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LostInSpace

Hydrogen Fuel Cells a Reality

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I give it 2 months more before the oil companies assasins go and kill the scientists...

This is awesome, I think fuel-cells are a great step in the right direction for all sorts of things, including automobiles, generators, etc. Problem is the oil companies don't like them, so they keep finding ways to squash funding to such projects.

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Much of the transit system here in Vancouver, Canada, uses Ballard Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. It's been in place for about five years or more. I can't remember off the top of my head right now.

Here is the Ballard site.

http://www.ballard.com/

While alternative fuels is causing some stress in the oil industry, (my father has been running rigs for over fifty years so I hear a bit about it) gasoline not the only product produced. Many Oil and Gas companies are throwing a ton of money into alternative fuel research as well, in order to jump on the current wave of 'clean' energy sources and prevent themselves from going the way of the creatures that thier product is made from.

I think solar power is great for space based applications, but not as practical for earth based uses. Wind power is a good idea, as well as a number of idea that generate energy from the tides, but neither can be used for transportation unless we convert all our roads into giant tracks for slot cars.

With North America's obssesion with cars, the only logical choices I can see are Hydrogen or biofuels.

This is a U.S. department of energy site detailing alternative fuel options and where to refuel. It's kind of neat.

http://www.afdc.doe.gov/

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Ok, I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more. (Popeye the Sailor man I think)

Actually you just reminded me of this thread.

Ummm, Hydrogen BURNS. Alagasco (ALabama Gas Company) has Propane, Butane, Whatever-ane powered vehicles. Insteads of this weird ass fuel cell junk why not just put hydrogen in a tank and retro fit current vehicles? I know retro fitting would work. I drive a 1958 Towmotor forklift that has been converted to propane.

Why the heck do they feel the need to convert it to electricity to run electric motors?

Perhaps hydrogen would be less powerful than propane. Those Alagasco trucks I was talking about don't have a lot of power. Although my forklift is geared low enough it has no problems. And it uses hydraulics for lifting so no problem there either. Yes, yes, the engine drives the hydraulic pump but there is plenty of power for what it does.

Just a general rant directed at no one in this thread.

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Ah, good question.

Hydrogen is normally a gas at room temperature, and storage as a gas would require massive containers or extreme pressure. Storing it as a liquid would require super cold temperatures. Because hydrogen is also the simplest element, it can even leak through the strongest containers which can be problematic for storing it for long periods.

Here is a great page at Ballard explaining exactly how thier system works. There are many other systems of course, but I know this one works.

http://www.ballard.com/tD.asp?pgid=20&dbid=0

Argonne National Laboratory also found that cracking hydrogen molecules from natural gas and then compressing the gaseous hydrogen so it can fit into a tank on a vehicle actually emits larger quantities of two air pollutants than refining gasoline does: soot particles, which have been linked to respiratory disease, and nitrogen oxide, which helps form smog. Then there's the pollution created when the hydrogen is burned in an internal combustion engine. Based on thier projections of emission levels from a full-size pickup, they concluded that the truck would spew out about the same amount of nitrogen oxide and soot whether it's burning hydrogen or gasoline. Fuels cell technology uses drastically less hydrogen than an internal combustion engine would require as well.

I hope that helps explain why the trend is towards fuel cell technology.

P.S. I almost forgot. Hydrogen is currently extracted from Natural gas, which is why the Oil companies are not that worried.

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quote:

Originally posted by Cmdr. WeeGee:

I give it 2 months more before the oil companies assasins go and kill the scientists...


Who do you think funds these types of projects, it's usually the Oil companies. Let's face it, they're in the Energy Business and if there's money to be made in Energy, they will be the first in line to do so. It's like Depolymerization, the first Commercial project they did was funded jointly by the Oil Company's and that Billionair Investor, I think it was Buffet. The real problem with most Alternative Fuels is that they are too expensive. I don't know if you realize this, but back in the 50's the average cost of a gallon of gas was about half the average hour's pay. Today, it's 1/10th the average hour's pay, and that's with the government these days slapping on between 100% to 125% in additional taxes, (the real cost of gas without taxes is about 60 cents a gallon) plus cars these days burn about half the gas they used to, so in reality the average person spends 1/20th in Gas as they used to. The only one who has a lot to lose, if we go to alternatives is the government, since they have subsidy's on most of them.

