Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic won him this check, the Raymond Orteig $25,000 prize for the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris.
The Ansari X Prize paid Burt Rutan 10 million dollars to build a gorgeous little spaceship.
DARPA paid Stanford University 2 million dollars for winning the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.
The Democrats could do worse than run as the Party of Science, considering the Republicans and their patently irrational opposition to progress, on so many fronts.
Forget the little battery-powered runaround cars, just for now. Forget the hybrids, and the expensive solid battery/hydrogen vehicles. Until we've got an pure hydrogen engine capable of generating 500 horsepower, and a meaningful fueling infrastructure, the conversion simply won't work. Hydrogen power will take over eventually, given enough pain and suffering, but until we've got the freight system running on hydrogen, at an acceptable price point, our economy will always be vulnerable to the geopolitical vagaries of petroleum.
I propose a 100 million dollar prize offered for the first 500 horsepower hydrogen motor to pull a standard loaded semi trailer from coast to coast. Put some real economic muscle into the proposition.
IMHO, ( donning Dr. Bunsen Burner disguise ) it's pretty straightforward. Pull into the fuel station, pump in fuel, add distilled water to it, hydrogen gas is released. The hydrogen is either fed to an internal combustion engine or to fuel cells. When you're out of fuel, pull into the gas station, pump out your old depleted fuel and fill up again. The fuel is recycled by heating it, hydrogen gas is added again, and the cycle completes.
Carbon nanotubes, however, are capable of storing up to 65% their own weight in hydrogen. That's a huge number, of all the hydrogen storage techniques, I would guess CNT tanks to be the most promising.
Even today, metal hydrides are not the prime choice. You can store slurried Lithium Hydride (LiH) that is nearly 25% hydrogen by weight dry, less in the slurry but still significantly more than can be stored in a metal hydride tank. The lithium slurry is reacted with water to give Lithium Hydroxide and Hydrogen. The Lithium Hydroxide can be stored and reprocessed into lithium hydride fairly easily cite
The down sides; lithium slurries are heavy. Reprocessing lithium requires heat. Furthermore, lithium slurry requires a pure carbon sink to extract the lithium impurities: think slag from refining. Coal fired plants eject huge amounts of particulate carbon, they seem to be candidate for pure carbon recapture.
The Pie in the Sky is carbon nanotubes. Downside: terribly expensive to make. But, as with all technology of this sort, economies of scale and improved manufacturing technology will bring the nanotube within the range of affordability.
These materials can adsorb significant amounts of hydrogen at room temperature, but research is still needed to better understand the way they work, to develop reproducible production techniques and to confirm, to a certain extent, contrasting experimental results. Carbon nanostructures have been tested at various operating conditions with pressures from a few bars up to some hundreds of bars, temperature ranging between 80 and 800 K, with percentage of hydrogen adsorption in weight varying from a few percent up to an incredible 60%.