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New Hydrogen Engine Test Shows Future of Aviation

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the put-it-in-a-car dept.

Technology 184

An anonymous reader writes to mention Boeing has successfully completed tests for the engine that will power HALE, the new prop plane that will be able to stay aloft for long periods of time. "The wünderengine, developed by the Ford Motor Company, went for three days under the simulated conditions of a 65,000-feet flight, which is definitely better than a Taurus and apparently exceeded their expectations on fuel economy. Chris Haddox at Boeing's Advanced Systems said that while it will be several years before HALE flies, the key to this aircraft is the propulsion system and this recent test was very promising."

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Curious now... (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105209)

What sort of mileage does a Taurus get at 65000 feet?

Re:Curious now... (5, Funny)

achilles777033 (1090811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105237)

65000 ft/tank. None of them managed to keep moving after that.

Fuel economy increases with empty tank? (4, Funny)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105303)

So, the fuel economy would go up with less fuel in the tank? Is this the reason why my wife always seems to drive her Taurus around with the fuel gauge always on "E"?

You people need to stop feeding this sort of stuff to the mechanically inept. I mean, it took me two hours to explain there was no such thing as "blinker fluid" to her friend the other day.

Re:Fuel economy increases with empty tank? (0, Redundant)

achilles777033 (1090811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105337)

I'm sure there's a joke here about filling a gas tank with sugar, and a 'sweet ride' but it's not coming to me :P

Re:Fuel economy increases with empty tank? (4, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105353)

I mean, it took me two hours to explain there was no such thing as "blinker fluid" to her friend the other day.
If you're so clever... then what is this stuff [google.com] I've been buying?!!

Re:Fuel economy increases with empty tank? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106085)

Of course, less fuel, less weight, better mileage; run completely out and your mileage goes through the roof while you cost to a stop.

Re:Fuel economy increases with empty tank? (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106341)

Yes it does, there's less weight, it's why F1 drivers drive their fastest with low fuel.

Re:Curious now... (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106843)

That's just the vertical portion of the vector, you insensitive clod!

Re:Curious now... (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105251)

12.3106061 miles to the tank.

i.e 65,000ft.

Re:Curious now... (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105265)

Assuming the ground below is at or near sea level... I'm guessing (65000/5280) or 12.31 miles.

Re:Curious now... (1)

anti-human 1 (911677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105293)

Hell, at that altitude you don't even have to turn it on to go 12.31 miles. Your Odometer may not register this, but you'll know when you've reached the end.

Re:Curious now... (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106403)

Your Odometer may not register this, but you'll know when you've reached the end.
I'm guessing you won't know...at least not for long.

Re:Curious now... (3, Funny)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105305)

Well, mine got around 26mpg at 5,000ft, and around 28mpg at 0ft, so I can only assume that it would get exactly 2mpg, subtracting 1mpg for every 2500ft. But your mileage may vary.

Re:Curious now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105381)

I think that's the first time I've seen YMMV used appropriately on /.

Re:Curious now... (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106107)

What sort of mileage does a Taurus get at 65000 feet?
That depends on how fast the wheels are turning! Eh?

But they Cannot Build a Fuel Efficient Car? (2, Funny)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105227)

The wünderengine, developed by the Ford Motor Company, went for three days under the simulated conditions of a 65,000-feet flight

This must be why the average fuel economy of American cars continues to suck so much dirt, all of the engineers are working on high altitude aircraft engines for use in the upcoming (any day now) FLYING version of the Ford Taurus...yeah.

Course they can (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105397)

You just won't buy the fuckers.

 

Re:Course they can (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106525)

Well, yeah. I don't want a car that has a lag between me starting going and getting up to highway speed that's measurable with the minute hand of a stopwatch. It's just not safe merging onto a 65mph highway at 30.

Re:Course they can (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21107019)

The 2l Diesel Skoda Octavia beloved by cabbies will do 60mpg and 0-60 in 9.6 seconds. Has room to carry 5 (yeah, I know that's only 2 Americans) and space for luggage in the boot.

The only problem being that all the used ones on the market have done 250,000 miles.
 

Re:But they Cannot Build a Fuel Efficient Car? (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106921)

Didn't Hindenburg use a wünderengine?

sounds like it will be a really hot technology (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105233)

New Hydrogen Engine Test Shows Future of Aviation

Oh, the humanity!

