Monday, January 29, 2007

Hydrogen on the Horizon

The other day in class I was making bold predictions about the future of hydrogen energy and how it had the potential to completely change your lives. Seems I am not the only one, as Tim Haab has been predicting similar changes. And it looks like we might be on to something.




15 comments:

Whitney Dickson said...

I don't know if any of ya'll saw the movie "Who killed the electric car" in the commons this weekend, but it was a good betrayal of our progress (and lack thereof) of alternative fuels in the automobile industry. The movie mainly focused on the disappointing fate of the electric car - which was tragic - but it also introduced the Hydrogen fuel cell powered car. Apparently they do exist, but the movie was quick to point out its unlikely future. There are many great costs associated with the storage, reliability, and availability of such a fuel cell.
I was astonished by what the movie portrayed, its amazing how backwards our society can move when tangled up in politics. We had a functioning alternative (the electric car) and they were destroyed before they were given a chance.

Bruce Harcus said...

These developments are fascinating and gives promise for progression toward an alternative source of energy. Hydrogen has the highest energy content by weight of any fuel...in fact 3 times moreso than gasoline. This gives us hope that in the near future, perhaps within our lifetime, Hydrogen could become the prevailing source of energy use in transportation.

According to http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/IntermediateHydrogen.html
there are several hydrogen powered cars being used in the United States at the present time (Mostly in California, after all people from California are a bit more progressive than the rest...right??). These are typically owned and operated by the governement, but there is evidence to suggest that a California family recently leased a hydrogen powered car. It is stated that our goal (the US Department of Energy's Hydrogen Program) by the year 2030 is that 10% of our energy is produced from Hydrogen.

Mary said...

This is an exciting prospect in the face of Ford's $12.7 billion net loss for 2006. With the exception of Toyota, most auto companies are struggling. Maybe there's hope for the industry yet if they hop on the hydrogen wagon.

CU@US said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yan Yan said...

Just checked the Chinese Association for Hydrogen Energy and found out that a conference was held Jan 26-27 between China and Italy. It seems that Italy is very enthusiastic in cooperating with China regarding alternative energies, not only did I mentioned that they purchased carbon emission credits from us. I wonder if there is some long term cooperation contract or some deal between the two governments.

elizabeth garson said...

The idea of having a gas station in your own home is great. I hate waiting for my gas to pump. I'm afraid however that we are still a long way from actually having hydrogen fuel powered cars in many driveways. There needs to be a way to get more than 100 miles out of the hydrogen, so buying a hyrdogen powered car seems more practical. I think I would rather go to the gas station once than refill with hydrogen four times (if your car gets about 400 miles on a tank).

Jon Malooly said...

There is no doubt in my mind that an alternative energy source will be provided when it is needed by the world economy. I believe that 90% of world's transportation vehicles run on fossil fuels or oil, which poses a big problem for all economies if the oil supply is gone. The big question is how to initiate an alternative energy source into the economy. We have been talking economic incentives in class, and I think it relates to the process of finding and using an alternative energy source. If a command and control policy was used to switch our cars from using petroleum products to some other energy source, there would probably be something available almost immediately that everyone can buy. It would probably be a bit expensive, but the transportation would still be available.
Companies are less inclined to research as much on an alternative fuel source right now because they do not have to worry about switching over to an alternative source of energy at the moment. If the government got involved and enforced everyone to stop using petroleum for their cars, fuel companies would have researched more for alternative energy. Instead the companies can milk the profits they get from petroleum until all the wells dry up. This way probably also benefits people because hopefully the alternative energy source will be cheaper with the amount of time fuel and car companies have to find a new source of energy.

Kyle Wichser said...

Articles like Tim Haab's are extremely important for maintaining a healthy discussion of alternative energy sources (particularly for automobiles). In fact, on-road vehicles are responsible for 51% CO emissions and 33% of CO2 emissions (http://www.bikesatwork.com/carfree/automobiles-and-environment.html). However, I believe the key to moving in the right direction is something that Haab mentions in this article. That is, starting to implement the technology on a public level - through city transportation systems, delivery services, etc. By jumpstarting the use of Hydrogen to power cars on a more macro-level, I truly believe that the progess of the technology and the infiltration of its use will ultimately filter to the individual user. Interesting article.

Martha said...

Definitely an interesting article. All this seems pretty promising. Despite the 100 mile limit issue, this would still be a huge breakthrough. Most people don't drive over 100 miles a day... and even if you had to commute to work, I'm sure with time they will be able to build gas station-like hubs to "refuel" your hydrogen car (or maybe have stations at your workplace where you could refuel for the ride home...) Furthermore, I bet once the initial technology is out there, it won't be long before they do develop a system that allows for longer traveling (for road trips and such) Science is pretty amazing...and can be developed surprisingly fast in the face of demand! I'll be looking forward to seeing all the new developments...

George said...

This certainly is exciting and promising. It's just more proof that the technology is available but not being widely used because of practicality issues. Hopefully as new breakthroughs are made the costs (and mileage range) of such technologies will improve so that the people out there who just don't care about carbon emissions will see the benefits that hydrogen power has to offer. I too agree Elizabeth about hating to go to the gas station - its unpleasantly annoying, especially at the shell station on rt. 60. On that note, I think people will definitely prefer an option of fueling up at home. Such convenience paired with cost incentive and better mileage range might change the way we drive in the coming decades... who knows

adamk said...

This pretty amazing stuff. I can only hope that his #1 hurdle can be overcome so that his prediction will come true.

SC said...

I still think we're barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, with the hydrogen debate. Hydrogen, like electricity, is an energy carrier, not a fuel source, so it must be produced from fossil fuels, nuclear, wind or solar energy. The costs of wind and solar are currently prohibitive (I'm very skeptical of the $500 cost of solar figure used in the article... at least in the near future.) Nuclear is the best option but we still have the associated security and waste issues. 95% of hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas and our current stock is only a very small percentage of the hydrogen that would be needed to fuel our vehicles. Although technological advances are solving many of the logistical problems of storing, transporting, and using hydrogen, we must displace fossil fuels in the production stage, or there will be no benefit from using hydrogen over petroleum.

Until we can solve this problem, I think discussion of a hydrogen economy is short-sighted and diverts attention away from more realistic solutions such as a carbon tax, better hybrid technology, and increased fuel-efficiency standards.

sarah tilbor said...

A couple of the comments focused on the 100 mile limit as a big issue. I also watched teh movie "Who killed the electric car" and it focused on that same issue. Many people were turned off by the 60 mile limit on the electric car. But, they gave a statistic that most people only drive 27 (I think) miles a day, average. So, the 60 (or 100) mile issue is not as big of an issue as it seems. I can just see in the future, people having "around town cars" and "traveling cars". But eventually, I do think that the limits will be overcome by technology.

Juliana said...

It’s good that a country like Australia is testing this kind of energy source to make it available to people use in their homes to supply theirs cars for example. I hope the others countries follow this path and try to make this technology less expensive.

Kris Brake said...

Two things of note jump out at me. First, it is very important that Australia is taking the lead in this matter. Leadership is critical when dealing with change, and if things work out in Australia others will inevitably imitate what they see. Technology is easily transferable. Additionally, Kyle's comment about infiltrating the public by using these technologies in public transportation is a great idea. Public sentiment always drives policy due to the nature of the political system (in America atleast). If people are exposed to these types of transportation they will be far more inclined to implement them in their own lives.