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Hydrogen as Fuel: A Plausible Alternative? Tom Madore.

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Presentation on theme: "Hydrogen as Fuel: A Plausible Alternative? Tom Madore."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hydrogen as Fuel: A Plausible Alternative? Tom Madore

2 Introduction Hydrogen fuel cell cars release essentially “zero” pollution emissions other than warm water, making them environmentalists’ ultimate dream. Hydrogen fuel cell cars release essentially “zero” pollution emissions other than warm water, making them environmentalists’ ultimate dream. A transition to hydrogen fuel cells could reduce the United States’ overall carbon dioxide production by up to one third. A transition to hydrogen fuel cells could reduce the United States’ overall carbon dioxide production by up to one third. From a political perspective, hydrogen fuel cells would reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. From a political perspective, hydrogen fuel cells would reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. However, there are many current problems with the potential use of hydrogen as a mainstream energy source, such as deriving it in its pure form, building an infrastructure for its transportation and usage, and storing it. However, there are many current problems with the potential use of hydrogen as a mainstream energy source, such as deriving it in its pure form, building an infrastructure for its transportation and usage, and storing it.

3 Hydrogen Fuel Cells: An Overview Hydrogen Fuel Cells: An Overview Similar to a battery. Similar to a battery. Chemical energy of a fuel is converted directly into electricity without the ill effects (pollutants, inefficiencies) of combustion. Chemical energy of a fuel is converted directly into electricity without the ill effects (pollutants, inefficiencies) of combustion. Unlike batteries, fuels cells use a constant external energy source. Unlike batteries, fuels cells use a constant external energy source. Fuel cells are used in trains, planes, bikes, and vending machines. Fuel cells are used in trains, planes, bikes, and vending machines. Daniel Kemman, UC Berkeley nuclear engineering professor, contends that “Fuel cells [when used in place of a gas powered car engine] themselves are extremely efficient…Right now they are around 50 percent efficient, compared to 33 percent for a regular gas turbine, but fuel cells could be percent efficient [in the future].” Daniel Kemman, UC Berkeley nuclear engineering professor, contends that “Fuel cells [when used in place of a gas powered car engine] themselves are extremely efficient…Right now they are around 50 percent efficient, compared to 33 percent for a regular gas turbine, but fuel cells could be percent efficient [in the future].” The problem with hydrogen fuel cells exists on the hydrogen end of the spectrum, as in the derivation of hydrogen, etc. The problem with hydrogen fuel cells exists on the hydrogen end of the spectrum, as in the derivation of hydrogen, etc.

4 The Case for Hydrogen President Bush declared a $1.2 billion investment in hydrogen fuel. President Bush declared a $1.2 billion investment in hydrogen fuel. America’s “Energy Security,” is threatened by our dependence on foreign oil. Today, the U.S. imports 55% of the oil it consumes, and by 2025, and is expected to rise to 68%. America’s “Energy Security,” is threatened by our dependence on foreign oil. Today, the U.S. imports 55% of the oil it consumes, and by 2025, and is expected to rise to 68%. Transition to a hydrogen economy will cut America’s demand for foreign oil by around 11 million barrels per day, which is approximately the amount of oil the U.S. imports today. Transition to a hydrogen economy will cut America’s demand for foreign oil by around 11 million barrels per day, which is approximately the amount of oil the U.S. imports today. Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, which are our primary sources of energy today, are inefficient, nonrenewable, and most importantly, release CO2 upon combustion. Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, which are our primary sources of energy today, are inefficient, nonrenewable, and most importantly, release CO2 upon combustion.

5 The Case for Hydrogen Today’s internal combustion engines also release carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter. Today’s internal combustion engines also release carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter. Hydrogen is an environmentally feasible alternative because it is clean, producing “zero” pollution emissions. Hydrogen is an environmentally feasible alternative because it is clean, producing “zero” pollution emissions. The environmental utopian situation for hydrogen derivation. The environmental utopian situation for hydrogen derivation. Current technology: production is more economically efficient if hydrogen is produced from abundant domestic resources. Current technology: production is more economically efficient if hydrogen is produced from abundant domestic resources. If the related costs are reduced, then, David K. Garman of the U.S. Department of Energy, contends that the transition to hydrogen fuel will “stimulate new markets and strengthen U.S. flexibility and economic resiliency in many other sectors.” If the related costs are reduced, then, David K. Garman of the U.S. Department of Energy, contends that the transition to hydrogen fuel will “stimulate new markets and strengthen U.S. flexibility and economic resiliency in many other sectors.”

6 Current Problems with Hydrogen Production While hydrogen is the world’s most abundant element, it does not exist in its natural state. Its major industrial production today comes from a process known as the “steam reforming” of natural gas. While hydrogen is the world’s most abundant element, it does not exist in its natural state. Its major industrial production today comes from a process known as the “steam reforming” of natural gas. This conversion from natural gas is costly and produces some carbon dioxide. This conversion from natural gas is costly and produces some carbon dioxide. Producing hydrogen from any hydrocarbon fuel, such as natural gas, or from biomass waste, in effect, still adds to the problem of the greenhouse effect. Producing hydrogen from any hydrocarbon fuel, such as natural gas, or from biomass waste, in effect, still adds to the problem of the greenhouse effect. Electrolysis, the process that separates water into hydrogen and water, via renewable energy sources is the environmentalists’ goal for the generation of hydrogen. Electrolysis, the process that separates water into hydrogen and water, via renewable energy sources is the environmentalists’ goal for the generation of hydrogen.

