IN ANYTHING.

Re:Just Stop! (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918953)

Nuclear power is relatively mastered. Due to the wonderful world of politics, if you don't already have a nuclear reactor built there is very little chance of you ever being able to harness it. Hell, even Iran knows that nuclear power is the best bet. The only problem there is the byproducts of nuclear power are nuclear weapons and Israel really doesn't want that to happen considering they'd probably be the target.

The US' closest call was Three Mile Island and that whole thing was actually a success, the fail safes worked. The biggest disaster was Chernobyl which actually has vegetation reclaiming the area faster than anticipated(still not safe for human re-colonization). Some countries in Europe, namely France, have been using nuclear power without incident with great success. And no one likes the French, not even many French (btw: Thanks France! Without you the United States might not exist and my life would be vastly different) and if they can do it why can't we?!

So so far we have two "problems" that are solvable with technology we have TODAY but can't due to politics. As if there was any doubt who's best interests the politicians really looked after. In a perfect world, nuclear power would be rampant and there would be no energy crisis. In a perfect world, countries with excess food (such as the US) would be able to just export it to countries in need and everyone would get a fair share (rather than A) just the warlords or B) nobody because the country's leader doesn't want help while his people starve or C) because its not in the US' "best interest" to help those in need).

And mind you, if those 2 problems were solved a plethora of other issues ranging from (some) wars to pollution would be solved or a hairs' breath away from being solved. Then we just got to get used to people being able to have different ideas (fanatics/fundamentalists on all sides won't allow that) and different uniforms.

So, universal peace is obtainable but the odds make it impossible for all intents and purposes. I digressed a bit there, I apologize. But fixing the energy issue is very very important to the survival of the human race, and if we don't destroy ourselves first nuclear power is safest and cleanest way we have available in the long run.

What about oil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918571)

We always hear about efficiency problems with Solar, Hydrogen, etc..

What about oil?

What is the level of efficiency of drilling, pumping, shipping, refining, trucking & exploding this resource?

I wouldn't be surprised if it is below 24%

Re:What about oil? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918683)

If it didn't have >100% net efficiency, it wouldn't be used.

Re:What about oil? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918769)

I think it depends somewhat on whether or not its diesel, but the thing is the infrastructure has already been paid for and optimized over decades by people who have become quite accustomed to the lifestyles made available by the profits it has reaped - and it has reaped great profits, and continues to do so regardless of whether hydrogen/solar/wind/fairies might one day prove to be overall more efficient and less environmentally harmful by a few percent.

When this infrastructure has made these people the most powerful forces in the power and transportation industry is it really any surprise that they're not jumping at the gun to throw it all out and start over from scratch with something newer and more experimental? Of course not, they're businessmen. They will squeeze this rock till every last drop of its black blood has been harvested because thats how to maximize profits.

The only way possible to stop this would be for some other industry force to rise up and take them on and be successful in competing with them at their own game. Do you see a handful of MIT students with solar-powered skateboards pulling that off? Personally I'm a big fan of sci-fi too but its just not gonna happen. :(

Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure... (3, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (5, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Some insights from an european perspective (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919513)

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.
 

I'm european (from germany).

I am not saying that it is a smart idea for the US to ditch their native automakers.

However, I do believe that your reasoning that the US needs native automakers to convert to alternative fuels is wrong.

I have two historical cases that support this assumption:

1) Introduction of the catalytic converter

In the mid eighties, there were big discussions about the introduction of unleaded fuel and catalytic converters in Germany. The auto industry, the most important and influential industry in germany, then supplying almost half the worth of cars sold in europe, maintained that doom would be imminent if
legislation for catalytic converters and unleaded fuel were to be imposed. Technical hurdles would prevent conversion for a long time. Then the swiss government (no native auto industry) went ahead and imposed a ban on leaded fuel and mandated the use of catalytic converters anyway. To the utter astonishment of all the experts, all those fancy high-tech Benzes and Beemers didn't vanish overnight from swiss showrooms - they were available with catalytic converters as soon as the new legislation went in effect.
At the time, this hitherto believed-to-be-impossible conversion was credited to the exhaust pipe fairy ;-)

2) Speed limits

With just middle-school math and physics skills, it is easily shown that hitting the back end of a semi-trailer with your car at an 80mph speed differential may impact your health much more adversely than doing so at a 20mph speed differential.

