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(68,644 posts)
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 01:32 PM Apr 2015

DU: Beware the Hydrogen Economy Lies being pushed by the Fossil Fuel industry.

It's very easy to fall for the lies:

"hydrogen is a clean energy source" (it's not a source and it's neither clean nor green)

From a single OP earlier today, the post contains a great deal of information and it needs to be vetted. I'm selecting two claims to debunk.

First: A graphic that reads "Sphera Hydrogen is Easy to Use". Follow the links to see THIS graphic explaining that it's a Natural Gas and Coal-to-Hydrogen Scheme.

Throw some solar and wind turbines in and Carbon Capture and Sequestration and all of a sudden it's "green" (washed).

Second: The 2013 model of Panasonic's household fuel cell (ENE FARM) is mentioned as if to demonstrate proof of this new clean technology. Well, the problem is that these fuel cells use natural gas as the energy source. They depend 100% on Fossil Fuels.

Household fuel cells have adopted city gas (methane, CH4) as fuel, and steam reforming
as the method to produce hydrogen, so that the existing city gas supply infrastructure can be used.

Since hydrogen is produced in the place where it is used, there is no need to transport or store hydrogen, which is hard to handle.

However, when hydrogen is extracted by steam reforming, carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) are produced, because it is a fossil resource containing carbon that is being reformed.


Look, I'm as interested in solutions as anyone, but I also spend most of my time studying the energy industry and I have never seen such greenwashing done as is being done right now by the conglomeration of interests struggling to keep a stranglehold on their piece of the energy pie.

Specifically, and with the growth in rooftop solar and battery electric vehicles, the old model of petrol filling stations and high utility bills is beginning to be displaced.

Do you know what would keep us beholden to the current Big Gas and Oil interests?

12 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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DU: Beware the Hydrogen Economy Lies being pushed by the Fossil Fuel industry. (Original Post) NYC_SKP Apr 2015 OP
Rec big time! edgineered Apr 2015 #1
If we could go back in time and stop Big Oil, we would. Now we have the chance.... NYC_SKP Apr 2015 #2
The gains through conservation and efficiency outweigh edgineered Apr 2015 #3
Oh dear. I always underestimate how little people understand about physics. NYC_SKP Apr 2015 #5
K&R 2naSalit Apr 2015 #4
Why can't Iceland use their geothermal to produce clean hydrogen and export bloomington-lib Apr 2015 #6
They could. Nothing is stopping them dumbcat Apr 2015 #7
Hydrogen leaks through EVERYTHING. jeff47 Apr 2015 #8
People have looked at it caraher Apr 2015 #9
They could but it woudn't be practical for a number of reasons: NYC_SKP Apr 2015 #10
First, hydrogen is not an energy source. longship Apr 2015 #11
K&R Time to put Hydrogen Fairy Tales to rest. n/t Binkie The Clown Apr 2015 #12


(68,644 posts)
2. If we could go back in time and stop Big Oil, we would. Now we have the chance....
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 02:00 PM
Apr 2015

We could have fought them years ago, insisted on keeping streetcars and public transportation and not bought into the promise of unlimited cheap energy.

But we didn't and right now I find myself surrounded by trucks and SUVs bigger than any time in the past and I mean any time.

It's a new era, energy efficient devices, dozens of electric vehicles to choose from, including plug-ins that run for pennies per mile and require very little maintenance.

BUT, we're hearing a lot about how Hydrogen is going to be this magnificent new fuel and change everything.

The whole mess began under George W. Bush and is funded by BP, Chevron, Shell, Airgas, and others, and supported by a number of automobile manufacturers.

Universities and government agencies are interested in the science and, thus, complicit in the program.

Their involvement, sadly, lends an air of legitimacy but this is nothing new.

BUT, we stand at a point in time where we CAN claim some independence from fossil fuels and I'll be damned if I'll let false claims pass as honest.


(2,101 posts)
3. The gains through conservation and efficiency outweigh
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 02:10 PM
Apr 2015

the ills that come with creating energy sources such as hydrogen. In an earlier thread today it was proposed to pump sea water to the mountain tops and drop it into the Salton Sea. Those who do not understand that systems like this are energy sinks never will understand.

In Bithlo, and Ocala, and in rural counties everywhere people have boasted their magnificent idea of hooking a generator up to an electric car, thus creating the electric they need to drive while driving. Not once has one of them seen the folly, and not once has one of them not thought less of me for trying to explain it.



(68,644 posts)
5. Oh dear. I always underestimate how little people understand about physics.
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 02:41 PM
Apr 2015

I've heard similar ideas: why not put little turbines on electric cars to generate electricity to recharge the batteries?

Lookout for another scheme, especially in California these days: Desalination.

Desal is sold as easy to do, just use solar power.

