Latest in green tech – “hydrogen for sustainable air travel” – no, seriously

From the CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS and the “those who don’t pay attention to history are condemned to repeat it” department. See the money quote about kerosene below, bold mine.

Hindenburg Hydrogen Explosion Disaster

Hindenburg Hydrogen Explosion Disaster – By Gus Pasquerella – http://www.lakehurst.navy.mil/nlweb/images/1213d.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=632191

Liquid hydrogen may be way forward for sustainable air travel

Transport makes up around 20 percent of our energy use around the world–and that figure is set to grow, according to the International Energy Agency. With sustainable solutions in mind, a new study published by eminent physicist Jo Hermans in MRS Energy and Sustainability–A Review Journal (MRS E&S) looks at the energy efficiency of current modes of transport–from bicycles to buses, from air transport to cruise ships– and concludes that liquid hydrogen seems to be a realistic option for what is probably the most problematic of transportation modes in terms of sustainability, future air travel.

Professor Hermans from Leiden University’s famous Huygen’s Laboratory acknowledges that oil-based liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene will be hard to beat when it comes to how much energy they pack in relation to their volume and weight–not to mention the sheer convenience of using them to get from A to B.

The author of popular books such as Physics is Fun (2012) and Energy Survival Guide (2011) acknowledges that achieving sustainable transport in the post-fossil fuel era will be a huge challenge–but finds that liquid hydrogen could offer a potential solution for future air travel.

“Given the severe weight limitations for fuel in aircraft, liquid hydrogen may be a viable alternative in the long run,” he argues:

  • First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.
  • Second, liquid hydrogen itself is very light (in fact, it is in a gaseous state at ordinary temperatures), which is an important advantage for air travel.
  • Third, the disadvantages of “boil off” (created by the low boiling point of liquid hydrogen) would be reduced in air travel because of the low outside temperature at cruising altitudes.

Hermans discounts the use of solar power for air travel without revolutionary changes in the airplane concept, but concludes that it seems wise to extend the availability of oil products as long as possible. However, he argues that the low cost of kerosene is a huge disincentive in this respect:

“It is a defect that kerosene is so irrationally cheap, which triggers much unnecessary air travel,” he writes. “A worldwide tax on kerosene–if at all politically possible–should be something to pursue.”

For road transport, Hermans argues that liquid hydrogen is not a viable option due to safety issues around handling it. He finds that electric vehicles offer the most promising solution. However, the challenge is to improve the performance of batteries to prolong the driving time for electric cars, as well as improving the performance of supercapacitors for more rapid charging of the batteries, he argues.

Direct driving using solar power is difficult, Hermans finds, even under a clear sky. However, students from Eindhoven University of Technology are among those that have taken up the challenge; they built a four-seater solar-powered family car that can be driven indefinitely under clear skies at a speed of about 43km/h. The only drawback is that the car is just over 1m tall and is not very comfortable. Hermans concludes that solar family cars will be feasible in future if consumers are willing to sacrifice on comfort.

Alternatively, Hermans writes, the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility, for example, by having shorter distances between the workplace and home. “In other words, urban planning provides an important key,” he concludes.

###

MRS E&S, a journal of the Materials Research Society and Cambridge University Press, encourages contributions that provide viewpoints and perspectives on the all-important issue of how humankind can work towards, and build, a sustainable future.

The contents of this press release refer to the following article which is freely available
The challenge of energy-efficient transportation, by Professor Jo Hermans
https://goo.gl/HFptW0

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347 thoughts on “Latest in green tech – “hydrogen for sustainable air travel” – no, seriously

    • When is that supposed to begin? Just after he explains why his two best alternatives are not even a primary source of energy. . So much for the physics PhD.

      For road transport, Hermans argues that liquid hydrogen is not a viable option due to safety issues around handling it.

      Has anyone ever seen a hydrogen mine or an electricity tree?

      WTF? Who gave this bozzo a degree in anything?

      • First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.

        So all we need to do is pronouce the magic word “professionals” and all risks are equal. If we wanted to power planes with TNT, that would be fine as long as “professionals” handled it.

        What tree this idiot fall out of?

      • Double + Greg. Using secondary energy sources kills the idea. We have NO way to provide enough electricity to produce hydrogen or electricity to fill the transport needs. Just guessing, we’d need some 20000 large commercial reactors, or their equivalent- ~~ 2×10^14 Mw. Nuclear power plants tend to be around 1200Mw.(these big numbers can get tricky) The point is that the US uses some 19million barrels per day of transportation fuel. It’s highly unlikely we’ll get everyone to agree to putting in a nuclear power plant in every other county in the US.
        That doesn’t even consider the transformation efficiencies- with either hydrogen or electricity conversion loses about 20-30%.

      • Well I grew up on the smallest Continent; Zealandia, and we have the largest deposits of hydrogen ore in the world. In fact in Zealandia, Hydrogen ores are just lying around all over the place.

