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Hydrogen - Dec 24

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Why a hydrogen economy doesn't make sense

Lisa Zyga,
In a recent study, fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel explains that a hydrogen economy is a wasteful economy. The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use - an unacceptable value to run an economy in a sustainable future. Only niche applications like submarines and spacecraft might use hydrogen.

Why a hydrogen economy doesn't make sense

This chart compares the useful transport energy requirements for a vehicle powered from a hydrogen process (left) vs. electricity (right). Image Credit: Ulf Bossel.

(11 Dec 2006)
There's an interview with Ulf Bossel over at The Watt. Ulf has written a history of the fuel cell, organised the Lucerne Fuel Cell Forum and in fact his great, great grandfather Christian Friedrich Schoenbein is credited with the discovery of the fuel cell. -AF

Taking the long way home:
What's wrong with hydrogen

Gar Lipow, Gristmill
Amory Lovins is rightfully admired by environmentalists. But nobody is right all the time, and the hydrogen path is one of his few mistakes. He summarizes his argument for hydrogen in Twenty Hydrogen Myths (PDF). More extensive discussion is embedded in his book Winning the Oil Endgame (book-length PDF).

...What is wrong with all this? To start with, system efficiency of hydrogen hypercars is not five times the system efficiency of gas-powered hypercars.

...As you can see, there is a place for hydrogen. But until costs are lowered and system efficiency improved, that place is where the hydrogen can be generated where consumed, and almost all the waste heat used, and where it is cost competitive with other means of electricity storage even after carbon disposal costs are counted.
(24 Dec 2006)

Twenty Hydrogen Myths

Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
Recent public interest in hydrogen has elicited a great deal of conflicting, confusing, and often ill-informed commentary. This peer-reviewed white paper offers both lay and technical readers, particularly in the United States, a documented primer on basic hydrogen facts, weighs competing opinions, and corrects twenty widespread misconceptions. It explains why the rapidly growing engagement of business, civil society, and government in devising and achieving a transitionto a hydrogen economy is warranted and, if properly done, could yield important national and global benefits.
(17 Feb 2005)

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