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Cheaper, Cleaner Hydrogen Without Platinum

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the fill-er-up dept.

Science 295

keithww writes "Looks like the hydrogen economy may have gotten a whole lot cheaper. Wisconsin team engineers gas from biomass using common metals of tin, nickel, and aluminum instead of platinum. This looks like a good way to get rid of biowaste also." Of course, there's still a long way to go before the automotive industry is using it, but it is good news nonetheless.

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Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (4, Interesting)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319103)

And does anyone actually believe that the fossil fuels industry will lie down and let this happen without a fight?

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (2, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319110)

No they won't do that. They are smart. They will buy up the company and throttle production to control the price like they've always done.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (3, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319121)

Because remember a cheaper production process = increased profits. They would be stupid to ignore it.

The US is not the world (5, Insightful)

tarranp (676762) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319145)

Even if the auto industry/petrochem industry did prevent the widespread adoption from being used in the US, there are other countries like Japan which have the capability to engineer complex systems, the discipline to deploy them, and who would welcome reducing their depndence on foreign oil.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (3, Informative)

AlistairGroves (546420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319116)

The same went with the original fuel cells, they may slow adoption down but they can't completely gloss over the fact that oil is getting more and more expensive....
Some companies are better than others, for example BP (British Petroleum) have realised this, and decided to hedge their chips and are putting money into fuel cell research.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (1, Redundant)

Spellbinder (615834) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319241)

they are all doing research
but they will not use their researches untill there is not enough oil to sell or it is to expensive for normal customers

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319134)

The oil industry has plans to crack hydrocarbons, and extract the hydrogen that way. Which still releases all the damn carbon, or so I'm lead to believe.

They have an angle for everything...

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (1)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319178)

Indeed, which is the whole problem, still reliant on fossil fuels. This technology gets you off fossil fuels, and is the point of the grandfathers post.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (2, Insightful)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319147)

Well, when H tech will reach the point that it can be used for mass energy production don't worry, the oil industry will dive into it! Oil won't be sold for combustion but as raw material in chemical (plastic) industry... at premium prices (being a limited resource ;-)


Never underestimate the power of a dinosaur (1)

HostingLad (684900) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319205)

This is giving me visions of a pack of suit-wearing velociraptors lobbying on the floor of Congress. Of course, when the honorable representative won't give in a favorable vote, they attack from both sides at once...

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (2, Interesting)

nursedave (634801) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319226)


The reason we use Petrochemicals instead of the green method of your choice is because we - the world - have a huge infrastructure in place to provide for this. If you want to start your own free/green energy distribution then fine, go ahead, the oil companies won't stand in your way but you face a simple uphill battle of fighting what is cheap and available right now.

This is like those ads you see in the back of science magazines, saying they have plans for a 348mpg carburator and the only reason you don't know about it is because the oil companies are suppressing the technology. Uhm, whatever. Maybe, it just doesn't work for shit, which is why you are stuck advertising it next to geek personals.

Nah (3, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319281)

It's cos you actually get the performance you would expect from a 348mpg carburator and oddly enough, nobody will buy a car which goes from 0-60 in four and a half hours.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319298)

They'll encourage it. (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319269)

Why? Because the fossil fuels industry is really just a chemistry industry. They don't really care that it's petroleum they're selling to you. As long as it's something that they can sell to you.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (4, Interesting)

Peter_Pork (627313) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319312)

Yes, it will happen, since they will be the hydrogen industry. They have the money, they have the expertise, they have the distribution networks, and they do not want to depend on the third-world or war-torn nations for their supply. The way I see this, the hydrogen industry is the best thing that could happen to the oil industry (at least in the US). Guess who is now pushing for this... G.W. Bush, a guy that is the oil industry.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (1)

retostamm (91978) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319441)

Realize that the H is most likely made from natural gas. That's cheapest.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (1)

mkweise (629582) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319450)

It's not really a threat to the petroleum industry. The cost is low compared to previous renewable technology, but still sky-high compared to hydrogen produced from natural gas. IMO, the petroleum industry is likely to fund further deveopment of this technology, as it (especially BP) has done with other green energy technology. The image gain from such actions is substantial, and biomass isn't going to replace a meaningful portion of our fossil fuel consumption anytime soon anyway.

