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View Diary: Fuel For Thought Vol. 1: Energy News, Talk, & Snark (21 comments)

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  •  Hydrogen is really problematic (4.00)
    ...Because it's not, strictly speaking, an energy source, but an energy medium. The distinction is necessary because it takes energy to produce hydrogen. For an energy source, such as oil, solar, nuclear, etc., you are basically harvesting energy from elsewhere. You cannot passively harvest meaningful amounts of hydrogen--you have to produce it actively.

    To put it in terms of vehicles, you pump oil out of the ground, refine it to make gasoline, and then distribute the gasoline to gas stations for consumption. In the case of hydrogen, you have to gain the energy from elsewhere, use the energy to liberate hydrogen from water or organic material, and then distribute the hydrogen for consumption.

    Where does the energy for liberating hydrogen come from? Your guess is good as mine.

    Mind you, there is some research into novel means of liberating hydrogen. Bacteria that can convert organic waste into hydrogen looks promising, for example. And that would shift the burden of producing the energy to the latent energy in the organic waste itself. But then you have the question of whether the process produces enough hydrogen to fuel the process itself--for instance, to haul the organic waste to the processing plant--with substantial excess for other uses. Also, if high-efficiency solar panels are developed, that could help to liberate hydrogen through electrolysis of water. But efficiency aside, solar has its problems as well--unlike oil pumps, they don't work 24-7, but are idle at night and during cloud cover.

    That is why I say there is no one ideal energy source, and why it seems necessary to constantly develop new sources and new technologies.

    Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

    by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:39:08 AM PST

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