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View Diary: Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security (Fourth Draft) (311 comments)

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  •  Hydrogen problems (none)
    Hydrogen is an interesting concept, but until and unless safe and non-leaking storage methodology is developed it could end up being a disaster for the environment if widely used in vehicles.

    Hydrogen is a greenhouse gas in and of itself, and it is also an extremely small molecule that has a tendency to diffuse through the containers or seals on the containers it is stored in.  Multiply this by several million vehicles and you get a big problems.  Compressed or liquid hydrogen tanks are (in my opinion) not a safe or feasible option for vehicular usage.

    Some solid-state storage methods I've read about, and/or nanotubule or nanoparticle storage media show promise, but they're still in the early development stages and will likely take a decade or more to even determine if they are feasible, safe, and economical to mass produce.

    Other than the hydrogen caveat, the rest of the plan sounds great - too bad this Congress would never even read it - not enough cash giveaways for oil companies.

    •  did you read the links I provided? (none)
      Lithium slurry is safe, well beyond trials stages, won't burn, binds effectively, and is ecologically safe.  Carbon nanotubes are coming online, but it's essentially the same problem.  

      People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

      by BlaiseP on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 10:21:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just did some light reading (none)
        And it seems as if lithium hydride slurries have a lot of promise, but as I mentioned above are still in the experimental phases of development.  Details such as the amount of energy lost and/or pollutants produced in the charging/recycling process were not evident (though I did only sample a small smattering of internet postings - I'm not in the industry).

        In addition, they have a drawback compared to traditional fuels in that the entire tank remains full all the time, adding average weight to the vehicle, and also require an additional tank for distilled water.  

        In the brief selection I reviewed I didn't see any comparisons between overall efficiency of the system to regular combustion or hybrid engines, or details such as maximum trip length based on an expected tank size (and how big that tank would be compared to standard gas tanks), important details which could affect whether a vehicle based on this technology would even be marketable.  This also suggests any vehicles based on that technology are quite some time down the road.

        Though I think hydrogen may eventually be a valuable replacement to oil, particularly in the vehicular realm, I think too much emphasis is being placed upon it currently at the expense of other, more viable and proven shorter-term solutions such as hybrid technology, especially ultra-efficient clean diesel burning hybrids.  Unfortunately, I also think this administration is using minor investment in this decade+ future technology as an excuse to avoid any real requirements for automakers to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency in the short term.

        •  Thanks for an intelligent post (none)
          In short, using the wonderful 27/9/3 rule courtesy of Fran Dean  ( kudos aplenty ), I'd phrase it:

          To energize America, we must cut over to cost-effective safe hydrogen.  Lithium slurry is 25% hydrogen by weight.  Won't explode, and runs existing vehicles and fuel cells.

          Reaction water is recaptured, that's not the issue.  The big hurdle is refueling:  until we've got a Bigger Picture, the industry won't support slurry tanks until the trucks run on it.  Here's my dumb idea, an Ansari X Prize for the first 500 horsepower hydrogen-fueled motor to pull 18,000 pounds of freight from coast to coast.

          I'm surprised and somewhat appalled by the reaction of some Kossacks to hydrogen fuel.  The old memes don't apply any more, until we've finally imported our last drop of Middle East petroleum, we will be drawn inexorably into the most terrible war the world has ever known, making the wars for gold and colonies pale by comparison.  The Petroleum Wars are coming, folks, on that you can bet your last dollar.  Conservation is bullshit, I repeat myself, you can't tell the junkie to just cut down to a once a week fix.  


          People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

          by BlaiseP on Tue Dec 13, 2005 at 03:44:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re: safe hydrogen (none)

            How do you combust the hydrogen? Fuel cells?

            Don't you need platinum catalysts for low temp fuel cells?

          •  Agreed that oil is a looming crisis (none)
            I guess the point I'm trying to make is not that hydrogen will never work, but that it is a long-term concept that has a lot of R&D left before it could feasibly do anything to affect oil dependency or the environment.  

            The platinum comment Bill White makes is very valid as well - there is nowhere near enough platinum in the world to make fuel cells for industrial car production, and alternative catalysts are still in development.

            In the meantime, seriously pushing fuel efficiencies in 100 or 200%, not by the 5 or 10% this administration is asking the key to reducing oil dependency.  This is doable using mainly existing technologies, and though it may add cost to the vehicle, tax credits and/or fuel savings (a la fuel tax) could easily counteract that cost.  

            Of course solar, wind, and possibly nuclear can take a lot of heat off the oil market as well, and should be developed as much as possible.

            One incredibly important aspect of any attempt to reduce world oil dependency is the need to help developing nations also reduce their oil demand.  It would be useless to cut US demand by 20% if China's leaps by 500%.  So as we develop more efficient infrastructures and cheaper alternative energy sources, we need to strongly encourage (coerce?) developing nations to adopt those options as well.

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