Scam of the Month: The Hydrogen Economy

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Postby Dardedar » Fri May 30, 2008 9:56 am

Savonarola wrote:
Darrel wrote:It seems to me that when we run out of oil and are looking for its substitute it is just as mistaken to say:

"Hey, there is lots of electricity in the universe so we can get our energy from electricity now."

As it is to say:

"Hey, there is lots of hydrogen in the universe so we can get our energy from hydrogen now."

And I won't argue with this.


DAR
Well in this thread, that would be a first. Let's see, you have referred to this article, and particular comments in it as: "extremely misleading statement. One that reeks of propaganda..." "An utter lie" "asinine" "severly misleading to the point of being dishonest". And that was in the first post. Later we get gobbledygook. And your arguments are so persuasive I have learned nothing and agree with none of it. What is going on here?

Make this a part of your argument instead of harping on "carrier" vs. "source."


DAR
I'll let Bill try to explain this to you. I completely disagree. I agree with the NAS statement. And yes, oil can be a carrier too. But we don't have to load the energy into it.

Darrel wrote:You haven't shown this [that the author was wrong regarding NOx production].

"Thermal NOx formation, which is highly temperature dependent, is recognized as the most relevant source when combusting natural gas."
link


DAR
I don't see how this shows this statement to be inaccurate: "When hydrogen is made from natural gas, however, nitrogen oxides are released, which are 58 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide."

Darrel wrote:If you want to charge the author with dishonesty...

But I said that I don't know whether the author was intentionally dishonest or just mistaken.


DAR
You gave three options. All included misleading.

1. ...misinformed and accidentally being misleading.
2. ...intentionally being misleading.
3. Why would he then do it if not to be misleading?

Not that it should matter. But thanks to your citation, I can show that either the author can't read or I've gone insane from my new job.


DAR
I am thinking the latter. You have said many things in this thread that make no sense to me. For instance:

"...electrolysis is terribly inefficient, I'll be one of the first to tell you that it works with any electricity source; that is, that input of energy need not come from fossil fuels. Use solar, and that hydrogen is essentially free."

Use solar and hydrogen is essentially free? The idea that the cost of solar apparatus should not be counted when calculating the cost of solar generated electricity, makes no sense.

To the comment in the article:

"No matter how it’s been made, hydrogen has no energy in it.... To put energy into hydrogen, it must be compressed or liquefied."

You responded:

"An utter lie, both technically from a chemistry standpoint and from a functional standpoint."

But later said:

"Let's clarify: we have to expend energy to compress/liquefy hydrogen. One could view this as "putting energy into" the hydrogen."

So apparently it wasn't: "An utter lie, both technically from a chemistry standpoint and from a functional standpoint."

Gotta go soon, [snip...]

Darrel wrote:The electricity from the electric company has a cost as does the electricity from my solar panels. As I have shown, the electricity from the panels costs more.

Due to the cost of the panels, not the cost of the process. Can you at least acknowledge this fact, and we'll go from there?


DAR
How is "the cost of the process" relevant to anything? So no. Talking about solar being free by not including the cost of the solar equipment in the analysis strikes me as absurd. That would be misleading.
My little kit was about $5 a watt (without battery). The company that came out and give me a bid for a grid tie system wanted $12 a watt. Solar is not free. It's very expensive.

Darrel wrote:I have explained, in some careful detail how the electricity most certainly, "actively costs me" something to produce.

So, here's a new thought experiment to see my point: Suppose you give me your apparatus for free. Does it cost me anything to produce the electricity? No (not appreciably, anyway). The cost is in obtaining the apparatus.


DAR
When people starting giving out solar panels for free, I'll see your point. Just kidding. I still wouldn't see your point. Someone would still be paying. You are just transfering the cost.

If you are going to count this as part of the overall cost, then so be it; but you then need to count the cost of the acquisition of equipment needed for the alternatives for a valid comparison.


DAR
Oh, of course. But the alternatives aren't in any way free either.


Darrel wrote:Constructing a barrier between the cost of the panels and cost of the electricity produced is not an idea I can even take seriously. Talk about spurious!

Applying costs selectively in order to sell a point is not an idea I can support.


DAR
It's selective to consider the cost of a solar panel when calculating the cost of the electricity it produces?

It used to be that the problem of getting a battery that could take the place of gasoline was essentially hopeless. Some people argue that our battery technology still relatively sucks.


DAR
In comparison to gasoline todays batteries do suck. Gasoline kicks ass.

Darrel wrote:The unfortunate thing is that in this entire exchange I haven't learned anything. You say you see gobbledygook yet I have not seen you be able to demonstrate any gobbledygook.

But you've now caught up with Christian's posts regarding the artificial distinction between "carrier" and "source"?


DAR
It's a terminology thing. I'll let Dr. Bill explain it to you chemists. Neither of you answered my question. Was the NAS statement silly:

"Like electricity, hydrogen is not a primary energy source, although it is a high-quality energy carrier."

Whether these falsehoods were put into the article purposely or accidentally, the fact remains that they are in the article but shouldn't be. Perhaps this guy is just being careless.


DAR
Her name is Alice.

Darrel wrote:Question: Would such a distinction also be artificial with regard to electricity?

Not sure exactly what you're asking.
If you mean between electricity and something else, I'd have to know what else. But I'd guess the answer is no, and here's why: a given amount of electric energy by definition has a given amount of electric energy. Once the energy is to that form, does anything change based on how the energy got to that form? No.


Darrel wrote:Is it ever the case that we don't have to spend energy to make hydrogen? No.

It's never the case that we don't have to spend energy to get any usable fuel source. The efficiency is the important factor.


DAR
Right. There is a difference between paying four apples to get one apple (electrolysis), and expending the energy to reach over and plucking an apple off of a tree (like we do with oil). There are no hydrogen wells. I think you chemists don't realize that a lot of people probably think hydrogen can be mined, drilled for and/or held in your hand like oil/coal.

Is the NAS statement silly?

I am off to work.

D.

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Postby ChristianLoeschel » Fri May 30, 2008 11:10 am

http://youtube.com/watch?v=F54rqDh2mWA

Watch this and tell me again hydrogen is not a fuel...

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Oil is a big bank account. Hydrogen is an empty account.

Postby Dardedar » Fri May 30, 2008 12:01 pm

ChristianLoeschel wrote:http://youtube.com/watch?v=F54rqDh2mWA

Watch this and tell me again hydrogen is not a fuel...


DAR
I've seen it many times.

Hydrogen is a fuel. No where in this thread has it been stated hydrogen is not a fuel (I checked). You aren't getting the point of this, I suspect, because of your chemistry background. Please don't take that as an insult. The article I posted isn't a scientific article written for chemists (nor is it a dumbed down article in Readers Digest, it's in the middle). And it's accurate and useful.

