2007/04/10

Hindenburg Redux

So the kind folks at Hit and Run have posted a link to yet another article about hydrogen. The author, unsurprisingly, agrees with me, which means he must be brilliant and learned. Or completely insane. Anyhow, as I’ve been saying for a while, he says hydrogen is not the solution. Key quote:

The trouble is that making hydrogen requires more energy than the hydrogen so produced can provide. Hydrogen, therefore, is not a source of energy. It simply is a carrier of energy. And it is, as we shall see, an extremely poor one.

Ding! We have a winner. The article goes into painful detail about the what and the why, with lots of math. His proposed solution strikes me as flawed, but his takedown of hydrogen is masterful.

Just remember, folks, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a bitch. Any scheme which depends on repeatedly changing energy from one form to another is bound to fail because of conversion losses.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Bigfoot said...

The author, unsurprisingly, agrees with me, which means he must be brilliant and learned. Or completely insane.

Isn't there a thin line between genius and madness? :>)

But to address the point, you and the author are absolutely correct. The "hydrogen economy" is a pipe-dream. The chemical reaction that produces H2 from hydrocarbons and steam also produces CO2. The only difference between H2-powered cars and those with internal combustion engines is that the CO2 will enter the atmosphere from the chemical plant, rather than directly from the engine.

There is one other way to make H2, the process of electrolysis, in which electricity is used to break H2O into its two elements. The trouble is that it needs a source of energy for the electricity. Once again, H2 is not a source, but a carrier of energy.

12:19 PM  

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