Re:sounds like it will be a really hot technology (2, Funny)

GenP (686381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105575)

Well, the alternative was Sex Panther but that was rejected for obvious flammability and sexiness reasons.

Re:sounds like it will be a really hot technology (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105599)

While I did laugh, at that comment, let's remember that it's generally accepted now that the Hindenburg burned because of its highly flammable zinc skin, not because of the hydrogen fuel. In fact, hydrogen rises and evaporates so quickly that lives may have been saved because it didn't hang around and burn downward. A lot of people survived.

Re:sounds like it will be a really hot technology (4, Interesting)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105805)

The skin wasn't zinc, and it wasn't zinc that caused it to burn.

The skin was cotton, and they painted it with aluminum/iron-oxide paint. Basically, liquid thermite. Poof!

From the Wikipedia entry:
The duralumin frame was covered by cotton varnished with iron oxide and cellulose acetate butyrate impregnated with aluminium powder. The aluminum was added to reflect both ultraviolet, which damaged the fabric, and infrared light, which caused heating of the gas.

The explosion happened when it was trying to land during an electric storm. The cotton panels were held to the frame with rope cords which were not painted with the same metal-saturated varnish as the panels themselves. When they dropped the grounding cable during the landing approach, all built-up static from the panels jumped to the frame, sparking the "thermite" varnish. The rest is history.

And you're right about how the use of hydrogen likely saved lives.

Taurus at 65,000ft? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105245)

How about that, I didn't know that Ford's new Taurus could fly that high. The last time I tried to get a Taurus to fly, I could only get about 3 feet off the ground and usually ended up shoving the front suspension through the hood upon landing.

My, how far they've come with car technology these days...

Spy the Friendly Skies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105259)

Boeing: Building a Better Big Brother

Among other things... (3, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105269)

And despite its light appearance, the aircraft will be able to carry a 2,000-pound multi-sensor payload, plus a custom fender, flame stickers for an extra speed punch and/or synthetic leather finish.
... and say, a bomb.

Hate to be the downer of the party, but that's the way our leaders think. Gain the "high ground."

Re:Among other things... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105405)

Actually, I find a bomb unlikely. Look at it again. Do you think that thing would survive long over enemy territory? That's what the stealth bombers are for. This thing will likely be used as radar drones, in my opinion. Or a scout.

Re:Among other things... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106177)

most enemies are either primitive or made that way relatively quickly, add in a bunch of fiber glass and carbon fiber which keeps radar cross sections low, and flying at medium altitudes; yeah the thing would probably last a while. Don't forget that shooting at something like that is like walking around with a bull's eye painted on your back.

Re:Among other things... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106629)

Maybe send a dozen on a semi-legitimate bombing run (meaning they each actually do hold a bomb) and have fighters hanging back waiting to take out anything that shoots a missile at them? I say semi-legitimate because the purpose of the run could be not so much to drop bombs but to bring the AA defenses out of hiding.

They already have that. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105439)

Does the military need yet another airplane to carry bombs? This is a prop-engine plane we're talking about, designed to stay aloft for long periods, but I doubt it moves fast (relatively speaking, of course). I suspect that, for the problem of ordinance delivery, the Military already has superior solutions to that problem.

Your statement would have been very insightful, oh, say, 100 years ago, when the Wright Bros. biplane first got off the ground at Kitty Hawk.

Re:Among other things... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105667)

And despite its light appearance, the aircraft will be able to carry a 2,000-pound multi-sensor payload, plus a custom fender, flame stickers for an extra speed punch and/or synthetic leather finish.

... and say, a bomb.

You must be joking. Product diversification is the name of the game, and bombers sell for a lot more than prop-driven recon birds. Besides, carrying one Mk84 does not a bomber make.

Re:Among other things... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106141)

Besides, carrying one Mk84 does not a bomber make.

Historically, hasn't one bomb has been the payload of the majority of bombers used in war? Or maybe one big bomb and a few smaller ones (e.g. a Stuka might have had one 1000kg bomb and four 50kg bombs).

Re:Among other things... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106927)

Historically, hasn't one bomb has been the payload of the majority of bombers used in war? Or maybe one big bomb and a few smaller ones (e.g. a Stuka might have had one 1000kg bomb and four 50kg bombs).

Yes, when Air Corps tactics involved filling the sky with small airplanes based on attrition calculations. The concepts of sustained air superiority and strategic bombing put an end to that. Now you have big bombers with big bombs, and small ground attack fighters with multiple small bombs. It's been that way for awhile now.