Let's see if I was in a business where:

A. There is no price growth.

B. It's heavily taxed and regulated.

C. Pollutes everything.

D. Has limits on profitablity (Yes, the excess profit laws for the Oil business is still on the books)

I would be looking for an alternative too!

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quote:

Originally posted by Darkling:

Let's see if I was in a business where:

A. There is no price growth.

B. It's heavily taxed and regulated.

C. Pollutes everything.

D. Has limits on profitablity (Yes, the excess profit laws for the Oil business is still on the books)

I would be looking for an alternative too!

Don't forget oil is a finite source and given a few more decades poof it's gone.

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quote:

Originally posted by LostInSpace:

Don't forget oil is a finite source and given a few more decades poof it's gone.

Yeah, I forgot about that one.

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quote:

Hydrogen is normally a gas at room temperature, and storage as a gas would require massive containers or extreme pressure. Storing it as a liquid would require super cold temperatures.

Yeah I remember from chemistry there is a pressure temperature curve that states at which temperature/pressure what state an element will exist in. And some temperature/pressures they can exist in all three states at once.

quote:

Because hydrogen is also the simplest element, it can even leak through the strongest containers which can be problematic for storing it for long periods.

Ya got me there. Perhaps an internal coating of some sort. Think. It won't be stored for long periods of time in vehicles. I imagine the consumption would be about the same as gasoline, diesel, or propane. It WOULD be stored for long periods at the plant or fuel stations. So those places would have to be super tight.

Come to think of it hydrogen being the simplest element wouldn't it have more molecules per volume than a comparable amount of propane? So these as yet un named containers could p[ossibly made stong enough to hold hydrogen, be smaller in volume, yet deliver the same amount of power as anything out there.

Just thinking out loud. You can probably tell I have no chance of getting into M.I.T.

quote:

Argonne National Laboratory also found that cracking hydrogen molecules from natural gas and then compressing the gaseous hydrogen so it can fit into a tank on a vehicle actually emits larger quantities of two air pollutants than refining gasoline does:

So don't crack it off natural gas.

Yeah yeah the perfect world don't exist and I realize cracking hydrogen off of anything would require far more energy (thus cost) than it could ever deliver as a fuel. Something about the law of conservation of energy.

quote:

Then there's the pollution created when the hydrogen is burned in an internal combustion engine. Based on thier projections of emission levels from a full-size pickup, they concluded that the truck would spew out about the same amount of nitrogen oxide and soot whether it's burning hydrogen or gasoline.

Now I'm confused. How so? When Hydrogen burns when it comes into contact with oxygen and energy (heat) right? The single electron in hydrogen attaches to one of the |"spare" spots in oxygen's valence electrons. Another hydrogen comes in and takes up the other spare spot thus completing oxygen's spare spots and making water a stable mineral. Where is this soot coming from?

Are you saying that the other elements in air also react inside the engine and produce these pollutants? That I can beleive after thinking about it.

quote:

Who do you think funds these types of projects, it's usually the Oil companies. Let's face it, they're in the Energy Business and if there's money to be made in Energy, they will be the first in line to do so.

At a jab at big business it would be hilarious if someone else invented the thing and the oil companies went the way of buggy whip manufacturers. But that's not gonna happen because they already have the distribution network. While it would cost a great deal to convert gas stations into hydrogen stations I think it would cost a great deal more for someone new to build a distribution network from the ground up.

I still like Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future though.

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there's so much synthetic materials used in the world right now, i don't see how could oil businesses could go bankrupt.

Remember though that Hydro-Qu├®bec developped a motor-wheel for cars a few years ago and despite having a fully functional prototype modified Chrysler Intrepid and good results all slong, the project was suddenly canned and reports were saying "it was all wrong, would never work". If that doesn't ring a bell ...