        So we will be ready to supply general aviation with all of the airliner fuel they need.

        G

      • George E. Smith – Zealandia hydrogen deposits used to be even more vast, until a careless H2 miner in West Zealandia accidentally left the lid off the top of the mine over a holiday weekend. Nearly half the deposits just floated up out of the mine and blew away with the breeze.

      • As a retired manager, I can assure you that having a PhD does not confer any promise of common sense. In fact, I rarely found the two come together – and the PhDs that worked for me all had hard science degrees. We were employees of a major aerospace company.
        In fact, I was more surprised when I found a PhD that had common sense. I was in awe of one who had a PhD, common sense – and the rare gift of being able to communicate technical issues clearly to a team of experts and new college grads.
        One out of fifty. But Dr. Hermans does push the limits!

      • Snerk* The most common hydrogen ore covers around 70% of the planet, miles deep in places. :S

        Build a giant arcology, frog march all the Greens inside, weld the doors shut. All transportation becomes local, and indoors. And the rest of us can get on with life. :S

      • “professionals”

        Remember, The Ark was built by amateurs but The Titanic was built by professionals.

      • It is reasonable to consider who will be using the material. It would be silly to treat every process and material as though it were to be handled by untrained members of the public.

      • Remember, The Ark was built by amateurs but The Titanic was built by professionals.

        yeah, but those amateurs had divine help ;-)

      • The only real way to curtail (not eliminate but vastly reduce) fossil fuel use in society is to rethink ourselves into a vertical society. One where we live, work, and play in a single building. One where commuting to work involves a trip down the elevator to the 5th floor. One where going to the market on the way home involves getting on the elevator at the 5th floor then off the elevator on the 22nd floor on the way to the 40th floor where your home is. Where clothing shopping is the 18th floor and banking is the 15th. This is the only real way to get people out of their cars on a daily basis

      • Sounds so fun, Bryan… But quite old idea, noticeably used by Huxley (among others). Hardly enough to make man Happy, however, you also have to turn him stupid
        Why this hate against fuel, against energy cheaply available to each and every person, anyway?

      • No hate against fuel on my end, just the only realistic way to reduce usage on a daily basis is to eliminate the necessity on a daily basis

    • Yeh and the price of kerosine is “irrationally cheap”! Its called the free market, buddy. If supply were an issue the price would be higher.

      These people are high-functioning morons.

      • I love the way these concerned professionals decide that other people’s travel is “unnecessary”.
        Of course, for them to jet off to conferences in exotic locations is necessary. But if you want to take the kids to see grandma. That’s unnecessary and needs to be eliminated.

    • All we need is to fund these people to do nothing and all the people actually doing something useful will be able to get stuff done. Insisting that a large part of the population gets paid as long as they do nothing is the only current way of advancing civilization. If they ever do anything it only makes it harder for those who can actually do useful stuff. What defines “useful” is the problem.

      • dunno what price you pay?
        but in Aus we used to use kero heaters cos they were what poor people could afford
        now?
        assuming you have an old heater(the new ones are over 100$) it would cost around $6 to fill the bottle for ONE nights worth of heating for one room
        thats not cheap

      • ozspeaksup,

        I think the writer is refering to Jet Fuel and the subsequent “low” price of air travel.

        Cheers

        Roger

      • “A worldwide tax on kerosene–if at all politically possible–should be something to pursue.”
        Isn’t that already included in the price of an airline ticket, along with all of the taxes and fees?

    • Hydrogen is a really bad idea. It would be under pressure if at ambient temperature and is very difficult to maintain in a tank as it tends to migrate through tank walls. It destroys steel as it invades the tank wall, converting iron to iron hydride which is brittle. If kept at cryogenic temperatures you would need to vent a lot of the gas to get it to condense by evaporative cooling or spend a lot of energy cooling the gas with refrigeration. Just pumping it back into the tanks after using it for lift would be a heat intensive activity.

      They could use metal sponges to fix the hydrogen under ambient pressure but then you would be carrying lots of extra metal around all of the time. To make the hydrogen leave the metal sponge efficiently, it would have to be heated which not only uses energy but heating hydrogen is never a good idea.

      It was predictable that they would also conclude that solar powered cars would not work unless we gave up using it to move people and things. And, they also mention that travel becomes less of a problem if the people do not travel. Hmmm, sounds quite like the UN’s Agenda 21 goal. No one with the right to travel, check.

      • Three things that are always ‘just a few years away’ 1) Hydrogen Fuel Cells 2) High efficiency batteries 3) Nuclear Fusion reactors.

        In fact, a few years ago, Hydrogen Fuel Cells were always ‘a few months away’. A lot of people lost a lot of money investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology that would be ready for market in just a few months. I have long ago learnt to ‘believe it when I see it.’