Really surprising (2, Interesting)

ShiningSomething (1097589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105297)

Would've never guessed that fuel efficiency was prized more by military than civilian customers. Or is there some subsidy for "green" fuels in some Defense appropriations bill?

Re:Really surprising (2, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105377)

Maybe it's a logistics thing. You can essentially produce hydrogen on-site from an electrical generation power source, say a nuclear reactor onboard an aircraft carrier. Instead of having a carrier resupplied with jet fuel, av-gas or whatever from a supply ship, they just make what they need onboard. Improved fuel efficiency then just helps sell the idea.

Not saying that's the reason, just speculation on my part.

Re:Really surprising (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105905)

But also a strategic thing. Destroying every oil well in the US is easy, destroying every farm is not. That means the enemy can't destroy the fuel supply if it comes from farms.

Besides, wars are won first and then started. You can never plan too much ahead, and oil is bound to run out eventually. Sure, it's many years away, but wars have been known to last for decades, even a century. It's a good idea to say to your enemies "our systems will last longer than any war you can throw at us; attrition is pointless".

Re:Really surprising (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106281)

Just a wild guess here but at 65,000 feet it gets mighty cold, and most fuel get pretty thick when it gets mighty cold, but most aircraft don't stay up there long enough to let the insulated fuel tanks get cold. This aircraft on the other hand is going to stay up there a long time, so they would have to use engine heat to keep the fuel warm enough to pump, but engines that make a lot of waste heat aren't very efficient, and have a big IR signature! So the obvious answer is to use hydrogen which wouldn't gum-up until something like 3 degrees k!

All the fighters, bombers, copters, tanks, humvees (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106755)

All use Jet A1... Or near as damn it.

Except motorcycles, and they developed one which would run on it for that reason.

 

Re:Really surprising (2, Insightful)

Cussin_IT (1143215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105883)

Actualy, I think this has more to do with weight ratios. A vehicle with a highly efficent motor will go farther and require fewer support stops than with an inefficent motor, even though they (vehicle+fuel)weigh the same. For unmanned vhicles, this means fewer support personel on the ground being shot at, leading to fewer injurys. Honestly, if the milatary is going to work at something, fewer friendly injurys is a worthy goal.

Re:Really surprising (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106065)

Actualy, I think this has more to do with weight ratios.
All I know is, a five-ounce bird can not carry a one-pound coconut!

Re:Really surprising (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106589)

But what about two of them together?

Re:Really surprising (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106785)

Nah, they'd have to have it on a line, or something.

Re:Really surprising (1)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106011)

My guess would actually be cash -the DoD spends so much money on gas, it can actually be graphed along with other countries in fuel use. It seems that relying on already existing technologies (nuclear power in certain warships) would be cheaper for them than buying all this fuel - especially as the price keeps going up. But hey, IMHO obviously.

yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (2, Interesting)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105317)

Hydrogen! Yay! It's everywhere - heck, water is 2/3rds Hydrogen - meaning it is safe and plentiful and when you burn it all you get is water! But then the question becomes: how does one go about making Hydrogen from water? At this point the answer is based soundly in the same thermodynamics that condemns us all to a second stone age: LOTS AND LOTS of energy, my friend, meaning hydrogen solves nothing. Hell, it's not even easy to store the corrosive stuff.

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (5, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105445)

It may not always be a major issue. Future generations of nuclear reactors [wikipedia.org] are likely to be designed specifically to operate at extremely high temperatures, good for producing enough process heat to thermochemically generate lots of hydrogen relatively cheaply.

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (1)

density5 (1067916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21107003)

Hydrogen can be extracted from water at 700% have a look! fastforward to 20.20 in the movie.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2464139837181538044 [google.com]

I bet you Myers patent which can be used by the us military/Nasa and other defence contractors without having to ask for Stanly Myer's permission. Forget Nuclear - I would use this.

Hydrogen equals nuclear power (1)

johnjaydk (584895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105453)

But then the question becomes: how does one go about making Hydrogen from water? At this point the answer is based soundly in the same thermodynamics that condemns us all to a second stone age: LOTS AND LOTS of energy, my friend, meaning hydrogen solves nothing.

Hydrogen power is the environmentally friendly codeword for nuclear power. It's a hoax and the greens are eating it up. Face it, it's just a fancy battery.

Personally I think nukes are the way to go so I don't complain ... much.

