The hydrogen economy

Auditor #9

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It's time to start looking beyond the 'age of oil' now and towards the next big energy source which the likes of Honda and BMW see as hydrogen. Colourless odourless tasteless, make it in your kitchen with some water and solar panels or a windmill. Run your home heating and car on it.



Oil? Pfa! How could the hit be fitting the shan with such sexy things as that imaged above just around the corner? Though this website reckons 25 years before mass production, given that the American dollar is under such pressure, could the yanks make a wartime-like effort and reverse their plight in a shorter space of time? Say, 10-15 years?
 


Ehhh

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Hydrogen is a storage medium. It will have to be created before it is used (despite it being the most abundant element in the universe, you can't just pluck it out of the air) and that will use the same amount of energy that the hydrogen will release.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean and efficient storage medium (using fuel cells as a buffer for wind turbines would be a big step forward) but it's not a substitute for oil.
 

michael1965

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Ehhh said:
Hydrogen is a storage medium. It will have to be creeated before it is used (despite it being the most abundant element in the universe, ou can't just pluck it out of the air) and that will use the same amount of energy that the hydrogen will release.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean and efficient storage medium (using fuel cells as a buffer for wind turbines would be a big step forward) but it's not a substitute for oil.
True, though every dollar increase in the price of oil makes nuclear generated electricity more attractive and hydrogen (produced by electricity) is potentially an effective substitute for oil in the transportation industry.

I just wonder at what price of oil, will the penny finally drop, with policy makers in this country: $120 ... $150 .. $200 ??
 

Ehhh

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True. I wonder if anybody has done the maths to calculate whether or not it will be possible to generate enough electricity to meet current demand and the demand of producing enough hydrogen to keep the world's transport moving. Could nuclear do that alone or would we have to fall back on coal fired stations?
 

SPN

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As already mentioned, hydrogen is NOT an energy source.

It is very important to remember this!

michael1965 said:
Ehhh said:
Hydrogen is a storage medium. It will have to be creeated before it is used (despite it being the most abundant element in the universe, ou can't just pluck it out of the air) and that will use the same amount of energy that the hydrogen will release.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean and efficient storage medium (using fuel cells as a buffer for wind turbines would be a big step forward) but it's not a substitute for oil.
True, though every dollar increase in the price of oil makes nuclear generated electricity more attractive and hydrogen (produced by electricity) is potentially an effective substitute for oil in the transportation industry.

I just wonder at what price of oil, will the penny finally drop, with policy makers in this country: $120 ... $150 .. $200 ??
Nuclear generated electricity will never be feasible in IReland because we have so many other alternatives that are much much cheaper.
 

Auditor #9

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SPN said:
As already mentioned, hydrogen is NOT an energy source.

It is very important to remember this!
I think Ehh said it was a storage medium and not that it wasn't a source. Source, not a source... semantics. It can be used as a source of energy, you'd agree with that? How it's produced is irrelevant as long as it's sustainable. Where it's produced on the other hand ...
 

michael1965

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SPN said:
As already mentioned, hydrogen is NOT an energy source.

It is very important to remember this!

michael1965 said:
Ehhh said:
Hydrogen is a storage medium. It will have to be creeated before it is used (despite it being the most abundant element in the universe, ou can't just pluck it out of the air) and that will use the same amount of energy that the hydrogen will release.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean and efficient storage medium (using fuel cells as a buffer for wind turbines would be a big step forward) but it's not a substitute for oil.
True, though every dollar increase in the price of oil makes nuclear generated electricity more attractive and hydrogen (produced by electricity) is potentially an effective substitute for oil in the transportation industry.

I just wonder at what price of oil, will the penny finally drop, with policy makers in this country: $120 ... $150 .. $200 ??
Nuclear generated electricity will never be feasible in IReland because we have so many other alternatives that are much much cheaper.
How many alternatives? There is certainly much potential with wind, but wind has to be backed up, with alternative guaranteed supplies.

I'm a bit sceptical about storage of wind energy for the general supply of power, as opposed to for specific fields of use like transportation. In a recent thread that mentioned pumped storage (eg. Turlough Hill) I did a quick back of the envelope calculation and worked out that Turlough hill can't possibly supply power for more than a few hours, at its full power output.

As for other possibilities. There seems to be a lot in theory, but not a whole lot in actual existence. On one hand, it is probably wise to encourage and monitor the development of alternatives like wave and tidal, but when you look at the contribution of hydro to the total electricity usage here, it may well be the case, that these sources can never provide sufficient power, and someone needs to look at them from a theoretical and maybe slightly sceptical/realistic point of view, to see if they can ever provide an alternative to nuclear/fossil fuels.
 

riven

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Nuclear could supply world demand esaily if the technology progresses.