Re:Never underestimate the power of a lobbyist (3, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319470)

Yes they will.

H2 is another energy market to be R&D'ed, tapped and then optimized for profit.

Exxon-Mobil is working GM and Toyota to use gasoline and methanol with fuel cells to avoid some of the complications with using just H2.

And in the industry, there is already a sense that they need to adapt in order to survive. When a former Saudi oil minister and petroleum consultant says..."Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil."

Fuel-cell motor technology will have a dramatic impact on the oil market, he predicts. "This is coming before the end of the decade and will cut gasoline consumption by almost 100 per cent. Imagine a country like the United States, the largest consuming nation, where more than 50 per cent of their consumption is gasoline. If you eliminatethat, what will happen?" Saudi Arabia, he says, "will have serious economic difficulties".

more info links (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319562)

This was the most interesting topic I saw at this years Midwest Renewable Energy Fair []

the process essentially can turn sugars and carbohydrates into either hydrogen or hydrocarbons.

Here are some relevant links: [] []

Cheaper hydrogen still! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319105)

Two words: The Sun

Re:Cheaper hydrogen still! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319112)

Just fill your car with an alpha emitter.

Re:Cheaper hydrogen still! (2, Funny)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319220)

shipping costs are a bitch though.

Hindenberg (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319268)

Although the Hindenberg disaster is famous, there are some sites [] that say hydrogen didn't cause the airship to explode. It would make for an interesting future to see lots of hydrogen-powered vehicles on the roads, and might have a chance at breaking our dependence on oil.

Down with solar power! (4, Funny)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319317)


Many groups and individuals are proposing that our government spend tax money on research and development of systems to utilize solar energy. They urge construction of vast solar energy collectors to convert sunlight to electricity to supply our energy needs. They would even put solar collectors on roofs of homes, factories, schools, and other buildings. Proponents of this technology claim that energy obtained from the sun will be safer and cleaner than coal, oil, or nuclear energy sources.

We view these proposals with alarm. Unscrupulous scientists and greedy promoters are hoodwinking a gullible public. We consider it rash and dangerous to commit our country to the use of solar energy. This solar technology has never been utilized on such a large scale, and we have no assurance of its long-range safety. Not one single study has been done to assess the safety of electricity from solar energy as compared to electricity from other sources.

The promoters of solar energy cleverly lead you to believe that it is perfectly safe. Yet they conveniently neglect to mention that solar energy is generated by nuclear fusion within the sun. This process operates on the very same basic laws of nuclear physics used in nuclear power plants and atomic bombs!

And what is the source of this energy? It is hydrogen, a highly explosive gas (remember the Hindenberg?) Hydrogen is also the active material in H-bombs, that are not only tremendously destructive, but produce dangerous fallout. The glib advocates of solar energy don't even mention these disturbing facts about the true sources of solar energy. What else are they trying to hide from us?

In addition to the known dangers cited above, what about the unknown dangers, that very well might be worse? When pressed, scientists will admit that they do not fully understand the workings of the sun, or even of the atom. They will even grudgingly admit that our knowledge of the basic laws of physics is not yet perfect or complete. Yet these same reckless scientists would have us use this solar technology even before we fully understand how it works.

Admittedly we are already subject to a natural `background' radiation from the sun. We can do little about that, except to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. The evidence is already clear that too much exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. But solar collectors would concentrate that sunlight (that otherwise would have fallen harmlessly on waste land), convert it to electricity and pipe it into our homes to irradiate us from every light bulb! We would then not even be safe from this cancer-producing energy even in our own homes!

We all know that looking at the sun for even a few seconds can cause blindness. What long term health hazards might result from reading by light derived from solar energy? We now spend large amounts of time looking at the light from television monitors or computer screens, and one can only imagine the possible long-term consequences of this exposure when the screens are powered with electricity from solar collectors. Will we develop cataracts, or slowly go blind? Not one medical study has yet addressed itself to this question, and none are planned.

