A new twist on an old grade school science project

From Stanford University something familiar to most anyone who has taken science – electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Stanford scientists develop a water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

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Stanford scientists have developed a low-cost device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas. Gas bubbles are produced from electrodes made of inexpensive nickel and iron. Credit: Mark Shwartz/Stanford Precourt Institut for Energy

In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.

Now scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.

“Using nickel and iron, which are cheap materials, we were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It’s quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage.”

In addition to producing hydrogen, the novel water splitter could be used to make chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide, another important industrial chemical, according to Dai. He and his colleagues describe the new device in a study published in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The promise of hydrogen

Automakers have long considered the hydrogen fuel cell a promising alternative to the gasoline engine. Fuel cell technology is essentially water splitting in reverse. A fuel cell combines stored hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, which powers the car. The only byproduct is water – unlike gasoline combustion, which emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

Earlier this year, Hyundai began leasing fuel cell vehicles in Southern California. Toyota and Honda will begin selling fuel cell cars in 2015. Most of these vehicles will run on fuel manufactured at large industrial plants that produce hydrogen by combining very hot steam and natural gas, an energy-intensive process that releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. But scientists have yet to develop an affordable, active water splitter with catalysts capable of working at industrial scales.

“It’s been a constant pursuit for decades to make low-cost electrocatalysts with high activity and long durability,” Dai said. “When we found out that a nickel-based catalyst is as effective as platinum, it came as a complete surprise.”

Saving energy and money

The discovery was made by Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study. “Ming discovered a nickel-metal/nickel-oxide structure that turns out to be more active than pure nickel metal or pure nickel oxide alone,” Dai said. “This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don’t fully understand the science behind it.”

The nickel/nickel-oxide catalyst significantly lowers the voltage required to split water, which could eventually save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs, according to Gong. His next goal is to improve the durability of the device.

“The electrodes are fairly stable, but they do slowly decay over time,” he said. “The current device would probably run for days, but weeks or months would be preferable. That goal is achievable based on my most recent results.”

The researchers also plan to develop a water splitter than runs on electricity produced by solar energy.

“Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid,” said Dai. “We’re very glad that we were able to make a catalyst that’s very active and low cost. This shows that through nanoscale engineering of materials we can really make a difference in how we make fuels and consume energy.”

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221 thoughts on “A new twist on an old grade school science project

  1. “Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases.” – Soooooo, they get the energy from unicorn farts?

  2. Changing the catalysts should not change the energy usage. It still takes energy to produce the hydrogen that you then burn. Not sure how this could then save billions, but I guess it might save billions of dollars of money spent on platinum catalysts when you produce many billions of dollars worth of fuel over a long time???

  3. Huh. One of the first articles in a long time that doesn’t contain the term “model” anywhere.

    Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…and will it impact the torque? :)

    Jim

  4. This sounds believable to me.
    And it is useful.

    Imagine fitting a water splitter to a wind turbine and then oxidising the O2 when the electricity is required.
    This could be very big if it’s as economical as they say.

  5. I’ve long thought it was practical to use a photovoltaic panel as the source of electricity for electrolysis of water. But the problem is the explosive nature of hydrogen. Somehow, the storage of hydrogen at home needs to be dummy proofed to avoid a quintupling of house fires. I’m not sure that’s possible.

  6. Not even a twist on the old school experiment. Just the most inane piece of science publicity ever. And that really is saying something.

  7. So producing hydrogen from methane produces CO2?

    Well, what about producing metallic iron, metallic nickel, and that cute little AAA cell? I suppose they just get miracled into existence by good intentions?

  8. Ah, the never-say-die hydrogen proponents. Massive infrastructure required, which in a likelhood would be far from complete by the time a practical battery shows up and makes it all totally and hopelessly obsolete. I note that zero economic analysis has been carried out to estimate costs.
    As I recall, hydrogen in your car’s fuel tank must be continuously bled off. How much from a population of 250 million vehicles does that amount to going into the atmosphere and what would be the effect of all that hydrogen?

  9. jimmaine says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

    “Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…”
    ____________________
    MOPAR in a Chevy?

  10. When I first saw this I thought it was April Fools – Stanford doing experiments that they saw at Science World kid’s zone? But I guess the point is that they only need one battery, rather than two in series. I’m thinking it might be the fuel cell required to efficiently use the H2 that will drive the price, however.

  11. If you want to scale this up I could sell you a couple Kwatt to Mwatt DC drive which we use for converting 3 phase AC to DC. We have been doing this for plating and Al production for over a century.

  12. So is this good, bad, stupid etc ?

    Arent they telling us theres not enough water, how does that mesh with using large amounts to make hydrogen? And what about the fact that its rather explosive. Is every wind and solar farm going to house its own Hindenburgian hydrogen generation plant now?

  13. Col Mosby says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:05 am

    As I recall, hydrogen in your car’s fuel tank must be continuously bled off. How much from a population of 250 million vehicles does that amount to going into the atmosphere and what would be the effect of all that hydrogen?
    ___________________________
    Probably about the same effect as burning the natural gas/fossil fuel would have. You’d get X molecules of water.

  14. M Courtney says:
    ” Imagine fitting a water splitter to a wind turbine and then oxidising the O2 when the electricity is required. This could be very big if it’s as economical as they say.”
    They didn’t say what the economics were.
    A very complicated procedure that if far more efficiently done using batteries.
    Regardless of the storage capacities, wind power remains unreliable – no or low wind means
    no or insignificant power, which not only can outlast the energy contained in storage but presents the problem of how to restore energy storage levels when the wind reappears and also produce
    usable power. Can’t do both, which means the loss of wind power would extend well beyond the loss of wind resources.

  15. Hydrogen is a great fuel for upper stages of launch vehicles, and a synthesized-on-demand reagent used in oil refineries… and for everything else it sucks. Improving the efficiency of electrolysis is nice, but insignificant since almost all hydrogen is generated from natural gas via the water shift reaction.

  16. When I was in high school, I liked doing chemistry experiments in the basement (I later became a chemist). I liked making oxygen because of its reactive chemical properties (I really wanted to become an exothermic chemist, but it wasn’t to be – LOL). I always had problems with the choice of electrodes (platinum was the electrode of choice and I couldn’t afford it). If I used nails, you’d get hydrogen from one and ferric (or ferrous) hydroxide on the other one. Same with copper (copper hydroxide instead of oxygen). So the electrochemical reaction would erode one of the electrodes. My only success was by removing the graphite electrodes from flashlight batteries (D-cells) and heating them on the stove until they were red hot, to remove all the paste and other impurities that I could. These worked reasonably well.

  17. ***
    atthemurph says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

    First Law of Thermodynamics.
    ***

    Right. You’ll never get as much energy from burning the hydrogen as you used to split the water.

  18. the research claims two things

    ““This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It’s quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage.”

    1. the use of non-precious metals
    2. splitting at a low voltage

    Read the comments above. Note the snark. Note the dismissive tone of the commenters.
    Note that few address the real science in this piece.

    As for the practical applications?

    don’t under estimate engineers. many above do.

  19. “Most of these vehicles will run on fuel manufactured at large industrial plants that produce hydrogen by combining very hot steam and natural gas, an energy-intensive process that releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

    Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. But scientists have yet to develop an affordable, active water splitter with catalysts capable of working at industrial scales.”

    These two paragraphs from the article seem to contradict one another. The hot steam must come from somewhere? When the hydrogen is liberated, is not carbon dioxide a product? Isn’t there energy involved in compressing the hydrogen for transport and handling?

    So, on the one hand, the natural gas could be used directly using it’s stored energy in the most efficient way to power a vehicle. Or, the gas could be processed with superheated steam (using a great deal of energy and producing CO2) to produce hydrogen, the hydrogen would then be compressed (using a lot more energy), the hydrogen is then combined with oxygen to produce electricity (another loss in efficiency) to move the vehicle. And, this process is called “zero emission” and, somehow, a step forward?

    The natural gas is consumed either way. CO2 is produced either way. More natural gas is needed when electrolysis is in the mix and nothing is gained pollution-wise. Why is this so innovative?

  20. Alan Robertson says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

    jimmaine says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

    “Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…”
    ____________________
    MOPAR in a Chevy?
    ———————————————————————————————————
    No. 383 stroker. It’s a 350 bored with a 400 crank.

  21. Alan Robertson says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:06 am
    jimmaine says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
    “Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…”
    ____________________
    MOPAR in a Chevy?

    A 350 block with a 400 crank gives you a 383 Chevy. So it must not be the original engine in his 69 Camaro.

  22. @ Alan

    I’m pretty sure you get a 383 from “stroking” a Chevy 350. The MOPAR 383 was a big block beast tho!!

  23. So the only byproduct of hydrogen fuel cell cars is water, right?

    Well, has any of these HFC car advocates out there bothered to notice that it tends to get rather cold here in the upper Midwest and the snow belt states during the winter months? I mean, you know, like below freezing? And that the freezing temps tend to stay below freezing quite a bit until spring?

    The last time I checked, fresh water still had this nasty tendency to switch to a very slippery solid state at or below 32 degrees. Old Man Winter makes our roads slippery enough as it is during and in the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm around here. The last thing we need are HFC cars all other the place adding to the problem.

    I realize that many if not all HFC car pushers probably live in the warmer sunbelt states (like California) where they don’t need to worry about this sort of thing for the most part. I am seriously considering spending my winters in Florida myself someday. Many if not most snowbelt state residents though don’t have the luxury of doing that if they haven’t reached retirement age yet.

    Leave it greenie academia types to invent an alternative to the fossil fuel powered automobile that just isn’t all that practical for a good chunk of the country.

  24. Paul says: August 22, 2014 at 8:28 am “And the mechanical energy in the 10,000 PSI storage tanks.”

    Big yup!

  25. PS I posed the same questions as in my post above to the lead engineer at GM’s fuel cell research center here in upstate NY. They would trot out a fuel cell vehicle and show it at a lot of local car shows and cruise nights and tout the zero emission wonder of hydrogen fuel cells. I challenged the engineer at one of these shows with the efficiency calculations for each step of the process for both cases (direct use of fuel or the multi-step electrolysis route) and she threw up her hands and conceded that the hydrogen fuel-cell was not efficient, non-polluting, or practical. I asked why so much time and money was being spent on research and the reply that she gave was essentially that it “was government funded so, why not?” Bottom line, they shut down there operations last year after a couple of explosions at the fueling terminal and, presumably, because the government money ran out.

  26. Great news, hope it’s economical and cheaper than gasoline per km. Hydrogen power minus the investment cost of (non) fusion – sounds good.

    In the end the holy grail is room temp superconductors. If we could make those out of common industrial metals humanity will have very bright future ahead. If there was one thing I could devote a cool $trillion to it would be cracking that one. I would more than happily use all the ‘rescue’ funds wasted on the still criminal infested global zombie banks to crack that one open.

  27. I don’t understand the “new” in this article…..I have been running H on demand augmentation on my 1964 Chevy pickup for several years now. Roughly 3 + mph improvement. I use stainless steel coils attached to the ignition system so production of H (and O) is used as it is made. I immersed the coils in distiller water in a mounted “Bell” jar and the H is fed directly into the carb. After an adjustment the carb handled it well.
    Note: I understand I am using battery energy, and make no claims on economy or energy balance.
    I have run many tests with system off/on and am 97% confident that MPG is positively effected.

  28. beng says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

    “Right. You’ll never get as much energy from burning the hydrogen as you used to split the water.”

    What makes the process viable is not the amount of energy used but the cost of that energy.

  29. Steven Mosher says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:25 am

    don’t under estimate engineers. many above do.

    ==============

    I’ll snark if I want to.

    Pls note: platinum has been available for decades. Higher voltage has been available for decades. Yet none of the FG engineers could do anything with it. In other words, as far as practical applications is concerned, nothing has changed.

  30. Friends:

    The article is hype and tripe.

    Hydrogen is spontaneously explosive when released to air, it is difficult to store, and it corrodes or embrittles metals. It is extremely dangerous as a transport fuel: vehicles would be traveling bombs and almost every crash would provide an explosion.

    Importantly, it is not possible for electrolysis of water to provide hydrogen as cheaply as a water gas shift (WGS). This is because the fuel used to power the hydrolysis is more than the fuel used to produce the same amount of hydrogen from WGS.

