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View Diary: Recent DOE Break-Through with Hydrogen Fuel Cells, should make them Affordable (275 comments)

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  •  More infrastructure than danger (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, JeffW, Matt Z

     I was thinking more about what I wrote, and didn't state the real reason for the technology change.
      Creating and infrastructure to get H conveniently to consumers is the key.  Big tank trucks and storage tanks would take too long to build and cost too much.  But if a technology that is as simple as it is today to get a new auto battery is in place, even if it means a swap out ever week or so, would allow using existing infrastructure of roads, trucks, and Walmarts

    "We borrow this Earth from our Grandchildren."

    by Arizona Mike on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:18:38 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  can't we just (0+ / 0-)

      convert the existing gasoline trucks?

      Maybe retrofit existing Gas stations as well?

      Say one Tank at a time, as the demand grows?

      In theory anyways.

      Got Time?
      Take ten, to find something else informative and fun to read. Thx.

      by jamess on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:23:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probably not (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess, JeffW, Matt Z

        Two reasons I can think of:  Look who owns and controls all the existing trucks, stations and pipes.  After all, immediate profit is more important than long term good.  Are you aware of the problems in the early 1900's when the oil companies wanted to run pipelines but needed to cross railroad land?

        Second is the chemistry, which I'm only vague on.  Since H2 molecules are so small, and of course gas/oil/natural gas are huge by comparison, the existing tanks and pipes that are OK for the big molecules would likely leak like crazy with H2 is them.

        "We borrow this Earth from our Grandchildren."

        by Arizona Mike on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 08:14:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You want the hydrogen stored as a liquid (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess, JeffW, Matt Z

        which means keeping it under pressure.  It would be more like propane than gasoline.  There have been some promising technologies when it comes to safely storing hydrogen for commercial use but without standardizing the system (the gas pumps work with all gas-powered vehicles) there won't be a mass adoption.

        The reason our energy overlords like to dangle hydrogen as a replacement is that it would look like the current system, you would have those extracting and processing the hydrogen, those shipping and storing and those selling it.  Getting rid of the platinum is a huge first step, but the energy industry is going to try to slow walk the process, making sure we don't have a hydrogen-based system before we have extracted as much out of out oil-based system as possible and they are going to try to put themselves into the same positions they held in the old energy economy in the new one.

        The problem with hydrogen is that even with the leaps in technology, every ten years it is still ten years away.  While these leaps advance the goal, they still don't seem to do it fast enough.  I think instead of trying to wedge new technologies into our lifestyle, in may be easier to change our lifestyles to meet the new demands.

      •  Back in the late 70's, I first heard... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess, Matt Z

        ...about using hydrogen as an energy source. A lot of people touted it as a replacement for natural gas. It's not, as it has a much lower caloric value, and will react with metal piping, leaking where natural gas wouldn't. You need special piping and tanks for hydrogen, and if you use it in fuel cells, you can't add odorants and colorants to make leaks apparent, as they will poison the catalyst. Otherwise, hydrogen fires are almost colorless, and leaks will definitely be odorless.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 09:08:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Several problems with Hydrogen (0+ / 0-)

      As I see it:

      1) Hydrogen suitable for distribution as a fuel storage has to be produced. That takes energy. Might be able to do it greenly e.g. solar/electrolysis but large scale producers may use dirtier methods.

      2) Hydrogen is "unstable" and requires extraordinary safety measures.  I would conclude that the technology to store it safely in a moving vehicle would not be available for many decades.

      3) There is no existing infrastructure for distributing hydrogen compared to other fuel choices.  (e.g. electricity, Natural gas)
      Building an infrastructure of comparable mass will take decades and cost trillions.

      One of the schemes I've seen for creating Hydrogen is to utilize Natural Gas and convert it onsite at a filling station. I conclude it would make more sense to use CNG in a vehicle and a fuel cell to catalyze it.  

      I think electricity and efficiency are our future.  Most daily car trips are less than 40 miles, well within the range of battery technology today.  Wind and solar are actually radically pushing down the cost of electricity.  New prospective technologies on the horizon include Traveling Wave Reactors which promise to convert our huge stockpiles of depleted uranium into clean long running supplies of power on industrial power plant scale.  

      --Mr. President, you have to earn my vote every day. Not take it for granted. --

      by chipoliwog on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 05:15:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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