In their blind zeal to plug us in to solar energy, scientists seem to totally ignore possible fire hazards of solar energy. Sunlight reaching us directly from the sun at naturally safe levels poses little fire threat. But all one has to do is concentrate sunlight, with a simple burning- glass, and it readily ignites combustible materials. Who would feel safe with solar energy concentrators on their roof? Could we afford the fire insurance rates?

These scientists, and the big corporations that employ them, stand to profit greatly from construction of solar-power stations. No wonder they try to hide the dangers of the technology and suppress any open discussion of them.

Proponents of solar energy present facts, figures and graphs to support their claim that energy from the sun will be less expensive, as conventional fuel supplies dwindle and technology of solar energy systems improves. But even if this is so, what will stop the solar energy equipment manufacturers and solar power companies from raising prices when they achieve a monopoly and other fuel sources disappear?

Of course every technology has risks. We might be willing to tolerate some small risk--if solar energy really represented a permanent solution to our energy problems. But that is not the case. At best, solar energy is only a temporary band-aid. Recent calculations indicate that the "Sun Will Go Out in a Billion Years As Its Fuel Runs Out" (Source: newspaper headline) As that calculation was made a year ago, we now have only nine-hundred ninety-nine million, nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine years left during which we could use solar energy. Wouldn't it be better to put our human resources and scientific brains to work to find a safer and more permanent solution to our energy needs?

Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (3, Informative)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319111)

It's much easier to get methane from biowaste. And methane can be used nearly in the same way like hydrogen for electric cells. In fact, I think the whole stuff is even cheaper and simpler with methane.
The only argument against methane is its mind alterating effects (halluzinations etc), so drug addicts might use it as a substitution for heroine and crack.

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319239)

> The only argument against methane is its > mind alterating effects

... and the fact that methane produces carbon dioxide. The whole point in using hydrogen is that it only produces water.

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (2, Insightful)

purdue_thor (260386) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319253)

The holy grail of fuel cells has always been using hydrogen since it's only end product is water. If we use methane (or methanol for that case) then we end up dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just as with fossil fuels (albeit at a higher energy efficiency than internal combustion engines). Now if we could create cheaper fuel cell catalysts and find a safe way to tote around lots of hydrogen safely.

It's also a gas at STP (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319258)

And therefore more difficult to handle than a liquid.

So that's another argument against methane.

Re:It's also a gas at STP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319313)

And hydrogen isn't?

Yes (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319419)

But then, I am not advocating hydrogen either...

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (3, Informative)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319265)

Well, methane doesn't burn as completely as pure hydrogen, meaning it doesn't have as much energy per litre.

Also, you don't know that about the price. You can't possibly know the price of this process versus the price of methane extraction from biowaste.

I've personally heard something of the methane experiments and every one that I've heard about hasn't been able to produce enough methane from the waste to justify extracting the methane - it was always a very energy-costly operation that produced too little to be useful.

Do you have a link that says why methane is a better idea than hydrogen? Or any links for reversable methane reactions (this is one of the big deals for hydrogen? Burning hydrogen is an almost completely reversable reaction, so you can use it as a rechargable fuel source).

I'm willing to be convinced to the contrary, but from what I've heard about it, burning hydrocarbons doesn't seem to be as long-term or effective of a solution as burning hydrogen does.

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (1)

mkweise (629582) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319523)

Well, methane doesn't burn as completely as pure hydrogen, meaning it doesn't have as much energy per litre.

Wrong! Methane is significantly denser than hydrogen, and so while it does release more energy per gram, it contains significantly less energy per liter. That is true both in liquid and gas (at any pressure) form. In addition, methane has a much higher boilng point than hydrogen.

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319277)

... mind alterating effects... halluzinations ... heroine... whole stuff is even cheaper

and you seem to be an authority on this.

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (0, Redundant)

0000 0111 (141160) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319330)

Save gas! Fart in a jar!

Re:Hydrogen from biowaste is stupid. (1)

selfabuse (681350) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319336)

A substitute for heroine eh? So, a big cloud of methane is going to come on down and save the day?

