Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hydrogen economy?

Here's a little more discussion of the prospects for a "hydrogen economy". I'd welcome it if it were practical, but I'm still skeptical. (Some previous discussion of hydrogen here).

Hydrogen economy sustainable in 15 years (7/17/08)
Hydrogen would be most efficient when used in fuel cells, which extract energy via a chemical reaction rather than by combustion. But fuel cells are still very expensive and distributing hydrogen to consumers would require new infrastructure. Consequently, a large-scale transition to hydrogen will require help from the federal government.

More on this report: Hydrogen Vehicles Coming Soon? Two Million Could Be On Roads By 2020 (7/17/08), Fuel cell cars still 15 years away at best: study (7/17/08)

Looking at Hydrogen to Replace Gasoline in Our Cars (7/3/08)
The jury is still out on whether hydrogen will ultimately be our environmental savior, replacing the fossil fuels responsible for global warming and various nagging forms of pollution. Two main hurdles stand in the way of mass production and widespread consumer adoption of hydrogen “fuel cell” vehicles: the still high cost of producing fuel cells, and the lack of a hydrogen refueling network.

Reining in manufacturing costs of fuel cell vehicles is the first major issue the automakers are addressing. While several have fuel cell prototype vehicles on the road—Toyota and Honda are even leasing them to the public in Japan and California—they are spending upwards of $1 million to produce each one due to the advanced technology involved and low production runs. ...

Another problem is the lack of hydrogen refueling stations. Major oil companies have been loathe to set up hydrogen tanks at existing gas stations for many reasons ranging from safety to cost to lack of demand. But obviously the oil companies are also trying to keep customers interested in their highly profitable bread-and-butter, gasoline.

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