7 Current Problems with Hydrogen Production Today, electrolysis is powered by electricity. Currently, in the U.S. 50% of power-plants are coal-fired: in other words, electrolysis currently “totally defeats the purpose in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.” Today, electrolysis is powered by electricity. Currently, in the U.S. 50% of power-plants are coal-fired: in other words, electrolysis currently “totally defeats the purpose in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.” Still appears that electrolysis is the best path for the future. Still appears that electrolysis is the best path for the future. Ironically, Bush recommended cutting funding for wind power by 5.5%. Ironically, Bush recommended cutting funding for wind power by 5.5%. Equally puzzling, Bush allotted $5 million towards researching ways of obtaining hydrogen from coal. As one critic stated, “None of this money should be going to coal. It’s like running to McDonald’s if you want to lose weight.” Equally puzzling, Bush allotted $5 million towards researching ways of obtaining hydrogen from coal. As one critic stated, “None of this money should be going to coal. It’s like running to McDonald’s if you want to lose weight.” Bush also seems to believe that nuclear energy is the “most promising path for producing hydrogen.” Bush also seems to believe that nuclear energy is the “most promising path for producing hydrogen.”

8 Ideal Electrolysis Process

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10 Problems with Safety Storing/Transporting Hydrogen Hydrogen has the highest energy content per gram of any known fuel, but it occupies a large volume, ~12 liters per gram. Hydrogen has the highest energy content per gram of any known fuel, but it occupies a large volume, ~12 liters per gram. In order to save space hydrogen needs to be converted to its liquid state to be transported. Must be cooled before it liquefies, resulting in high costs. In order to save space hydrogen needs to be converted to its liquid state to be transported. Must be cooled before it liquefies, resulting in high costs. Question of transportation via existing or new pipelines. Question of transportation via existing or new pipelines. Estimated cost of creating an infrastructure suitable to the transportation of hydrogen is between $100 and $400 billion-- greater than the estimated cost of the current war in Iraq. Estimated cost of creating an infrastructure suitable to the transportation of hydrogen is between $100 and $400 billion-- greater than the estimated cost of the current war in Iraq. Engineers have to deal with safety issues associated with hydrogen--reputation for explosiveness. For example, the few owners of hydrogen fuel cell cars today are advised not to park their cars in their garage as a safety precaution. Engineers have to deal with safety issues associated with hydrogen--reputation for explosiveness. For example, the few owners of hydrogen fuel cell cars today are advised not to park their cars in their garage as a safety precaution.

11 What’s Next? The future of hydrogen fuel is uncertain given the many current issues-- economic, environmental, and otherwise associated with its production, storage, and transportation. The future of hydrogen fuel is uncertain given the many current issues-- economic, environmental, and otherwise associated with its production, storage, and transportation. Government needs to allocate its funds in the right places. Government needs to allocate its funds in the right places. Short run vs. Long run implications. Short run vs. Long run implications. How to get from “here” to “there?” How to get from “here” to “there?”

12 Sources: Ball, Jeffery. “Green Dream. Hydrogen Fuel May Be Clean But Getting It Here Looks Messy. Auto, Oil Companies Wrestle With Huge Costs to Build Delivery Infrastructure,” Wall Street Journal, Friday March 7, Ball, Jeffery. “Green Dream. Hydrogen Fuel May Be Clean But Getting It Here Looks Messy. Auto, Oil Companies Wrestle With Huge Costs to Build Delivery Infrastructure,” Wall Street Journal, Friday March 7, Chemistry on Context, Applying Chemistry to Society, Fourth Edition. (Chem.1 Text) Chemistry on Context, Applying Chemistry to Society, Fourth Edition. (Chem.1 Text) Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony. March 5, 2003, Wednesday. Headline: “Transition to a Hydrogen Economy,” Testimony by: David K. Garman, Assistant Secretary. Affiliation: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony. March 5, 2003, Wednesday. Headline: “Transition to a Hydrogen Economy,” Testimony by: David K. Garman, Assistant Secretary. Affiliation: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Financial Times Information, Regulatory Intelligence Data, February 6, 2003, “Fact Sheet: Hydrogen Fuel: A Clean and Secure Energy Alternative.” Financial Times Information, Regulatory Intelligence Data, February 6, 2003, “Fact Sheet: Hydrogen Fuel: A Clean and Secure Energy Alternative.” Lesher, Sarah. Science community divided over hydrogen. The Hill, pg. 21. Lesher, Sarah. Science community divided over hydrogen. The Hill, pg. 21. Mieszkowski, Katharine. “Not-so-clean Cars,” Copyright 2003 Salon.com, Inc., Feb. 25, 2003 Tuesday. Mieszkowski, Katharine. “Not-so-clean Cars,” Copyright 2003 Salon.com, Inc., Feb. 25, 2003 Tuesday. Reuters. “Fuel-cell vehicles not as green as hybrids, MIT study finds: Alternative methods of making hydrogen still to expensive.” Friday, March 7, Reuters. “Fuel-cell vehicles not as green as hybrids, MIT study finds: Alternative methods of making hydrogen still to expensive.” Friday, March 7, Tyler, Anna. “Hydrogen Fuel Cells.” (Outline) Tyler, Anna. “Hydrogen Fuel Cells.” (Outline)


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