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quote:

Yeah I remember from chemistry there is a pressure temperature curve that states at which temperature/pressure what state an element will exist in. And some temperature/pressures they can exist in all three states at once.

That is correct. What you are thinking of is a phase diagram.

quote:

Come to think of it hydrogen being the simplest element wouldn't it have more molecules per volume than a comparable amount of propane? So these as yet un named containers could p[ossibly made stong enough to hold hydrogen, be smaller in volume, yet deliver the same amount of power as anything out there.

Incorrect, unfortunately. This is due to something called a mole. A mole of any element is 6.02x10^23 atoms of that element. This relates to something called a Gram Atomic Mass. 1 mole of an element has the mass in grams of its atomic weight. For example, oxygem has an atomic mass of 16. This is because it has 8 protons and 8 neutrons, each weighing 1 AMU (Atomic Mass Unit). Therefore, 1 mole of oxygen weighs 16 grams. An atom of hydrogen only weighs 1 AMU, therefore, a mole of hydrogen weighs 1 gram. So, if you can only have 160 grams of a substance, you could only have 10 moles of oxygen, but 160 moles of hydrogen. So if you are constrained by weight, then hydrogen would be the superior substance in this example, however this does not apply to volume. 1 mole of any gaseous substance takes up 22.4L at STP (Standard Temperature and Pressure), whether its a mole of hydrogen or a mole propane. So, if you wanted to store that 160 grams of these gases at STP, you would need a container 16 times larger to store the hydrogen than you would the oxygen (because there are 16x as many moles). Now, I was drawing up to a point for all of this, but I forget what it is and its dinner time, so I'll wrap it up later.

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quote:

That is correct. What you are thinking of is a phase diagram.

Least I haven't forgotten everything.

quote:

Incorrect, unfortunately. This is due to something called a mole.

I had forgotten about moles. Drats. Oh gosh the calculations I used to do on moles.

quote:

Now, I was drawing up to a point for all of this, but I forget what it is and its dinner time, so I'll wrap it up later.

I do that too. Over explain junk so people understand everything which just tends to confuse them and I forget where I was going in the first place.

Probably that tanks would be huge like the other guy above said.

My poor laymen's brain knows that hydrogen burns; just trying to figure out why it won't work as well as fuel cells. I think I have from the links and stuff.

Then again the discussion about volume would apply to fuel cells as well. They would require x amount of hydrogen and oxygen as well. Both requiring tanks of some volume. Unless the fuel cell technology is so much more efficient then combustion. I can beleive that.

I really think fuel cell technology or any technology using hydrogen with the only by-product is water is pretty cool. I think Bio-Deisel is neat too but don't wanna go off topic.

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The actual burning of hydrogen would technically work, but it doesn't fix any pollutant issues. Any combustion reaction produces CO2 and H20.

EDIT: I was incorrect. The combustion of any hydrocarbon (a compound with carbon and hydrogen, such as propane, for example) releases CO2 and H2O. When hydrogen reacts with oxygen to create combustion, it should only produce water. So uh...hell if I know.

EDIT AGAIN: Now that I think about it, if it were only hydrogen in the combustion engine, just pure H2, then there would be nothing for it to react with, so nothing would happen. So there must be something else in the engine, correct? And this "something else" could produce the pollutant emissions.

[ 02-29-2004, 10:04 AM: Message edited by: DeepFreeze ]

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quote:

EDIT: I was incorrect. The combustion of any hydrocarbon (a compound with carbon and hydrogen, such as propane, for example) releases CO2 and H2O. When hydrogen reacts with oxygen to create combustion, it should only produce water. So uh...hell if I know.

