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Actually, hydrogen is safer than gas. I don't know if you've ever seen one of those test explosions they have in a vehicle, but gas is worse. Also, solid form hydrogen is under development, from the creator of the nickel metal hydride battery (those high powered hydrogen based batteries everyone loves to use in digital cameras).
I actually work for a place at school here that does fuel cell research. It's not exactly the same as what they're developing in cars, but similar. Hydrogen is safe as long as it's in pure form. I'm not exactly sure of the specifics, i can ask and find out. But my boss was saying something recently abt how to make hydrogen in a very safe form. But the reason the idea for fuel cells isn'ty selling is that fact. People don;t trust that hydrogen is very safe. after Hindenburg, noone trusts the gas.
If I remember right, it wasn't the hydrogen that was the problem with the Hindenberg, but the skin itself.
The current fuel cells I believe were concentrating on taking a hydrocarbon and separating the hydrogen from the carbon, which still leaves us dependent on fossil fuels, so where's the gain? Now if it was to be on a hydrogen fuel, the infrastructure still has to be developed, so it isn't a real viable option for now, but can be developed, but as stated, it is more about getting the public to believe it is safe.
I had read an article a while back about BMW having a pistion type motor running on hydrogen, but I haven't been able to find anything about it. If a conversion could be done that way, it would make it more easily attainable, but the supply still remains the problem. A fuel cell that could make hydrogen from water would be of more interest, it can be setup faster and easier than any other form of hydrogen other than the current motor fuels. I know a guy locally that has made such a device, but it is used to improve the efficiency of current motors by supplying more oxygen for a more complete burn.It does separate water to make hydrogen and oxygen. The oil companies had tried to buy the patent, but he wouldn't sell. He finally had found someone to help market it, but when I contacted them, I couldn't get the info I wanted. I know this device exists, as I have seen them personally, and he did try to sell it locally on his own, but it didn't take because people are too skeptical, and it was about $300-$500 to get one.
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I would definitely favor the solid form of hydrogen. Have you heard what pressures are being considered for the pressurized type of installation?
With gas prices here in SoCal going up by the second, the alternative-fuel engineers have even more impetus to ramp up their research.
Energy Conversion Devices is saying....
A lightweight fiber-wrapped vessel with an internal volume of 50 liters that stores 3 kg of hydrogen as a metal hydride at an operating pressure typically less than 200 psi;
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The fabric dope they used on the Hindenberg had the same basic ingredience as rocket fuel. The pics of the fire are the proof, hydrogen has an invisible flame.
It's ironic to me that many of the people against hydrogen have an acetylene cutting torch in their shop. Acetylene is a mixture of carbon and hydrogen (C2H2). Acetylene is unstable under pressure, so the tank it's stored in has a porous material and the C2H2 is mixed with liquid acetone which "tricks" it into thinking it's a solid by changing the composition. That's been around for years and welders don't think twice about sparking a torch.
One of the problems with pure hydrogen is that the molecules are so small, they will leach into the metal of the tank over time and change the composition. Put it under pressure and the gas will naturally want to "push" itself out. That, coupled with the instability under pressure problem, has meant that a hydrogen tank for a car or truck would have to be really large to store a small amount of hydrogen. So, logistically it just hasn't made sense.
However, if someone developed a porous material to store hydrogen in, so that it thought it was solid, it would solve the instability and leach problem. You could drive up to the filling station and store a large amount of hydrogen in a tank the same size as a gas tank and drive long distances.
That's marketable and marketing will be the key to getting production going. For example, take the DVD movie you might have watched last night. The technology to put a movie on a CD sized disk has been around for years, but the developers didn't have the cash to do it. They went to the movie production companies asking for cash. The movie guys thought it was a great idea, but not only did they want their movie on it, they wanted enough storage to put ALL the subtitles, verbal language translations and special features for the various countries they market to. The developers made their product marketable, but it took a while.
If someone buys a hyrogen powered truck, they don't want a 300 gal. tank filling the bed. If they fix the tank problem, it'll be the best thing since NiMH battery...
Back to that running on water thing, in 1935-36 I believe it was, Dad Garrett and his son Charles Garrett made a car to run on water using electrolysis and their patented "Water Carburetor." Here's the address of the article. www.keelynet.com/energy/garrett.htm
First of all the last I checked hydogen is not a renewable fuel source. (the major problem with fossil fuels) Second it is highly combustable much more so than gasoline. As for the actelyne I prefere to use propane on my cutting torch but either way I don't drive around all day with them in my car. Also think how big the crater would hve been in Oklahoma City if that truck had had a full tank of hydrogen sitting under it.
An electrolyzer is used to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. Doesn't matter if hydrogen is burned or used in a fuel cell, (which can can be described as close to rusting), it's by-product is water.
Hydrogen doesn't make much of a crater. It's much lighter than air and has a very short flash time. It tends to just float up very fast, as opposed to diesel and fertilizer. A solid storage form of hydrogen will be much safer than gasoline or propane when used in your vehicle.
Electrolyzer/fuel cells have the potential to be 70 to 90% efficient, with cycling of about 60%.
I've heard we have plenty of fossil fuels left, but it's going to price itself out of a market.
I have to admit, I always find the discussion of hydrogen as a "fuel" always strikes me as totally wrong. The definition of fuel doesn't apply to hydrogen.
Fuel: Something consumed to produce energy
If you have to consume some other fuel to make the fuel, I don't consider it to be fuel. It would be like running your car on D-Cell batteries (a *LOT* of them!) You have to get the energy INTO the batteries (or hydrogen).
Hydrogen is really just an energy storage medium, and a hydrogen car isn't very different from an electric trolley; they both are powered by something that isn't an energy resource we can just find--we have to get the energy out of something else (wind, sun, fossil fuel, nuclear, etc.) to create the energy storage/transmission medium that powers the vehicle.
Hydrogen may be a great, efficient, low-pollution energy storage medium, but it isn't an available energy resource and isn't really a fuel either.
Here's my problem with hydrogen. It does burn. The gaseous form will ignite and combust when in the presence of oxygen and a spark of some sort. Oxygen is in the air. If you break a gas tank, the gasoline goes on to the ground. It does not expand very much, sure some does vaporize. A pressurized hydrogen tank, on the other hand, when ruptured will rapidly release it's contents into the atmosphere, greatly increasing the chances of a big fire. Honestly, I'd rather have the gasoline.
As whimsy said, you cant just go outside and find a tank full of hydrogen. You have to make it. Electrolysis of water works, but you have to have another form of energy to do that. Every time you convert energy from one form to another, you lose some. So unless we devote a whole western state to solar power, we're going to be burning MORE fossil fuels and causing MORE pollution to get the same amount of energy we would get by simply burning the gasoline.
All fuels are energy storage mediums. Fossil fuels are nothing more than stored solar energy. All life on this planet gets it's energy from the sun - think about it. What does the sun run on? Hydrogen.
It's coming, and it's coming in my lifetime. I doubt they'll outlaw our trucks - I mean, just because they got rid of the hitching post on main street doesn't mean you can't have a horse. Just keep it off the freeway.
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