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America's First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Fueling Station

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the piping-in-the-gas dept.

Transportation 247

hasanabbas1987 writes "Shell has opened America's first pipe-lined hydrogen fueling station in the town of Torrence in Southern California. Shell wasn't alone in this project as Toyota also helped them in this green deed, all of which was funded by the government. At the moment other hydrogen stations around the US still depend upon trucks to supply them with fuel. This marks a new era of green fueling and hopefully this pipeline spreads to other stations. Many of the big car makers like Toyota, Honda and Mercedes have indicated a mass market for hydrogen powered cars by 2015."

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That'd be cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098110)

The sooner we can stop buying gas from the Middle East, the better.

Re:That'd be cool (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098232)

The sooner we can stop buying gas from the Middle East, the better.

It'd be cooler if Hydrogen didn't come from fossil fuels.

Re:That'd be cool (2)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098438)

It'd be cool if we weren't burning stuff to make power.

Re:That'd be cool (4, Insightful)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098696)

Making power is easy. Storing it, not so much. Storing it in a cheap, safe, and efficient form? Worth trillions of dollars.

Re:That'd be cool (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098700)

It'd be cool if we weren't burning stuff to make power.

Hydrogen fuel cell powered cars technically aren't "burning stuff" (depending on your definition of "burning")

Re:That'd be cool (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098882)

What's wrong with burning hydrogen in a controlled manner and a confined space?

Re:That'd be cool (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098714)

Amen. Hydrogen is fuel as much as electricity is fuel.
Same applies to corn ethanol, BTW. EROEI1.

Re:That'd be cool (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098728)

EROEI<1
Damn markup rules.

Re:That'd be cool (0)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099008)

Hydrogen doesn't come from fossil fuels, fossil fuels come from Hydrogen. And carbon.

I'm not sure it matters where we get Hydrogen from so much as whether it's
1) A sustainable process
2) The energy cycle pays for itself (the energy harvested is greater than that used to extract it and clean up any mess)
3) Any carbon by-products stay out of the air.

Boondoggle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098120)

Yet another government-funded dead end. Hydrogen is not the fuel of the future. There are too many issues with containment, leakage, and safety. This is ethanol all over again. Christ.

Re:Boondoggle. (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098188)

Is it any worse than a government-funded boondoggle of foreign oil? Perhaps the hydrogen is generated by burning oil, dogs, or babies... but that isn't the pipeline's fault. Someday the hydrogen could be made by cleaner schemes, and the infrastructure could already be in place.

This part made me laugh though:

Toyota also helped them

But

all of which was funded by the government

huh?

Re:Boondoggle. (3, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098596)

Toyota donated lobbyists.

Re:Boondoggle. (4, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098278)

You should know that there were people who thought that the federal highway system was a waste of money too. Sewers, and subways also had their detractors (still do). People never change, tea party, John Birch, know nothings, the names change but some people will always fight the future.

One might also note that pipelines like it might just as easily be good for 'regular' gas stations. I'd guess that keeping the delivery trucks off the road could be a real cost/environment savings (once the pipeline has been in place for 10 or 15 years)

Re:Boondoggle. (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098726)

I suspect the reason this doesn't apply for gasoline and diesel has to do with the available variety of blends and octanes. You can't just install a single pipeline for gasoline the way you can natural gas or hydrogen.

Re:Boondoggle. (2)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098884)

Sure you can. That is how your fuel is transported right now over long distances. They use a pig. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Boondoggle. (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099046)

I stand corrected on the long distance transport. I was thinking of the smaller infrastructure where such a system doesn't make sense they way it does for natural gas. It makes perfect sense for regional transport to larger distribution centers though.

Re:Boondoggle. (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098886)

Makes sense to me. Expanding gasoline delivery to pipelines will increase the underground volume of fuel, and the amount of area with gasoline underground certainyl will increase the scope and frequency of leakage groundwater contamination spills in general.

We should probably reconsider using MTBE, since it's water-soluble and would. fit. right. in. with this change.