Yet, the only country in europe where no speed limits are imposed on a majority of the highways happens to be the one that makes a living from peddling cars optimised for performance at 125+ mph - germany with its "autobahns".

So not having an incumbent auto-industry with 100+ years of valuable experience in power-lobbying might actually help making both environmentally and economically sound decisions ;-)

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918835)

Maybe this is what they meant in the Bible by "something something something"? You know, the bit after the scribes discover Hooch.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918895)

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 about CO2, use a scrubber to compress it into blocks and then bury it at the bottom of the ocean. Which is where most of the world's CO2 is anyway; Compressed at the bottom of the ocean. There's practical solutions that work on today's infrastructure that are being ignored because today's infrastructure is suddenly seen as eating children and devouring our precious [noun].

And why should the government be spending money replacing infrastructure just to pander to the latest political fashion statement -- ie, "green"? Whenever a slightly faster computer comes out, do all the old ones get swapped out right then and there? No. We hold on to things that are old and out of date because they still serve a useful function and because it costs less to maintain what we have than to use something new. It's great that research dollars are being poured into alternative energy, and I fully encourage it. And when the technology is proven, practical, and economical, I see no reason why we shouldn't then start migrating our infrastructure towards it. Which is indeed what is slowly happening as we speak.

Be patient. You're talking about over $16 trillion in infrastructure in this country alone. We only make a fourth that in GDP a year, and only a small fraction of that can go to upgrades.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919159)

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 which is a sunk cost? Is it the cost of putting in an electric car infrastructure or hydrogen or the cost of our current oil infrastructure? Does it include the cost of the cars?

It's always nice to see sources for the numbers we bandy about.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919327)

You compress it the same way dry ice is made. And what keeps it in a solid state is the intense pressure (not the temperature). Getting it to that depth, however, can't be done in bulk because there's no equipment to do so. It is feasible, however it's more economical to chemically bind the CO2 to something solid at room temperature, brick it, then throw it in a landfill, which is what they're doing now at some newer coal burning plants.

And the $16 trillion figure -- could not find a cite for it, sorry. Also, I goofed on the per year GDP generation -- it's about 14 trillion per year, not 4. Sorry, I missed a digit. The CIA world factbook has some general economic data; which is my usual source.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919449)

A good place to start would be to recycle the waste into more energy production (currently illegal, regardless of the economics).

If the French can figure this out (80% nuclear powered country and growing) and we can't, then that is pretty pathetic.

Also, take a look at this https://lasers.llnl.gov/ [llnl.gov]

Lawrence Livermore is making some really good progress on fusion. I know its cliche, but if we poured 1/10th the Iraq war money into fusion research we would have it pretty darn quickly.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919475)

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.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918909)

The only organisations with enough power - and money - to enable the promising technologies of the future to flourish is central Gov.

It's not just money the government has - it's FREE money. It just sort of comes from nowhere.

Combined with magic, they can do almost anything, this government can.

Just one more dollar, one more vote, and new laws will fix everything so we'll live happily ever after. (Sucker.)

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919041)

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 dissolve many rubbers) and tinker with the engine timing, amount of fuel injected, etc. This results in highly non-optimal use of the fuel, as it maximizes the downside (lower energy density compared to gas) and doesn't take advantage of the upside (extreme resistance to knocking). Ethanol has an extremely high octane rating at about 114 (compare premium gas at 91). This allows you increase compression (and thus engine efficiency) significantly without the problem of knocking. To use ethanol properly, you need forced induction (supercharger/turbocharger) and lots of it. combine forced induction and ethanol and you can easily match fuel economy (miles per gallon) and get a nice boost in torque and horsepower (or allow for the use of a smaller engine with the same power/torque.)

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919073)

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 infrastructure takes too long and costs too much, relative to the alternatives, to be useful in reducing fossil fuel use.

Re:Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919483)

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.

Surprised? (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918583)

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.

re: solution. (2, Funny)

Rage Maxis (24353) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918585)

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.

YAY.

Not necessarily (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918981)

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.

H2 transport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918587)

One issue I heard a talk on was the difficulty of transporting gaseous H - it requires really expensive alloys to keep it from reacting with the pipelines and storage tanks.

Thermodynamics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918661)

I'm tired of hearing about Hydrogen as the savior. It is not an energy source - it is an energy storage medium, little different than a battery. Either you get Hydrogen from natural gas (in which case you're at best equally well off just burning the gas) or by electrolysis of water in which case you still need a source of electricity. In both cases you'd be better off using the primary source of the energy directly.