Re:Hydrogen equals nuclear power (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105615)

Right now, I think most hydrogen fuel is acquired through reactions using fossil fuels.

I wouldn't say that hydrogen's storage and transportation problems are insurmountable, it doesn't really have the same returns per volume and weight (when considering the entire storage unit) as other fuels. Coming up with better ways to burn it doesn't really help the other issues in the chain.

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (2, Funny)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105521)

Given that their plans are all up in the air, it probably will never fly as a fuel source

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (1)

eggfoolr (999317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105663)

It's not hard to store.... just keep it in water! You can always use a Joe Cell to extract it later (bad joke).

Yes you are pointing out an obvious flaw in the whole hydrogen economy, but it is more to do with who will have control over the energy supply than it is about the mode of energy.

If you switch to hydrogen you need an infrastructure to manufacture and distribute it. So who do you trust to do that?

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105743)

If you switch to hydrogen you need an infrastructure to manufacture and distribute it. So who do you trust to do that?

The invisible hand of the free market, like everything else in America, that's who. Why, if a whole bunch of hydrogen blows up due to short-sighted cost-cutting measures, we'll know to buy our hydrogen from the other guy!

Nah, I'm just kidding. We'll just have to make sure that Congress and the President regulate hydrogen as effectively as they have oh I give up, we're fucked.

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21106825)

It's not hard to store.... just keep it in water! You can always use a Joe Cell to extract it later (bad joke).
you may be joking, but that's exactly how to store it in automobiles. however, it will require bigger batteries or a bank of batteries that will need to be replaced once a year or perhaps recharged at night...and highly efficient generators installed under the hood and in each wheel assembly. hopefully, the recent discovery of a PA researcher will make the process of converting water to hydrogen on-the-fly more efficient than electrolysis.

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105669)

Well, I'll leave off the obligatory DHMO link for once. But:

heck, water is 2/3rds Hydrogen
Water is significantly less than 2/3 Hydrogen -- much closer to 1/16 Hydrogen. I know you were joking, but this is important when we think about what to do with all the waste.

For every 1 kilo of hydrogen used as fuel, we'll produce 16 kilos of solid waste! (It'll become solid quickly at those altitudes.)

Re:yeah right, hydrogen is gonna save us! (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105903)

But then the question becomes: how does one go about making Hydrogen from water?

Military Check list

Step 1: Powersource - Nuclear Reactor on Aircraft carrier - check!
Step 2: Electrolysis from water - We're on the ocean - check!
Step 3: Tanks to store it on - Hey we could use this jet engine fuel storage - check!

Corrosive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21106029)

You must be using a strange definition of corrosive. Most people think of corrosion as some set of oxidative reactions, which result in the accumulation of a product on a surface which has significantly less strength and/or toughness than the "parent" material. The conversion into product results in less effective area or volume for withstanding stress.

Atomic hydrogen can embrittle some materials, but usually there is no product produced. The hydrogen is "dissolved" in the material. The effect on the material is a volume effect, not a surface effect. The result is almost completely a toughness reduction. Strength reduction is not typically a problem.

Total cost per mile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21106241)

Seems that very few people work the total cost per mile of any fuels. I've seen only 1 study that mentions that for any vehicle.
Here's an article on "well to wheel" costs http://www.memagazine.org/mepower03/gauging/gauging.html [memagazine.org]

I've thought through this and run a few numbers over the last few years. Ethanol is simply stupid. The conversion costs are too high. Hydrogen is worse, **unless** the power to convert water into H2 is renewable, cheap, and locally produced. No large company will support that infrastructure since it removes their reoccurring profits.

Sadly, the solution will have to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Steps:
  1) electric car - done, but not in numbers or distances acceptable to consumers
  2) rechargeable at home cars - say 4-6 hours to recharge
  3) create hydrogen at home to power as much as possible (solar or wind or other conversion)
  4) Recharge / refuel car in less than 5 minutes.
  5) convert electric cars into hybrid electro-hydrogen cars
  6) 300+ mile range - hydrogen comes in here
  7) build hydrogen storage facilities (gas station replacements), but with most homes producing their own hydrogen, there will be many more sources.

Without hydrogen being produced decentralized, we'll be back where we are today with big oil or big auto makers doing everything they can to ensure parts are needed every 3,000 miles. When was the last time an electric car needed an oil change?