Change is good, no? And getting those nasty trucks off the road has to be worth the risk. I kinda like the idea of the occasional hydrogen flare to liven things up. Gasoline spills just make your water taste like, well, gasoline, and the cancer risk takes too long to develop. Color me impatient, but this future is so bright...

While we're on this subject, is there some strange and hidden agenda the Tea Partiers have to challenge the use of sewers and subways?

Your sig certainly says it all. Bravo. Putz.

Re:Boondoggle. (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098540)

Yet another government-funded dead end.

Like the Internet? And water treatment plants?

Re:Boondoggle. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098628)

Yet another government-funded dead end.

Like the Internet? And water treatment plants?

Don't forget that good for nothing space program, AND the military... Between that, libraries, and fire protection, the government clearly can't get ANYTHING right...

Re:Boondoggle. (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098606)

Ethanol is a very good analogy. Even after hydrogen as a fuel vehicle has pretty much been panned by scientific review in contrast with electricity, it continues to receive funding because the companies working on it are so entrenched with the political establishment. When Chu tried to kill off the hydrogen funding a year or so ago, congress forced him to put it back in.

Is this safe? (3, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098130)

While I do think that Hydrogen based cars is a great idea I know that a problem in their development was safety. Is having a direct connection to the pipeline at a publicly used service station a good idea? We see stupid things people do resulting in problems at regular gas stations all the time, will it use full time attendants or will just rely on people being smart while fueling up?

Re:Is this safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098172)

It's a terrible idea. There's probably some sort of massive tax write-off involved here, like Marriott's "alternative fuel" factory...

Behold the power of human short sightedness. [metafilter.com]

Re:Is this safe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098216)

Call 811. Realize that you may well have pipelines already.

Go to the gas station. See how many warning signs and labels they have. Realize it's already dangerous.

Unless you're a Pierson's Puppeteer, you don't have a fit over the risk.

Re:Is this safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098220)

Luckily pure hydrogen is not combustible. So even if you ignite the tip of the pump, which is already a stupid thing to do, it will burn at the tip and not travel back in. Hydrogen requires a higher oxygen/fuel ratio to combust. Too low or too high and nothing happens. That's the other good thing, if there's a leak, just put a fan on it. You can disperse the hydrogen quickly enough to prevent it from exploding.

Re:Is this safe? (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098564)

Luckily pure hydrogen is not combustible

Yeah, but it burns at mixtures anywhere from 4-75% with air, so that hardly buys you anything. And it detonates down to about 50% with air. You really think a detonation won't damage a pump? Or even a burn (hydrogen burns *hot*)? Pumps are not designed to operate as blow torches. Hopefully they would put flame-sensor shutdowns on the system, but I don't know that they have.

There are two significant risks at play. One is a failure of the storage tanks, most likely due to a manufacturing defect (these things happen, especially with composites, which H2 storage pretty much requires). These tanks are at very high pressures, many hundreds of atmospheres (unless you're dealing with liquid H2 storage, which is actually much more dangerous (air ingestion into an LH tank leaves a trapped SOX/LH slurry, which is a contact explosive)). The other risk is pooling. You're absolutely correct that there are anti-pooling countermeasures which not only can be taken, but essentially must be taken when dealing with hydrogen (aka, this isn't stuff you want sitting around in just an ordinary garage). Even still, even in structures designed to prevent pooling and detonation, it still happens. Fukushima being a glaring recent example, but there are countless others. Hydrogen detonates just so damned easy.

"Pooling"? How do you figure? (1)

mbessey (304651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098864)

The other risk is pooling. You're absolutely correct that there are anti-pooling countermeasures which not only can be taken, but essentially must be taken when dealing with hydrogen (aka, this isn't stuff you want sitting around in just an ordinary garage). Even still, even in structures designed to prevent pooling and detonation, it still happens. Fukushima being a glaring recent example, but there are countless others. Hydrogen detonates just so damned easy.

I'm having trouble figuring out how the least-dense substance known can "pool" anywhere. Under any normal situation, it's just going to escape into the air. Yes, it's flammable, yes, it can ignite easily in air. But the real danger with substances like gasoline is that the vapors are heavier than air, and can travel horizontally to an ignition source.

