Minor Details Only, I'm Sure

Let's try again. Blogger ate this post earlier, and then I continued reading. Tim Worstall has some good points in reply to the fervor over at FuturePundit about Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. Good stuff. Alternative energy sources are always a good thing, and I say this from a position deeply ensconced in the minutiae of the oil industry.

I have many issues with this after much reflection. I'm only going to cover two of them. First, none of these wonderful technologies replace fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a primary energy source. Fuel cells are conversion mechanisms, just like batteries are storage mechanisms. You still have to provide the chemical energy to the fuel cell. This is not a trivial endeavor, either in coming up with said chemical energy source or transporting the source to the fuel cell.

This brings me to my second point. To quote Mr. Worstall,
Cheap efficient SOFCs are, from what I can see, now only an engineering/manufacturing problem.
Oh, is that all? Simply an engineering/manufacturing problem? Maybe I'm missing something, but gee, that's essentially ALL of the work. The fact that it's been proven to work in a lab just means it can magically move to market with just a smidge of engineering and a little manufacturing! My pasty white ass, it can. The manufacture of these fuel cells in a fashion remotely resembling economical is going to take a hell of a lot of man-hours by some pretty smart, diligent people.

Even then, you still have the larger problem which has yet to be addressed in any of these posts. Who cares? Unless it's cheaper than current sources for the end user, it won't be adopted. The only way to get the kind of broad conversion envisioned is make it advantageous for everybody. Otherwise it will wither and die on the vine.

Of course, it does seem like a perfectly nice technology for niche applications. Which is good, because that's all fuel cells are going to be for quite some time.


Blogger J said...

...and that ass sure is pasty...

8:50 PM  

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