I know I've missed something really important AND sadly, where I live, wind power will never work. There's no river or creek nearby for hydroelectric power either. If you've made it this far and want to think a little deeper, there's more here ... http://jdpfu.com:60080/#%5B%5BThoughts%20On%20Energy%5D%5D [jdpfu.com]

After market aircraft enhancements... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105349)

"And despite its light appearance, the aircraft will be able to carry a 2,000-pound multi-sensor payload, plus a custom fender, flame stickers for an extra speed punch and/or synthetic leather finish."

Cool! I didn't know those sorts of add-on options worked for planes too! :-)

Great (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105367)

How much energy does it take to produce the hydrogen?

Hydrogen is not an energy source, it's an energy storage system, and not a very good one.

 

Re:Great (2, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105541)

How much energy does it take to produce the hydrogen?
While not the most efficient process imaginable, electrolysis will do it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water/ [wikipedia.org] . Some claim 50 - 70% efficiency. Your high school physics teacher should have been able to demonstrate it easily with supplies one could buy from a local hardware store.

Though yes, ultimately it isn't the greatest solution, as of you'll never get back 100% of the energy you put in. So even once you obtain the hydrogen, and then combust it with atmospheric oxygen, there will be a net loss of energy. However, the big advantage is that its carbon-neutral with regards to the products of combustion.

Hopefully we'll see an even better solution later on. But the nuclear car (also from Ford) never seemed to take off much: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_car [wikipedia.org]

Re:Great (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105687)

damn_registrars is a known troll.

Reference: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=337239&cid=21089939 [slashdot.org] and thread.

Re:Great (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105571)

Hydrocarbons are really also just an energy storage system.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105657)

Yes, but we didn't have to do anything to get it. Unless you count showing up at the correct point in time to use up the stored energy of millions of years of sunlight shining on plants. Also, it is easily stored and transported. Good luck with the hydrogen fallacy, I'll be over here with the oil/uranium.

Re:Great (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106639)

Hydrogen is more transportable than uranium, though, and much less polluting (as well as more stable at colder temperatures than oil) Use the uranium to generate the hydrogen, and everyone wins. Or at least, the military wins with the goals it has in mind.

Re:Great (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105693)

Your bit of genius aptly neglects that fossil fuels store energy from ages ago. Not energy we have to generate or capture today.

C//

Re:Great (1)

ShiNoKaze (1097629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106015)

Well by your bit of genius, I could set up some hydrogen energy storage system and come back in 50 years and "WOO HOO Free Energy!!" or is it only free if you didn't set it up?, so like if I set it up, it would be free if you came in the next day and got the free energy?

Re:Great (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106397)

and your bit of genius neglects basic sustainability.

Sure, we can exploit our lucky windfall of easily releasable energy until it runs out or becomes a lot less easy to release.

But sooner or later, we run out. A sustainable form of energy is needed; maybe not tomorrow, but it is needed.

The only source of energy on earth is the sun. That's a pretty good place to start.

Beyond that, energy already stored in matter might be enough to buy us more time, but to be long term we'll probably need to figure out how to release the energy in the atoms of something really easy to get and prevalent on earth. Say, common dirt. or seawater, which covers most of our planet.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105587)

And how exactly would you define "energy source," or does the concept of such not fit into your political agenda? And who here is claiming Hydrogen is an energy source in the first place? I only see mention of it being used as a fuel.

Oh, but don't let that get in the way of your spouting this tired regurgitation again and again. Surely it tastes better comming up the nth time than it did the (n-1)th time. Yum.

Re:Great (0)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105641)

That's the problem with some greenies. They mean well, but not a whole lot of thought goes into solutions to greenhouse gas emissions.

1. Hybrids, while they do have electrical engines, also use fossil fuels to power the engine that charges the batteries to power it. They still have a carbon footprint.
2. While electrical cars have no emissions whatsoever, but the coal-burning plants that are used by much of the United States have a huge carbon footprint. Not to mention the high levels of radioactive emissions.
3. E85 vehicles get less MPG and still burn a fuel that has a carbon footprint. Not to mention the fuel is slightly more expensive than 89 Octane. (In Ohio at least.)

Hydrogen is just another one of those "warm and fuzzy" solutions that could be out there just to pacify the greenies. Until Gen IV nuclear reactors come online and make hydrogen production cleaner and more cost-effective, this hydrogen-powered vehicle thing will be nothing but a fad.

Re:Great (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105989)

How much energy does it take to produce the hydrogen?