In the sense that everything is matter, everything is energy and hence, everything could be called a fuel. That's how a chemist sees it. I understand.

The reason it makes sense to speak of hydrogen as an energy carrier, when speaking of a substitute for oil/gasoline, is because that is exactly how we would be using it in "the hydrogen economy." Nothing more than a storage device for energy. We use energy to make it, we get that energy back later on (with a hefty loss).

You might have missed my question? Is this comment by the National Academy of Science, silly?

"Like electricity, hydrogen is not a primary energy source, although it is a high-quality energy carrier."

Let me try another example. Money in the bank (money = energy). Oil is a big inheritance someone left us (the sun). We simply go to the bank and get it out. They left us a lot. We have to do a little work to get it and refine it into forms we like, and recently we have been having to work harder to get it out but nonetheless, we dig a well and there is this profoundly high density energy rich substance. Stable at room temperature, very portable, very pourable. Nice.

Our Hydrogen account is empty. Not only is it empty, it costs us every time we use the account. There is not a penny in the account that we didn't put in it. We can put money in (make hydrogen) and we can take it out (use it) but we always lose in the transaction and we never get more than we put in. In fact we get less. In fact we usually get a lot less.

No one left us an inheritance of hydrogen. There will never be a hydrogen well we can dig. We have to do all the work. That we are up to our eyeballs in water doesn't matter. We have to expend energy to make it into a fuel (a carrier of energy) that we can use.

Oil is a really big bank account. Hydrogen is an empty bank account.

This is how the consumer sees/defines it. Consumers don't care how chemists see/define it. That won't drive them to town. I understand you use different terminology in the lab. Hydrogen is not a substitute for oil/gasoline, and it is doubtful it ever can be because of this glaring fact:

Hydrogen is an empty bank account where we put the money in rather than sit back and live off of an immense (but finite) inheritance deposited by natural processes over a very long time.

Hope this helps,

D.
--------------------
Referring to hydrogen as a "fuel carrier" is standard terminology when talking about the hydrogen economy (out of the lab). Four examples:

***
"The fuel cell vehicle produces electricity to drive its electric motor. The fuel it uses to produce that energy is hydrogen. Hydrogen is not found on its own in nature, but exists as a component within many different materials from which it can be extracted. Currently hydrogen is generated mainly from natural gas, but it can also be extracted from water via electrolysis using electricity produced from such renewable energy sources as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Hydrogen is a fuel carrier that can be derived from renewable and low-carbon energy sources without overseas shipment or the risk of spillage."
Honda.com Hydrogen - The Next-Generation Fuel


"Q: What is so special about hydrogen (and why is the President talking about it)?

A: Hydrogen is currently attracting much attention in government and in the media for its potential as a fuel carrier. Hydrogen (H2) is a naturally occurring, plentiful element that can be converted into the lightest, simplest energy carrier available."
Consumer Energy Council of America, Leadership on essential services for consumers: Q & A


"Burning Natural Gas to Get Hydrogen

Romm and others point out that hydrogen is a fuel carrier, not a fuel source, which means it must be produced from other sources. While the hope is renewable resources, such as windpower, might someday be used to produce hydrogen, right now the most cost-efficient way of making it is from natural gas in a process that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And that, critics say, defeats the purpose of switching to hydrogen in the first place."
ABC News

"Hydrogen fuel cells cost more: Hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles are about twice as efficient as internal-combustion engines; however, hydrogen fuel cell costs are nearly 100 times as much per unit of power produced. Hydrogen is a fuel carrier, and should not be viewed as a source of energy."
Hybrid Cars

etc.

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Postby ChristianLoeschel » Fri May 30, 2008 1:28 pm

"No matter how it’s been made, hydrogen has no energy in it.... "


I believe the above video quite spectacularly debunked this drivvle.

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Postby Dardedar » Fri May 30, 2008 5:48 pm

ChristianLoeschel wrote:
"No matter how it’s been made, hydrogen has no energy in it.... "


I believe the above video quite spectacularly debunked this drivvle.


DAR
The statement is accurate. Read the couple of sentence following your snippet to see the context and explanation:

"No matter how it’s been made, hydrogen has no energy in it. It is the lowest energy dense fuel on earth.14 At room temperature and pressure, hydrogen takes up three thousand times more space than gasoline containing an equivalent amount of energy.15 To put energy into hydrogen, it must be compressed or liquefied."

The author could have added "concentrated" I suppose. Hydrogen, as it exists around us, extremely diffuse and happily bonded to lots of things, mostly as water etc., has no usable energy in it until you "make it" AND compress it, concentrate it or liquefy it. That is a necessary and expensive step (that you don't get back BTW). Then it has lots. But you have to take that step. You can't just "make it."

Correct me if I am wrong.

The Hindenburg was diesel powered. The Hydrogen was used as a lift gas. It had a 200,000 cubic meters of the stuff.

Questions. How much would 200,000 cubic meters of hydrogen (at atmospheric pressure) cost today? How much energy is contained in that much hydrogen? (I suspect not very much because it wasn't compressed). I assume you are aware of the different theories about what was really burning and causing the flames that day. I know this is a favorite topic of Bill Harter's so I will talk to him about it at dinner in 20 minutes. You are welcome to come along (call for details: 442-6738).

Note:

"The Hindenburg was originally intended to be filled with helium, a gas which is heavier than hydrogen but which is not flammable.... The ban remained, leading the Germans to modify the design of the airship to use only hydrogen as the lift gas, despite the fact that hydrogen, unlike helium, is extremely flammable.[2] It contained 200,000 m³ (7,000,000 ft³) of gas in 16 bags or cells, with a useful lift of 1.099 MN (247,100 pounds)." Wiki

Image

D.
---------------------------
"Q: What are the biggest challenges facing hydrogen research?

A: Right now, producing hydrogen is expensive and energy intensive. It takes about six gallons of gasoline to make and compress a little over two pounds of hydrogen, which carries about the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline."
Penn State University

So lets see, we can invest six dollars in our empty hydrogen bank account, and then later we can withdraw one dollar. That's a pretty hefty reverse interest rate isn't it? But it's clean hydrogen energy! It's fuel!

No, it's a black hole, and until we have more electricity than we know what to do with, storing our valuable energy in The hydrogen bank is terribly expensive.