Yeah, but going to get more fuel would suck (2, Funny)

Ride-My-Rocket (96935) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319413)

I can just see it now: pulling up to the fuel station, asking the station attendant to fill 'er up, and watching as he pulls down his pants, defecates in my tank, then fills it up with banana peels, rusty cans and empty Chinese cans, Back-to-the-Future-style.

Ozone? (2, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319117)

Didn't a recent article say hydrogen was as bad for the ozone as sheep farts?

Re:Ozone? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319176)

You fail chemistry?

What do you get when you burn hydrogen....

Re:Ozone? (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319207)

Water. What's your point?

Re:Ozone? (2, Funny)

nharmon (97591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319224)

Water. Water is the root of all evil. If it weren't for the fight over water, we would have world peace. Perhaps if burning hydrogen produced beer, the world would be a better place.

Re:Ozone? (2, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319260)

I said hydrogen, not the water from hydrogen combustion. Here is the story: rogen.ozone.ap/

Where I went wrong was that sheep farts cause global warming, not destruction of ozone.


Jo Owen (612634) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319532)

"Should I be concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide?

Yes, you should be concerned about DHMO! Although the U.S. Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic substance (as it does with better known chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and saccharine), DHMO is a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards and can even be lethal to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful.

Research conducted by award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan Zohner concluded that roughly 86 percent of the population supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Although his results are preliminary, Zohner believes people need to pay closer attention to the information presented to them regarding Dihydrogen Monoxide. He adds that if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies like the one he conducted would not be necessary.

A similar study conducted by U.S. researchers Patrick K. McCluskey and Matthew Kulick also found that nearly 90 percent of the citizens participating in their study were willing to sign a petition to support an outright ban on the use of Dihydrogen Monoxide in the United States."

If you want to know more about the problems of dihydrogen monoxide, vist

The Hindenburg, Mark II (1, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319118)

cheap, renewable hydrogen

Paving the way for cheap, renewable forms of transportation. *Foom!*

Re:The Hindenburg, Mark II (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319493)

Argh but I get tired of people using the Hindenburg as proof hydrogen is dangerous.

The Hindenburg burned because of the paint that was used, which is chemically similar to rocket fuel [] .

Hydrogen burns with an invisible flame. Watch the footage - it's not the hydrogen that's the big problem.

If I had to be in a car crash, I'd prefer a hydrogen car to do it in. Gas tank ruptures, hydrogen floats off. Gasoline lays in puddles underneath me.


Re:The Hindenburg, Mark II (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319513)

Hindenburg didn't go up in smoke because of the hydrogen, it went up because the canvas dope was basicly Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster fuel and it didn't ground.

The skin and dope of Hindenburg was cotton canvas, a layer of iron oxide, cellulose butyrate acetate based paint, aluminum powder mixed in to reflect the sunlight.

The Hindenburg flew through a thunderstorm and the skin became charged, but the skin was insulated from the frame, so when it finally moored and became grounded the skin didn't ground. It then arced and blew out the hydrogen cells.

In the Graf Zeppelin II the skin and connections to the aluminum frame were changed.

Calcium Sulfamate added to the doping as a fire retardant.

Aluminum powder was replaced with bronze powder

Ramie cords were treated with graphite, the cords that connected the skin with the frame would be now electrically connected, allowing the static charge on the skin to effortlessly discharge to the frame.

EAT SHIT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319119)


Yeah, I gas from biomass too (5, Funny)

millisa (151093) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319120)

Wisconsin team engineers gas from biomass

Apparently I wasn't the only one to eat Taco Bell last night...

Re:Yeah, I gas from biomass too (5, Funny)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319158)

taco bell food has nothing biological in it, sorry.

Re:Yeah, I gas from biomass too (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319166)

i think you are the gayest fag homo.

No that position was taken (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319519)

by you down on your shit stained knees

Re:Yeah, I gas from biomass too (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319533)

A guy I know who owns an auto repair shop told me a short but highly entertaining story about taking a shit in the beans while he worked at taco bell. Not a little golf ball sized dropper either, but a full size crap.

Kind of makes you want to avoid the burritos, eh?