That won't matter much anymore as soon as we have those portable 100GW cold fusion reactors available :-P

Maybe it'll turn out to be easier to just keep the oil-combusting engines but re-implement photosynthesis using large-scale technology though!

The ü! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105383)

The diareses should be taken away from wünderengine, where they don't belong, would come in handy on "über(yourexpression)" where they would be more correct.

hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105401)

I have to wonder how this works. Hydrogen engines that I have heard of are supposed to carry out the reaction of

2(H2) + (O2) -> 2(H2O)

But this of course requires oxygen to happen. Is there much oxygen available at 65,000 feet? Consider even Mount Everest is in the neighborhood of 29,000 feet, and life (generally) needs supplemental oxygen at that altitude. If there is barely enough for life at less than 30,000, is there actually enough for combustion when you're more than twice as far above sea level?

I also wonder what happens to the exhaust at that altitude. What becomes of water under those conditions? I'm not a pilot of any sort, so I don't know what happens in that part of the atmosphere.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (1)

ShiningSomething (1097589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105493)

Well, any combustion reaction requires oxygen, right? Apparently [airdisaster.com] , the constraint on altitude comes from the need to maintain a certain pressure within the cabin, not the availability of oxygen.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (3, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105499)

But this of course requires oxygen to happen. Is there much oxygen available at 65,000 feet?
From ask a scientist [anl.gov]

Question - Does air composition change with altitude in the Troposphere?

Is oxygen concentration different at an altitude of e.g. 10000m than at sea level?
-----------------
The composition of the atmosphere remain relatively constant up to the ozone layer at an altitude of around 60,000 feet (though that number does vary somewhat).
So, it appears the composition of air is relatively similar at high altitude, just there is LESS of it ... i.e the air is too thin to support most life.... Of course you can compress it so it becomes breathable, which is essentially what a commercial aircraft does to keep the passengers alive.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105531)

Remember that the combustion of hydrocarbons (Jet fuel) also requires oxygen, too.

Part of the way engines work at that altitude, in particular turbine engines, is that they densify the air coming into the combustion area by compressing it, thus getting more oxygen into the combustion area. Water is also a resulting product of burning hydrocarbons, too (you combine oxygen not only with the carbon atoms, but also with the hydrogen atoms). I don't exactly know how this is handled or tolerated at such low temperatures, but I'm willing to bet that between the latent heat expelled from the engine and the fine dispersement (atomization - to use a common, but incorrect term) that the resulting water doesn't pose any problem.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105617)

I don't exactly know how this is handled or tolerated at such low temperatures, but I'm willing to bet that between the latent heat expelled from the engine and the fine dispersement (atomization - to use a common, but incorrect term) that the resulting water doesn't pose any problem.
You just described a Contrail [wikipedia.org]

I guess these don't pose a problem unless they appear in the background of the medieval era film your watching.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (1)

nobodymk2 (1137293) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105597)

Consider military aircraft that uses relatively conventional jet engines and fuel, such as kerosene. The B-52H, for instance, has a service ceiling of 65,000ft. Isooctane and the other constituents in aircraft fuel require oxygen to burn. Isooctane + Oxygen -> Water + Carbondioxide (and not to mention various hydrocarbons because the fuel is not 100% isooctane and the reaction isn't perfect). The water comes out in the exhaust, just like in Hydrogen engines, as water vapor, which can form a jet contrail--but let's not get into that.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105645)

damn_registrars is a known troll.

Reference: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=337239&cid=21089939 [slashdot.org] and thread.

Re:hydrogen combustion at 65,000 feet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105967)

I assume you are the AC from the thread you pointed to.... Anyway, you said this:

Why should the costs of registration be shifted onto me just because /. refuses to adopt some kind of single sign on technology? This isn't 1994.

Did you know that once you have an account you can log in just by clicking on a URL with a token:

You can automatically log in by clicking This Link: http://slashdot.org/index.pl?op=userlogin&logtoken=asdlkfj_thisisamadeuponegetyourown_asdlkjs [slashdot.org] and Bookmarking the resulting page.
At the end of the day, you can log in by clicking a URL, or to it the 'normal' way and just stay logged in if you're willing to accept a cookie...