Re:"Pooling"? How do you figure? (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098988)

I'm having trouble figuring out how the least-dense substance known can "pool" anywhere.

Hint: Think upside down.

Still haven't figured it out? :) Beneath an overhang (such as the rain shelters fueling stations typically provide so you don't get soaked filling up your vehicle), inside a garage (anything from a small home garage to a large industrial garage), in any building that a H2 pipeline passes beneath, in any building that a pipe that a H2 pipe has leaked into leads to, and so forth

Re:Is this safe? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098678)

Luckily pure hydrogen is not combustible... Too low or too high and nothing happens.

Too high and nothing happens? Another fusion doubter, have we? Tell it to THE SUN!!!

Re:Is this safe? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098732)

Luckily pure hydrogen is not combustible. So even if you ignite the tip of the pump, which is already a stupid thing to do, it will burn at the tip and not travel back in.

Isn't that the case with most commonly used fuels? (ignoring solid rocket fuels that come with their own oxidizer)

Re:Is this safe? (1)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098252)

Relax. It's just California.

Granted, I'd have preferred they start in Hollywood, but I'm still okay with this.

Re:Is this safe? (2)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098308)

No. But if gasoline powered cars did not exist and someone invented them today, there is NO WAY they would be approved.

"You want people to zip around at high speeds while carrying ten to twenty gallons of a highly volatile petroleum distillate? With CHILDREN in the car and by the roads? You know this 'gasoline' stuff is extremely flammable, you even use its explosive power to move your vehicle! Are you NUTS?"

DENIED.

Re:Is this safe? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098702)

We have direct evidence to the contrary that it was not a concern when cars were introduced. Wagons of volatile fuel were already being carted through the streets. The main concerns with early gasoline vehicles were noise, air pollution (a contrast to "horse pollution", indeed, but without pollution controls, early cars still were pretty nasty), and various practical concerns like fuel availability and consistency, vehicle and fuel cost, and reliability/the difficulty in starting the vehicles (early electric cars were frequently marketed toward women for this reason, up until the electric starter motor for gasoline cars made its debut).

Re:Is this safe? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098752)

No. But if gasoline powered cars did not exist and someone invented them today, there is NO WAY they would be approved.

"You want people to zip around at high speeds while carrying ten to twenty gallons of a highly volatile petroleum distillate? With CHILDREN in the car and by the roads? You know this 'gasoline' stuff is extremely flammable, you even use its explosive power to move your vehicle! Are you NUTS?"

DENIED.

Not to mention, its more explosive than dynamite!!! (pound for pound, based on energy density.) And you want a tank full of it piloted by a barely qualified operator? That's INsane!

Re:Is this safe? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099012)

Not to mention, its more explosive than dynamite!!!

How is "not explosive at all" equal to "more explosive than dynamite"? Why are you confusing energy density with explosive capacity? Being explosive means that you can release energy very quickly (aka, it's more akin to power density than energy density).

Re:Is this safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098554)

The fire hazard from hydrogen is far less than from gasoline. If a tank ruptures the hydrogen quickly escapes in to the air instead of sitting around for hours waiting to be ignited.

Re:Is this safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099050)

Safer than gas. Hydrogen, being lighter than air, floats up not in puddles on the ground that kill the soil. In addition it can't "burn down", which means that if caught on fire it floats up quicker than the flame can come down the hydrogen. So an open hydrogen flame 10 feet up is safe to people walking below it.

As I said, much safer than gasoline. In addition it can run in the same engines and wouldn't need a fuel pump.

hymenology council; nothing is unproven yet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098140)

never a better time to disarm. tell the truth. the sky is not ours to toy
with after all?

you call this 'weather'? what with real history racing up to correct
itself, while the chosen one's holycostal life0cider mediots continually
attempt to rewrite it, fortunately, there's still only one version of the
truth, & it's usually not a long story, or a confusing multiple choice
fear raising event.

world wide disarmament is taking place based on the pure intentions of the
majority of the planet's chosen to be depopulated, population. as the
biblical fiction based chosen ones have only one ability, which is
destruction for personal gain, they just don't fit in with all the new
life extending stuff that we're being advised/warned to avoid/ignore. life
likes to continue, advance etc... deception & death appear to have similar
ambitions.

also, there's just enough time left to investigate the genuine native elders
social & political leadership initiative, which includes genuine history
as put forth in the teepeeleaks etchings. the natives still have no words
in their language to describe the events following their 'discovery' by
us, way back when. they do advise that it's happening again.