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Postby Dardedar » Fri May 30, 2008 5:57 pm

DAR
From Bob Park's newsletter today:

***
4. CLEAN COAL: ANOTHER TECHNOLOGY THAT DOESN’T EXIST.
In 2003 President Bush himself announced FutureGen, a utility consortium
with government subsidies that would build a new clean power plant to
demonstrate advanced techniques for converting coal to a gas, and for
sequestering pollutants deep under ground. As with the Freedom
Car, "government subsidies" was the secret password that sucked industry
in. GM still rolls its hydrogen car out for photo ops, and farmers still
grow corn to collect ethanol subsidies, but neither technology helps with
the energy problem
***

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Postby Savonarola » Fri May 30, 2008 9:56 pm

But we don't have to load the energy into it [oil, like we do with hydrogen].
"No matter how it’s been made, hydrogen has no energy in it.... To put energy into hydrogen, it must be compressed or liquefied."

You responded:

"An utter lie, both technically from a chemistry standpoint and from a functional standpoint."

But later said:

"Let's clarify: we have to expend energy to compress/liquefy hydrogen. One could view this as "putting energy into" the hydrogen."

So apparently it wasn't: "An utter lie, both technically from a chemistry standpoint and from a functional standpoint."

I'm now quite sure that it's precisely your unfamiliarity with chemistry that is holding you back.

A fuel is a chemical that contains chemical energy and can be burned to release that energy for our use. Methane can be burned to release energy. Therefore, methane is a fuel. Hydrogen can be burned to release energy. It doesn't have to be compressed or liquefied for this to be true; it can be at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, and it can still be burned to release energy. It's a fuel. Nitrogen can be burned, but that reaction requires an input of energy; because it doesn't release energy when burned, nitrogen is not considered a fuel.

Hydrogen is a fuel. It's a fuel. It's a fuel. That means that the little H2 molecule can be burned to release energy. Period. There is no such thing as energy-less hydrogen. Both technically and practically. You don't have to "put energy into hydrogen." Yes, I'm being serious. No, I'm not lying. No, I'm not mistaken. Stop pretending I'm an idiot who knows nothing about science. When you sit there and tell me that hydrogen "has no energy in it," what you're doing amounts to me looking over your shoulder as you tune a piano and telling you that you're doing everything wrong even though your knowledge and experience with pianos dwarfs mine.

Imagine you have a gallon jug filled with hydrogen gas. Without even compressing the gas inside the jug, that hydrogen can be used as a fuel. You don't have to add energy to the H2 molecule in order to get energy out of it. Period. Seriously, I can't believe we're still trying to get this point across to you.

H2 + O2 --> H2O
This reaction releases about 286 kilojoules per mole (about 40 watt-hours of energy for every gram of hydrogen burned.) Period. Nothing you do to the H2 can change this, thanks to the first law of thermodynamics.

My earlier statement about requiring energy addresses increasing the energy density of the hydrogen. An input of energy is required to compress or liquefy the hydrogen, just as an input of energy is required to compress/liquefy air, or carbon dioxide, or oxygen, or any other gas in the universe. Because the energy density of uncompressed hydrogen is so low, it's not a good fuel. We can compress the hydrogen -- which requires an input of energy -- to end up with a fuel with a greater energy density.
Compressing hydrogen is not "putting the energy into hydrogen" the way we put air into a balloon. It's more like bringing more filled balloons into the room. Yes, it takes some energy to bring the balloons into the room and cram them close together, but the balloons exist and can be popped regardless of where they are or how many are close together.
The reason we care is that if we're going to haul our fuel around, we want lots of balloons. For that, we need either a giant volume occupied sparsely by balloons (no compression) or a smaller volume occupied densely by balloons (requiring compression). Note that neither case requires changing the balloons themselves. That is, we're increasing the concentration of the hydrogen molecules, not the energy content of them.

Darrel wrote:I don't see how this shows this statement to be inaccurate: "When hydrogen is made from natural gas, however, nitrogen oxides are released, which are 58 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide."

I showed where the author of your article allegedly pulled this from the source, but the source doesn't say this. The source explains that the substance that is 58 times more effective than CO2 as a greenhouse gas is METHANE, not NOx.

Darrel wrote:
But I said that I don't know whether the author was intentionally dishonest or just mistaken.
You gave three options. All included misleading.

Yes, and one option used "misleading" in the same way that I can say that your statements are misleading: you are not trying to be wrong or deceitful, but the statements are nonetheless not accurate and give the wrong impression.

Darrel wrote:
I can show that either the author can't read or I've gone insane from my new job.
I am thinking the latter.

I'm not, and I have a reason: You had no explanation for the apparent fact that "Alice" can't read. The source did NOT say that NOx gases trap heat with 58 times the efficiency of CO2, but she said that it did anyway.

Darrel wrote:How is "the cost of the process" relevant to anything? So no. Talking about solar being free by not including the cost of the solar equipment in the analysis strikes me as absurd. That would be misleading.

Great. Now realize that doing the same thing for any other energy source (counting the cost of the fuel and the process but not the apparatus) is equally misleading.

Darrel wrote:Oh, of course. But the alternatives aren't in any way free either.

It's about time you realized what I mean. The anti-hydrogen arguments need to include this fact (that apparatus for non-hydrogen sources aren't free either). I also think it's worth mentioning that -- unlike hydrocarbons -- sunlight (the "energy source") comes to us for free and is renewable.

Darrel wrote:It's selective to consider the cost of a solar panel when calculating the cost of the electricity it produces?

No, it's selective to count that cost but not the cost of retrieving/cleaning/processing/pressurizing natural gas.

Darrel wrote:Neither of you answered my question. Was the NAS statement silly:

They've worded it more clearly than what I remember reading from you and "Alice" originally. The intent is that if you can't go out and find x, then x isn't an "energy source." I think that's a misnomer, because when I end up with a store of hydrogen, it is a source of energy for me; the hydrogen's origin is unimportant with respect to my use of the hydrogen. I think that the distinction between "source" and "carrier" is silly because all that matters is efficiency.

Darrel wrote:I think you chemists don't realize that a lot of people probably think hydrogen can be mined, drilled for and/or held in your hand like oil/coal.

Perhaps this is true; I don't know what the uneducated asses-- er, masses believe. (I have, however, heard the argument about "gas hydrates" on the ocean floor and sometime back wrote up a little debunking of it somewhere.) Once again, this is a good point, so make this one of your main points.

Darrel wrote:I am off to work.

Where it would be asinine for me to insist that you don't know your stuff.

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Postby Dardedar » Sat May 31, 2008 1:02 am

Savonarola wrote:I'm now quite sure that it's precisely your unfamiliarity with chemistry that is holding you back.