Biomass (3, Insightful)

Saint Mitchell (144618) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319123)

Ok, so you can make Hydrogen from biomass. I really wish they would give an example instead of just saying that it can be scaled from small output for batteries and such. Does the entire earths surface have to be covered with biomass before we have enough for our energy needs, or can we just use somehwere the size of Iowa?

bah...we should screww H and just use this (5, Informative)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319128)

this is the future []

soylent green (1)

SunPin (596554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319209)

Today it's turkey but tomorrow it's people... PEOPLE!

Re:soylent green (1)

I Like Swords!!! (668399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319350)

And the start of the Matrix commences. All we need now are the sentient machines and this a form of fusion, and virtual reality, here we come! P.S. can I be the One this time around?

Re:soylent green (1)

SunPin (596554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319384)

It's not your turn yet. The Architect will be ready for new applicants in 24 hours.

Re:bah...we should screww H and just use this (1)

spikexyz (403776) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319448)

It will still take energy to do this, and will create air polution when you burn it. At least you cut out the latter with H.

Re:bah...we should screww H and just use this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319508)

. If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water.

Stop giving me ideas.

Re:bah...we should screww H and just use this (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319546)

Actually, it would be a very good idea for us to use biodiesel. You need a bit of methanol to begin the process but once you have done so you get some methanol out, supposedly, if you build a closed system and collect the methanol vapors. Biodiesel burns cleaner than diesel, and will actually remove carbon fouling deposits which diesel has put into your engine.

The other thing that comes out of the biodiesel cracking process is glycerine, which can be used to make soap, or fertilizer.

Of course, the biodiesel industry would have to fight with the makeup industry over who gets all that beef fat out of the back of the fast food joints...

Anyway you may not know this but if you compress your intake charge through forced induction, such as with a supercharger, you can run hydrogen in many conventional gasoline engines. Given this little factoid it seems like Hydrogen is still the best idea, because you can retrofit for it. I would imagine it should be relatively nondifficult to swap back and forth between hydrogen and gasoline in such a system.

well (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319133)

i popped my penis by inserting a tube into my urethra and turning the gas on.

it leaked

fiaskjfhgsjdjhgfdskjbfhjds (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319139)

fahdsahjfgdsyfghs dhfvehdsagfhdsavd hgfdfhg

Re:well (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319148)

my dog jumped on the chair and grabbed my steak off my plate.

that fucker.. i went right after her and shoved my cock up her 3 inch clit and made her yipe like the bitch that she was.

fucking dog.

Carbon nanorods (5, Interesting)

flend (9133) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319143)

Work is being done on using carbon nanorods to store hydrogen (amongst others by the Renewable Energies Research Lab in Golden, CO). These would be cheap and safely disposable and probably represent the future of hydrogen fuel tech.

Or you could just store it as part of a liquid (4, Interesting)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319234)

Like methanol.

Pure hydrogen fuel cells sound like a great idea, no pollution but water.

Except then you come to the problem of storage and transportation and have to spend a truly massive fortune on research and development like this, and, once that's done you also have the job of upgrading the entire energy distribution infrastructure which oddly enough will also be rather expensive.

But hey, go ahead, it's a free market, someone else will come along with much cheaper solution.

obligatory back to the future post (4, Funny)

r0b0t b0y (565885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319165)

Of course, there's still a long way to go before the automotive industry is using it, but it is good news nonetheless.

anyone else get the image of doc brown tossing in some banana peels and beer into "mr. fusion"??

.. maybe call this "mr. hydrogen" instead?

Mr. Fusion, meet Mr. Anti-Matter (2, Insightful)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319246)

In that movie, yes, I remember how he deposited garbage into what appeared to be a miniature fusion reactor. However, remember that it is very hard to fuse heavy elements like aluminum, possibly carbon as well. I think that they must have had anti-matter in mind. In a fusion reaction, there are many restrictions on the fuel, however, in an anti-matter reactor, there are none. It just has to be matter, and we have plenty of that.

Whatever happened on research on anti-matter reactors? The entire concept is feasable, and it is very effeicient. In most nuclear fission reactions, the efficency is about 8%, and combustion reactions usually have substantially less, at less than a tenth of a percent. In an anti-matter reaction, nothing is wasted, and the efficency is 100%.