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retrollted by the diaper leaks group world wide

PeopleEatingTastyAnimals Question (0)

sheepofblue (1106227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098142)

But has it led to increased Elk breeding?

Hydrogen again? (1, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098162)

Hydrogen == natural gas.
One has to wonder which would be greener? Just using the Natural gas in an IC Hybrid or Hydrogen in a fuel cell?

Re:Hydrogen again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098290)

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098562)

Hydrogen == natural gas.

Umm, no.

Natural Gas = CH4.

Hydrogen = H2

CH4 =/= H2.

Re:Hydrogen again? (2)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098750)

Hydrogen == natural gas.

Umm, no.

Natural Gas = CH4.

Hydrogen = H2

CH4 =/= H2.

The point was that, currently, hydrogen gas is largely derived from petroleum products and/or natural gas. So until large-scale industrial water cracking or something becomes economical and takes over, this really doesn't reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098788)

The issue is that hydrogen today is made from natural gas, at an energy loss.
Nobody makes hydrogen with electrolysis from solar cells because it's too costly.

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098992)

Honda does. They built a solar cell fueling station that converts water to H2, and which they use for the hydrogen test cars.

Re:Hydrogen again? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099044)

That is a test system. Commercial hydrogen production is from reformulated hydrocarbons. I suggest you take a look at the cost and then work out the payback time on Honda's system. Probably about the time the Sun becomes a Red Giant.

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099004)

Yes it is equal too Hydrogen but not identical too. Hydrogen is made from reformulated hydrocarbons mostly if not exclusively in the US natural gas.

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098814)

depends on the source of hydrogen. In NZ natural gas (CNG) is pretty common for cars. However they are big heavy high pressure tanks that only give you about 300km range. Better than electric of course.

Re:Hydrogen again? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098952)

Hydrogen is made from Natural gas today. If you make it from electricity than odds are it is coming from fossile fuel, nuclear, or Hydro. Solar and wind are too expensive for Hydrogen production.

Can they reuse natural gas distribution system (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098182)

Say parts that are un/under utilized?

Re:Can they reuse natural gas distribution system (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098208)

You would just pipe natural gas to "hydrogen" stations, and crack the natural gas at the station.

Re:Can they reuse natural gas distribution system (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098576)

No, you can not. Steam reformation is not something that can be done on that small of a scale and be monitored by the pothead manning the cash register.

Re:Can they reuse natural gas distribution system (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098300)

No they can't. That is one of the problems with Hydrogen. Look up Hydrogen embrittlement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement [wikipedia.org]
Not to mention potental problems with things like seals, pumps, and valves.
 

I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was in (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098206)

I have a hard time keeping up with what's hip in the green world, but I thought electricity was the green thing that we're supposed to fuel our cars with now. Didn't hydrogen fall out of favor with the greenies a few years back?

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098284)

I have a hard time keeping up with what's hip in the green world, but I thought electricity was the green thing that we're supposed to fuel our cars with now. Didn't hydrogen fall out of favor with the greenies a few years back?

What do you think they use the Hydrogen for?

(Hint: They don't squirt it out the back at high pressure to make the car go. Though that would be mighty funny.)

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098468)

As I said in my post, I thought electricity was the green thing that we're supposed to fuel our cars with now.

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098674)

squirt it out the back at high pressure to make the car go. Though that would be mighty funny

I couldn't agree more. [hotrod.com]

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098338)

It doesn't matter... as long as you are distracted enough to not realized just how screwed you really are. Panicking consumers tend not to consume as much... know what I mean?

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098490)

It's not about being "hip"; it's about where the state of technology is. And yes, the tech for hydrogen sucks. But that doesn't mean that there's not still funding for it.