DAR
Oh I don't think you remotely realize how unfamiliar I am with chemistry. I didn't even know that natural gas is methane! What a dolt. And I don't have the slightest idea how natural gas is used to directly make hydrogen. Put it in a bag with some chicken and flour and shake? (shake and bake method). Add sugar and stir? (kool-aid method). I don't know.
But I do know our difference here has to do with a difference of terminology. Neither you nor I get to chose how people use the language here. I understand how I have observed the language to be used when common folk, and even scientists talk about the hydrogen economy. I really do understand why this chafes chemists. It's because of your specialized knowledge and precise understanding of these definitions that you don't like references like "putting energy in hydrogen..." or referring to hydrogen as "an energy carrier" or "Hydrogen is a carrier not an energy source." I get. I always did. And I disagree. I don't think you get my points. I don't think you read my comments carefully (like "in effect" and "in the context of a hydrogen economy" which I repeated over and over). This will be much easier in person.

A fuel is a chemical that contains chemical energy and can be burned to release that energy for our use. Methane can be burned to release energy. Therefore, methane is a fuel.


DAR
Yes, I made a bit of that today myself. Totally agree.

Hydrogen can be burned to release energy. It doesn't have to be compressed or liquefied for this to be true; it can be at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, and it can still be burned to release energy. It's a fuel.


DAR
So why would this person say this? Lets read their comment charitably (rather than jump to them being a liar spreading propaganda). In the context of wanting to have energy to propel a car, would extremely diffuse uncompressed hydrogen make any sense? Have any meaning? No. How big would the tank of uncompressed hydrogen have to be to have enough energy to drive me fifty miles? Something like the hindenburg? Actually, the car wouldn't move would it. Think about it. Do the math if you have the time.
I can fart in a bag, and a chemist will call it energy, and in a sense it is, but it isn't energy that is going to do anything useful for a vehicle, or anything else. For that you have to compress it a lot and also considerable amount of it. It's not enough to just make hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a fuel.


DAR
If you thought I said it wasn't you misunderstood me. It is not a primary fuel source, like oil. In a hydrogen economy it would be used as a energy carrier. Bob Park made fun of those who mistakenly think it is fuel in the sense that "oil is a fuel, now it's gone, hydrogen is a fuel, lets use that instead." I understand that in the lab it is not correct to say: "Hydrogen is not an energy source it is an energy carrier." Please understand that there are contexts in which it is accurate and useful to say: "Hydrogen is not an energy source it is an energy carrier." I have provided many examples from serious sources and could provide a hundred more. So I am not making the decision to disagree with your educated position just because I am an arrogant piano tuner, I am disagreeing for good reasons and well established precedent.

There is no such thing as energy-less hydrogen. Both technically and practically.


DAR
Does hydrogen bonded to oxygen (water) have any practical energy? Practical as in useful to humans? Useful to do work? My glass of water beside me has hydrogen in it. Does it have energy in it in a practical sense? Outside of the chemist lab, this is what some people are interested in energy in this practical sense and I am quite certain the answer is no. So in this sense there is such a thing as hydrogen which has no practical energy. Perhaps this is something Bill Harter might talk to you about tomorrow.

You don't have to "put energy into hydrogen." Yes, I'm being serious. No, I'm not lying. No, I'm not mistaken.


DAR
You still don't get it. You can make hydrogen without using any energy? Really? I'll form this as a question so it might be less offensive.
Isn't it the case that if you don't put energy into making hydrogen, you aren't going to have any hydrogen? Forget the fact that it is all around us, I am obviously talking about hydrogen in practical, usable amounts, not in my water glass. This retired fellow from Stanford says:

"Hydrogen is often advocated as an energy medium. Here are some relevant facts.

1. Hydrogen does not occur free in nature in useful quantities. It has to be made, usually by splitting water H2O to get the hydrogen. This requires all the energy you are going to get from burning the hydrogen and a bit more on account of inefficiencies. Therefore, hydrogen is an energy transfer medium rather than a primary source of energy." Link

Is he wrong?

Stop pretending I'm an idiot who knows nothing about science. When you sit there and tell me that hydrogen "has no energy in it," what you're doing amounts to me looking over your shoulder as you tune a piano and telling you that you're doing everything wrong even though your knowledge and experience with pianos dwarfs mine.


DAR
Bill Harter told me tonight that hydrogen has no energy in it. I am sure that will require further explanation. Is he an idiot that knows nothing about science? I am not persuaded by your reasons against using the terminology I have used and see other knowledgeable people use. What we are disagreeing about is terminology. Can you not see this? Even professional piano technicians use different terminology when talking about harmonics, over-tones, inharminicity, fundamentals, partials etc. Synthesizer manufacturers do it too and it very quickly gets very complicated and confusing. And in both of these fields some of these technicians are such nerds that they get so specific and narrow and stuck in their definitions that they have trouble understanding that other people use those words in other contexts, in different ways. I am sure it happens in all fields that are highly specified.

When I said you weren't getting this because of your chemistry background I obviously wasn't meaning you are an idiot who knows nothing about science. That's ridiculous. I meant your specific understanding of chemistry appears to be keeping you from understanding the way these words are used, quite rightly in my opinion, by people perhaps outside of chemistry.

Imagine you have a gallon jug filled with hydrogen gas. Without even compressing the gas inside the jug, that hydrogen can be used as a fuel. You don't have to add energy to the H2 molecule in order to get energy out of it.


DAR
But you have to make the hydrogen. Isolate it. That takes energy. And if you want to have more than a farts worth, you have to make a lot of it and unless you have a hindenburg tank lying around, you then will want to compress it several 1000 times. Then you can drive a car, for a little bit.

You said: "You don't have to add energy to the H2 molecule in order to get energy out of it."

Are you sure about that one? We can get energy out of the H2 molecule for free?

[snip...]

Compressing hydrogen is not "putting the energy into hydrogen" the way we put air into a balloon.


DAR
This misunderstands what I have been saying. I think you may be right that the author could have worded sentence better. Oh well, shit happens.

[snip]

Darrel wrote:It's selective to consider the cost of a solar panel when calculating the cost of the electricity it produces?

No, it's selective to count that cost but not the cost of retrieving/cleaning/processing/pressurizing natural gas.


DAR
Of course such costs would be counted. What does natural gas have to do with your comment about free electricity making hydrogen? Nothing. Electricity isn't free.

Darrel wrote:Neither of you answered my question. Was the NAS statement silly: [re-insert] "Like electricity, hydrogen is not a primary energy source, although it is a high-quality energy carrier."


They've worded it more clearly than what I remember reading from you and "Alice" originally. [/quote]

DAR
Yes, it is a very good wording isn't it? Alice's was quite clear too. But it would drive a chemist nuts:

"Unlike gasoline, hydrogen isn’t an energy source — it’s an energy carrier, like a battery."

It's a very good analogy for the common folk. That's the 99.99% who aren't chemists.