Well, in fact it won't go that way, they use natural gas and it's really expensive and it's a way to make water but also a way to charge bottled water prices for what comes out of your tap.

Nestle and other global companies have been buying up smaller municipal water utilities over the past several years.

Water is the next oil.


(946 posts)
6. Why can't Iceland use their geothermal to produce clean hydrogen and export
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 02:54 PM
Apr 2015

it throughout the world? Lots of water + lots of heat= zero carbon electricity to produce hydrogen. Even the ships transporting it could run on the fuel their transporting.


(26,549 posts)
8. Hydrogen leaks through EVERYTHING.
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 03:15 PM
Apr 2015

Hydrogen is so small that it leaks through every material that we could use to store it.

For example, the Space Shuttle's fuel tank was constantly topped off with new hydrogen until the Boosters ignited and it left the pad. Because if they did not top it off, they would have lost too much hydrogen for the main engines.

So if you're going to use hydrogen itself as the "energy source', you're going to be losing lots and lots and lots of it during transport and storage.

Your alternatives are to generate the hydrogen close to where it is consumed (breaking your Iceland model) or combine the hydrogen with some other atoms to get a molecule which is too big to leak.

The problems with the second one are it's really hard to be carbon neutral, and why burn only the hydrogen when you've got an entire hydrocarbon to burn?


(6,283 posts)
9. People have looked at it
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 03:16 PM
Apr 2015

It's not going to make much of a dent in the global picture. The UK are also interested in developing a HVDC transmission line simply to use the electricity (rather than throwing energy away in electrolysis and fuel cell energy transformation losses).

One estimate of the amount by which Iceland could expand geothermal is about a factor of 5-8 above what they currently generate.

"It's been estimated that by conventional use of geothermal, the available power in Iceland could be on the order of 20 to 30 terawatt-hours per year," says Ólafur Flóvez, general director of ÍSOR, or Iceland Geosurvey, the governmental institution that employs roughly 100 geologists to conduct research on geothermal resources. "Currently we're producing maybe four terawatt-hours per year."

That won't go very far in fueling our worldwide transportation demand.



(68,644 posts)
10. They could but it woudn't be practical for a number of reasons:
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 03:19 PM
Apr 2015

It's feasible but not practical to use renewable electricity to generate hydrogen gas.

The water and the air used for the process of electrolysis needs to be super pure, and that purification takes energy.

Then you have the losses in transforming the geothermal energy into electricity to use for the electrolysis process, which is itself not terribly efficient.

Then the hydrogen that's produced needs to be compressed for storage and transport, and that takes a lot of energy.

NOTE: 95% of the hydrogen generated in the US does NOT use electrolysis, it uses a process called "natural gas steam reforming":

Natural gas reforming is an advanced and mature production process that builds upon the existing natural gas pipeline delivery infrastructure. Today, 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made by natural gas reforming in large central plants. This is an important technology pathway for near-term hydrogen production.
How Does It Work?

Natural gas contains methane (CH4) that can be used to produce hydrogen with thermal processes, such as steam-methane reformation and partial oxidation.

Why Is This Pathway Being Considered?

Reforming low-cost natural gas to produce hydrogen can provide the commercial hydrogen production capacity needed to support a full fleet of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Over the long term, DOE expects that hydrogen production from natural gas will be augmented with production from renewable, nuclear, coal (with carbon capture and storage), and other low-carbon, domestic energy resources.

Greenhouse gas emissions are lower than gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicles. Producing hydrogen from natural gas does result in the emission of greenhouse gases, as shown in the chemical reactions above. When compared to internal combustion engine vehicles using gasoline, however, FCEVs using hydrogen produced from natural gas reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


In conclusion, there's a big push to shift to hydrogen from natural gas because it is (sort of) practical, but they make promises about one day using renewables. I call bullshit on that promise.

Once we're dependent upon hydrogen fuel stations and infrastructure there is no turning back.

We can be independent right now just using solar and wind and battery storage.


(40,416 posts)
11. First, hydrogen is not an energy source.
Sun Apr 5, 2015, 03:47 PM
Apr 2015

There are no natural sources for molecular hydrogen on Earth. NONE!! All hydrogen comes from (electro-)chemical processes. All of it.

Second, is a rather significant issue of the laws of thermodynamics, which I believe physicist Arthur Eddington once wrote about.

Aha! Here it is:

The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

If you want a hydrogen economy you are going to have to put more energy into generating the hydrogen than you will get out of burning it (in whatever way you do that).

Hydrogen could be useful for things like jet planes, rockets to outer space, etc. But a hydrogen economy must be built upon an already existing green energy economy or it is utterly useless.

Hydrogen is not an energy source on Earth because there is zero molecular hydrogen on Earth.

Physics 101!

R&K my friend.
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