[TAG] Hydrogen fuel (non-Linux)
mso at oz.net
Thu May 20 13:29:00 MSD 2004
On Thu, May 20, 2004 at 03:22:47AM -0400, Alan Petrillo wrote:
> Hydrogen makes sense in Iceland, because they have so much geothermal
> energy with which to make it.
> Hydrogen does not, however, make sense for most of the rest of us. At
> least not at the moment, and not for the forseeable future. The reason
> for this is simple. 90+% of all commercial hydrogen is refined from
> fossil fuel. This very effectively turns all of those "zero emissions"
> fuel cells into "emissions elsewhere" fuel cells.
Some emissions, but not as much. Burning fuel for energy is pretty
inefficient, especially in a car. What about the incompletely burned gas
in the exhaust? What about the excess heat in the engine? That's wasted
energy. From what I've read, hydrogenization requires significantly less
fossil fuel for the same amount of net energy. The result is less
emissions overall. And if a few buildings direct the fuel-cell steam
"waste" into their heating systems or saunas, that's another ton of
fossil-fuel emissions eliminated.
Also, 97% of electricity leaks away in the transmission lines. If a
smaller refinery is placed closer to the consumer, that cuts down
emissions further. Hydrogen converters can probably be placed closer
to the consumer less obtrusively than conventional power plants can.
> Keep in mind, I LIKE the idea of fuel cells, but running them on
> hydrogen is not the right answer. For fuel cells to be truly practical
> they need to be able to run on a fuel that is _liquid_ at room
> temperature, and the temperatures at which people usually operate
> vehicles. They also need to be less fussy about what they eat. And
> they need to be able to eat it without running it through a reformer
We need something that's somewhat better now, and we can worry about
perfect later. Perl wasn't perfect, but it was better than the
shell/sed/awk monstrosities it replaced, which is why it took the world
> Design a fuel cell that will run on a truly renewable fuel, like ethanol
> or vegetable oil, and if the oil industry doesn't assasinate you then
> the world will beat a path to your door.
The "oil" industry is already hedging its bets, Bush/Cheney
obstructionism notwithstanding. They know oil is a dying industry that
can be propped up by government favors for only so long. Either the oil
will run out, air pollution will become intolerable, or al-Qaida will
talibanize the entire Middle East, but one way or another, eventually
the public will demand alternative energy, and the incumbent companies
don't want to be left behind when that happens. The car manufacturers
are already pushing the envelope, designing hydrogen cars so they can
pass the environmental responsibility buck to the oil companies. "We've
done our part. Now do your part, or you'll look like the bad guy."
So it will happen eventually, but we can't wait that long. The problem
is acute now. All the limitations are just limitations *now*, but with
creativity they can be solved or worked around. What if we threw $30
billion at the problem, how much faster would zero-emission, renewable
sources become cost-effective, not to mention efficiencies and uses
we haven't even thought of yet? If we'd gone on a serious
alternative-energy policy in the 70s, it would have been done by now.
The reason I'm harping on this is coz it first takes a critical mass of
people to think out of the box and decide it's possible, then they have
to pressure the politicians and companies to make it happen, and only
then will it happen.
-Mike Orr (aka. Sluggo), mso at oz.net (iron at sense-sea-MegaSub-1-465.oz.net)
http://sluggo.kicks-ass.org/ Cxu vi parolas Esperante?
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