The intent is that if you can't go out and find x, then x isn't an "energy source." I think that's a misnomer, because when I end up with a store of hydrogen, it is a source of energy for me; the hydrogen's origin is unimportant with respect to my use of the hydrogen.


DAR
Ah, there we have the nut, the real foundation of our disagreement. And again, this is because you are a chemist. I understand, and completely disagree. I am allowed to do that you know. I have good reasons.

I think that the distinction between "source" and "carrier" is silly because all that matters is efficiency.


DAR
To a chemist perhaps. Not in the context of the hydrogen economy. It's not silly at all. And it's standard terminology.

Darrel wrote:I think you chemists don't realize that a lot of people probably think hydrogen can be mined, drilled for and/or held in your hand like oil/coal.

Perhaps this is true; I don't know what the uneducated asses-- er, masses believe.


DAR
Again I think part of the crux of the problem. I speak a little of both languages so I try to be a go between.

Once again, this is a good point, so make this one of your main points.


DAR
I am discouraged from doing it now. Maybe Bill or Hobson could. Maybe I'll feel differently when we hash it out and you eggheads see the errors of your ways. Bringing up all of this nit picking technical crap during a presentation would be really poor.

Darrel wrote:I am off to work.

Where it would be asinine for me to insist that you don't know your stuff.
[/quote]

DAR
Not at all. You would just have to have good reasons and arguments. I haven't been persuaded by most of your's here although I think I am seeing one or two little nits in the article. If it really is such a stinker, as you seem to think, letters to Skeptic Magazine will rip it apart.

D.

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Postby Dardedar » Sat May 31, 2008 1:18 am

Savonarola wrote:
Darrel wrote:
I can show that either the author can't read or I've gone insane from my new job.
I am thinking the latter.

I'm not, and I have a reason: You had no explanation for the apparent fact that "Alice" can't read. The source did NOT say that NOx gases trap heat with 58 times the efficiency of CO2, but she said that it did anyway.


DAR
I see now. You're right. She misread her source and misstated this point. Her source did say:

"...the combustion of gas still produces nitrogen oxides, a cause of smog and acid rain."

But the comment about "58 times" refers to methane, not combustion:

"Natural gas (methane) is much more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, 58 times more effective on a pound-for-pound basis."

Good job.

Her point of this is however a slam dunk no-brainer. As she said:

"One of the main arguments made for switching to a “hydrogen economy” is to prevent global warming that has been attributed to the burning of fossil fuels."

Burning fossil fuels to make hydrogen to avoid the harmful results of burning fossil fuels is stupidity on stilts.

D.

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Postby ChristianLoeschel » Sat May 31, 2008 2:54 am

See...thing is though neither Sav nor me are advocating using fossil fuels to generate hydrogen...

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Postby Savonarola » Sat May 31, 2008 4:01 am

Darrel wrote:Neither you nor I get to chose how people use the language here. I understand how I have observed the language to be used when common folk, and even scientists talk about the hydrogen economy. I really do understand why this chafes chemists. It's because of your specialized knowledge and precise understanding of these definitions that you don't like ...

Then rather than speak the standard lines, do a better job than these people are. Don't say "there is no energy in hydrogen" because somebody like me comes along and rightfully objects to the claim. So, I'll say it for the billionth time: Make a good case, not a shoddy one.

Darrel wrote:In the context of wanting to have energy to propel a car, would extremely diffuse uncompressed hydrogen make any sense? Have any meaning?

It has about as much meaning as "running on fumes." And that's actually not a terrible analogy: instead of concentrated liquid gasoline, the (gas phase) fumes are diffuse. Energy can be derived from those fumes (if the setup is appropriate), but there's simply less energy per unit volume. Likewise, uncompressed hydrogen might have enough energy for a quick run to the corner store, but you won't be taking any real trips.

Darrel wrote:How big would the tank of uncompressed hydrogen have to be to have enough energy to drive me fifty miles?

Fricken' huge. But then, the answer to the question "How heavy would batteries have to be to have enough energy to drive me fifty miles?" has always been "Fricken' heavy." (There's a half ton in my EV; we had to add springs just to deal with the extra weight.) But you don't see anybody saying that batteries don't hold or store energy, so once again, let's call a spade a spade. (I'm still interested in learning more about adsorption and hydrides as options for increasing energy density, but I recognize that this would be a solution to only part of the problem.)

Darrel wrote:For that [significant energy content per volume] you have to compress it a lot and also considerable amount of it.

And I haven't denied this. I've even pointed out that compression/liquefaction requires energy an input (i.e. expense) of energy. But even with this need to "put energy into hydrogen," nobody should ever argue that "hydrogen has no energy content." The analogous argument is that since we have to refine (i.e. expend energy into) crude oil to get gasoline, we have to "put energy into gasoline." [Insert faux debate on whether crude is a source and gasoline is a mere carrier here.] The only real difference here is the energy density of these substances, so let's talk in terms of energy density.

Darrel wrote:If you thought I said it [hydrogen] wasn't [a fuel] you misunderstood me.

I didn't misunderstand. You quoted the claim that "hydrogen has no energy content." You repeatedly said that the claim was accurate. I was showing that by the definition of fuel, the claim is not accurate.

Darrel wrote:Bob Park made fun of those who mistakenly think it is fuel in the sense that "oil is a fuel, now it's gone, hydrogen is a fuel, lets use that instead."

It's laughable not because it's not a fuel but because (1) it's not a good fuel and (2) we don't have great ways to use it.

Darrel wrote:So I am not making the decision to disagree with your educated position just because I am an arrogant piano tuner, I am disagreeing for good reasons and well established precedent.

And I -- as the arrogant scientist and educator -- disagree with the justification for making statements that stretch the truth. You have to know that I -- as an educator -- understand the need for some simplification. But people can understand 1 and 2 above; we don't have to spin that into "hydrogen has no energy."

Darrel wrote:Does hydrogen bonded to oxygen (water) have any practical energy?

Here's what I said earlier: "When I say hydrogen, I mean H2 gas. It has already been separated from other atoms. Electrolysis of water is one way of doing this."

Darrel wrote:
You don't have to "put energy into hydrogen." Yes, I'm being serious. No, I'm not lying. No, I'm not mistaken.
You still don't get it. You can make hydrogen without using any energy?

This is the double-talk we can do without. I didn't say I don't have to use energy. I said that we don't have to "put energy into" hydrogen like putting air in a balloon. The claim was that hydrogen "has no energy" and that we need to "put energy into it." A plain interpretation of this -- especially from the non-scientist layperson -- would be that H2 can exist in at least two forms: energy-less and energized. And that's a crock.
It is true that we need to spend some energy to get hydrogen. But this is true in all cases for all substances with regard to the automotive industry application (and for the rest of the world). We don't have gasoline welling up out of the earth and into storage tanks. We have to spend energy to refine the crude and get gasoline. In fact, unless we don't have to do anything to whatever fuel the universe gives us, we will have to spend energy to get a useful form of that fuel. The issue is efficiency: what is the ratio of remaining usability to unrecoverable processing energy spent?