    The water gas shift is a chemical reaction which reacts steam (i.e. boiled water; H2O) and carbon (C) of a fossil fuel to provide hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO)
    H2O + C → H2 + CO (ΔH = +131 kJ/mol)

    The heat to power the reaction is provided by partially burning some of the fossil fuel and by oxidising the CO.
    O2 + C → CO2 (ΔH = −393.5 kJ/mol) in a 2 stage process
    O2 + 2C → 2CO then O2 + 2CO → 2CO2

    When a hydrocarbon (e.g. natural gas methane, CH4) is water gas shifted then the hydrogen of the methane is released.

    Richard

  31. Regarding the safety or issues of new developmental technologies, there were uncountable accidents and deaths in the development of aircraft and their systems, and those accidents still occur. We still fly though because it has incrementally developed into the safest form of travel. The wowsers and naysayers would have given up too early.

  32. I think they used to run hydrogen powered buses in British Columbia. Everything was going along fine until the public realized that they cost about $50 a mile to run. Even the notorious BC greenies thought that saving the planet wasn’t worth $50 a mile. !

  33. Elemental hydrogen is capable of escaping from Earth. Large scale use of it as a “fuel” is not wise. Burning it in its combined state works just fine.

  34. For a change, I do think this is a step in the right direction. It is nowhere at commercial scale obviously. The energy and economical balances are yet a far cry away. Properly combined with other energy sources, such as nuclear and the dreaded fossil fuels where practical, these type of approaches can give us a lot more flexible energy dependancy.
    But if the oh-all-mighty politicians keep wasting resources in CAGW stuff then there will be little left for other opportunities to be developed within a life’s timeframe.

  35. “public realized that they cost about $50 a mile”

    Depends how many fare-paying passengers you have and whether the economy of scale is developed to drive the costs down. The battery change for a Gen 2 Prius is now about half the cost they originally were. What’s the mileage of a conventional bus with the weight of 50 people on it? Not [too] good I suspect. Economics of scale would probably close any such gap rather quickly. How many blew up? None I bet.

  36. Alan Robertson says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:06 am
    jimmaine says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
    “Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…”
    ____________________
    MOPAR in a Chevy?

    Or a ‘stroked’ GM 350 small block.

  37. Unmentionable says:August 22, 2014 at 8:58 am ” We still fly though because it has incrementally developed into the safest form of travel.”

    Well that depends on whether the denominator is utility or time. Time wise, commercial air travel has about 10 times more fatalities per million hours than car travel. It is just that we spend far more than that 10X amount of time in a car than a plane because you cannot fly to most of the places you need to go such as a grocery store.

  38. Sheesh, there’s some ignorance and dogma being demonstrated by comments here.

    If I remember my high school lessons correctly, the potential gap between H20 and H/O2 is 1.23V. The reality is that sticking 1.23V across electrodes in water doesn’t get you anywhere because you need to do extra work to get the reaction – this extra work is the overpotential, and this is where you get losses in the system. Platinum catalysts reduce this overpotential.

    What’s been achieved / claimed is a new catalyst based on dirt cheap and ready available non-precious materials that significantly reduces the “overpotential” needed to actually split the water molecule, to an extent that a 1.5V potential (from a common battery, for example) is sufficient to initiate the splitting.

    The pay-dirt here is an increase in the efficiency of electrolysis which makes H2 more commercially viable, perhaps along the lines of M Courtney’s comment that you can level out the supply of a windmill by producing H2 and then using a fuel cell to generate power at a predictable rate, at a stroke eliminating some of the major drawbacks of windmills. People smarter than I will know of better uses.

    There are many sound engineering reasons why high pressure H2 is poor for powering domestic transport, but that’s not the only way to use H2. If it can be produced efficiently and reliably then it becomes a fine contender for being included in the energy mix of the grid. Even though I don’t subscribe to the “C” of the CAGW theory, burning less black goop is still a good thing.

    These guys are doing real science, and appear to have come up with something useful, or at least very interesting. Kudos.

  39. ““Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, …” said Dai. ”

    Well, that’s absolutely NOT true. Hydrogen can be used as vehicle fuel, but it is not ideal, and there are lots of engineering problems to be solved before it can be used. First there is the problem of storing enough hydrogen on board for the vehicle to have practical range per refueling. I haven’t seen a real good solution to this problem yet. Then there is the problem that hydrogen is such a small molecule, that it leaks out of fittings that are only air tight.

    The “Hindenburg complex” is a non-problem however. A study years ago showed that the Hindenburg fire was caused by the coating on the fabric skin of the craft. Hydrogen is so light that it will dissipate rapidly in air, so that there is only a small area around a leak where the hydrogen concentration is within the flammability limit.

    Then, of course, there is the problem this thread addresses: producing the hydrogen in the first place. The solution that is my personal favorite was proposed a number of years ago by Chrysler Corp. Their system produced hydrogen on-board using a mixture of Borax (sodium borohydride) and water. It required a spent liquid tank that would have to be pumped out when refueling, but the system was quite ingenious.

  40. Unmentionable:

    Your post at August 22, 2014 at 9:09 am says

    “public realized that they cost about $50 a mile”

    Depends how many fare-paying passengers you have and whether the economy of scale is developed to drive the costs down. The battery change for a Gen 2 Prius is now about half the cost they originally were. What’s the mileage of a conventional bus with the weight of 50 people on it? Not to good I suspect. Economics of scale would probably close any such gap rather quickly. How many blew up? None I bet.

    Your post is a masterpiece of misdirection. The above article is about a supposedly novel method for electrolysis of water to provide hydrogen for use as a viable and economical fuel. Your post does not alter the fact that the proposed electrolysis does not provide hydrogen for use as a viable and economical fuel.

    Buses rarely crash so explosions were unlikely.
    Economies of scale cannot drive the costs down below their possible minimum.
    The minimum cost of hydrogen from electrolysis is higher than the cost of hydrogen from water gas shift because the electrolysis uses more fuel for the same amount of hydrogen.

    Richard

  41. So, the answer to peoples problems is simple to solve. A molten salt thorium nuclear power plant that uses its power to do nothing but produce hydrogen and another one that uses its power to do nothing but extract CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Then you take the hydrogen and the CO2 and make dimethyl ether. There you have a fuel that’s stable and wont cause massive explosions like the circa the Hindenburg. Dimethyl ether is easy to store in liquid form and can replace diesel fuel and aviation fuel.

    You can also use that same hydrogen and CO2 to make methanol. Another stable fuel that wont cause an explosion like the Hindenburg. Methanol is easy to store in liquid form and can directly replace gasoline.

    If you build several power plants that do nothing but dedicate the power they produce to make the components for these fuels, you could make enough fuel to replace all existing fuels with fuels that are 100% carbon neutral. No, you dont have to use natural gas to make the hydrogen with this system! You can just make it from water because you have more than enough power to get the job done.

    Whats the down side to this setup? Well you have to build several molten salt thorium nuclear power plants. Its ok though, molten salt thorium nuclear power is 100% safe and cant ever have a nuclear accident like we saw at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Oh, then there is the nuclear waste problem, again its ok, because the molten salt thorium reactor produces less than 1% of the amount of nuclear waste that a uranium reactor does. So there is much less waste. Sadly the waste is much more radioactive than the waste from a uranium power plant. The good news is that there is much less of it and its only radioactive for 250 years versus the 250,000 years for the waste from a uranium power plant.

    So tell me guys, where are the problems with this setup and please dont say its with the thorium. The US ran a molten salt thorium reactor for over 10 years before the funding was pulled and it was shut down. So we know it works!

  42. “Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles,”

    It is not. It has very low energy density, and storage requires large volumes, high pressures, ridiculously low temperatures, or adsorption onto heavy, metal-hydride complexes. Hydrogen sucks as a vehicle fuel.

    Even the Hindenburg, which had to carry 7 million cubic feet of the stuff around everywhere it went, did not use hydrogen as fuel. It ran on diesel, even though doing so meant that and it had to vent about 1 million cubic feet of hydrogen during a typical voyage to compensate for the weight lost to diesel consumption. They were literally blowing off the “ideal fuel for powering vehicles” because it sucked so bad as a vehicle fuel.

  43. ““Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid,” said Dai. ”

    Uh, doesn’t this sort of impeach anything else he might say in the article?

  44. The main problem for using hydrogen as a fuel source for internal combustion engines (ICE) is how it is stored in the vehicle, not how it is produced. Electrolysis of water by batteries in a vehicle could not produce enough hydrogen to support the running of an ICE using water as the hydrogen storage medium because the ICE will burn the hydrogen faster than it can be produced. Some other storage medium for hydrogen is therefore a necessity in order to meet the demand of the ICE.

    There is absolutely nothing new or revolutionary in this study. The amount of energy required to produce hydrogen by splitting water molecules is the same no matter the source of energy. If you want to produce ‘Green’ hydrogen without burning natural gas and producing CO2, use the energy from a nuclear power plant instead. I should also point out that the combustion of hydrogen produces water vapour, not just water, which is a more potent GHG than CO2. Also, using air, instead of pure oxygen, for combustion, occurs at a high enough temperature that it produces nitrous oxides and other ‘pollutants’, even disregarding the lubricants in the engine which are also burned.

    The comparison to fuel cells is a red herring. Fuel cells produce electricity by oxidizing a fuel using oxygen or some other oxidizing agent through a chemical reaction, not the production of hydrogen for use in an ICE – vehicles operating using fuel cells use an electric motor to provide propulsion.

    It really pains me to see such lazy research being conducted and promoted by universities in order to pursue the ‘warmist’ agenda. They are retracing ground which has already been extensively covered in the past 30-50 years by companies which have recognized the commercial value of the technology, some of which has already been patented.

  45. That’s handy. I have just developed a AAA battery tree which produces completely organic batteries.

  46. From Stephen Mosher’s post:
    “Read the comments above. Note the snark. Note the dismissive tone of the commenters.
    Note that few address the real science in this piece.”

    Generating hydrogen by electrolysis is a means of converting electricity into a potential fuel (hydrogen). If that hydrogen can be safely & efficiently transported, stored and converted into an useable form of energy, it could be a critical component of an energy storage technique. The method described in the article, if it can be scaled, does indeed represent a more econonomical electrolysis alternative to hydrogen generation. That is a factual summary of the article.

    However, the implication of the article, as with many others of its ilk, is that practical “green energy” technology is just around the corner, as evidenced by the article’s quote from Standford chemistry professor Dai: “Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid.”.

    So here we have a quote from a Stanford scientist, especially as used in the context of the article, to make it sound like the widespread use of hydrogen as fuel is imminent. Professor Dai’s statement is arguable. As used in the article, it is an important element of what is really a propaganda piece.

    I too hope for “an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid”, but propaganda won’t get us there.

  47. “Hydrogen is spontaneously explosive when released to air, it is difficult to store, and it corrodes or embrittles metals. It is extremely dangerous as a transport fuel: vehicles would be traveling bombs and almost every crash would provide an explosion.”

    Claim: almost every crash would provide an explosion.

    Almost every crash? really? well, no.

    Still work to do. don’t underestimate engineers.. and DAFS before you make wild claims.
    crashes can cause leaks, sometimes ignition, sometimes fires. explosions?

    http://www.sae.org/events/gim/presentations/2012/hennesseynhtsa.pdf

  48. “Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles…”

    Hydrogen exists as a gas at room temperature/pressure, Gasses are far from ideal for powering automobiles. Liquids are way more practical.

  49. “The “Hindenburg complex” is a non-problem however. A study years ago showed that the Hindenburg fire was caused by the coating on the fabric skin of the craft. Hydrogen is so light that it will dissipate rapidly in air, so that there is only a small area around a leak where the hydrogen concentration is within the flammability limit.”

    Yup. thanks for being an engineer.

  50. For once, I agree with Steven Mosher. Doing it with cheap material and at low voltage is a breakthrough. Whether it ever comes to anything is another matter, I accept that, but that does not mean that it should not be acknowledged that the guys who did this just might have achieved something significant.

  51. “I’ll snark if I want to.

    Pls note: platinum has been available for decades. Higher voltage has been available for decades. Yet none of the FG engineers could do anything with it. In other words, as far as practical applications is concerned, nothing has changed.”
    ##########

    the comment about snark is an inside joke. you see I once got a mail complaining about a snarky comment. I found that odd since snark was so prevalent here.

    I’d suggest an open mind ( that is what skepticism is ) WRT practical applications.