Re:Mr. Fusion, meet Mr. Anti-Matter (-1)

ReLik (599554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319295)

nothing is wasted like a fox

Re:Mr. Fusion, meet Mr. Anti-Matter (4, Informative)

Trelane (16124) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319334)

Matter-antimatter reactions give you 100% of the mass converted into energy.

Gamma ray energy, that is.

Note also that antimatter annihiliates any matter it touches.

Core problem 1 is how to produce antimatter cheaply, and in enough quantity. Right now, it's only produced in particle accelerators.

Core problem 2 is how to transport it. If it's charged, you can use a magnetic bottle, but if it's not....

Core problem 3 is how to change the gamma rays into something useful. Gamma rays, you may recall, only interact with heavy metals (e.g. Pb) enough to really consider it. (Sure, they interact with, say, DNA, but not very often, compared to the number that get through unaffected). And even in things like Pb, it's only attenuated not stopped. The gamma rays might excite an electron, but that'll fall back to ground state, giving another gamma ray. It might interact with the nucleus, warming the substance a very little bit, but that's it. We don't have a good way of converting gamma rays into, say, heat to provide steam for traditional turbines.

Re:Mr. Fusion, meet Mr. Anti-Matter (1)

snkline (542610) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319553)

Antimatter reactors are no where near feasible in the forseeable future, because we essentially have to make all our antimatter. If I recall the antimatter that all the physics labs in the world wouldn't even let you power a lightbulb (I could be wrong, can't find a ref for where I read that) Anyways, without large quantities of antimatter, using it as a source of enery is out of the question. Hydrogen on the other had, is the most abundant thing in the universe.

cycle (3, Interesting)

rf0 (159958) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319169)

We should just cycle everywere. Cheap, environemntally friendly and relaxing


Re:cycle (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319184)

Good luck if the grocery store and work is more than 5 miles away and it's raining or snowing.

Re:cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319399)

What's your point?

Re:cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319256)

Just cover the world in electric railways and tramways (there are plenty of ways of generating renewable electricity!) so that no-one in an urban area is more than (say) half a mile from a stop/station. The remaining oil can thus be used much more sparingly.

We also need some link between Eurasia and America to thrive without fossil fuels. Air travel is out, so we either build a rail link (under the Bering Strait rather than the Atlantic Ocean!) or rely on sailing ships. A high-speed London-Moscow-Bering Strait-Vancouver-Los Angeles railway would be nice, though unlikely in the present economic climate.

Re:cycle (2, Funny)

sal (3052) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319497)

I'll keep that in mind next time I have to travel from New York to Boston in the middle of winter. More people like bikes than live in Southern California.

The day this goes through... (0, Offtopic)

HostingLad (684900) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319198) a legally required component for cars is the day the US economy goes through the toilet as LOTS of mechanics, repair shops, dealerships, and even manufacturers will be screwed. Not to mention all the gas stations, and the fact that if we stop buying the bulk of the oil exports from the Gulf nations, their economies will take a major hit as well, leading factions there to blame the "American Devils" for crippling their countries, leading to bombings on US soil, which will of course lead to then-United States President Jeb Bush declaring that the new Axis of Evil will pay, leading to a major boost in our wartime economy as our hydrogen powered tanks roll through Iraq again. So maybe it will be a wash, after all.

Re:The day this goes through... (4, Insightful)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319210)

yeah, and the buggy-whip manufacturers got screwed back in the day. As did the coach-builders, blacksmiths, stables, etc. So, they adapted (coach-builders built auto coaches, blacksmiths became mechanics, stables became hotels) or died.

That's capitalism for you.

This is the first time on Slashdot (2, Funny)

Omkar (618823) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319393)

That I've heard this argument without reference to the RIAA/MPAA.

Re:The day this goes through... (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319432)

Even capitalism can break, as Standard Oil and Microsoft have shown us. Do you think Microsoft would just up and die of something better came along?

Hate to break it to you, but it hasn't and it won't.

Re:The day this goes through... (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319457)

so when did you last fill up at a Standard Oil(tm) station?