Darrel wrote:Is he wrong [about electrolysis being less efficient than burning hydrogen]?

I should make three points:
1) He is right. This is a point that I made extremely early: electrolysis is inefficient, even on a relative scale.
2) Any process will lose energy. The second law of thermodynamics guarantees it. The question is how much energy is actually lost.
3) I maintain that it makes no sense to distinguish between "carrier" and "source" because they are the same to the consumer. I don't understand your draw to this terminology.

Darrel wrote:What we are disagreeing about is terminology. Can you not see this?

It is one thing we disagree about. Welcome to several posts ago. Christian even chimed in, remember? If you insist that terminology can become "very complicated and confusing," then why do you insist upon introducing meaningless terminology? Get rid of it already.

Darrel wrote:I meant your specific understanding of chemistry appears to be keeping you from understanding the way these words are used, quite rightly in my opinion, by people perhaps outside of chemistry.

You admit that your chemistry background is weak, but you insist upon ignoring my points and maintain that fabricated terminology is accurate. This is like a slap in the face.
Maybe Dr. Harter and I should duke this out before dinner rather than make a scene in public...

Darrel wrote:But you have to make the hydrogen. Isolate it. That takes energy.

True. Now watch:
But you have to make/find/mine/[insert whichever method here] the [petroleum/natural gas/coal/[insert any other fuel here]. Isolate/refine/concentrate/[insert whichever required development here] it. That takes energy. This applies to everything. Say it with me. This applies to everything. The issue is efficiency.

Darrel wrote:Are you sure about that one? We can get energy out of the H2 molecule for free?

Once we have the molecule, yes! It's (1) the (in)efficiency of producing the substance and (2) the low energy density of the substance that makes it currently unworthy.

Darrel wrote:It's a very good analogy for the common folk. That's the 99.99% who aren't chemists.

I disagree, and I'll once again tell you why: A plain interpretation of this -- especially from the non-scientist layperson -- would be that H2 can exist in at least two forms: energy-less and energized. And that's a crock.

Darrel wrote:
I think that the distinction between "source" and "carrier" is silly because all that matters is efficiency.
To a chemist perhaps. Not in the context of the hydrogen economy.

WHAT?! Excepting the environmental aspect, efficiency is all that matters in the economy.
People know what "efficiency" means. You don't even have to explain that word. Why throw in two new words and try to convince people that they're different when the difference is totally concocted anyway?

Darrel wrote:Bringing up all of this nit picking technical crap during a presentation would be really poor.

And I'd much rather do it here than during a presentation. More importantly, though, I want your presentation to be kickass, understandable, and accurate. Presenting a case that leaves much to be desired and is full of mere half-truths would be really poor, too. The main point is good, though, so let's figure out how to do a better job than Alice did.

Darrel wrote:I haven't been persuaded by most of your's here although I think I am seeing one or two little nits in the article.

One should be the NOx vs CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Blatantly wrong probably due to a misreading. Considering you acknowledged that the wording of that section "clearly" and "obviously" implied that burning methane doesn't produce NOx gases, this related issue of whether certain processes produce NOx or not shouldn't be ignored.
Probably the other you're thinking of is the terminology. I've got a foggy idea of how to reduce it to absurdity, but it's not materializing properly because it's 4am, so I'll provide a short bit and try again tomorrow:

To assign the monikers "source" and "carrier," we have to know where the energy came from. (Or at least, that's what it seems to me based on what you've said: something we find -- e.g. methane -- is a source and something we make using that source -- e.g. hydrogen-from-methane -- is a carrier.) But the receiver of the energy doesn't care. It just cares how much energy is there. Is a 100 Calorie piece of bread from California any different to your body than a 100 Calorie piece of bread from Iowa? No. You got the same amount of energy from each piece. The only difference the economy sees is the difference in energy that was expended getting each piece of bread to you. That gets represented as efficiency -- or rather, inefficiency. For equal amounts of usable energy, efficiency is all that matters. So for the gasoline power to take you fifty miles versus the hydrogen power to take you fifty miles, the economy only cares about efficiency.
Last edited by Savonarola on Sat May 31, 2008 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Savonarola » Sat May 31, 2008 4:12 am

ChristianLoeschel wrote:See...thing is though neither Sav nor me are advocating using fossil fuels to generate hydrogen...

I think he realizes that, although perhaps I should have emphasized it...

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Postby Dardedar » Sat May 31, 2008 10:46 am

DAR
When we see each other today, lets walk up and put our hands around each others throats and start choking the other guy. I think that would be great!

Savonarola wrote:Then rather than speak the standard lines, do a better job than these people are. Don't say "there is no energy in hydrogen" because somebody like me comes along and rightfully objects to the claim.


DAR
Actually, I think it is important that people realize the following point because it is the foundation of the myth I want to debunk:

Almost without exception, in speaking about the abundant hydrogen around us (75% of the universe's mass), there is no net energy in hydrogen. Since net energy is what we are obviously interested in looking for as an energy source to fuel our economy, you could even say there is essentially no energy in hydrogen.

If you have a barrel of crude (this can require zero work, go over and pick it up), you have 5.8 million BTU. That's a lot of energy, and it's ready to go. This is why we look to it as a "source" of energy.

Hydrogen is completely different. You can't ever go scoop up a barrel of it. As it exists around us, it has no energy to tap and can never be a used as a net source of energy. Isn't that right?

Now you want to be extremely literalistic and say there is just a difference in efficiency between the two. I disagree. The difference is so huge, so fundamental, teaching people there is just a difference of efficiency misses the point that the misconception is that we have all of this hydrogen we can tap into to replace oil. Not so.

But you don't see anybody saying that batteries don't hold or store energy...


DAR
And you don't see anybody saying batteries could be a primary source of energy for us. That would be dumb. But this is how hydrogen works for us in the hydrogen economy. Like a battery. No net energy until you make the investment. No energy from a battery until you invest energy to charge it up. No energy from hydrogen until you invest energy to make it. This is why it is an entirely different animal than oil.


But even with this need to "put energy into hydrogen,"


DAR
Ha, got you doing it.

nobody should ever argue that "hydrogen has no energy content."


DAR
I'll have to think about that. My glass of water has lots of hydrogen in it. Practically speaking, it has no energy content useful to me because it has no net energy. So it can be said, hydrogen has no energy content. This might be one of the first things you would want to say to a person selling a water powered car. And there are tons of clowns out there selling water as fuel devices. Unbelievable.