Hydrogen economy is going to require alot of logistics. It is funny but fusion could be possible in 25 years
 

david

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riven said:
It is funny but fusion could be possible in 25 years
Fusion is forty years away, just like it was forty years ago, funnily enough.
 

Eddiepops

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Ehhh said:
Hydrogen is a storage medium. It will have to be created before it is used (despite it being the most abundant element in the universe, you can't just pluck it out of the air) and that will use the same amount of energy that the hydrogen will release.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean and efficient storage medium (using fuel cells as a buffer for wind turbines would be a big step forward) but it's not a substitute for oil.
Actually, "creating" the hydrogen (through electrolysis, etc) is very energy intensive and does not get nearly an equavalence of hydrogen as a product. Factor in compression, storage, distribution etc and apparently you come out with an energy efficiency of about 22%:

http://www.efcf.com/reports/E04.pdf said:
The "power-plant-to-wheel" efficiency of a fuel cell vehicle operated on compressed gaseous hydrogen will be in the vicinity of 22%.
So 78% of the energy is lost, and this is why hydrogen won't be saving us anytime soon :(
 

Ehhh

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Eddiepops said:
Actually, "creating" the hydrogen (through electrolysis, etc) is very energy intensive and does not get nearly an equavalence of hydrogen as a product. Factor in compression, storage, distribution etc and apparently you come out with an energy efficiency of about 22%:
I wasn't considering those elements just the generation of the hydrogen. I'm pretty sure that I've read somewhere (though I'm open to correction) that that is pretty efficient.

With regard to fusion aren't they already tendering to build a small (by power plant standards) prototype reactor in Europe. I read this a couple of years ago (though havn't been able to find the same source since).
 

david

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That's a 'project', Ehhh. It's still forty years away.

What ought to piss people off is what the billions, no, trillions wasted on fission and fusion could really have achieved, given a few ounces of sense.
 

michael1965

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Ehhh said:
True. I wonder if anybody has done the maths to calculate whether or not it will be possible to generate enough electricity to meet current demand and the demand of producing enough hydrogen to keep the world's transport moving. Could nuclear do that alone or would we have to fall back on coal fired stations?
The problem (or one of the problems) with nuclear, is that it's only economic currently on a fairly large scale > 1000MW, and if you build one plant, then you have to have enough spare capacity for the plant to be shutdown periodically. You could do that with a second nuke, or possibly by maintaining some of the older coal/oil plants just for backup.

As for the efficiency of hydrogen fuel-cells, what matters is the overall cost, rather than the efficiency, which is bound to improve with development anyway. The fact that auto manufacturers are investing in it, would indicate to me anyway, that they have some confidence in the potential.
 

clareman51

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I'm amazed that the oil companies haven't bought out some of the patents required for this technology, just to delay it. They are renowned for buying up energy-saving patents and filing them away.
 

seabhcan

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The most efficient clean source of energy available, is not Hydrogen or nuclear, its solar energy.

Not collected in expensive solar panels, but using collecting mirrors to focus the heat onto a large tank of water. The water boils and drives a turbine.

Its been calculated that if you build 10km^2 of mirrors in the saharra, it would generate enough electricity to supply the whole of europe. The problem then becomes transporting the energy to the European grid.

There is plan to use superconducting cables, which could carry the electricity long distance without loss.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_collector
 

Simon.D

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SPN said:
As already mentioned, hydrogen is NOT an energy source.

It is very important to remember this!
Yes but it has the potential to massively improve the viability of other energy sources.
 

soubresauts

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david said:
What ought to piss people off is what the billions, no, trillions wasted on fission and fusion could really have achieved, given a few ounces of sense.
That is correct.

We shouldn't begrudge a reasonable amount of spending on research on hydrogen storage, fuel cells, and so on, but it seems obvious that the future for transport consists mainly of diesel engines, which will run on all sorts of oil. I don't mean scrap all the electric railway systems -- as long as we can generate electricity they'll be a good use of it -- but the bulk of transport energy use should be diesel, and the most efficient for transporting people is diesel in boats, trains & buses. (BTW, all ships should have sails...)

As for Ireland, I think the well-meaning people calling for more electric railway systems (Luas for Cork, Galway, etc., electric inter-city lines) are mistaken. Diesel is the way to go, and slow trains are more efficient. The cost of being able to go from Dublin to Cork in 1.5 hours (as opposed to 3 hours) would be enormous. And you can't even enjoy the scenery in those high-speed trains.

In the long term, as the oil runs out, we'll have to do without many of the diesel engines, but the first to go should be private cars. Need I mention that air travel will be an expensive rarity?
 

Rebel CNC

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Build one massive nuclear power station and export any spare capacity to the UK and Europe.
 


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