(summary: Standard Oil DID break up, into many smaller brands such as Exxon, Esso (in Canada), Amoco, Chevron, etc)

Not all breakups are court-ordered, at least not yet. Capitalism still works.

To paraphrase Santayana: Those who don't know history are condemned to spout off ignorantly about it.

Re:The day this goes through... (2, Interesting)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319502)

Even capitalism can break, as Standard Oil and Microsoft have shown us.
Capitalism works for commodities. I don't think anyone has ever claimed that it works when some or all parties are legally forbidden (by copyright or patents) from selling the same product, so SO or M$ don't prove that capitalism is "broken", only that it's not applicable.

Recently it's been determined that Standard Oil before its breakup was actually selling its products for fair prices, amazingly enough. It's not clear whether MS prices for Windows and Office are fair, but it's pretty clear that their price for IE (i.e., free) was unfair at the time.

Microsoft has been convicted of violating antitrust law, yet the court was unwilling to do anything about it. If you or I did something that hurt fewer people to a lesser extent, we'd be in jail. Sigh.

Re:The day this goes through... (1)

Zebbers (134389) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319375)

youre a fucking idiot
there will still be dealerships to sell the vehicles, still be mechanics to fix them and most likely still fuel distribution centers as well.

The oil thing is an international relations problem and will always be something if NOT oil.

As others have said, its capitalism, evolve or die.

Re:The day this goes through... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319556)

1. Just because there will be fuel cells, doesn't mean they won't be sold, repaired or built. Magic fuel cell Smurfs won't build GM fuel cell cars in invisable mushrooms somewhere.

2. Gas stations will adapt or die. What will happen is as soon as GM and Toyota announce they are going fuel cell in x number of years whom ever is partnering with them will announce they will have y number of stations with hydrogen, methane, whatever they've standardized on.

I think fuel cells will be on trucks and buses to start and it will trickle down to passenger vehicles over 3-5 years.

3. As for OPEC, they will still export oil for plastics, lubricants, etc. But if they don't see the writing on the wall and diversify then they will be in for trouble.

H2 Bad? (0, Redundant)

randomErr (172078) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319217)

I thought we just had a report a few weeks ago, right after Bush anounced his new hydrogen car program, that hydrogen was bad for the enviroment?

A better question: (4, Funny)

RasputinAXP (12807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319249)

could it produce 1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott!

Honey, the car's low on fuel... (1)

nhaze (684461) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319252)

go grab the compost. (?)
seriously though, decomposing biomass is not always all that pleasant. DO you think they envision filling stations? While it's somewhat nasty it seems feasible to refuel at home, as long as the catalyst components are cheap enough for the home user.

48 hours... before what? (2, Interesting)

srussell (39342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319282)

Ugh. I wish I had the time to learn more about this stuff.

Relative to other catalysts, the Raney-NiSn can perform for long time periods (at least 48 hours) and at lower temperatures (roughly 225 degrees Celsius).

Raney-NiSn can perform for at least 48 hours... before what? Before it has to be replaced? Before it has to rested? What happens after 48 hours?

Re:48 hours... before what? (1)

Zagar (610861) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319316)


Re:48 hours... before what? (4, Informative)

dackroyd (468778) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319549)

I did Chemistry at university but it's been a while....

Probably before the catalyst element corrodes too much that it needs to be replaced, as it's efficiency drops too much.

(most)Catalysts work by letting chemicals bind to them temporarily, before the chemicals go on to complete their reaction. In this case the biomass breaks into smaller chunks when it bind onto the catalyst and then the chunks are reduced further to produce the Hydrogen.

In a perfect catalyst, the catalyst would remain unchanged after the process. However some of the reaction products could get left on the surface of the catalyst (which physically blocks that bit of the surface ), also the surface could be deformed at a microscopic level (ie the atoms of the catalyst get moved about) which stops the catalyst from working as the chemicals are unable to bind to the surface.

Or it could just be catalyst in the EU hitting the working hour limit....

