Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Shut up about Hydrogen already

I'm all for renewable energy - but shut up about hydrogen already!

No matter what California does, no matter what the tech magazines say (and they don't say good things as it is), no matter how much money the government gives (not much), it will be a cold day in hell when everyone is driving Hydrogen-powered cars.

Besides that fact that it takes more energy to make it than you get out of it:
-Its hard to store
-It leaks easily and burns invisibly
-Transporting it is difficult. If you were to make it with wind turbines, you'd have to get it back to civilization by some means. Its hard to pipe it (you'd loose a huge amount to leaks), and hard to compress it
-Why make hydrogen via electrolysis when you could just use that energy to charge an electric car?
-Fuel cells only release water vapor, which seems harmless, but isn't - it affects many things, and can contribute to global warming. Granted, its not as bad as an internal combustion engine, but it hardly deserves being called a zero emissions vehicle.

Thats not to say that we'll be driving the same 'ol internal combustion engine-based car forever. As the price of oil goes up, the forces of supply and demand will ensure their demise. Already we're seeing hybrid cars - they aren't practical now, but in a few years the price of gas will make them practical. And eventually, the price of gas will make even a hybrid impractical - then we'll have to switch to something else (biodiesel, anyone? Or just plain old electric power?).

Hydrogen IS useful as an energy source - just not in a car. For it to work in a car, a hydrogen power plant needs to be light. You could use hydrogen to power your home instead, and the weight issues become moot. For example, put solar panels on your roof to power your house and when there is excess power, divert it to an electrolyze machine to make hydrogen (which could be stored for latter - when its cloudy, for example). I'm not saying hydrogen power is useless - its just useless in cars.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Shouldn't the New Year begin on the winter solstice? Wouldn't that make more sense?