  52. Matt says:
    August 22, 2014 at 7:54 am

    “Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases.” – Soooooo, they get the energy from unicorn farts?
    ==============================================

    This would be a good use for wind / solar power. There is also nuclear power. So no, no unicorn farts here.

  53. Gamecock’s Law: “As an online discussion of energy grows longer, the probability of thorium fanboys showing up approaches 1.”

    ==========

    Baronstone says:
    August 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    So, the answer to peoples problems is simple to solve. A molten salt thorium nuclear power plant that uses its power to do nothing but produce hydrogen and another one that uses its power to do nothing but extract CO2 from the atmosphere.

    . . . .

    So tell me guys, where are the problems with this setup and please dont say its with the thorium. The US ran a molten salt thorium reactor for over 10 years before the funding was pulled and it was shut down. So we know it works!

    ==============

    “The US ran a molten salt thorium reactor for over 10 years . . . .”

    This is false. If you are going to be a fanboy, at least learn the facts.

  54. The link to Stanford University doesn’t lead anywhere immediately useful.
    The Stanford report is here:

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/splitter-clean-fuel-082014.html

    The nature abstract here:

    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140822/ncomms5695/full/ncomms5695.html

    I can’t actually see any figures quoting the yield (efficiency). Need to know.

    Precious metals (platinum, palladium) are already used in catalytic converters, so I don’t see why cost and availabilty should matter any more or less in fuel cells. Nickel is cheaper but also has some toxicity issues for those that enjoy being frightened by chemicals.

  55. What they are claiming is that the hydrogen overvoltage (voltage required for “splitting” hydrogen from the water molecule at the cathode) of Ni metal / Ni oxide is closer to that of platinum which is considerably lower than commercially viable metals for large scale industrial processes like lead.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/84265

    It’s a potential efficiency improvement but as others have pointed out there’s no magic energy gain, you’ll always use more energy producing the hydrogen than you can get from burning (oxidizing) it.

    As far as the sodium hypochlorite production goes these kind of units have been around for a long time, perhaps a small efficiency increase could be gleaned from their research, eventually.

    http://www.miox.com/products/on-site-generation

  56. How great is this one? Every conversion of energy has a net loss. I.E., Converting A to B results in B having less energy (potential) that what A had. Thus, convert energy to a AAA battery and then convert the AAA battery energy to H2 and O2 then convert H2 to O2 to energy that is converted to mechanical energy. It’s like Zeno’s paradox one supposes since you’ll never run out of energy.

  57. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Unmentionable:
    Your post at August 22, 2014 at 9:09 am says
    “public realized that they cost about $50 a mile”

    Depends how many fare-paying passengers you have and whether the economy of scale is developed to drive the costs down. The battery change for a Gen 2 Prius is now about half the cost they originally were. What’s the mileage of a conventional bus with the weight of 50 people on it? Not to good I suspect. Economics of scale would probably close any such gap rather quickly. How many blew up? None I bet.

    Your post is a masterpiece of misdirection. The above article is about a supposedly novel method for electrolysis of water to provide hydrogen for use as a viable and economical fuel. Your post does not alter the fact that the proposed electrolysis does not provide hydrogen for use as a viable and economical fuel.

    Misdirection? Ridiculous twaddle. It was a response directed at the specific criticism of the ECONOMICS of the application of a nascent fuel technology to mass transportation. You didn’t like the answer, I get that, but nothing you said alters the validity of the points made.

    I’m glad you acknowledged your a lack of data to support the assertion that every accident will lead to an explosion, which renders it baseless twaddle to. Apparently you suppose this vehicle model was registered to operate on the road with no national standards testing to ascertain its fitness for the road and public health and safety? The fact that it was used for fair-paying passengers should be a bit of a hint that extensive testing, and then some, was performed on such a vehicle, and that it passed its certification standards testing.

    If you want to sustain some claim it was unsafe then the onus is on you to demonstrate the national and local authorities acted improperly and endangered public safety. A cheap shot at the technology doesn’t cut it, when it was the economics being discussed.

    Feel as ‘masterfully misdirected’ as you like, your protests of that sounds ostentatious and silly to me. I responded separately to the article elsewhere, above, and I’m very glad to see the novel chemistry and unknown science which it represents. The point of a discussion is to hear the discussion in its width and depth, not to try and pretend valid points don’t count.

    You’re also supposed to impart knowledge, or constructive insight, which you didn’t.

  58. “The only byproduct is water – unlike gasoline combustion, which emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”
    ####

    Damn near spewed my coffee when I read this line!

  59. ‘A fuel cell combines stored hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, which powers the car. The only byproduct is water – unlike gasoline combustion, which emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.’

    Whaaat?? “Only byproduct is water – unlike … carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.” So water vapor’s not a greenhouse gas? Really? Wow, has this science gotten perverse. I guess it’s considered difficult (as well it should be) to tell the general public that water is a pollutant so they haven’t gotten quite that far yet. But, water vapor is, undeniably, the major – by massive orders of magnitude – greenhouse gas. However, they can demonize carbon dioxide, which is every bit as essential for life on this planet as water, simply because it has a chemical name.

  60. I’ve long thought it would make sense if wind turbines and PV installations spent their time making H2 (and O2) and shove it in a pipeline. The gases are easier to store than electricity, so they could just sit there and do their thing and not worry about destabilizing the grid. Heck, you could use the H2 in various peak load plants.

    I assume one reason it’s not done is that the eficiency of electrolysis must be low. Does anyone have some numbers handy? The press release doesn’t (except for battery voltages, but that’s not a measure of efficiency).

    A few years ago the MIT press machine make a big noise about their breaktrhrough in electrolysis and presented it as making PV panels practical. The spinoff compny for that is still around, but is trying to branch off into other areas.

  61. It was obviously a PR mistake to choose the AAA battery as a power source as it has provided a nuisance distraction for neoliths present. Obviously the AAA battery was meant only to be illustrative of the low energy needed for the process.

    The second mistake is to present this as a potential perpetual motion machine that needs only a drop of water, a splitter, and a hydrogen engine driving an electric generator that will run forever.

  62. ““Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid,” said Dai.”

    That may be true in the sense that there is a lot of energy in Hydrogen and it is relatively easy to use Hydrogen in existing internal combustion engine designs, but I have a bit of experience using Hydrogen in regular piston engines and the metals exposed to that Hydrogen become very brittle over time. As far as I know this problem has not yet been solved.

  63. Hi Richard Courtney ….we had good discussions on Climate Skeptics.
    I have a question. I am totally convinced my mileage has improved 3+ over several dozen tests including draining my tank and using precisely measured fuel quantities. I run the same flat route until I run out. I have tried to remove all variables including speed. I am assuming my balanced power loss involves my battery and it’s lifespan. Am I wrong about where the increased MPG is balanced with energy cost. My system is not explosive since there I no storage. Doug Danhoff
    PS. Are you still enjoying your boat?

  64. Electrolysis is now a new discovery in the age of climatocracy. lol.
    A stainless steel nail and am iron nail….how innovative.

  65. if this could be scaled up enough it might be one solution to the storage problem associated with connection of wind and solar power to the grid. Sounds better than molten metal batteries the size of Kansas anyway. I’m thinking however that we’d want to keep the stored H far away from any centers of population and certainly out of every house and garage. But then what do I know? I was a mere computer engineer after all……..

  66. We are told repeatedly by ‘experts’ in various disciplines here on WUWT, that f the mechanism for ‘an observed effect’ is not known (e.g. changes in climate due to Solar variation ) then the ‘that observed effect’ is imaginary. Therefore, as this paper states: “This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don’t fully understand the science behind it.”, this electrolysis is obviously imaginary.

    If hydrogen electrocatalysis is accepted as actually happening then perhaps the experts repeatedly demanding a precise ‘mechanism for an observed effect’ will cease to do so in future.

  67. Well Thermo King, a maker of refrigerated trailers and refer units came out with a water splitter for use on diesel tractors about 5 years ago. Water from the exhaust cycled through a splitter and the hydrogen injected into the fuel system. My company tested five units and one was on my truck. Fuel energy produced did not compensate for the weight of the unit. I notice that Thermo King no longer even lists it at the website as they did before.

  68. littlepeaks says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

    My only success was by removing the graphite electrodes from flashlight batteries (D-cells) and heating them on the stove until they were red hot, to remove all the paste and other impurities that I could. These worked reasonably well.

    Me too, except I didn’t bother to clean the electrodes and never produced enough gas to be worthwhile (this was probably junior high). I tried using salt to make the water more conductive. It didn’t occur to me it would make chlorine, but yeah, if you need some Cl, that works.

    [Further off topic] I bought some lye (NaOH) to clean out a clogged drain. The warning label said not to use in aluminum containers. A little thought and a container made out of Al foil, then upgraded to a soda bottle with strips of foil produced enough gas to prove by ignition that it was H2. It doesn’t even consume the NaOH!

  69. A 350 block with a 400 crank gives you a 383 Chevy
    350 + 400 = 383?
    What is this, climate science math?

  70. I rated the post as poor. PR fluff getting in the way of real science. And it is a perfect example of Heinlein’s “artful ways of lying, type 1.”

    Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases.
    While true, splitting water takes large amounts of energy that must come from some source.

    But scientists have yet to develop an affordable, active water splitter with catalysts capable of working at industrial scales.
    What is an “active water splitter”?

    “It’s been a constant pursuit for decades to make low-cost electrocatalysts with high activity and long durability,”
    No doubt.

    “When we found out that a nickel-based catalyst is as effective as platinum, it came as a complete surprise.”
    ….“Ming discovered a nickel-metal/nickel-oxide structure that turns out to be more active than pure nickel metal or pure nickel oxide alone,” Dai said. “This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don’t fully understand the science behind it.”

    “Complete surprise”?? Nickel, Palladium, Platinum are in the same column of the Periodic Table, Various combinations of Nickel have been tried as electrodes for a century. What might be surprising is that they have happened upon a nickel compound crystal structure that works to give a powerful surface configuration for electrolysis.

    The nickel/nickel-oxide catalyst significantly lowers the voltage required to split water, which could eventually save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs,
    A pity they don’t give some data on how much the voltage is lowered, or how much efficiency was improved.

    “The electrodes are fairly stable, but they do slowly decay [dissolve?] over time,” he said. “The current device would probably run for days, but weeks or months would be preferable. That goal is achievable based on my most recent results.”
    Good luck to you. But somehow I feel that many other researchers have said the same thing before.

    BTW If they use the iron anode, this anode dissolves which decreases the voltage required for production of hydrogen. They cannot produce oxygen at the anode, because unprotected iron always reduces it under formation of iron2+ ions. This reaction is strongly exothermic and it decreases the voltage required for electrochemical reaction to nearly zero. Maybe the short circuit would be enough for to produce the hydrogen at cathode, because in acidic solutions the iron spontaneously dissolves under production of hydrogen. The didn’t found a miracle material for cathode, they just reinvented the “”sacrificial anode”” principle.
    – Source: phys.org comment

    So one wonders what is happening to the unmentioned aqueous solution over the life the anode. Are they making a water pollution problem to solve an air pollution problem?

  71. OMG, I have to agree with Steve Mosher’s comments above. Well reasoned critique is fine, snark is evidence of a character flaw. Who knows what this could lead to?

    Fossil fuel? All signs point to abiotic.

    Reminds me of the carbon arc from Boy Mechanic I made over fifty years ago in the basement. My parents never knew about it. It called for two carbon cores from C cell batteries, a jar with salt water and electrodes. Very bright and hot.

  72. Equipment is a NRE, so making the system with even vastly cheaper material, does little to impact business viability. It it is impractical with platinum, it will be impractical with nickle.

  73. Assuming that the production of hydrogen becomes cost effective and safe, why not run it thru a secondary catalytic reaction and combine with carbon to form long chain hydrocarbons. Something that is safe to transport and has high energy density.

  74. CD (@CD153) says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:34 am

    So the only byproduct of hydrogen fuel cell cars is water, right?

    The last time I checked, fresh water still had this nasty tendency to switch to a very slippery solid state at or below 32 degrees. Old Man Winter makes our roads slippery enough as it is during and in the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm around here. The last thing we need are HFC cars all other the place adding to the problem.

    The fuel cell systems I’m familiar with run at a pretty high temperature, so they’ll produce water vapor. I don’t know about your state, but here in New Hampshire we don’t worry much about water vapor from IC engines. Perhaps it will be a problem with ice fog in Alaska or Siberia.

    Hakkapeliitta snow tires help in our nor’easters, try them out.