What is the process's efficiency (3, Interesting)

HidingMyName (669183) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319286)

The materials required are just one expense, the catalyst typically is expected to be reusable (consumed at a very low rate due to inefficiencies). However, the amount of raw material required to extract the energy, the size of the apparatus and the amount of energy required to get a unit of energy are probably the real issues. If it takes more than a Joule to extract the hydrogen required to generate a Joule of energy, the system is only viable for special applications, not as an energy source.

Back to the Future (1)

Zagar (610861) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319288)

Does this mean we can feed trash to our cars just like in Back to the Future?

Crud Vapors? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319302)

I wonder if poo gas would count as biomass?

Stop recycling! (4, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319308)

You're killing the planet! Recycling is bad! Landfills are good!

No, I'm not kidding.

Global warming may be due to humanity's CO2 emissions, or solar radiation, or something we haven't even discovered yet, but it's something detrimental to our society and it'd be nice to do something about it. Well, the best way is to stop burning stuff, obviously. On the other hand, our society runs on our burning stuff. That's not good.

Well, the least we can do is stop burning stuff that gives us the least benefit. That, my friends, is garbage. Waste incinerators, even if they provide cogeneration, would run at a loss if they weren't paid extra by people who don't want the stuff they burn. So it's not such a big deal to NOT burn the garbage and burn something more efficient instead.

Further, while there are some materials it may make sense to recycle, when it comes to plastics, you're better off burying it. Every bit of plastic you DON'T recycle is another quantity of oil that will never be burned, but will instead go back to sequestering carbon under the ground.

Re:Stop recycling! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319437)

While your assessment is accurate for oil-based products, it doesn't apply to biomass.

Burning things that have been produced by recently living organisms is not too bad, it's just another part of the normal carbon cycle.

The problem with fossil fuels is that they are re-introducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that has been removed from the natural carbon cycle...

An interesting question is how efficient can we make energy production based on plant farming, which is an indirect way of utilizing solar energy - plants transform carbon dioxide (+ water + sunlight) into hydrocarbons, hydrocarbons are processed into non-fossil fuel and utilized - can this be more efficient than solar panels? I believe photosynthesis is a pretty efficient process, especially for fast growing plants, but this is something that hasn't (AFAIK) been tried on a large scale.

Re:Stop recycling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6319539)

thermodynamics says it cant be ;)

No platinum? (1)

threephaseboy (215589) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319356)

But why would I use Hydrogen to fill my new fuel-cell powered Escalade then? I need tha bling-bling in tha gas tank, yo!

Cars... (5, Insightful)

nepheles (642829) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319380)

Isn't it, perhaps, the whole idea of an automobile, which is inherently inefficient, which needs re-thinking? It seems that support for rail over long distances, and metro-like systems for shorter distances might be more beneficial to all. Trains do not require huge streets, they do not require huge areas for parking, they do not lead to massive congestion, they do not cause deaths on a huge scale. (More Americans are killed every year from road fatalities than were killed in the war in Vietnam).

It may be that the car is too ingrained in the American psyche to dispense with it... but that's no reason to keep it either

Course, I fancy an air powered car (4, Interesting)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319405)

Like this one:

Even less polluting than a hydrogen powered vehicle, the only exhaust is clean air. Ironically, the air is cleaner going out than going in because it has to be filtered before reaching the engine.

Forget the "hydrogen economy" for transportation.. (4, Insightful)

neBelcnU (663059) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319479)

I'm as green as the next frog, but hydrogen's a LONG way from fueling transportation on this planet. Didn't MIT post a study showing diesel-powered hybrids as the shortest, fastest way to environmental remediation for our roads?

That's not to stop the U of W's process from fueling a large number of fixed polluters. For example, the giant cooling plant (part of a co-gen facility) for the building I work in could benefit from some H2. Bring it on, just don't waste time trying to get it into cars & trucks.

I'll go back under my rock now...

hows it work? (1)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319511)

Whats the normal process for 'creating' hydrogen? I guess I assumed they just mixed a couple of chemicals together and trapped it in balloons like we did in chem class in highschool.

Some one needs to... (1, Interesting)

Dutchy Wutchy (547108) | more than 11 years ago | (#6319545)

...sponsor some type of racing powered by fuel cells.
Like Off-Shore Power Boat Racing, or anything really.
That might kick in some more research dollars.
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