See; that's what I was thinking.

quote:

EDIT AGAIN: Now that I think about it, if it were only hydrogen in the combustion engine, just pure H2, then there would be nothing for it to react with, so nothing would happen. So there must be something else in the engine, correct? And this "something else" could produce the pollutant emissions

Remeber I'm still fixated on retro fitting current vehicles. They use plain old air as the other half of the fuel source (oxygen for combustion). Air is not oxygen, it's a mixture of Nitrogen (~78%), oxygen (~21%), and other stuff (Argon .9%, carbon dioxide .03%, other exotics in the hundreths of a percent.)

So there is your "something else".

The oxygen would react with the hydroegn in combustion producing heat, energy, and water. But there is probably plenty of oxygen to also react with the nitrogen and produce those nitrous oxides Darklight was talking about.

Now if you were to have a separate tank containing containing only oxygen and fed both oxygen and hydrogen to the combustion engine in metered amounts then it's a different story.

Good discussion. I just hope something gets invented before the oil runs out and we start having wars over the stuff.

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I read an article once in the recent past about a fellow who had retrofitted his diesel powered Volkswagon car with a hydrogen seperator, which then fed the hydrogen into the combustion chamber. He chose a diesel engine because of the sturdiness required for the high combustion pressure of diesel fuel.

His only source for the hydrogen came from his garden hose.I have seen no more about his invention since then. I wonder why???rolleyes:

For the little bit I know about chemistry...

Isn't hydrogen not only combustible, but EXTREMELY! combustible? Therefore making it very dangerous to public safety to even consider retrofitting automobiles with hydrogen storage tanks?

Maybe I need to start studying Chemistry.

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quote:

Originally posted by Wolferz:

I read an article once in the recent past about a fellow who had retrofitted his diesel powered Volkswagon ... His only source for the hydrogen came from his garden hose.I have seen no more about his invention since then. I wonder why???rolleyes:

I heard that Diesel (the guy who invented the engine) built it to run on corn oil. Then he died mysteriously and was found floating face-down in a river somewhere.

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http://www.hydrogenus.com/hydrogen-basics.asp

Here is a great page. Some quotes:

"Hydrogen is highly flammable; it only takes a small amount of energy to ignite it and make it burn. It also has a wide flammability range, meaning it can burn when it makes up 4 to 74 percent of the air by volume. (DOE)"

"The combustion of hydrogen produces no carbon dioxide (CO2), particulate, or sulfur emissions. It can produce nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions under some conditions. (DOE)"

[What we were talking about above]

"The energy in one gallon of gasoline is roughly equivalent to 1 kg of Hydrogen. (S&TR)"

"Typically, a gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE) is 18-20% efficient (S&TR); hydrogen ICEs are about 25% efficient (Automotive Fleet); methanol fuel cells are about 38% efficient (AMI); and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like ToyotaÔÇÖs FCHV-4 are 60% efficientÔÇö3 times better than todayÔÇÖs gasoline fueled engines. (Toyota)"

"The amount of energy produced by hydrogen per unit weight of fuel is about 3 times the amount of energy contained in an equal weight of gasoline, and almost 7 times that of coal. (FSEC)"

[cool]

"Hydrogen energy density per volume is quite low at standard temperature and pressure. Volumetric energy density can be increased by storing the hydrogen under increased pressure or storing it at extremely low temperatures as a liquid. (DOE)"

[What Darklight was saying]

quote:

Isn't hydrogen not only combustible, but EXTREMELY! combustible?

Well you can blow yourself up if you don't discharge static at the gas pump as well. Hydrogen is flammable but I don't think it's volatile. Like the old movies where one jostle of the wagon would set off the TNT.

quote:

Therefore making it very dangerous to public safety to even consider retrofitting automobiles with hydrogen storage tanks?

Possibly. So strong tanks get designed and fail safe delivery systems. Either that or reasonably safe delivery systems and we go back to full service stations where the attendant fuels your car.

HAven't heard that the Deisel was designed to run off corn oil. The fact that will run on bio-deisel is interesting. And a little factoid I read somewhere said that the sap of a certain tree in South America was so strong it could run a deisel.

I have also heard several other conspiracy theories about the 100 MPG carb and why it never got introduced. Look up some stuff on Smokey Yunick. He did some intersting stuff with engines.

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