Despite the fact that technical and societal factors stand in the way of
hydrogen becoming a fuel for the masses, a new analysis conducted by Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) suggests that there are viable scenarios
for making the transition to high-mileage electric vehicles powered by a
combination of batteries and hydrogen-fueled power systems.
In the report, "Hydrogen as a Transportation Fuel: Costs and Benefits," analysts
look at hydrogen's economic viability for powering a five-passenger vehicle
such as a Ford Taurus with a range of about 80 miles per gallon. LLNL concluded
that over time there are compelling reasons to try to shift away from
conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles.
For example, with a sizable fleet of alternative vehicles operating in the
United States by 2030, oil imports could be cut by two billion barrels per
year, saving $1.2 trillion at $30 per barrel of oil. But such savings cannot
be achieved overnight, LLNL warned.
"The most striking point about oil-use reductions and alternative-fuel vehicles
is the very long lead times necessary for large-scale change. Alternative-fuel
cars introduced in 2005 do not begin to materially influence aggregate oil
use for another decade, and two decades more (2035) are required to replace
gasoline vehicles," the report says.
"We have shown that you could put hydrogen-fueled vehicle on the road in
the near term," said Robert Schock, associate director for energy at LLNL.
"It does not have to be as far off as people have supposed."
Schock added that policymakers have erred in the past by focusing on the
total costs of a hydrogen-fueled auto economy and the associated infrastructure
requirements. "What DOE needed to do is to look at the transition phase and
ask, How do you get there?"
The study points out that hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) can fill the niche
for hydrogen vehicles without awaiting the development of cost-effective
fuel cells. "HEVs coupled with small-scale hydrogen production and/or storage
are among the most promising systems," the LLNL report says.
For copies of the report, contact the National Technical Information Service,
5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161. (ERGY DAILY: 5/8)
...face some harsh detours on the road to reality
June 27, 2003 / 27 Sivan, 5763
We the People now understand the benefits of hydrogen-powered fuel cells
after the Congress of the United States has bestowed its benediction on the
system via an enormous subsidy.
A bill co-sponsored by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., mandates the Department
of Energy to develop a plan to produce 100,000 fuel-cell cars by 2010 and
2.5 million by 2020.
No doubt this was inspired by the colossal success of California's edict
to achieve zero-emissions from 10 percent of its vehicle population by the
end of the decade. This idea, you may recall, just hit Sacramento's legislative
rocks after sales of electric cars barely edged into the double numbers.
These grand mandates from the feds and the states are to be praised, not
ridiculed. After all, if they are successful we can expect harsh laws outlawing
cancer, the common cold, automobile crashes, insanity, financial panics,
depressions, recessions and even war. Who is to question the wisdom and power
of our government in such heady matters?
But of course there are potholes even for the divinities in the seats of
For example, while we shout hosannas for the fuel cell and celebrate the
impending doom of the internal combustion engine and its filthy petroleum
energy source, bad news looms on the horizon.
Contrary to conventional thinking and the constant agitprop issuing from
the elite media, fuel cells might not be the perfect solution for the
environment. Recall that we have been led to believe the cells only emit
is a few drops of water vapor. That is true, but a potential assault on the
atmosphere comes from the source of the fuel cell power - hydrogen.
We learn from new research that massive conversion to a hydrogen-powered
vehicle network could lead to serious leakage of the volatile gas, which
in turn could radically reduce the already threatened ozone layer.
In case you missed high school physics, hydrogen is lighter than air. It
is also highly explosive (remember the Hindenburg?).
Presuming we reach Dame Hillary's goal of 2.5 million fuel-cell miracles
on the road by 2020, this would radically increase the amount of hydrogen
manufactured, stored and dumped into vehicle tanks on a daily basis. Leakage
would inevitably occur somewhere during the cycle - not to mention the occasional
explosion. Safe storage of the gas in vehicles remains an unspoken but serious
dilemma for vehicle developers.
The entry of unwanted trillions of cubic feet of hydrogen into the earth's
atmosphere could radically alter the climate by the gas oxidizing into water
when it reaches the stratosphere. This could cause a dangerous depletion
of the ozone layer.