  75. Two things… pro and con.

    First: The amount of energy needed to effectively split water molecules has to be a function of the material used for the electrodes… but it isn’t just the electrode’s material composition (elements used in the alloy) that dictates the reaction rates but also its surface morphology (characteristics such as texture, roughness, etc.). Thus, comparing this new technology to platinum is an apples and oranges comparison. As discussed in the article, these new electrodes are based upon nanotechnology, which results in very large surface areas from small electrodes. This enables large contact surfaces of the water with the electrode, which has to have an effect on efficiency and the amount of voltage/current required to dissociate water molecules.

    Second: Universities these days are terrific at advertising the latest and greatest technology development efforts… and most of them are never heard of again. I wish I had a dollar for every battery advance that promised to revolutionize electrical devices/applications. In addition, nanotechnology research is often hyped to the hilt… gotta keep the research revenue flowing.

  76. Unmentionable:

    Your rant at August 22, 2014 at 10:02 am is too long for me to quote all of it so I provide this link to it so people can see what I am answering. And my quotations from it in this post are the totality of your post I am answering.

    Your post was – as I explained – misdirection. But you say

    Misdirection? Ridiculous twaddle. It was a response directed at the specific criticism of the ECONOMICS of the application of a nascent fuel technology to mass transportation. You didn’t like the answer, I get that, but nothing you said alters the validity of the points made.

    I gave a clear rebuttal of your arm-waving about “economies of scale” which were misdirection and twaddle. Your economic “points” were plain wrong for the reasons I stated; “i.e.

    Economies of scale cannot drive the costs down below their possible minimum.
    The minimum cost of hydrogen from electrolysis is higher than the cost of hydrogen from water gas shift because the electrolysis uses more fuel for the same amount of hydrogen.

    I notice that your rant made no mention of my reasons I here quote.

    Your rant follows that misrepresentation with this inanity

    I’m glad you acknowledged your a lack of data to support the assertion that every accident will lead to an explosion, which renders it baseless twaddle to. Apparently you suppose this vehicle model was registered to operate on the road with no national standards testing to ascertain its fitness for the road and public health and safety? The fact that it was used for fair-paying passengers should be a bit of a hint that extensive testing, and then some, was performed on such a vehicle, and that it passed its certification standards testing.

    But I said nothing about any of that. On that matter I said in total

    Buses rarely crash so explosions were unlikely.

    Do you really want to dispute that?
    And your rant went on with more accusatory nonsense saying

    If you want to sustain some claim it was unsafe then the onus is on you to demonstrate the national and local authorities acted improperly and endangered public safety. A cheap shot at the technology doesn’t cut it, when it was the economics being discussed.

    There is no “onus” on me to justify something I did not say but you have imagined.

    And you conclude your rant saying

    Feel as ‘masterfully misdirected’ as you like, your protests of that sounds ostentatious and silly to me. I responded separately to the article elsewhere, above, and I’m very glad to see the novel chemistry and unknown science which it represents. The point of a discussion is to hear the discussion in its width and depth, not to try and pretend valid points don’t count.

    You’re also supposed to impart knowledge, or constructive insight, which you didn’t.

    I did not suggest that you did anything “masterfully”. That is another of your imaginings.

    The article only reports a novel cheaper catalyst which is trivially important as is explained by Gamecock at August 22, 2014 at 8:56 am where he writers

    platinum has been available for decades. Higher voltage has been available for decades. Yet none of the FG engineers could do anything with it. In other words, as far as practical applications is concerned, nothing has changed.

    And that point was supported by michael hart at August 22, 2014 at 9:45 am who wrote

    Precious metals (platinum, palladium) are already used in catalytic converters, so I don’t see why cost and availabilty should matter any more or less in fuel cells. Nickel is cheaper but also has some toxicity issues for those that enjoy being frightened by chemicals..

    I did not “pretend valid points don’t count”: I pointed out that your points were invalid because they are wrong.

    As for “knowledge, or constructive insight”, I was the only person to explain water gas shift and why it makes your economic “points” invalid. That was in my earlier post which is at August 22, 2014 at 8:56 am.

    Richard

  77. I did this for fun in my teens back in the sixties. I used graphite electrodes and three AAA cells in series. It worked just dandy. So after fifty years of dedicated work by our best physicists we have managed to eliminate two AAA cells.
    However this unfortunately does not affect the amount of energy needed, nor does it eliminate any of the many difficult practical problems of storing and handling hydrogen.

  78. What a state-of-the-art invention – not.
    Take any penlight battery, drop it into a glass of tap water and hydrogen and oxygen will bubble from the cathode and anode.

  79. “I don’t know about your state, but here in New Hampshire we don’t worry much about water vapor from IC engines. Perhaps it will be a problem with ice fog in Alaska or Siberia.”

    Having grown up in Alaska the problem is idling at stop lights causes the water vapor from the exhaust to freeze on the road and build up at very cold ambient temps. Makes stopping for a red light iffy.

  80. latecommer2014:

    At August 22, 2014 at 10:21 am you ask me

    Hi Richard Courtney ….we had good discussions on Climate Skeptics.
    I have a question. I am totally convinced my mileage has improved 3+ over several dozen tests including draining my tank and using precisely measured fuel quantities. I run the same flat route until I run out. I have tried to remove all variables including speed. I am assuming my balanced power loss involves my battery and it’s lifespan. Am I wrong about where the increased MPG is balanced with energy cost. My system is not explosive since there I no storage. Doug Danhoff
    PS. Are you still enjoying your boat?

    Doug, it is good to hear from you.

    I finished the (sadly unsuccessful) project and moved to a home on shore over a decade ago.

    If that is your experience of achieved MPG and cost then I assume it is right. But I fail to see how your experience relates to the above article. Importantly, the article is about electrolysis providing hydrogen for storage and later use but, as you say, your system has no hydrogen storage.

    Richard

  81. Sal Minella @8:26 asks:

    Isn’t there energy involved in compressing the hydrogen for transport and handling?

    From Patrick Bedard’s classic column:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/the-case-for-nuke-cars-its-called-hydrogen

    In a perfect world, the fuel cell in our car would produce 33.4 kilowatt-hours of useful energy from each kilogram of hydrogen, and 6.0 kilowatt-hours would go to water vapor, giving you back your net investment of 39.4 kilowatt-hours at the electrolysis plant. But the world is not perfect, and the best fuel cells are only about 70 percent efficient. So the energy yield is 23.3 kilowatt-hours.

    One more loss must be reckoned with. Hydrogen is a gas. It’s lighter than air. Remember, it was the stuffing for the airship Hindenburg. Hydrogen gas (at atmospheric pressure and room temperature) containing the same energy as a gallon of gasoline takes up 3107 gallons of space. To make a useful auto fuel, Anthrop says it must be compressed to at least 4000 psi (Honda uses 5000 psi in the FCX; GM is trying for 10,000). The energy required to do that further trims the yield to 17.4 kilowatt-hours. Pressures higher than 4000 would increase miles available from each fill but cost more energy for compression. Liquefying hydrogen, which BMW advocates, costs upward of 40 percent of hydrogen’s energy content.

  82. Speaking of fuel cells, here’s a new one that runs on natural gas (hit page-down five times once there) (story is from June 26, 2014):

    http://www.dailytech.com/Microsofts+New+Fuel+Cell+Partner+is+Ready+to+Blow+Away+the+Bloom+Box/article36118.htm

    Redox Power believes it’s ready for its first serious commercial test in the wild. The startup is a spinoff from the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC). Launched in Aug. 2013, the company continues to collaborate with the Univ. of Maryland.

    Redox Power’s founder, Professor Eric Wachsman, is an instructor at the university and is director of UMERC. He holds key patents on the technology which he claims will offer 100 times the density per cost of current cells, including Bloom’s Energy Server. He claims his cells are 1/10th the cost of commercial alternatives and are also 1/10th the size.

    One strength of Redox Power’s cell design is flexibility. It is designed to primarily run off natural gas, but can also generate power using propane, gasoline, biofuel, and hydrogen. At its maximum efficiency, when processing natural gas and doubling as backup heaters, the cells can output heat and electricity at 80 percent efficiency (and 70 percent efficiency for electrical generation only).

    That’s a good deal higher than Bloom Energy Servers, which are 60 percent efficient at optimal conditions.

  83. Robert Bissett says:
    August 22, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Fossil fuel? All signs point to abiotic.

    ===========

    Nonsense. The chirality of petroleum trumps all your signs.

    • Chirality
      Biogenic: The presense of optical activity in petroleum indicates biological origin, because biological compounds are known to exhibit left-handed chirality.

      Abiogenic: The idea that optical activity implies biology is a relic dating from the founding work of Louis Pasteur, who first explained the polarization of light in wine in terms of chirality. The study of stereochemistry has revealed that many natural systems, including hydrocarbons in primordial meteorites, possess an imbalance of chirality that results in optical activity. Petroleum may have right- or left-handed optical activity, which contrasts with biological systems’ exclusive left-handed chirality. This distinction has led to chirality being regarded as an abiomarker among proponents of the abiogenic theory.

  84. Note to all you people who think you can make useful hydrogen from PV or wind turbines: hydrogen has to be compressed to be storable and to be useful. So your PV/WT will also have to power a pump to compress it.

  85. Don’t knock cheaper catalysts just because the inventor thinks of the wrong application.
    Not all inventors are good businessmen.

    Forget hydrogen cars and look at cheaper hydrogen.

  86. I see this as a way to take random or surplus surge electricity production from windmills, tidal and even solar farms, and store that potential energy as hydrogen for when its really needed by burning it to stabilize the local grid during peak demand moments.

    This is in the same category as the hydro lake pump solutions that use two lakes to surge water downhill during peak electrical demand generating electricity as needed, and then pumping the same water back up hill at night to resupply the reservoir of potential energy for tomorrow.

    Yes there is a net loss in energy efficiency, however the ability to store the H for burning on demand makes these (solar, wind, tidal) sources of incremental random power useful for peak surges in demand.

  87. This article immediately reminded me of the old “cold fusion” news (now rebranded to LENR). Nickel or Palladium electrodes were always key, and the words “not fully understood” always came up in the section attempting to explain observed effects (and why they were so difficult to reproduce). Is this cold fusion 2.0?

  88. mikeishere says:
    August 22, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Unmentionable says:August 22, 2014 at 8:58 am ” We still fly though because it has incrementally developed into the safest form of travel.”

    Well that depends on whether the denominator is utility or time. Time wise, commercial air travel has about 10 times more fatalities per million hours than car travel. It is just that we spend far more than that 10X amount of time in a car than a plane because you cannot fly to most of the places you need to go such as a grocery store.

    How about distance as the denominator, since this is about travel, and speed of travel reduces time.

  89. If they just add some ‘Potassium Hydroxide’ they will make another ‘Outstanding Discovery’.
    (Sarc)

  90. Unmentionable says: “How about distance as the denominator…”

    How about what? I drew a distinction between judging risk by utility or by time. Utility in this instance is distance and time is what we all have a limited amount of. Both are valid considerations.

  91. M Courtney:

    You make one good point but overlook another when you say at August 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Don’t knock cheaper catalysts just because the inventor thinks of the wrong application.
    Not all inventors are good businessmen.

    Forget hydrogen cars and look at cheaper hydrogen.

    The real difficulty is not “cheaper hydrogen” because a water gas shift will always provide cheaper hydrogen than electrolysis of water.

    The real problem is the lack of a method for cheap and effective storage of large quantities of hydrogen.

    Hydrogen corrodes and embritles metals. It is costly to compress and difficult to contain because it consists of small molecules: air tight is not hydrogen tight. And hydrogen is explosive.

    Hydrogen can be stored in large quantities because we did it at the Coal Research Establishment for use in the hydrogenation plant when working to develop the LSE project for producing syncrude (i.e. synthetic crude oil) from coal. But losses are significant and hazards are real. We enclosed the hydrogenation plant in a containment wall so any explosion would blow up and not out, but what goes up comes down and Tewkesbury would have suffered.

    I personally found a solution to the embritlement issue for 310 stainless steel at high temperature. But that was a specialist application for e.g. expansion joints coping with high temperature reducing gas generated in a Topping Cycle power plant. It would not be viable for normal temperature uses.

    Find a solution to the storage issue and only then consider uses for large quantities of hydrogen.

    Richard

  92. “emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis”

    Where exactly do the batteries come from, how are they disposed of, and how do they get charged?