The analogous argument is that since we have to refine (i.e. expend energy into) crude oil to get gasoline, we have to "put energy into gasoline."


DAR
Yeah, but we just really like gasoline for societal reasons. We don't have to make it into gasoline. Crude is loaded with energy and ready to go and thus is an excellent primary source of energy for us. This is something hydrogen can never be. As we hit peak oil, don't you think this is a useful lesson for people to learn?

[Insert faux debate on whether crude is a source and gasoline is a mere carrier here.]


DAR
Depending on the context any form of energy can be spoken of as a source or carrier. Isn't that obvious?

Darrel wrote:Bob Park made fun of those who mistakenly think it is fuel in the sense that "oil is a fuel, now it's gone, hydrogen is a fuel, lets use that instead."

It's laughable not because it's not a fuel but because (1) it's not a good fuel and (2) we don't have great ways to use it.


DAR
I see the joke differently. It's laughable because hydrogen can never be a primary source of fuel, like oil is. There is this common misunderstanding that it can be.

we don't have to spin that into "hydrogen has no energy."


DAR
Why don't you, as an educator, think it might not be a useful exercise to teach people that all of this hydrogen around us has no net energy? I think that would be a good lesson. For all practical purposes, all of this hydrogen around us is in form that "has no energy." Water, has no energy. Do you know how many people think it does? "But it is hydrogen, and hydrogen is a fuel!" They are legion.

Darrel wrote:Does hydrogen bonded to oxygen (water) have any practical energy?

Here's what I said earlier: "When I say hydrogen, I mean H2 gas. It has already been separated from other atoms. Electrolysis of water is one way of doing this."


DAR
So the answer to my question is no. Good duck!

This is the double-talk we can do without. I didn't say I don't have to use energy. I said that we don't have to "put energy into" hydrogen like putting air in a balloon. The claim was that hydrogen "has no energy" and that we need to "put energy into it."


DAR
Hydrogen as it exists around us has no net energy. We have to put energy into it. I think this is an important lesson.

A plain interpretation of this -- especially from the non-scientist layperson -- would be that H2 can exist in at least two forms: energy-less and energized. And that's a crock.


DAR
Well I wouldn't word it that way either. And I haven't. The abundant hydrogen as it exists around us has no useful energy for us. When we do the work of "making it" then it does. It seem important for people to know this.

It is true that we need to spend some energy to get hydrogen.


DAR
Some!?

But this is true in all cases for all substances with regard to the automotive industry application (and for the rest of the world). We don't have gasoline welling up out of the earth and into storage tanks. We have to spend energy to refine the crude and get gasoline.


DAR
We do that for political and environmental reasons (really really good reasons). But don't have to make gasoline but it's really handy and we like it. Oil is a primary source that is sitting there read to go. This is why it will always be entirely different than hydrogen.
I was just reading about a guy that says:

"I was involved in a conventional power plant that burned crude oil in the mid-80s. It was located near Basra. Now involved in a similar power plant but a different location." Link

Crude = primary energy source, extremely loaded and ready to go
Hydrogen = ZERO net energy

That's a really really really big difference and I don't think just "talking about "differences in efficiency" or "energy density" makes the point to Joe citizen.


3) I maintain that it makes no sense to distinguish between "carrier" and "source" because they are the same to the consumer. I don't understand your draw to this terminology.


DAR
I understand. Both terms will be used for any form of energy depending on the context. The draw here is I think, since hydrogen can never be a primary source (sitting there ready to go like crude) and in the hydrogen economy it acts like a battery that you charge up, it makes sense to refer to it, sometimes, (like electricity) as an energy carrier. But that wasn't my decision. If you read the literature it is everywhere.

Darrel wrote:But you have to make the hydrogen. Isolate it. That takes energy.

True. Now watch:
But you have to make/find/mine/[insert whichever method here] the [petroleum/natural gas/coal/[insert any other fuel here].


DAR
Wrong. We don't have to make crude. Would you like a picture of a lake of it? And a single barrel of it has 5.8 million BTU. This is why hydrogen is not, and never will be, a replacement for oil. It's important people understand this. Oil has a tremendous amount of net energy setting there waiting to be used. The hydrogen around us has zero net energy waiting to be used.

Someone hand this man a cup. He has to make/find/mine some crude:

Image


Isolate/refine/concentrate/[insert whichever required development here] it. That takes energy. This applies to everything. Say it with me. This applies to everything. The issue is efficiency.


DAR
Let me be a nit-picker then. We do not have to isolate/refine/concentrate crude oil. We chose to refine it for very good reasons. From a physics stand point, we don't have to. This is completely incomparable to hydrogen where we do 100% of the work to "make it."
Actually, with electrolysis we have to do about 300% of the work!

Darrel wrote:Are you sure about that one? We can get energy out of the H2 molecule for free?

Once we have the molecule, yes!


DAR
Ha, almost tricked me! Once we do the work to make ("have") the molecule then we can get some of our energy back! That's great. So the straight answer is, for practical purposes, there is no energy from hydrogen until we invest energy to "have" it, i.e. "make it."

Do you recommend keeping your energy invested at "The Hydrogen Bank." I don't. As Bill Harter joked last night: "The user fees really kill ya."

It's (1) the (in)efficiency of producing the substance and (2) the low energy density of the substance that makes it currently unworthy.


DAR
That's the fancy nerd way of stating the conclusion of the original article.

D.

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Postby Savonarola » Sat May 31, 2008 10:48 am

Let's try this, even though it leaves something to be desired.

You consider hydrogen gas a carrier.

Suppose there was some place we could mine hydrogen gas. If my understanding is correct, you would then call it a source.

So the same substance can be a carrier or a source. Why does it matter what we call it?

(And before you complain about needing to compress it, we also need to compress natural gas.)

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Postby Dardedar » Sat May 31, 2008 10:55 am

ChristianLoeschel wrote:See...thing is though neither Sav nor me are advocating using fossil fuels to generate hydrogen...


DAR
No matter what you are advocating, the fact remains that right now about 96% is made by fossil fuels. That isn't going to change quickly.
For a hydrogen economy we are going to need a lot of it. I bet you like nuke. I do to. Especially the breeders that can use the old nuke waste.

D.

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Postby Savonarola » Sat May 31, 2008 12:02 pm

I've got a response half-typed, but by the time I realized what I could do with the following statement, I'm not sure there's a need to continue. Plus, I need to get ready to leave because I've been promised a mutual chokehold that it would be disrespectful for me to miss.

Darrel wrote:My glass of water has lots of hydrogen in it.