Old dreams, new achievements (4, Informative)

Mutatis Mutandis (921530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105461)

For aircraft developers, the advantage of hydrogen has always been that it delivers more energy per weight unit than traditional hydrocarbon fuels. The matching disadvantage is that because of its low density, it is much bulkier, so requires bigger and heavier fuel tanks. Temperature is also an issue with pro and cons. On the one hand, LH2 is very cold, so ice formation on the skin of the aircraft can be an issue. On the other hand, LH2 is still chemically stable at high temperatures that would turn fossil fuels into a nasty sludge, or even break down hydrocarbon molecules before they can be properly burned. All that always made LH2 a very suitable fuel for a big rocket or for the hypothetical Mach 4 space plane. Its use on a slow high-altitude UAV poses very different challenges.

Re:Old dreams, new achievements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105719)

How many hands do you have?

One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

Upaut (670171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105483)

The best thing about moving to a hydrogen fuel, is that it can be produced by all of our energy production. So when the fossil fuels run out, we can keep using our technology with the nuclear plants generating the gas, as well as the hydrogen and electric hybrids that look very promising. (Zeppelin jokes aside).

Though for this to be a realistic goal, we (America) need to start building new plants now, to the scale of France. And funding fusion research as well wouldn't hurt. At this moment, Nuclear energy is stagnate in America. We haven't built a new reactor in ages, and the old ones are being bought by those running them 24/7 at full load, just begging for a meltdown.

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105631)

How does running something designed for full load 24/7 irrevocably lead to a meltdown? Most coal plants in the usa are considered base load generators. They run at peak load all the time. Are they just as likely to explode?

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105633)

There are 30+ nuclear power plants working their way through early design and regulatory paperwork in the U.S. It remains to be seen how many actually get built. The energy bill passed a year or two ago dangled 2 billion in government backed loans to build nuclear power plants. The nuke industry wants that to be upped to $60 billion. The big nuke companies, GE and the big power companies, are liking the idea but they want the American tax payer to give them all the capital to build them for basically nothing.

China is also starting on a nuclear building binge. You can be sure that when nuclear power plants reach frenzy stage some corners are going to be cut and the risk is going to go up.

With the current nuke frenzy a key issue is the price of Uranium is starting to sky rocket and all the players are going to be fighting hard to gain control over the large amounts they need, and they need a lot to enrich it for power plant use.

The other problem is the U.S. doesn't exactly have a permanent place to dump all the nuclear waste already in temporary storage unless Yucca Mountain gets going. There is already 77,000 tons of spent fuel in temporary storage, all of which has to be shipped to Yucca mountain.

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

Upaut (670171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105889)

The other problem is the U.S. doesn't exactly have a permanent place to dump all the nuclear waste already in temporary storage unless Yucca Mountain gets going. There is already 77,000 tons of spent fuel in temporary storage, all of which has to be shipped to Yucca mountain.

Correction, partially spent fuel. America does not reprocess its fuel. If we did that, we would reduce the amount significantly. And the resultant waste would not only be "hotter", reducing alot faster, but it could theoretically be used in breeder reactors.

And France is not binge building, they build two models, large and small. Have been doing so for years. True not much progress in research is made, but its stable and all can be assembled quickly, without having to write the plans as they go along.

And reactors can use other fuels then highly refined uranium. Plutonium. Thorium. And rising price aside there is a lot more then coal and oil. Hey, there is another source, we could try to capture the tons of radioactive waste the coal plants spew into our air...

And when these fuels are depleted in a couple centuries, the benifit of having a primarily hydrogen/electrical consumer system, is any energy source can fuel it. Good news all around, eh?

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106169)

Nuclear power is actually the way to go, especially since 99% of nuclear waste can be reprocessed (most of that is actually trivial things like clothes that are just radioactive enough to be termed "nuclear waste.") But thats a long story... Also, uranium isnt as rare as one would think, considering we have thousands of needless nuclear warheads full of the stuff ;) Of course, I'm also a strong supporter of fusion research - in fact, the benefit of actually succeeding is so great that I would direct all of our alternative electric power generation funding to it.

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106719)

The benefit of being able to fly without assistance would be so great that I think it's worthy of dedicating ALL of our research money for anything to it.

If fusion isn't workable in the short term, we're going to lose out. We need to have other research going alongside fusion, simply because you forgot the time element in your calculation of investment to benefit.

Re:One step towards a Nuclear infrastructure. (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105827)

Though for this to be a realistic goal, we (America) need to start building new plants now, to the scale of France .