Re:Thermodynamics? (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918755)

It is not an energy source - it is an energy storage medium, little different than a battery.

      The same as fossil fuels. The only "energy source" is the sun, that moves the wind and powers the waves and makes the plants grow and eventually turn into the mush we call petroleum, and nuclear energy which is finite in terms of ore and has its own refining/purification and infrastructure costs.

      The smart bit is if you manage to find a way to harness a huge amount of a non-portable energy source - like sun in the desert or waves in the ocean - energy that is really available in excess, and use THAT energy to make smaller, PORTABLE forms of energy that lets us move about.

      Either way our current society will end when petroleum becomes really scarce. There's no way we can maintain a world where everyone has a car. As you pointed out, the inefficiencies just won't allow it. Trains will be coming back in style in a BIG way, and there will HAVE to be changes to our town planning. History teaches us that probably quite a bit of people will have to die before we accept this as a society though.

Re:Thermodynamics? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918839)

Geothermal and tidal sources are also energy sources besides the sun. Or, if you want to be really pendetic, there's no such thing as an energy source, since the sun/earth/moon/etc. all came about from energy that was already there, thus making the whole universe one big battery. But that's not very useful conceptualization of the universe.

Re:Thermodynamics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918865)

What about nuclear energy? That's two "energy sources".

Re:Thermodynamics? (0, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919133)

What about nuclear energy? That's two "energy sources".

"and nuclear energy which is finite in terms of ore and has its own refining/purification and infrastructure costs."

      Congratulations, I see you managed to read an entire line of text. Try a little harder and perhaps you can manage the second line next time.

      In case you're still reading, one could argue that even nuclear isotopes can eventually be traced back to the fusion happening inside the sun, but that was long enough ago to perhaps consider nuclear to be a "second" power source, which is why I mentioned it as such.

Re:Thermodynamics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919533)

Excellent point.

That's why guns and ammunition are the universal currencies. If you have them, you can get all the other resources.

Those who beat their swords into plowshares will be plowing the fields for those who do not.

Frivolous Argument (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918679)

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 perpetuate most of the present problems.

Re:Frivolous Argument (4, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Frivolous Argument (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919413)

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.

Re:Frivolous Argument (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918911)

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.

Inefficiencies of conventional fuel (4, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

It was just another stupid Bush scheme (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918775)

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.

Then let's hear about SOMETHING BETTER! (0)

Hasai (131313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918801)

Nothing ticks me off more than some back-to-the-trees naysayer who spends all their time nit-picking every proposal to death, while offering NO viable alternatives.

Do you have a BETTER idea, other than your usual draw-out-the-death-throes conservation crap? Then SPEAK UP! Otherwise, SHUT UP!!!

Why insist on hydrogen? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918827)

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.

Seriously, do you read /.? (5, Interesting)

Coldeagle (624205) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

MIT Professor Mimics PhotoSynthesis to Create H2 (1)

bossvader (560071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918915)

Well according to my Current Technology Review MIT Professor Daniel Nocera would disagree with the New Scientist.

Briefly

Sun + Water = Fuel With catalysts created by an MIT chemist, sunlight can turn water into hydrogen. If the process can scale up, it could make solar power a dominant source of energy. Take a peak. http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21536/ [technologyreview.com]

Gasoline is only 15% efficient. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25918921)

Gasoline is only 15% efficient.

Why hydrogen? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918927)

Hydrogen required either fossil fuels or electrolysis of water. Fossil fuels will produce carbon dioxide. Electrolyisis of water requires a power plant Either that will produce pollutants or it could be better used to replace a power that produces pollutants.

Could a fuel cell be made that works with a different fuel - one that can be produced more ecologically.

Inefficiency of batteries (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918945)

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?

Solar (1)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918949)

Instead of using electrolysis and other fancy chemical reactions why not use direct application of solar energy? I was told by a professor that the focusing of solar energy using a fully parabolic mirror of sufficient size would generate enough heat to split the water atoms into their hydrogen / oxygen components. Does anybody have any additional information on this? Could you then coax the oxygen atoms into O2 and help restore the ozone layer? If this statement is true then GOLLY that would be great.

Re:Solar (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919067)

Let's say it works. (I suspect it would, but I don't know.) Imagine the heat you're creating to accomplish that. How much of that heat would escape? That would be the most obvious measure of the process's inefficiency.