  93. Col Mosby says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:05 am
    As I recall, hydrogen in your car’s fuel tank must be continuously bled off. How much from a population of 250 million vehicles does that amount to going into the atmosphere and what would be the effect of all that hydrogen?
    —–
    I for one would not want to live over an underground car garage.
    Can you say boom?

  94. “chlorine gas” ! WWI here we come. DOHS will love this … probably want to quarantine Stanford U. before bombing it, but will miss and hit Google instead.

    Dude: 2NaCl + 2H2O -> Cl2 + H2 + 2NaOH
    anode end: 2Cl^- (aq) -> Cl2 (g) + 2e^-
    cathode end: 2H^+ (aq) + 2e^- -> H2 (g)
    {from my old chemistry text]

  95. Steven Mosher says:

    “The “Hindenburg complex” is a non-problem however. A study years ago showed that the Hindenburg fire was caused by the coating on the fabric skin of the craft. Hydrogen is so light that it will dissipate rapidly in air, so that there is only a small area around a leak where the hydrogen concentration is within the flammability limit.”

    Yup. thanks for being an engineer.

    Nope, not an engineer. A bullshit artist. You routinely conflate the two, if doing so fits your message. It always fits your methods.

    The Hindenburg was designed as a helium airship. Zeppelin’s engineers designed it as a helium airship despite the fact that helium was a less efficient lifiting gas, despite the fact that helium was far more expensive than hydrogen, and despite the fact that the only significant sources of helium were controlled by the US, who treated it as a strategic material and were likely to cut German Zeppelin’s helium supply.

    Why would Zeppelin’s engineers choose to burden their design with less efficent, more expensive, less reliable helium? Because Zeppelin’s engineers had the experience of two dozen catastrophic losses of hydrogen ships under their belt. And BTW, those earlier ships used a different envelop technology than that which has been asserted was the cause of the ignition of the Hindenburg, And those ships burned just fine, which is what prompted the engineering decision to design the Hindenburg to use helium. The Zeppelin engineers had the “Hindenburg complex” before the Hindenburg made it on to the drawing board, though they would have referred to it as the “R101, Dixmude, Roma, Akron, R-38, LZ-104, SL-9, LZ-53, LZ-69, SL-6 etc, etc, etc, complex” and thought of that “complex” as good engineering sense in response to the demonstrated propensity of hydrogen ships to burn, explode, explode and burn, or burn and explode.

    Later, the engineering design decision to use helium in the Hindenburg was overridden by the pragmatic operational considerations that the engineering design decision to use helium had been made in spite of. Hindenburg was reworked to be filled with hydrogen, and it burned just like the rest of them.

    BTW, it was those same Zeppelin engineers who tested hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, and found that it sucked so bad as a vehicle fuel that they decided to blow off a million cubic feet of it every trip, rather than use it for fuel. And they came to that conclusion even though some of the principle drawbacks for hydrogen’s use as a ground transport fuel (low density, storage volume) were actually benefits to their application.

  96. mikeishere says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I was thinking more along the lines of the water heater rockets.

  97. Hmmm… where will all the water come from…? Wait up! That’ll solve the rising sea level problem.

    I’m having trouble seeing any negatives here.

  98. ” Steven Mosher says:August 22, 2014 at 8:25 am ”

    In this instance I agree with Mosh. Hindenwhat? Have you ever heard of hydride tanks? Stores hydrogen in gaseous form and can be shot with incendiary bullets without exploding. Been available since the 1980s.

    There are still lots of engineering problems to solve but the vast majority of comments here are just embarrassing.

  99. Some people mentioned freezing as a problem for the exhaust of a H2 fuel cell car – well a gasoline car with a catalyst will emit CO2 and H2O and not much else so there you have H2O as well.

    A different problem with fuel cell cars and freezing is that they use a membrane that gets destroyed when the water in the fuel cell freezes. I don’t know whether that problem has been overcome; it is a problem for the use of fuel cell cars in climates where temperatures can drop under 0 deg C / 32 F. Generally car components must withstand an enormous temperature range before the industry even considers using them for a mass produced vehicle. Watery fuel cells don’t do that well AFAIK.

  100. DirkH:

    Thankyou for your post at August 22, 2014 at 11:59 am which says

    Here’s a pdf that has a bit more info about efficiency of water electrolysis in general.

    http://www.electrochemsci.org/papers/vol7/7043314.pdf

    It is a good paper which I had not seen and will keep for reference. In the context of this thread, I note that its Introduction says

    Electricity expense constitutes the largest fraction of hydrogen production costs. High hydrogen production expenses count as the main deficiency of commercial and industrial electrolyzers. Hence electrolytic methods are usually outperformed by other approaches such as steam methane reformation.

    Which, of course, supports what I said in my above post at August 22, 2014 at 8:56 am.

    Richard

  101. TRM says:
    August 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm
    “In this instance I agree with Mosh. Hindenwhat? Have you ever heard of hydride tanks? Stores hydrogen in gaseous form and can be shot with incendiary bullets without exploding. Been available since the 1980s. ”

    So how many pounds of hydride do you need to store a pound of hydrogen.
    It’s difficult to find numbers. I read some remarks that new research comes close to achieving the energy density (by volume I assume) of liquid hydrogen. Which is 4 times lower than the energy density of gasoline. Given that we’re dealing with some metal; and probably we don’t want to deplete the Lithium stockpile for this as that’s a very expensive one that we already want for batteries, what weight are we dealing with, 10 times the weight of a gasoline tank for the same range? This assumes that the specific weight of the metal hydride is just 2.5 times the weight of gasoline – probably it’s worse than that.

    Furthermore, the re-hydration of the “hydride tank” seems to be a slow process – so it looks to me like you will end up with the performance and drawbacks of a Li-Ion-battery car with regards to recharging time, weight and range.

  102. M Courtney says:
    August 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm
    “They won’t degrade.
    They will leak but so what… it’s free hydrogen form a windmill and I’m looking at smoothing the output. I would put them in a ventilated place.”

    What you do is you put a spark plug on the ceiling at the highest point where the H2 tends to collect. We did that in the German nuclear reactors to avoid spectacular fireworks. Light water reactors tend to produce some H atoms and they collect at the top of the building or reactor vessel. You just burn it off all the time.

  103. I am as skeptical as many in the audience, but as a materials scientist, I find this quite interesting. Clearly, the research is in its infancy (electrode life decays in days). A number of comments are directed at hydrogen powered vehicles–I agree it’s a dumb idea. The very idea of high pressure hydrogen bottles zipping around the highways is a nightmare about to happen. I don’t really see the electrolysis route for balancing wind power–the unpredictable nature of wind makes capacity matching another nightmare. The story does grab my attention as a load leveler for solar voltaic sources. I realize the poor economics to begin with, but the concept of electrolysis/fuel cell storage could be an alternative to Greens (or folks in the back country) who aren’t big fans of a bank of lead acid batteries in their basement. I’ll be curious to see whether and how this makes it to market.

  104. ” M Courtney says: August 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Don’t knock cheaper catalysts just because the inventor thinks of the wrong application.
    Not all inventors are good businessmen.

    Forget hydrogen cars and look at cheaper hydrogen.”

    Hear, hear!! Perfectly put. Funny but the article and a lot of comments here are in the same section of unreality :)

  105. TRM and M Courtney:

    I intend no insult to anyone by providing this one reply to your posts at August 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm and August 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm, repectively.

    If the storage problem were solved then hydrogen storage would be used as a supplement to pumped storage for grid peak demand matching.

    I am not familiar with “hydride tanks” so can make no response other than the observation that they are not used at the large scale of supplement to pumped storage.

    I am familiar with zeolites which are used in catalysts in the hydrogenation process I mentioned earlier. Surface area is large but not sufficient.

    In my opinion the most likely solution to the storage problem is metal matrices. However, history shows that when there are long-standing technological problems of this kind then the solution turns out to be a surprise to everybody except its discoverer.

    Richard

  106. First, you only need to produce and store at home enough Hydrogen to refuel your car(s) so No BIG storage concerns just the electrolysis machine, a small compressor and a Tank capable of storing the gas at twice the pressure that your car is capable of storing. When you plug in at night, the pressures even out between the tanks and your car is refueled.
    The Hydrogen isn’t Burnt as fuel, it is used to create ELECTRICITY through the Fuel Cell that powers your ELECTRIC MOTOR to run your car, the only byproduct is WATER as the electricity is produced by the recombination of the HYDROGEN and OXYGEN into H2O

  107. These guys sound like they are on the verge of cold fusion.
    The idea that simply because the source mechanism itself produces no CO2 taht the entire process has a zero CO2 footprint is really a comment on how stupid the writer of the article thinks the readers of the article may be.

  108. How soon we forget.
    I would suggest that anyone contemplating the future of hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen as a fuel should research the Ballard Engineering company, especially their share price. Remember them? all the hype, deals with Mercedes etc? Shares peaked at about $200 in 2000 now trading at circa $6.

  109. The late Ben Rich of Lockheed wrote a book entitled “The Skunk Works” detailing his years there and the history of Lockheed’s R&D department. One chapter deals with Lockheed foray into using hydrogen as a fuel.

    The problems faced went way beyond just making H2 (i.e. hydrogen molecules work their way into steel, causing it to become brittle). The issues made the project non-viable. Lockheed actually gave the remainder of the development money BACK to the government.

  110. Steven Mosher,

    As always, thanks for the reminder.

    William Handler says:

    August 22, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Changing the catalysts should not change the energy usage.

    I’m with William though. I think the battery thing is misleading; it takes a lot of work to break water up.
    Still, as Steven points out, no reason to sneer at an advance, even if it’s not immediately earth shaking.

  111. Bryan A says:
    August 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    First, you only need to produce and store at home enough Hydrogen to refuel your car(s) so No BIG storage concerns just the electrolysis machine, a small compressor and a Tank capable of storing the gas at twice the pressure that your car is capable of storing. When you plug in at night, the pressures even out between the tanks and your car is refueled.

    ==============

    You’ll need a water source, too.

    I’d recommend you do all this outside, else Darwin Award.

    Also, you will need a vast power source to gen enough hydrogen to operate your car(s).

  112. sunshinehours1 says:
    August 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm
    Mosher: “Read the comments above. Note the snark. Note the dismissive tone of the commenters.”

    Annoyed that your style is so easy to copy?
    #####################

    not at all. pleased that it is easy to copy. amused that the hand of justice is capricious.

  113. Steven Mosher says:
    August 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm
    “not at all. pleased that it is easy to copy. amused that the hand of justice is capricious.”

    baffled that English majors write in incomplete sentences.

  114. Actually quite a bit of foolishness on this thread.

    Non-noble metal catalysts for electrolysis is a useful step forward in hydrogen production in situations where you have electricity you want to buffer as hydrogen (not just produce hydrogen per se, so this technology isn’t competing with water shift). It reduces the price because the catalyst is a significant part of the cost. Getting catalyst life up is the other challenge that doesn’t seem to be solved.

    Converting electricity to hydrogen competes with other forms of energy storage. Their are a wide range of scales and durations that we need to do this on and have various technologies to do this – batteries, supercapacitors, SMES, compressed gases, pumped hydro etc etc. Hydrogen has some negatives eg storage, round trip efficiency not as high as others (each conversion ~60%, so round trip 36%). It also has some characteristics that makes it attractive in some applications, particularly if problems can be solved.

    Hydrogen from electricity is indicated where losses on conversion are not a critical issue, storage requirement is short-term (i.e. less gas to store, although metal hydrides etc etc may overcome this), weight, life time and initial capital cost are (and this study helps with the last). Think of competing with batteries in remote locations for example. Transport applications are a possibility if simple round trip storage is found, but electrolysis isn’t likely to be the way the hyrdogen gets made. Japan and Toyota are doing it from natural gas for their fuel cell car roll out.

    For an example of an early niche market (that could potentially be commercial with lower cost electrolysis ) have a look at this remote wind for micro-grid using the pipeline as a buffer http://www.iphe.net/docs/Renew_H2_HYLINK.pdf (somewhat dated) and http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/wellington-kapiti/wellington/matiu-somes-island/features/matiu-somes-renewable-energy-system/

  115. Mark Bofill says (August 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm ): “Still, as Steven points out, no reason to sneer at an advance, even if it’s not immediately earth shaking.”

