Hydrogen power is clean! It is the future! Zero emissions! People have been telling me that hydrogen power is the wave of the future for quite some time now. Unfortunately few people understand even the basic laws of physics. I’ve been shitting in people’s birthday cakes for quite a while, and one of my favorite examples occurred while listening to a bunch of classmates extol the virtues of hydrogen power. It went a little like this:
Presenters: 10 minutes of key phrases like renewable, zero emissions, no pollution
Me: Sorry to interrupt, but given the fact that almost all commercial hydrogen is produced by running electricity through water to separate hydrogen from oxygen, and almost all of this electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, how is this going to reduce pollution? Further, given that you lose energy, usually to heat, when you convert fossil fuels to electricity, then to hydrogen, then back to electricity, then to mechanical power, wouldn’t this also be less efficient that directly converting the fossil fuels to mechanical power, like in say a traditional engine.
Ya they were pretty much fucked after that. Sorry. You see Hydrogen fuel cells are simply a form of battery. They store energy. They’re expensive to make, complex, and hydrogen in most forms if really fucking explosive. It’s a dumb idea.
So why are we all talking about hydrogen fuel cells? Well there are two reasons. First, because we don’t have any batteries. Batteries? Ya, we don’t have any. See lithium ion batteries are as expensive as 100% Cambodian breast milk. That’s why the Tesla Roadster is so expensive and has such a limited range. We could use way cheaper NiMH batteries, but the douches at Chevron bought most of the key patents to produce them from the chodes at GM. Not surprisingly Chevron wants to stop the production of electric cars so they won’t allow these batteries to be produced for EVs.
The next big reason we are all jumping on hydrogen is precisely the reason it’s a bad idea. The people who produce energy (ie. the people who give our politicians lots of money) know that hydrogen would be terribly inefficient and will ultimately fail. So as long as we’re all chasing this red herring around, dumping billions of tax dollars into hydrogen, we’re not making better alternatives. Further, because it’s inefficient, any success in producing hydrogen cars will only increase the demand for fossil fuels. Yay Chevron!
Ultimately unless the original energy source is renewable (solar) no amount of increased effeciency storing or converting that energy is going to make much of a difference in the long term. Further, I believe that any increases in energy effeciency will only lead to decreased energy costs, and therefore more money to spend on more energy. So saving the planet may only make it cheaper to destroy the planet.