And I think another point here is that a lot of inefficiency comes from pushing the hydrogen, once you've made it, around in tubes which will leak a little. Tiny little molecule, hydrogen. Hard to keep from oozing out of things.

The upshot is that you might have a 10% better solution, there, but I don't think it's going to change the general bigness of the inefficiency number. (But it would be good to look at the inefficiency of other systems before assuming that the inefficiency of hydrogen is so terrible.)

Yet Again, the obvious requires stating (2, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#25918977)

ONE
HYDROGEN IS NOT A FUEL.

Not now, not ever, never.

WHY?

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.

TWO
IT SUCKS AS A 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.

Therefore: HYDROGEN IS NOT A FUEL. IT IS NOT EVEN A GOOD IDEA FOR A CARRIER.

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.

RS

Re:Yet Again, the obvious requires stating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919173)

wow adding bold in your caps locked comment really emphasizes your point !00%!

Re:Yet Again, the obvious requires stating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919179)

I think we should plan to burn all the jigaboos in electric generation plants, therby "killing two birds with one stone" as they say. Jigs are net carriers of engergy because most of them are fat welfare queens.

Again, the usual misstatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919477)

Hydrogen alone is not a good carrier, you are right. As part of other molecules, it seems to work out all right.

Check out the manufacturing process for anhydrous ammonia or methanol sometime. Either process usually starts by using natural gas to produce hydrogen. Now, if it becomes cheaper to produce hydrogen via electrolysis than by fracturing propane, then it very much does make sense to talk about the "hydrogen economy". It seems like you are getting too much of your information about what the "hydrogen economy" is about from the MSM and perhaps a few popular blogs.

So yes, there are indeed "vessels" for hydrogen that work quite well. They are called "molecules".

Who Killed the Electric Car (5, Insightful)

smist08 (1059006) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

not to mention (1)

jannesha (441851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919025)

Hydrogen is very, very, small (in terms of it's molecular radius). It escapes through cracks that other gases don't. Storage vessels tend to develop leaks quite easily.

The Only Immediate Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919079)

Hydrogen? You must be joking.

Coal gasification, coal liquifaction, and a resurgence of nuclear fission are the only reasonable energy technologies of the immediate future.

When the coal runs out in 200-300 years?

Well, we'll leave that problem for the upcoming generations. Good luck.

TFA should have interviewed United Nuclear... (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919131)

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 up with great leaps of technology. Of course, most of us backyard chemists got poor press thanks to the radioactive boyscout.

Educating people is the answer, not banning everything in sight.

What About Compressed Air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919351)

I like compressed air simply because it doesn't require batteries that need to be recycled (or not in many cases), can be compressed with renewable energy such as solar cells, hydroelectric power, or wind, and with filters already on the car, can clean the air we all breathe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztFDqcu8oJ4

CARNOT PRINCIPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25919387)

You aren't goin gto get 100% efficiency from a heat engine.

And another ad of how good smoking is by Marlboro (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919545)

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?

Geesh...

chicken and egg situation + paranoia (1)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25919585)

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.

Creating hydrogen by burning fossil fuels is completely missing the point - that of stopping the creation of carbon dioxide and other polutants.

Creating hydrogen from solar/wind/wave we don't care how inefficient it is in general as the point is to stop burning the fossil fuels - and the energy would end up in the environment anyway if we don't use it first to generate some electricity, then hydrogen. All we're doing is moving the resulting heat from where the wind/solar farm is to where the hydrogen is used - not much of a problem.

In the long term there is the opportunity to generate hydrogen fairly directly from atomic energy (as well as from the above sources) but this is feasable only in large quantities it seems (I may be wrong - the life-cycle diagram I recall seeing was over a year ago) - and it would be necessary to create pipelines for the fuel to be distributed. The idea was that the super-cool pipes could also be used to cool super-conducting wires so we got the benefit of more efficient electricity distribution too.

But we need a hydrogen-using infrastructure to justify the creation of the hydrogen supply infrastructure - so use of current generation schemes is one way to kick-start the process.

Note I am not generally in favour of the hydrogen society at this point (far more hazerdous than gas is for example) but can see that it might be one way to go if nobody invents something like the "shipstone" of Science Fiction fame (100% efficient and huge capacity static energy storage container) which bears more than a passing resemblance to a very good capacitor.

The paranoia comes in when we talk about atomic power. IMHO without atomic power it is silly to talk of hydrogen use on any scale.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>