If you'd like me to start distinguishing between H (the plain atom) and H2 (hydrogen gas), I will. But I've already explained twice that when I said "hydrogen," I mean H2 gas. Your half-liter glass of water (500 grams) has about 56 grams of H atoms (about 3.3×10^25 atoms) but only maybe a few molecules of H2 gas from the atmosphere dissolved in it.

Hmmm, maybe this should be your angle. People say that "hydrogen" (inspecific reference) is abundant and a fuel. Hydrogen atoms are abundant, but those atoms as they come are not a fuel. Hydrogen gas (H2) isn't abundant, although it's a fuel.

If we had "abundant" plain hydrogen atoms (H) floating around, we could make all the H2 we wanted. The problem is that hydrogen atoms are found bound to atoms of other types, and we can't make H2 without breaking the H atoms away from the carbon or oxygen or nitrogen whatever they're bound to in nature. And breaking those atoms away requires energy.

From here we expose two major problems:
1. Our current production methods rely mostly upon fossil fuels to break the H away and make them into H2. This is not "alternative" energy. It's also wasteful because the process is inefficient.
2. Our actual "alternative" ways of making hydrogen (from fermentation alcohol or sunlight) are so inefficient that the (monetary) costs of the processes hardly (or outright don't, depending on which process) justify the benefit of the alternative energy.

And there it is. Bang. It lacks some details, but it explains why the statement that "hydrogen is abundant" doesn't necessarily lead to "hydrogen must be our everlasting future fuel." It's understandable and 100% accurate with no economical jargon or wishy-washy wording.

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Postby Barbara Fitzpatrick » Sun Jun 01, 2008 11:24 am

My 2 cents is we don't have time to try to get around the problems of attaining a "hydrogen society" right now, so whether or not it can ever be efficient is moot. We need to get building with the technology we have (some of which is quite new, but has gone through its "test" period and "just" needs to be built). Once we've got carbon emissions significantly cut, we can look around and see if there are better/more efficient ways to continue that.

My own opinion, for what little it's worth in this exaulted company, is that fuel cells themselves would be wonderful backups to solar in a domestic situation. Possibly other types of buildings as well. But not to directly power a vehicle.

I'm much lower on the science totem pole than Sav and Christian, but they've pointed out (Sav maybe less tactfully than I would have) several things that I caught with the original article - primarily the assumption of fossil fuel sourcing (which we all agree is a really bad idea) and NOx production. As far as I can figure out, we all seem to agree that hydrogen is not the fuel for the immediate future, especially as a vehicular fuel, and the caviats are based on the presentation/possible exaggerations/possible misrepresentations of the article Darrel originally posted, but not the point as current technology stands.
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Postby Dardedar » Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:58 pm

DAR
Ironic/interesting how this article is using water and oil in a different sense than us. But it may have some interest to this discussion too.

***
Is Water Becoming the New Oil?

Thursday 29 May 2008

by: Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor

Lake Lanier in Buford, Georgia, shown in October, has shrunk so much that parts of the lakebed are exposed. Lawmakers are pointing fingers as the region struggles with an epic drought. (Photo: John Bazemore / AP)

Population, pollution, and climate put the squeeze on potable supplies - and private companies smell a profit. Others ask: Should water be a human right?

Public fountains are dry in Barcelona, Spain, a city so parched there's a €9,000 ($13,000) fine if you're caught watering your flowers. A tanker ship docked there this month carrying 5 million gallons of precious fresh water - and officials are scrambling to line up more such shipments to slake public thirst.

Barcelona is not alone. Cyprus will ferry water from Greece this summer. Australian cities are buying water from that nation's farmers and building desalination plants. Thirsty China plans to divert Himalayan water. And 18 million southern Californians are bracing for their first water-rationing in years.

Water, Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris told the World Economic Forum in February, "is the oil of this century." Developed nations have taken cheap, abundant fresh water largely for granted. Now global population growth, pollution, and climate change are shaping a new view of water as "blue gold."

LINK

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Postby Savonarola » Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:59 pm

Darrel wrote:That's the fancy nerd way of stating the conclusion of the original article.

I already told you that I agree with the thrust of the article. I just think it can be presented better, and I think it can be presented better even in a way that non-chemists can follow and understand.

I'm glad you've finally realized that the "source" and "carrier" labels are pointless. The wording of "primary source" I think is better. Plus, explaining what we mean by "primary" source also leads us into explaining the difference between "hydrogen" (hydrogen gas, H2, the fuel not found in the environment) and "hydrogen" (bound hydrogen, H, found everywhere, not a fuel).

I think that analogies are good, and I think that your bank account analogy is workable. The fossil fuel bank account is large but dwindling. The H2 bank account is empty.
But there is a difference: We have no way to deposit into the fossil fuel account because we can't make more. That account will continue to dwindle as long as we draw from it. On the other hand, we are capable of depositing hydrogen into the hydrogen account. What's even better is that the universe gives us a method for making hydrogen: the sunlight that hits the earth is energy that can potentially be made useful. That sunlight is virtually limitless, and so is our store of raw material to make the hydrogen. So it's just like your personal bank account with a required number of debit transactions, etc, to get a good interest rate: we have to jump through some hoops to set up to (and continue to) deposit into the hydrogen account, but we don't have to continuously draw out of the fossil fuel account to do it.

It's important to point out that the jumping through hoops costs (real) money, and it's fine to point out that jumping through the hoops costs currently more (real) money than drawing from the fossil fuel account costs. (And it's especially fine to point out that making hydrogen from fossil fuels costs a lot of money and wastes a lot of energy.) But it's also important to point out that we need a working, non-empty account when the fossil fuel account goes dry. Maybe that means we need to sink (real) money into the hydrogen account. Maybe that means we need to make ethanol work. Maybe we need to use nuclear reactors. Maybe we need a combination. But we need something, and we can't use the "well, yeah, but it's costing us money" excuse to run our cars.

----------

Darrel wrote:Ironic/interesting how this article is using water and oil in a different sense than us. But it may have some interest to this discussion too.

I have two pieces of good news with respect to the effect of this water shortage issue upon the hydrogen issue. First, we don't need drinking water to have something to split into hydrogen. In fact, the first thing we'd do to drinking water in order to use it for electrolysis is add lots of salt and make it undrinkable. We can use filtered seawater. Second, the burning of the hydrogen makes... clean water! (It's currently unfeasible to recover the water directly, but it gets put back into the environment to return to the water cycle.)

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Doug
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Postby Doug » Mon Jun 02, 2008 12:27 am

Darrel wrote:Is Water Becoming the New Oil?


DOUG
I've been telling my classes that the next set of wars will be for water, not oil.

There will be some major fights among states here in the U.S. too.


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