    Most of the “sneering” in this thread hasn’t been about “the advance”; it’s been about the hype surrounding it, e.g. Dai’s statement “Hydrogen is an ideal fuel…” etc. As of today, hydrogen is far from being “an ideal fuel”, mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with “the advance”.

    Now I understand that scientists today feel they have to hype their work to secure funding, but when they do, they should expect a certain amount of “sneering” from the peanut gallery. :-)

  116. As articles mentions that same voltages are achieved by using platinum in electrodes. So they came up with cheaper catalyst.
    While this is a pretty good achievement, I don’t believe that the only thing between mass usage of hydrogen is cost of catalysts, so I do not see this as having much of an effect on any existing usage of technology.

  117. My personal “snark” isn’t aimed at the achievement, it’s aimed at the fact that even a tiny incremental discovery like this is hailed as “saving the planet”, and trots out the old “hydrogen is a great fuel for cars” line. In fact, it’s difficult to even image a more unsuitable fuel for cars than hydrogen with its incredibly low density energy, storage problems, etc.

    The best fuel for cars is the one we’re currently using. Until that changes (which it won’t unless there is some unexpected breakthrough or development) then the rest is just unwarranted hype, aimed at increasing the sesame seed count of some unicorn obsessed billionaire.

  118. It always amazes me when I type a comment, then above it appears several others saying essentially the same as I did, that weren’t there when I started typing.

  119. I was at the Nurburgring a few years ago doing a few laps in my M3,when a team of techs from BMW turned up with 2 BMW 7 series with Hydrogen written down the side.I got into a conversation with them and it turned out they were testing hydrogen instead of petrol in a combustion engine.The power and torque was comparable with petrol but a little lower.They said that you could reduce the explosive tank problems by having an inert solid foam like substance in the tank which absorbed the hydrogen.Idont know if they are still working on them, now they focusing on the electric i3 and i8,who knows.

  120. mikeishere says:
    August 22, 2014 at 11:46 am
    Unmentionable says: “How about distance as the denominator…”
    How about what? I drew a distinction between judging risk by utility or by time. Utility in this instance is distance and time is what we all have a limited amount of. Both are valid considerations.

    I don’t even know why you nit-picked the original point, which observed that wowsers always place stumbling blocks in the way of anything new and make trite complex excuses to encourage everyone to agree to give up too early to reap the rewards of persistence. If that happened in the case of aviation’s hundreds or air crashes the technology that developed into the safest form of travel would not have developed. But you posit the fraught relevance of why air travel is according to you 10 times more likely to end in fatality than driving to the shops. Really? Must I turn that around to point out how fubar that is? OK, drive from Perth to Liverpool and take note of your fatality rate and then tell me all about utility, distance, speed, time and the safety of motoring when you arrive. :-)

  121. who took the time to read the paper? they built the catalyst on the sides of carbon nano tubes! that process is highly energy & money intensive… and, oh my heck… the osha regs and hoops to jump through! (nasty chemicals under extreme temp & press) and, oh yes… carbon nanotubes are delicate good science but impractical and b.s. reporting

  122. Ric Werme says:
    August 22, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I’ve long thought it would make sense if wind turbines and PV installations spent their time making H2 (and O2) and shove it in a pipeline. The gases are easier to store than electricity, so they could just sit there and do their thing and not worry about destabilizing the grid. Heck, you could use the H2 in various peak load plants.

    Or… you can just use that energy to pump water up the hill and store it in a dam and let the water flow down through a hydroelectric power plant to generate energy. Doable without the need of engineering breakthroughs. So simple it sounds silly.

    The problem, though, is how much energy is lost in the process. It is the same problem any energy conversion has, including the one proposed in the article under discussion.

  123. old man two sticks says:
    August 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm
    “who took the time to read the paper? they built the catalyst on the sides of carbon nano tubes! that process is highly energy & money intensive”

    Yes, but optimizing the production process is more easily doable than increasing the energy density of hydrogen (or any other energy) storage for cars. I wouldn’t count that as a principal obstacle. After Mosher sang high praises on engineers, let’s praise the MBA’s as well, because they’re the ones that force the engineers to actually do the optimizations. Because engineers couldn’t care less about costs if left to their own devices. ;-)

  124. bit chilly says August 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm…
    Thanks.
    It seems I’m not alone in spotting the potential in using intermittent energy generation to split water and so smooth the energy release.
    And improving the economics is a good thing.

    In contrast.
    old man two sticks says at August 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm…
    That it isn’t a finished product.
    True (yet, thinks I).

    But progress is progress.
    I’m no windpower evangelist. Even so, even I see this as a possible means of saving the UK’s energy policy from abject failure.

  125. urederra
    High capital cost too (favouring large scale), and only makes sense if you have a local geography that works and significant surplus energy to play with. Tokyo Electric Power has done some. But electricity to hydrogen doesn’t compete in this market, as you note, but there are others – and buffering wind power in a pipeline could be one. See my comment above.

    old man two sticks
    Enough going on with C-nanotubes to potentially see higher volume, lower cost solutions to production and functionalisation.

  126. If water is used then won’t we see a lowering of sea water levels? Surely another benefit for future generations.

  127. To to make use of this, you’d have to use it to transform a form of energy that’s extremely hard to store into a form of energy that’s only very hard to store.

    It is, I suppose, interesting that they’ve lowered the voltage, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lowered the power consumed.

  128. Hell_Is_Like_Newark says:

    August 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    The late Ben Rich of Lockheed wrote a book entitled “The Skunk Works” detailing his years there and the history of Lockheed’s R&D department. One chapter deals with Lockheed foray into using hydrogen as a fuel.

    The problems faced went way beyond just making H2 (i.e. hydrogen molecules work their way into steel, causing it to become brittle). The issues made the project non-viable. Lockheed actually gave the remainder of the development money BACK to the government.
    ==============
    Is it wrong to say I have nothing to add, other than the fact I love your moniker.
    It makes me smile every time I see it :)

  129. I work in a zinc plating plant. Nearly once a day, maybe more often, there will be a very loud bang as Hydrogen that had been trapped under foam on top of the plating tank is ignited. Very good for scaring the crap out of newbies, but harmless. Has got to the point where I don’t even flinch when it happens.

    Small tank by the way. Would not want to be around a really big one if this were to happen, big tanks, and we have some in other applications, are less likely to have a foam blanket form over the entire surface.

  130. Almost cold fusion…..
    “The discovery was made by Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study. “Ming discovered a nickel-metal/nickel-oxide structure that turns out to be more active than pure nickel metal or pure nickel oxide alone,” Dai said. “This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don’t fully understand the science behind it.”

    The nickel/nickel-oxide catalyst significantly lowers the voltage required to split water, which could eventually save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs, according to Gong. His next goal is to improve the durability of the device.”

  131. Before anyone gets too excited about producing hydrogen by electrolysis, remember that for ever pound of hydrogen, you’ll get eight pounds of oxygen. Oxygen is highly corrosive, and at concentrations higher than normal air, it can make many unusual things combustible.

    Once dispersed in the atmosphere, it shouldn’t be a problem, but plans for electrolysis should include plans for dispersing the oxygen.

  132. “a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming”

    I wish people would stop spouting this nonsense. I actually wish it was true because then the nice climate optimum we have been experiencing would continue, but it isn’t and things are not going to be as nice over the coming decades.

  133. Did anyone mention that nickel is about $8/lb vs. $1400 and $900/oz for platinum and palladium, respectively?

    Anyway, I like tritium as a more “ideal fuel” of the future.

  134. @Gamecock 8/22 4:47 pm
    remember that for ever pound of hydrogen, you’ll get eight pounds of oxygen.

    A good point. Releasing it to the atmosphere is no problem. However, to run a fuel cell, you desire 100% oxygen as well as the hydrogen. So you need to store and transfer pure oxygen as well as hydrogen under pressure. In the scheme of things, not a big issue, but it shouldn’t escape notice, either.

  135. mosher,

    I usually expect more from you, you must be in love with Stanford.

    Nothing here changes the laws of physics, hydrogen is simply an alternate energy storage mechanism. Where does the energy come from, an AAA battery? How far do you think that will get you.

    Sure, perhaps this is a more efficient technique to convert and store energy, but more efficient still doesn’t provide energy. That still has to come from somewhere.

    MikeEE

  136. PiperPaul says:
    August 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

    A 350 block with a 400 crank gives you a 383 Chevy
    350 + 400 = 383?
    What is this, climate science math?

    ————————————————-
    No , it’s basic mechanics

    Chev 350 has a 4″ bore and a 3.48″ stroke,
    Chev 400 has a 4.125″ bore and a 3.75″ stroke

    During the stroker conversion the 350 block is overbored giving it a 4.03″ bore combined with the 3.75″ stroke of the 400 crank , thus 383 c.i. displacement .

  137. Don’t forget the electrolysis unit explosion that destroyed Pristina’s power plant in June.http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2014/06/explosion-at-kosovo-coal-fired-power-plant-kills-three.html
    British Columbia has some 20 hydrogen powered fuel cell busses we would like to sell. Ballard Power Systems which has had a lot of government support for decades, does seem to have attracted interest beyond demo projects. Would be nice to see some green at the end of the tunnel.

    http://www.biv.com/article/20131210/BIV0118/312109897/-1/biv/whistler-hydrogen-bus-pilot-to-be-parked-in-march

    Hydrogen is the smallest molecule and very difficult to contain as Zeppelin found out. Fuel generation and handling may be harder than the power device part.

  138. There is one sure fired way of establishing that this claim is nonsense.
    Anyone who actually found such a method/device would not be publicising it, they would be filing the patent.

  139. The advantage to this is that you can produce the H in remote areas via solar wind or what ever and then it can be transferred to where it can be used. Avoiding the problems of get electricity from these remote areas.
    Transportation is not that large a problem and fuel tanks on vehicles is also not a huge problem, they use a tank with a honeycomb type structure on the inside which makes it as safe as gas in a tank.

    That being said the changes in infrastructure and the cost to produce will still be higher then gas and NG. There is no practice mechanism to make the conversion economically viable. Nuclear power has huge advantages over H and the cost is much less and The infastructure is already there.

    Maybe as a specialty fuel H makes sense but only maybe.

  140. “The “Hindenburg complex” is a non-problem however. A study years ago showed that the Hindenburg fire was caused by the coating on the fabric skin of the craft” – Old Engineer

    Powdered aluminium, to be precise. Powdered Al is also used in thermite. Scary stuff, that.

    Still, if I had a dollar for every “Hindenberg!” comment…

    I’m not knowledgable about thermodynamics and stuff like that, but it seems that some people take the easy route and criticise the report instead of trying to find ways to progress.

    I’ve seen too many comments about the AAA cell. It’s the voltage, people!

    We humans easily rationalise the familiar while we disparage what is unfamiliar. Why is cannabis illegal but alcohol legal? It’s arbitrary.

    Somebody commented about metal matrices. I was not aware that they had a part to play in energy production. The first type of metal matrix I heard about was aluminium in silicon carbide. That was to be used for landing gear parts.

  141. Wait a second. In my youth, like so many of my generation, I used to conduct the “electrolysis” experiment, using mildly salted water in a bowl at room temperature, and using a flashlight battery. I only used coated copper wires that had been stripped at the ends, the two “connections” of which were sitting in the liquid, with the exposed copper portion of the cathode wire formed into a short coil, having been wrapped around a pencil. That wire end was turned up under an inverted test tube filled with that saline liquid. The hydrogen bubbled off that copper cathode wire and gradually collected in the test tube as the liquid level dropped therein. And when enough hydrogen had been collected in the tube, I’d gleefully raise it (upside down) and ignite it with a match to achieve the anticipated “pop” and familiar blue flash. Now, it wasn’t a quick process, but it certainly happened at a very low voltage. Maybe this alloy (of iron and nickel) is far more efficient in splitting the water molecules and it does so quickly. But the article seems a bit misleading in claiming that a voltage that low could not previously cause electrolysis.

    If the “production” of hydrogen gas is very much quicker using this nickel/iron alloy, it could assist in resolving what has been a very serious problem in the use of stored hydrogen gas for operating fuel cells — the serious difficulties involved in storing a sufficient amount of the gas to operate a fuel cell for a long enough period of time to make it’s use practical. Hydrogen simply does not “liquify” when compressed at normal temperatures, in the way (for example), that propane does.