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098640)

Call it what you like, all I know is that my environmentalist friend is always changing his story every few years. One day he's telling me how great hydrogen fuel is, then it's ethanol, then it's electricity. I remember one time when we were in college it was methane. I keep telling him they need to decide on one thing and stick to it, but then off he goes on some new thing that's going to save the world. Tomorrow it will probably nuclear fusion, or sails on the cars, or god knows what.

Re:I thought Hydrogen was out and electricity was (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099026)

Wow, great to know that your single idiot friend is the bellweather for both the science behind a technology and the opinions of an entire movement.

Hydrogen is not a fuel (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098218)

There are no vast fields of Hydrogen waiting to be mined (at least not on this planet). Hydrogen is an intermediate energy storage medium most commonly extracted from fossil fuels. It can come from water via electrolysis, but there's a lot of waste energy form that process so as far as I know it's not done on a large scale.

What is the overall efficiency of a Hydrogen powered car (including the energy cost to extract the hydrogen) as opposed to one that runs directly off of fossil fuels?

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098266)

Why do people always say that? By your logic, gasoline isn't a fuel either since it took millions of years of pressure to form it. Solar and wind power aren't fuel sources either, since you need a giant ball of fusion to create both, etc. We don't have an energy problem, we have a transportable energy problem.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098342)

Because Hydrogen creation is taking transportable energy and converting it (at a loss) to a different form of transportable energy. What is the point? We already have vast natural gas and liquid fuel distribution networks, why do we need one more?

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098710)

Because neither will last forever. We could sit around until it's gone and then react to the catastrophe that follows (like we do with bridges and levies and education) or we could try some new things at relatively minimal cost in the meantime.

(Some guy in 1960: "Why build this Internet thing when we already have phones and telegraphs and cans with string? We already have plenty of ways to communicate, why do we need one more?")

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (1)

gregorio (520049) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098828)

Because neither will last forever. We could sit around until it's gone and then react to the catastrophe that follows (like we do with bridges and levies and education) or we could try some new things at relatively minimal cost in the meantime.

Hydrogen, being only a storage medium, is not a replacement for neither also. So the problem that "they will not last forever" is not being solved by those "new things".

You completely ignored his message.

(Some guy in 1960: "Why build this Internet thing when we already have phones and telegraphs and cans with string? We already have plenty of ways to communicate, why do we need one more?")

Not a valid comparison.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (2)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098946)

You really didn't understand the point he was making, but it's very important to understand when anything about 'hydrogen cars' comes up:

The only practical and economical way to 'produce' hydrogen is to extract it from natural gas. This is mostly pointless and wasteful since you could just use the natural gas (compressed) to fuel the car, as is common in Australia and New Zealand for example, without the extra expense and loss of energy from turning it into hydrogen. When the fossil fuels run out so does the hydrogen.

Even worse is trying to create it through electrolysis from power stations, it wastes something like 90% of the electrical energy. You're far better off transmitting that power into battery storage in electric cars, especially since the electrical grid already exists and transmission losses are fairly minor.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098572)

A fuel is pretty much anything you can burn to get energy... so yes, hydrogen is a fuel.

The difference between it and wood, coal, oil, methane, uranium etc. is that we didn't have to make the other fuels ourselves!

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098822)

Pssst... We're not the ones who *put* the oil there in the first place... Think about it... I know it hurts.

"We don't have an energy problem, we have a transportable energy problem."

1) Yes we do.

2) We don't HAVE anything to transport.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098318)

In theory the idea is that once you have hydrogen fueled vehicles you can switch to cleaner sources of hydrogen. Like cracking water in a high temperature nuclear reactor. Either way everything is just storage of energy from the big bang.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098612)

In theory the idea is that once you have hydrogen fueled vehicles you can switch to cleaner sources of hydrogen. Like cracking water in a high temperature nuclear reactor. Either way everything is just storage of energy from the big bang.

Oh gee, that sounds simple, just build out an entirely new energy distribution network to distribute hydrogen, and then it's as easy as building a hundred nuclear powered hydrogen processing plants to create unlimited green hydrogen! I guess Hydrogen really *is* a great solution!