Add that little problem to those already present in a hydrogen nirvana such
as the massive energy costs in manufacturing the gas (which you don't exactly
strain from tap water in your kitchen sink) and safely transporting it through
a new network to filling stations.
Suddenly the whole scheme begins to sound like another feel-good bamboozle,
like the now-defunct electric car.
Brock Yates is editor-at-large for Car and Driver Magazine
(www.caranddriver.com) and a columnist
for Tech Central Station
Comment by clicking here.
ENERGY PROJECT AT THE WEIZMANN INSTITUTE PROMISES TO ADVANCE THE USE OF HYDROGEN
Testing - a Solution for Production of Hydrogen Fuel Through Solar
Innovative solar technology
that may offer a 'green' solution to the production of hydrogen fuel has
been successfully tested on a large scale at the Weizmann Institute of Science
in Israel. The technology also promises to facilitate the storage and
transportation of hydrogen. The chemical process behind the technology was
originally developed at Weizmann, and it has been scaled up in collaboration
with European scientists. Results of the experiments will be reported in
August at the 2005 Solar World Congress of the International Solar Energy
Society (ISES) in Orlando, Florida.
The solar project is the result of collaboration between scientists from
the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, Institut de Science et de Genie des
Materiaux et Procedes - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France,
and the ScanArc Plasma Technologies AB in Sweden. The project is supported
by the European Union's FP5 program.
Hydrogen, the most plentiful
element in the universe, is an attractive candidate for becoming a pollution-free
fuel of the future. However, nearly all hydrogen used today is produced by
means of expensive processes that require combustion of polluting fossil
fuels. Moreover, storing and transporting hydrogen is extremely difficult
The new solar technology tackles
these problems by creating an easily storable intermediate energy source
form from metal ore, such as zinc oxide. With the help of concentrated sunlight,
the ore is heated to about 1,200°C in a solar reactor in the presence
of wood charcoal. The process splits the ore, releasing oxygen and creating
gaseous zinc, which is then condensed to a powder. Zinc powder can later
be reacted with water, yielding hydrogen, to be used as fuel, and zinc oxide,
which is recycled back to zinc in the solar plant. In recent experiments,
the 300-kilowatt installation produced 45 kilograms of zinc powder from zinc
oxide in one hour, exceeding projected goals.
The process generates no pollution,
and the resultant zinc can be easily stored and transported, and converted
to hydrogen on demand. In addition, the zinc can be used directly, for example,
in zinc-air batteries, which serve as efficient converters of chemical to
electrical energy. Thus, the method offers a way of storing solar energy
in chemical form and releasing it as needed.
'After many years of basic research,
we are pleased to see the scientific principles developed at the Institute
validated by technological development,' said Prof. Jacob Karni, Head of
the Center for Energy Research at Weizmann.
'The success of our recent
experiments brings the approach closer to industrial use,' says engineer
Michael Epstein, project leader at the Weizmann Institute.
The concept of splitting metal
ores with the help of sunlight has been under development over the course
of several years at the Weizmann Institute's Canadian Institute for the Energies
and Applied Research, one of the most sophisticated solar research facilities
in the world, which has a solar tower, a field of 64 mirrors and unique beam-down
The process was tested originally on a scale of several kilowatts; it has
been scaled up to 300 kilowatt in collaboration with the European
Weizmann scientists are currently
investigating metal ores other than zinc oxide, as well as additional materials
that may be used for efficient conversion of sunlight into storable
The research from this press
release will be presented at the ISES 2005 Solar World Congress - Bringing
Water to the World, scheduled to take place during August 6-12, 2005 in Orlando,
Karni's research is supported by the Sussman Family Center for the Study
of Environmental Sciences; the Solomon R. and Rebecca D. Baker Foundation;
the Angel Faivovich Foundation for Ecological Research; Mr. Nathan Minzly,
UK; the Abraham and Sonia Rochlin Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Larry Taylor,
Los Angeles, CA; Dr. and Mrs. Robert Zaitlin, Los Angeles, CA; and the Arnold
Ziff Charitable Foundation.