    And, a small portion of the hydrogen tends to “dissolve” in the metal in any iron-based (steel) tank you try to keep it in, which tends to render such metal tanks brittle rather quickly. A fuel cell using stored hydrogen that is generating electricity for an electric motor for a motor vehicle is theoretically far more efficient than any engine. But because of the “compression” problems, not enough hydrogen can possibly be stored “on board” to give such a vehicle anything like a practical or useful range.

    Hydrogen gas also dissolves rather readily in other metals, including in the metal lead and perhaps there may be a way to make a lead-based mesh (like a steel wool) to stuff inside a compression tank, which could then allow much more hydrogen to be stored therein under compression, than in an empty tank! As the pressure was released during use, the hydrogen would come out of dissolution from within the lead mesh.

  142. Stephen Rasey says, in part:
    August 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm
    . . .
    “However, to run a fuel cell, you desire 100% oxygen as well as the hydrogen. So you need to store and transfer pure oxygen as well as hydrogen under pressure. In the scheme of things, not a big issue, but it shouldn’t escape notice, either.”

    No, that is not so. A fuel cell, for example, employed to provide electrical current to operate an electric motor powering a motor vehicle, would simply use the oxygen from the ambient air to form water vapor. I’ve seen such vehicles operate. Storage of a sufficient volume of hydrogen on board to give the vehicle a practical range is the problem. Hydrogen does not liquify under compression at normal temperatures, as other fuel gasses do. So the short range of the vehicle before needing to refuel is the rub.

  143. The report was funny in that it does the obligatory bow to the evil CO2 but ignores the fact that hydrogen when combusted yields water vapour (the 800 pound gorilla in the room that none of the AGW crowd want to discuss). That and transportation is not where you will find hydrogen practical barring a few more breakthroughs in storage etc.

    Thanks for the link to http://cellaenergy.com/ – AJB says:August 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm. Years ago I had heard about using ammonia to store hydrogen but never saw much about it. Interesting angle to the problem.

    So in a nutshell this may address 2 out of the 6+ serious issues with hydrogen. Decent enough but a long way to go. Storing a carrier (electricity or hydrogen) is a very difficult task to do in a cost effective, efficient, safe & long term storage scenario.

    Just because there are other issues doesn’t mean this isn’t important but I really do wish all these scientists would quit wrapping themselves up in the AGW meme. It is really worn out it’s welcome and I think a lot here wrote off the whole idea when they read those parts. Understandable.

  144. CodeTech says:
    August 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    It always amazes me when I type a comment, then above it appears several others saying essentially the same as I did, that weren’t there when I started typing.

    It’s those darn morphic fields!

    [The mods cite this as proof you have complete mental control over many other writers worldwide, modifying their thoughts and influencing their decisions before they type them. That’s fine. But now, about your numerous spelling errors and typo’s ….. 8<) .mod]

  145. Well how about some science? The Electrochemical potential of H2O is 1.51V – so if everything goes right and your fresh alkaline is about 1.65 volts or so – very good. If there are no other losses that is about 91.5% efficient.

  146. richardscourtney says:
    August 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Unmentionable:
    Your rant at August 22, 2014 at 10:02 am is too long for me to quote all of it so I provide this link to it so people can see what I am answering. And my quotations from it in this post are the totality of your post I am answering.

    I doubt a more contorted blow-hard level of unadulterated misdirection I’ve read in a while. I must admit you have the advantage on me of formal coaching and accusatory debate malpractice under your belt, to be so blather-adept.

    Before you butted-in with diatribe of accusatory actual misdirection of the topic, I was responding ingenuously to a commenter who was criticising the operating economics of buses that were then in operation. I made the entirely valid counterpoint that a bus that gets $50/mile must still be compared to the mileage of a conventional bus with fifty fare paying passengers on it and its mileage, to determine its economic viability. This is what I responded to in its entirety:
    __
    klem says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I think they used to run hydrogen powered buses in British Columbia. Everything was going along fine until the public realized that they cost about $50 a mile to run. Even the notorious BC greenies thought that saving the planet wasn’t worth $50 a mile. !

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/22/a-new-twist-on-an-old-grade-school-science-project/#comment-1715052

    __

    Now just because you tend to auto-discombobulate around internal knee jerking and gainsaying and lampooning other people’s comments, this does not make something uneconomical to operate, or not a viable transportation option. It makes no economic difference at all whether the conversion factor is at a technical threshold of efficiency which rows your boat. The inefficiency of conversion is accepted because the fuel itself is sufficiently efficient to make it up for it as a viable economic operating vehicle.

    That’s not complicated to grasp for a mildly disinterested mind, and it is an entirely economically valid.

    In the end the economics of the fares paid and what the market will bare is the measure which matters. I can tell you from prosaic experience that $1/mile is not unusual in a taxi. People pay that 24/7/365 where I am and the affordability of more than $1/mile is successfully borne by the market. In fact demand is high, which is another measure of economic viability. $1 / mile / passenger equates to “$50 a mile”, which are the same economics as the buses that were being criticised on affordability grounds.

    So on economic grounds this is not necessarily something to dismiss with spasmodic knee-jerks given that price point is already present, plus the busses were only being operated at a very small scale. The expansion of new technologies does introduce economies of scale which lower cost over time of a given vehicle and I gave a valid modern example of it in my original comment.

    But your tangential tirade which if harnessed could power a trans-Atlantic balloon flight and scare the high altitude record to boot, ends with an simply laughable appeal to the toxicity of nickel. haha! For real! I guess you never heard of nickel-wound guitar strings. Why don’t you appeal with heartfelt conviction to a relevant national regulator about this naughty nickel contamination and see if they take your phoney-baloney ‘concerns’ seriously. I predict they laugh your butt back out onto the street. :D

    Talk about grasping at straws!

    Next time you decide to gallivant in and blazing away with accusatory tirades make sure you didn’t load the blanks into your peashooter again. :D

  147. Steven Mosher says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:25 am
    the research claims two things

    1. the use of non-precious metals
    2. splitting at a low voltage

    12 volts and a couple of pencils worked for me in Junior High School 40+ years ago.
    Next up will be someone claiming that a new fangled thing called ‘the wheel’ will revolutionize transportation.

    At best this ‘breakthru’ is a small incremental improvement on previous work. Of course those looking for ‘startup seed/grant money’ will tout this as something else.

    Kind of like a certain Phd spouting off about how a certain university needed grant money to help the chinese to frack for natural gas when the Chinese already own considerable portions of US natural gas interests.

  148. jimmaine says:

    August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Huh. One of the first articles in a long time that doesn’t contain the term “model” anywhere.

    Wonder what I need to do to run my 383 1969 Camaro on Hydrogen…and will it impact the torque? :)
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    New intake & throttle body $300-500, spider and injectors $800, turbo or supercharger of your choice. You might be able to get 600HP out of it, but I doubt on the low end. I don’t think hydrogen goes “boom” as well as gasoline with an octane booster and an ethanol eater, and needs the RPMs to produce. But, give’em time.
    Oh, and new fuel tank and all lines.

  149. If this wasn’t so ridiculous it would be funny. I’m 70 years old, and when I was about 9 my buddies and I would make small explosions using H and O2 that we manufactured using a flashlight battery, two lengths of bell wire, two test tubes and water to which we added table salt. Just google “Browns Gas” for crying out loud.

  150. I find it a bit icky that so many people focused on the article’s unnecessary spin attachment of C02 gas, then water product, as the main point of objection. Yes, both those things are quite unfortunate, and unnecessary. And yes, you’re strictly completely right, water is indeed an evil blight and we simply can not encourage the promotion of a fuel-efficiency development and eco trade-off that creates even more of that diabolical molecule.

    Take the high-road or be seen as an unthinking mass who’s accomplishment of having rightly mastered the art of seeing through the green baloney is tripping up and merely embracing complex cynical cheap-shot habitual rejection-ism.

    3/10 Can do better.

  151. Unmentionable:

    I note your post at August 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm which attempts – and fails – to excuse your earlier untrue rant at me together with an attempt to excuse your untrue rant at klem. And I also note your failed attempt to excuse your untrue rants at mikeishere, too.

    So, I have given you the courtesy of acknowledging your latest untrue rant at me. I write to say that I will not give you that courtesy if you aim another of your untrue rants at me: I will ignore it.

    Richard

  152. That would be best Richard, sorry you can’t tell the difference between your facts and your fictions, but I appreciate your note and more civil but overdue approach.

  153. TRM says:

    Have you ever heard of hydride tanks? Stores hydrogen in gaseous form and can be shot with incendiary bullets without exploding. Been available since the 1980s.

    And unused in the 30 years since, because they weigh a ton and have to be heated to 500F to operate. Not good qualities for a vehicle fuel tank. Hydrogen sucks as vehicle fuel. The only efficient way to use hydrogen for portable energy storage involves its deuterium isotope and a fission primary.

  154. “Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases.” This statement is highly misleading. Splitting water requires enerergy. It can be done without using fossil fuels and without emitting greenhouse gases only so long as you have access to sufficient non fossil fuel energy sources.

  155. Friends:

    I draw attention to untrue accusations of incivility from those posts have been uncivil, for example the post of Unmentionable at August 22, 2014 at 11:37 pm.

    It seems that some people (e.g. Mosher, Phil., Unmentionable) think pointing out their errors is impolite.

    Richard

  156. Alternatively it’s you (and you know it) Mr. quintessence of passive-aggressive, who appeals to a crowd of friends the innocence of the not so credibly innocent. I don’t have that luxury, but if I had it, I sure wouldn’t use it.

    Do unto others … produces incredibly productive interaction. ;-)

  157. “Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases.”

    I agree with Mike Trembley on this. Since when is water vapour not a greenhouse gas? If anything burns in a hydrogen engine it is the stupid. The main problem with using hydrogen as a fuel in an internal combustion engine is the fact that it has a low octane rating. It pops, not burns. At a modest concentration it pops the cylinder heads off. There will be no hydrogen retrofit for the 383 Camero. Hydrogen is fine for a fuel cell.

    It is fine for the single cylinder engine developed by Garth Foxcroft which recycles the water internally, thus producing no NOx and no H2O. No one has picked that up yet.

  158. Another accusation, didn’t see that coming. Dismissing alternate views with that safe little cop-out is deflection at its crudest. I never strayed from topic but to deal with you. What you smell is your irresistible burning desire for one more snide remark, because we were done two comment cycles back. I already moved on. Now it’s your turn to do the same.

  159. I’m more impressed with the students of Ohio State U than these Stanford scientists. The students made the fastest electric car (top speed 322 mph) powered by ordinary C battery. That’s a creative way of using flashlight battery.

  160. Reblogged this on Maley's Energy Blog and commented:
    This why we don’t have to worry about Peak Oil: at some point, price and necessity drive innovation*. It has been that way since the days of Thomas Malthus.

    *Government cannot and will not mandate innovation. They may be helpful in funding basic science, but as currently executed government subsides and maintains the status quo. That works counter to the creative destruction necessary for transformational change.

  161. Steven Mosher says:

    August 22, 2014 at 8:25 am
    don’t under estimate engineers. many above do.

    Don’t underestimate idiots. Many engineers do.

  162. M Simon:

    At August 23, 2014 at 7:11 am you say

    If you make something idiot proof, someone will just make a better idiot.

    Yes, as Unmentionable demonstrates at August 23, 2014 at 3:02 am.

    Richard

  163. Here is an article on nickel for platinum as a catalyst in fuel cells…from a few years ago! These are indeed high school projects. Woe is us if this is the level of what today’s engineers are doing at universities!! A little research on the net and they would see it’s already old news. Let’s keep this a secret from the already disgraced Nobel Committee.

    https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/2012/12/18/platinum-vs-nickel-battle-of-the-biomass-catalysts/

    And the amount of Pt in Toyota’s $50,000 car is 30g, ~$1400. The cost of the fuel cell itself is $50/kW and you need ~100kW = $5000. So I would say the nickel, were it equal in performance and durability, would allow the car to be sold ~ $49,000. As an engineer, I would go for the platinum!

    http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/analysis/analyst-views/2013/13-11-06-the-cost-of-platinum-in-fuel-cell-electric-vehicles

  164. Professor Dai is a first class researcher and has a brilliant career ahead of him; however, this just shows us once again why Profs have got to get control of their uni’s PR machines.

    When even a smart guy like Dai ends up looking silly because of a press release, what chance do climate scientists have?

  165. From the PR:
    “Using nickel and iron, which are cheap materials, we were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It’s quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage.”