Efficiency (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098454)

What is the overall efficiency of a Hydrogen powered car (including the energy cost to extract the hydrogen) as opposed to one that runs directly off of fossil fuels?

From below, I posted about the efficiency. Here [photobucket.com] is a graph from this [sciencedirect.com] research paper. To sum it up, if you're burning the H2 in an ICE, you're only making the situation worse. PEMFCs can be a little better than ICE vehicles, but they pale in comparison to electric cars.

Re:Efficiency (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098550)

What is the overall efficiency of a Hydrogen powered car (including the energy cost to extract the hydrogen) as opposed to one that runs directly off of fossil fuels?

From below, I posted about the efficiency. Here [photobucket.com] is a graph from this [sciencedirect.com] research paper. To sum it up, if you're burning the H2 in an ICE, you're only making the situation worse. PEMFCs can be a little better than ICE vehicles, but they pale in comparison to electric cars.

Thanks, I had always suspected that was the case, I'm glad to finally see some real numbers!

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098764)

1) Using hydrogen as an energy medium, we can decentralize fossil fuel burning instead of having hotspots centered around cities with a lot of cars
2) We have a greater ability to capture emissions when the fossil fuel burning is done in a large factory maintained by professional engineers instead of everyone running un-tuned cars.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098932)

Hydrogen can be produced using green energy, allowing storage and movement from inconvenient energy source locations (tidal areas, wind farms, solar desert panels). It solves the heavy battery problem of electric cars (but replaces it with the gaseous fuel problem). It also potentially evens out the uneven grid usage & unpredictable green production issues that power plants currently face. Hydroelectric, solar and wind do not produce the most power during peak use times, so wouldn't it be nice to be able to store electricity in a stable fuel? Hydrogen is potentially that fuel -- just not yet.

Meantime, biodiesel is a direct replacement for fossil fuels, produces less smog and does not change the long-term CO2 content of the atmosphere. unfortunately, it's not as cheap as diesel or petrol, or even ethanol since the government subsidizes that to the point where corn for eating is barely affordable.

Re:Hydrogen is not a fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099054)

The well-to-wheels efficiency of a hydrogen powered car, assuming the hydrogen is being generated from natural gas, is typically about 1.5 - 2 times that of a modern fossil fuel vehicle (i.e. the greenhouse gas emissions of the H2 vehicle would be equivalent to a gasoline car that got 80 - 100 mpg). It can be better than that if the hydrogen is generated close to the point of use - pipeline delivery can provide this benefit as well, but it's a lot of infrastructure to build. Some details can be found here: http://tiaxllc.com/publications/tiax_fcs_06_ghg_analysis_for_hydrogen.pdf

Another note - with distributed NG-to-H2 fueling, hydrogen powered vehicles have about 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than electric cars (based on the national average fuel composition for grid electrical generation).

Full disclosure - I happen to work on hydrogen generation. Most of us in the industry are quite clear that H2 generation from any fossil fuel is a bridging technology to get hydrogen vehicles developed and on the road. The long term vision has to be renewable sources for H2 generation (biomass, solar/wind, etc.)

Questions (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098228)

I didn't see anything in the article about the size of the pipeline, where it came from, what diameter pipe it is, or what material it's made of. But the number one question is, what odorizer is in the hydrogen? Hydrogen is explosive over a greater range than methane, and natural gas pipelines have to be regularly checked for leaks. Without leak surveys and with no odor in the gas, hydrogen transported by pipelines is going to be extremely dangerous.

Oh, my job for the last 35 years? Checking natural gas pipelines for leaks.

Re:Questions (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098418)

Hydrogen passes through solids hundreds of times easier than NG -- or any odorizer -- can. So it's questionable whether an odorizer would help.