It's a good idea, but don't phrase it like that in public, or you'll find sizable grassroots political opposition. I mean, France? Don't they just eat cheese and surrender?

Now, if you translate the gains into "hours of porn surfing/Xbox usage," you'll get your votes.

hmm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21105607)

Why it's not called der Wündermaschin?

Bad experiences with hydrogen. (2, Funny)

had3l (814482) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105703)

You know what other aircraft was hydrogen powered? THE HINDENBURG! *hides under the desk*

Re:Bad experiences with hydrogen. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105923)

You know what other aircraft was hydrogen powered? THE HINDENBURG!

Actually, it was powered with diesel fuel.

Re:Bad experiences with hydrogen. (1)

Nordberg (218317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21107171)

Hmmm. The flamebait mod has never been more appropriate.

Global cooling warning. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105753)

Hydrogen fueled engine in the stratosphere for days at a time, eh?

So we're talking injecting tons of water vapor into the stratosphere - where it can produce long-lasting high-altitude clouds.

They'd be thin. But they'd do a DANDY job of reflecting sunlight.

Cloud reflectivity is a FAR greater forcing function of temperature than greenhouse gas.

So use of this plane could cause significant (wait for it) ...

GLOBAL COOLING!

Ice ages! Oh, Horrors!

It's Internal Combustion (1)

GPS Pilot (3683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21105763)

TFA is light on details. You might be interested to know that this is a hydrogen-burning internal combustion engine, not a hydrogen fuel cell.

BMW has also been developing hydrogen ("Wasserstoff") burning internal combustion engines: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/09/12/bmw-officially-announces-the-bmw-hydrogen-7 [autobloggreen.com]

Due to the sky-high price of fuel cells, the good ol' internal combustion engine might turn out to be the most practical way to use hydrogen fuel, for the forseeable future.

Like a Taurus would go that far... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106003)

65,000-feet flight, which is definitely better than a Taurus...

Heck, I'm surprised a Taurus can go 12 miles without a breakdown...

Because we all know that FORD stands for Found On Road Dead.

(Ducks!)

Thanks, folks, I'll be here all day...

Re:Like a Taurus would go that far... (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106303)

Hi there. Daily Ford driver here.

My '95 Ford T-Bird has 148,000 miles on it with exactly ZERO engine problems. The powertrain is as reliable as can be.

However,
-The defroster now frosts the windows (heater core is junk and steams up the inside of the window, which then freezes on the windshield).
-The automatic lights are only intermittently automatic.
-The intermittent wipers are only intermittently intermittent.
-In certain conditions, starting the engine means starting the engine, letting it stall out (kinda), and letting it restart under its own momentum.
-Raising the windows to their full stop makes the windows dim, so you always know when the windows are to the top.

Also note that these do not need to be fixed or repaired daily, they only need be left alone long enough until the car learns via conditioning that that particular errata of the car is no longer effective in annoying the driver, in these cases, the car will learn a new method of annoying the user, such as, here's a good one: Slipping the Torque Converter Lockup Clutch, while travelling between 40-50 miles per hour, on a greater than 5% grade, while in fourth gear. Or, and here's a good one - there's a pin in the steering column that can be severed that activates the ignition switch. If it is severed, the car may be started, but may not be stopped. In other words, you find out this is broken once you've started the car, drove to North Carolina (which is approximately 600 miles from your toolbox), and tried to park it. If that isn't bad enough, you'll probably set off your airbag trying to get the ignition switch out.

I see you have the... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21107025)

Ford Deluxe Option package A: Assorted Squeaks and Rattles.

Interestingly, 1995 was the last year Ford offered Deluxe Option package A as a standalone option. Subsequent years included bundled option packages such as:

  • 1998 - 2001 Firestone crash-and-burn tire blowout package. Originally marketed with the James Bond Edition Explorer.
  • 1989 - 1999 Red Hot Mustang - this option gave drivers that "classic car" experience by causing their engine to overheat in heavy traffic on hot afternoons. Commonly bundled with the vapor-lock simulator - which meant that your Mustang wouldn't start after it had overheated.
  • 2003 - 2007 Ford 500 - special layoff package. For an extra premium, you could buy one of the Ford 500's made in the Chicago plant after they announced the plant closure. Assorted miscellaneous problems come standard.

Re:Like a Taurus would go that far... (1)

jamrock (863246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21106377)

Because we all know that FORD stands for Found On Road Dead.
I thought it meant Fix Or Repair Daily.
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