    I suspect there are TWO batteries involved:
    1. the 1.5-volt battery outside the cell, and
    2. the battery inside the cell they made out of the nickel+nickel-oxide and iron electrodes.

    “The electrodes are fairly stable, but they do slowly decay over time,” he said. “The current device would probably run for days, but weeks or months would be preferable. That goal is achievable based on my most recent results.”
    What sort of “decay” are these electrodes experiencing? Is it a physical/mechanical degradation? Or is it an electro-chemical consumption that shouldn’t happen to a catalyst?

    This comment from phys.org is worth noting:

    BTW If they use the iron anode, this anode dissolves which decreases the voltage required for production of hydrogen. They cannot produce oxygen at the anode, because unprotected iron always reduces it under formation of iron2+ ions. This reaction is strongly exothermic and it decreases the voltage required for electrochemical reaction to nearly zero. Maybe the short circuit would be enough for to produce the hydrogen at cathode, because in acidic solutions the iron spontaneously dissolves under production of hydrogen. The didn’t found a miracle material for cathode, they just reinvented the “”sacrificial anode”” principle.

  166. “The researchers also plan to develop a water splitter than runs on electricity produced by solar energy.”
    Everyone knows that solar energy is a completely other kind of electricity, or ???
    The electrons might be green of cause.


  167. All it needs is WATER. It produces more H2 than the truck’s V-8 engine burns making more H2 and driving the truck. Just back from a 3000 mile trip on just WATER. Who needs hybrids? Take a look….it works!

    • @Larry Butler

      So, what you’re saying is that it produces more energy than it uses? (It would have to, to do what you’re saying it does).

      Someone’s looking at a Nobel Prize, for disproving the laws of thermodynamics.

  168. Wow, this is my lucky day.

    First I get a letter in the mail saying I’ve just one 2 free airline tickets (from a “US Airway”) and now I find out my truck can run on water!

    It doesn’t get any better than this….

    It should, but it just doesn’t.

  169. The comments on this article are pretty disappointing. A few posters got it, but there is a lot of nonsense. That problem was not helped by the poor understanding of the subject shown by the article author. Several points:

    a) The electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen has been known for at least 200 years.

    b) All of the usable energy associated with the burning of hydrogen fuel has to be taken from the electrical energy used to create the hydrogen fuel. Some posters seem to believe there is some sort of magical free lunch here. Not so. By the 1st law of thermodynamics you can at best, get out of it what you put into it.

    c) By the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the efficiency of conversion of electrical energy into usable hydrogen fuel will ALWAYS be less than 100%. Using the very best electrolytic technology and pumping technology, it may be about 60%. Since the hydrogen is then to be used as fuel in a fuel cell, there will be another inevitable efficiency loss in conversion of the fuel BACK into electrical energy.

    d) The Stanford scientists claim a possible improvement in the electrolytic technology. In particular, they claim to be able use cheaper electrodes and still get the conversion efficiency achievable with more expensive electrodes. All that is new here is a possible reduction of electrode costs. Even that is mostly hypothetical. In their tests, their electrodes corrode rapidly. By contrast, metals like platinum are famous for being corrosion resistant. It might very well be that platinum, coated on the electrodes at nanometer thickness as it is in the catalytic converter of your car, would still make a cheaper electrode.

    e) Whether the electrodes are an improvement or not, the need for large amounts of electricity will be the same. Transportation costs will be the same. Storage and containment costs will be the same. Embrittlement issues will be the same. Production costs with the possible exception of electrode costs will be the same. Conversion efficiency back into electrical energy will be the same. Safety issues will be the same.

    f) Even under the most wild-eyed optimistic assumptions, this is a modest, incremental improvement in a very, very old idea. Not nothing, but hardly earth shattering.

  170. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    Regarding the fact that the article appears to be announcing a possibility for a cheaper system for extracting hydrogen from water, I agree that is likely to be a good thing if it proves out. Regardless, it won’t help with large scale power. Hydrogen is a complicated system that addresses the need filled by batteries. Batteries are simple. Batteries will win in almost all circumstances. Hydrogen will never be significant in transportation nor in grid-level power systems.

    Hydrogen is not a fuel. It is an intermediary like a battery. Hydrogen does not exist. Specifically, the burnable form of H-H doesn’t exist on its own where we can collect it for burning. Petroleum and carbon containing gases do exist where we can get them, and we already know how to cost-effectively refine and use them.

    As to the Hindenburg, JJ’s response above is noteworthy (http://www.airships.net/hydrogen-airship-accidents), but sure, it is harder to make hydrogen explode than people tend to think. However, see this: http://www.unmuseum.org/hindenburg.htm. It is far from certain that the fabric doping had anything to do with the tragedy. The fact remains, hydrogen is dangerous and potentially explosive. This link poo-poos the notion the skin had anything to do with the fire. http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/disaster/myths It probably was impossible to ignite aluminum powder in the skin. The fire should have never been hot enough, at least not until it was much too late.The organic components would surely have burned, but I suspect all of the aluminum power remained unoxidized. I don’t understand why iron oxide would have been mentioned. (It is already burned,duh.) The assertion seems to be that iron oxide can supply oxygen and act as an oxidizer. Well, under the right conditions, sure, but overall iron likes its oxygen too much to give it up easily. The oxygen in the air provided all the oxygen the fire needed. For me, I’ll stick with uncertain and say it is foolish to assert the skin was the root of the problem. Hydrogen has high energy potential. It can make a very large kaboom, as often demonstrated in lab classes or science shows with a flame touched to a hydrogen filled party balloon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec-8A5k16Ak

    I’m not finding a reference, but as I recall success against tethered hydrogen observation balloons was poor until aircraft machine guns were loaded with a special explosive incendiary bullet alternated with a special round that was designed to break apart and make large holes in the balloon. It is hard to get, by accident, a mixture of the hydrogen and air that is within the explosive limits. Further, hydrogen does not spontaneously ignite or explode. Blowing up a party balloon with your breath and with hydrogen will give the exact same result if the balloons are poked with a needle. The results will be dramatically different if a flame is set to each.

    So, my point here is that while hydrogen is relatively safe, how many explosions will be tolerated? Does anyone remember the Ford Pinto?

    The assertions about making electrical energy cheaply enough to warrant making hydrogen from water are shortsighted in my opinion. Batteries are likely to always provide a better means of storing energy. Hydrogen is simply hard to work with, no matter how cheaply we can make it.

    Assertions about using plentiful, cheap electricity for producing liquid fuel from water and air are more pie-in-the-sky. Sure, if the conditions are met, it would make some sense, but there are likely to be better alternatives for most applications. It’s like making electricity from methane.

    We collect the methane and pipe it to where we need to use it for direct heat. Very efficient. When I turn on the burner under my tea kettle, 100% of the methane is being used to heat my water. Of course, there are inefficiencies. I cannot hope 100% of the energy from burning will go into my water, but the same applies when I’m using an electric heat source. Approximately the same amount of heat is applied to the bottom of my kettle, and expended from the burner, whether the source is burning methane or applying electrical energy for heat. The difference is in getting the energy to the burner. None of the methane’s energy was lost before it reached the flame under the kettle. Over two-thirds of the methane’s energy is lost before it gets to the electric burner if the methane was used to fire a turbine that generated the electricity for the electric heater, perhaps more loses depending on system inefficiencies at the power generation station and in the electrical distribution grid.

    Generating electricity from natural gas is a sad state of affairs when we have such better and more efficient options for its use.

  171. About the non-emission of CO2 : You don’t have to use a fossil fuel to provide the power to split the water. Well, not all the time, just to get started. Then you can use the first bit of Hydrogen to split the next bit of water, which gives you the next bit of Hydrogen, which you use to split the next bit of water, … … ad infinitum. What’s not to like about that?
    [do I have to add /sarc]

  172. Col Mosby says:
    August 22, 2014 at 8:05 am

    How much from a population of 250 million vehicles does that amount to going into the atmosphere and what would be the effect of all that hydrogen?
    _________________________________________________

    The final proof of the Big Bang.

  173. This technique literally old school has already been done before in 2006 known as the H-racer.

    http://www.philipharris.co.uk/product/H-Racer-B8R01198

    •The H-Racer is a micro-version of what engineers and scientists have been dreaming about for real cars: combining hydrogen with oxygen to generate a DC current to power an electric motor. Unlike a gas-powered car engine, the only by-products of this electrochemical process are electricity, heat and pure water.

    Recently named as one of the Best Inventions of 2006 by Time Magazine, the H-Racer is now the best selling fuel cell product in the world.

    The Refueling Station creates hydrogen by electrolysis of water, and once the car’s hydrogen tank is full, the car can run on its own hydrogen fuel-cell system, with the simple flip of a switch.

  174. BMW did an enormous amount of research and practical experimentation with hydrogen driven cars … and they have abandoned the fuel.

  175. Dave August 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
    I’ve long thought it was practical to use a photovoltaic panel as the source of electricity for electrolysis of water. But the problem is the explosive nature of hydrogen. Somehow, the storage of hydrogen at home needs to be dummy proofed to avoid a quintupling of house fires. I’m not sure that’s possible.

    Actually it is, for decades in the UK houses were supplied with gas that was mostly H2 mixed with some CO. Gas explosions were extremely rare because when the gas leaked the H2 rapidly diffused to create a mixture with air outside the ignition limits. The danger of course was the toxic CO. In the 70s after replacing with Natural Gas then gas explosions and fires started being a problem.

  176. richardscourtney August 22, 2014 at 11:51 am
    The real problem is the lack of a method for cheap and effective storage of large quantities of hydrogen.

    Hydrogen corrodes and embritles metals. It is costly to compress and difficult to contain because it consists of small molecules: air tight is not hydrogen tight. And hydrogen is explosive.

    Hydrogen can be stored in large quantities because we did it at the Coal Research Establishment for use in the hydrogenation plant when working to develop the LSE project for producing syncrude (i.e. synthetic crude oil) from coal. But losses are significant and hazards are real. We enclosed the hydrogenation plant in a containment wall so any explosion would blow up and not out, but what goes up comes down and Tewkesbury would have suffered……..

    Find a solution to the storage issue and only then consider uses for large quantities of hydrogen.

    We could return to the methods used through the 60’s in the UK when hydrogen gas was supplied to just about every home in the country. Towns had their own ‘gasometers’ to store the gas, even Tewkesbury had one, although one of their early ones (1840) did blow up due to workman’s carelessness, the city survived though. I thought that the CRE was located in Stoke Orchard though, so I’m not sure why Tewkesbury would have suffered?
    Here’s a picture of a particularly fine looking one in Vienna (capacity 90,000 m^3), lasted for about 70 yrs without blowing up.

    http://www.viennadirect.com/sights/gasometer.php

  177. I would appreciate it if one of you could enlighten me to the answer to the following question.

    In electrolysis of water, 2 hydrogen atoms are separated from one oxygen atom. Is it not correct to say that one third of the energy used is embedded in the oxygen released and two-thirds in the hydrogen, therefore, assuming that the oxygen is simply vented to the atmosphere, the hydrogen captured from the process can never have more than two-thirds of the energy used to create it?

    • @Walter:

      The hydrogen then burns in oxygen – it doesn’t need to be the SAME oxygen, the energy released by the reaction would be the same, whatever the oxygen source.

      It requires 286 kJ/mol to separate Hydrogen from Oxygen. The combination of them produces the same. If there were perfect 100% efficiency in the electrolysis process, AND in the storage process, AND in the combustion, you could conceivably get back the energy you put in. But NO system is 100% efficient so you will never get back all of the energy. There are losses in the electrolysis – resistance from the wires and electrodes, and from the water; there are losses in storage – some H2 will escape; and no combustion process is 100% efficient – so at each stage, there is loss.

      Seems to me that it would be better to just use the electricity directly, rather than going through this intermediate stage. But as I noted earlier, I don’t think they teach thermodynamics anymore.

  178. If this can be used to create Hydrogen from water on demand in the vehicle, it may have a viable use. Of course there is an energy deficit, but that could be overcome or minimized with a few tricks like adding some dynamos (alternators) to non-powered wheels to recharge the car battery going downhill, coasting, etc. Also, solar panels on the surface of the car. And, of course, just plugging it in to a wall socket when you aren’t driving it.

    If you can get 300 miles on a tank of water/battery charge and the cost of replacement catalyst modules isn’t too high… This could replace gasoline without needing a gigantic infrastructure change.

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