The good news is that hydrogen disperses quickly when vented into open air. The bad news is that if there's anything over it, it can pool, and it's extremely sensitive to sparks, burns in almost any fuel-air mixture, and can not only burn, but detonate. And of course there's always the "invisible flame" issues when dealing with pinhole leaks, which are always a pain, but which can be dealt with (thanks to IR cameras, you no longer have to use the old "swing a broomstick in front of you and see if it gets cut in half" method that they used to use at refineries)

This article lays out hydrogen as a fuel for cars (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098236)

This article, from a 2008 edition of Skeptic [skeptic.com] magazine, spells out the good, bad and ugly of using hydrogen to power cars.

In short, not a good or easy thing to do.

The article [skeptic.com] .

Re:This article lays out hydrogen as a fuel for ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098504)

That article's conclusio

Well-to-wheels efficiency (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098242)

To add information to this discussion, here's the net system efficiency, well-to-wheel, of different energy sources:
Link [photobucket.com]

That graph is from this paper:
Link [sciencedirect.com]

All issues of fuel cost, fuel cell vehicle cost, safety, ozone damage, infrastructure cost, and so forth aside, one of the big complaints about hydrogen is that it's just not that efficient.

Re:Well-to-wheels efficiency (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098532)

Interesting graph, though I wonder if they included the energy of producing the plants in those calculations because the electric car with natural gas generation seems very high considering how expensive NG MWHr's are.

Re:Well-to-wheels efficiency (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098812)

This graph does not deal with cost of energy at all -- purely energy in, motion out. NG plants are very efficient, and getting even more efficient (the latest generation are about 60%, not counting the potential reuse of waste heat). NG power is expensive per MWHr compared to coal because NG is more expensive than coal per joule, even after the power plant efficiency difference is taken into account. Both NG and coal power are primarily marginal cost driven (aka, fuel), not capital cost driven like nuclear and most renewables.

Re:Well-to-wheels efficiency (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098854)

Nice graphs.
This is exactly the point: Transmission line efficiency * charging efficiency * battery efficiency * discharging efficiency * electric motor efficiency is many times higher than anything involving ICEs, turbines or fuel cells because their efficiency sucks. So as soon as electric power is anywhere in your chain you can't do better than with an electric car.

Infrastructure? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098246)

So they are running hydrogen pipes to all the fueling stations now? What sort of hazard is that going to provide? Are they going to put odour generating chemicals in the hydrogen like they do with natural gas, so that you can tell when there is a leak? If so, are these chemicals going to play nice in the engine? What happens when there is a leak in the pipe? Hydrogen/oxygen flames are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Are we going to have to add other compounds to make any flames visible?

Re:Infrastructure? (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098350)

Odor generating chemicals won't work with hydrogen. Hydrogen leaks far better than any other chemical, even helium. No odorous compound even comes close. Hence, only a major leak from a hydrogen container would let the odorous compounds escape. The same problem exists with flame visibility; you really need IR cameras to see it well. Other major hydrogen problems are pooling under overhangs and the very extreme sensitivity to even minor static shocks, as well as the wide range of combustible fuel-air mixtures and hydrogen's ability to readily detonate instead of simply conflagrate in STP conditions. Then there's obviously the embrittlement issues, the high pressure storage issues, etc, but also lesser known issues like its ability to enter other pipelines (since it can pass through materials so easily) and follow them to their destination, then pool there (NASA has lost several buildings this way; there's a reason why NASA requires hydrogen pipes to be the topmost, requires all buildings dealing with more than 1kg hydrogen to have roofs designed to be blown away, to have elaborate spark suppression and venting systems, etc).

Odorous chemicals would be fine in a H2 ICE, but PEMFCs have extreme purity requirements for the H2. So no, they would not play nice.

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098414)

Weren't those exploding reactor buildings in Japan the result of hydrogen buildup?

Re:Infrastructure? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098866)

Indeed they were. Despite being engineered in all regards to try to avoid precisely that sort of event. Hydrogen pools and detonates just so damned easily.

Here's what the detonation of an amount of hydrogen perhaps 1/10th of what you'd find in a typical mass-market hydrogen car (or a hundredth of a hydrogen semi) looks like [youtube.com] . Now, thats an H2/O2 mixture; to get that force with H2/air would require about twice as much. But it gives you a good idea of what we're talking about here (and why such a low-density gas could do so much damage to those heavy concrete reactor buildings).

Torrance, not Torrence (2)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098254)

subject line says it all (as does TFA)

Torrence, CA (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098274)

I used to live in Torrence, CA. It was really fun living there, even though the place doesn't exist.

Why it doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098322)

Last time I checked Hydrogen powered cars emit water vapor... which is a stronger "greenhouse gas" than C02. So what is the point of this exercise? To make rich people feel smug and enable them to talk down to others because they're $50,000 car supposedly saves the earth? What a joke! The entire green movement is immune to reality... that's the only explanation for opposing nuclear power while encourage stupid-ass ideas like hydrogen cars. Congrats GreenTards.

Re:Why it doesn't matter... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098910)

You do realize that water vapor has an average atmospheric residency of under two weeks, right?

The real problem is that hydrogen vehicles have a grossly inefficient fuel cycle. Also, leaked hydrogen destroys ozone. But your water vapor argument is one of the dumbest anti-hydrogen claims you could have made.

And, FYI, most of the environmental community wants *battery-electric* vehicles, not hydrogen. Hydrogen vehicles are a "solution" being pushed on the "GreenTards" that they do not want.

Good lord (3, Insightful)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098328)

Hydrogen is NOT green - not until they find a "green" way to produce it. It is NOT an energy SOURCE (like fossil fuels, and nuclear), it is an energy CONVEYOR. I wanna save the planet as much as anyone, but as long as fossile fuels are used to generate the hydrogen, it actually makes more sense to just burn the stuff in an internal cumbustion engine. /me waits to get modded down :-/

Re:Good lord (3, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098356)

Hydrogen is NOT green - not until they find a "green" way to produce it. It is NOT an energy SOURCE (like fossil fuels, and nuclear), it is an energy CONVEYOR.

You seem to be under the impression that 'Green' is something other than a marketing label.

Hence his use of quotes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098536)

Or should he have used single quotes like you?

Re:Good lord (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098876)

Correct. Use "sustainable" or "renewable" instead.

Re:Good lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098642)

Solar is NOT green - not until they find a "green" way to produce solar cells.

Wind is NOT green - not until they find a "green" way to produce giant windmills.

Green is NOT green - it's a goddamned color, and you're fooling yourself if you think any source of energy is going to be without impact to our environment.

Yikes! (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098400)

Yikes! I think I will wait for natural gas (methane) fuel cells to be rugged enough for use in vehicles. Much safer than hydrogen.

hydrogen ftw (3, Interesting)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098442)

FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles) win on a number of levels:

* there are a number of pathways to make h2, which allows you to make your desired tradeoff between cost, quantity, carbon footprint, etc. Some pathways: petro natural gas, landfill gas, power plant electricity to electrolysis, solar panel to electrolysis, coal gasification. what's cool about this is that h2 production technology can improve over time, and you can establish the FCEV market now that will fund future development. pathways ftw!

* FCEVs are a form of electric vehicle so they get EV efficiency ~85%, while natural gas cars are still internal combustion so they get ~30%. efficiency ftw!

*unlike BEVs, FCEVs avoid the range anxiety issue, and can be filled up like a regular car instead of needing 8 hour charge. convenience ftw!

There are more, but that's all I have on short notice. BTW I just learned what ftw means. loving it!

Re:hydrogen ftw (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36098916)

FCEVs are a form of electric vehicle so they get EV efficiency ~85%, while natural gas cars are still internal combustion so they get ~30%. efficiency ftw!

Do you have a source for this? I thought real world fuel cell efficiency was much less than 85% - like closer to 40% [evworld.com] or even less [wikipedia.org]

*unlike BEVs, FCEVs avoid the range anxiety issue, and can be filled up like a regular car instead of needing 8 hour charge. convenience ftw!

15 - 30 minute fast charge stations for BEV's already exist [nissan-leaf.net] and i would expect that even faster options will exist faster than a large hydrogen creation and distribution network could be built.

Who paid for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36098476)

The government, I think they meant to say the TAX PAYERS, in general, or maybe even YOU specifically. I for one wish my money wasn't spent of this total BS.

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