      • In one of many presentations by Bill Harrison of WPAFB, he shows the changes needed to aircraft in order to use H2 as a fuel. See: “The Role of Fischer Tropsch Fuels for the US Military”. Yes, the fuel is lighter, but the volume requirement increases storage space requiring a much larger fuselage. Engines can be 25% smaller, wings 5% smaller, but the increased drag for the fuselage increased energy demand by 28% negating any advantage of hydrogen as a fuel for aircraft.
        Ethanol is much worse requiring larger wings and engines as the fuel has less energy per mass (critical to flight). The best fuel is high paraffin content fuel which has much more energy than ethanol, is compatible with current aircraft (any extremely relevant factor), and increases payload or range by 6% over conventional crude derived jet fuel.
        One has to keep in mind that world jet fuel consumption is 5 million barrels/day (http://www.indexmundi.com/energy/?product=jet-fuel). Small compared to gasoline in the US, but still non-trival. Converting this to H2 consumption, the airline industry alone would require nearly 500 billion lbs of H2/day. And let’s not even discuss the cost of total replacement of all aircraft plus the infrastructure needed at every airport to fill the planes with H2.
        The best one can do is figure out how to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels (from crude, oils sands, shale oil, coal, or a number of other resources) cheaply and efficiently as liquid fuels are the only way to fly.

      • Hmmm, sounds quite like the UN’s Agenda 21 goal. No one with the right to travel, check.

        Except Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio. Such people must be allowed to travel to spread the gossip. /sarc

  1. Much of it seems sensible. But that money quote about introducing a kerosene tax sounds suspiciously like just one more example of someone with a preconceived political ‘solution’ looking for a technical ‘problem’ to “fix”.

    • I completely agree. Putting a tax on kerosene to limit travel is crazy thinking. We should be motivated to provide unlimited travel at the lowest cost possible. It is called “freedom”.

      • The proposed tax could be restricted to all government, academic, political activist, & entertainment industry travellers. It would apply to all their air-travel, work-related & private.

    • Ah there is a hole big enough to throw Al Gore thru in this story. Hydrogen gaseous, or liquid has a very low density. This idiot claims that is a benefit. But to move a vehicle from point A to point B requires a certain amount of energy and hydrogen being low density also has a low energy density. And that mean much larger fuel tanks to hold all the low density fuel. Gasoline is roughly 4 times more energy dense than liquid hydrogen. I’m guessing kerosine is in the same ballpark as gasoline. So if you need 5000 gallons of fuel storage space for kerosine you’d need 20,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen.

      Plus liquid hydrogen is a cryogenic material and has to be kept at -423 deg F. Hydrogen also has the nasty property of migrating thru metal walls and it weakens the metal when that is happening. So the tanks would be 4 times larger and much heavier to contain the cryogenic liquid with it’s insulation.

      • Yep, the letter H in hydrogen stands for Houdini gas, it can get out of anything.

        This guy obviously has no engineering knowledge and does not even realise that he needs some to suggest engineering solutions to the rest of the world.

        Ignorant, hubristic scientists, who needs them?

      • “Plus liquid hydrogen is a cryogenic material and has to be kept at -423 deg F. Hydrogen also has the nasty property of migrating thru metal walls and it weakens the metal when that is happening.” James Kramer

        Could be a catchy title maybe?

        Farrenheit-423

        A classic in English-speaking republics about the the destruction of the western engineering and technology degrees by sustainability professors.

      • ..and then there’s this:
        “Third, the disadvantages of “boil off” (created by the low boiling point of liquid hydrogen) would be reduced in air travel because of the low outside temperature at cruising altitudes.”

        …. Does he not know that the pressure altitude at 30 thou is working hard against the boil off argument? sigh.

      • I’ve seen Boeing’s proposal for a hydrogen powered airliner. Hydrogen has a density of .07 kg/liter, about the same as styrofoam. The H2 can’t be stored in the wings as kerosene now is (They’re not big enough and the surface/area ratio makes a lousy thermal insulator) so it needs a fuselage plug. That plug is the full fuselage diameter and about two diameters long. Therefore, the people get to sit either in front of, or behind the wing with separate doors for the gates. Quite unworkable.

      • just look at picture of the space shuttle. The output of the two solid rocket boosters and the main shuttle engines were roughly the same. The main engines were much more efficient with a specific impulse of 550, compared with 267 for the boosters. The huge tank(includes the liquid oxygen) looks to be about 6x the size of the boosters.

      • James Kramer
        For aircraft the critical parameter is energy/MASS NOT energy/volume. Even then distinguish liquid hydrogen from gaseous.
        See ref below

      • @james kramer: you are abusing the terminology, but your point is valid. Hydrogen is too bulky to fit in plane.

      • Bulls eye! Boeing and McDonnell Douglas developed proposals for jet airliners using liquid hydrogen. Most of the volume of the two designs was hydrogen tanks, splitting up the passenger compartment (for weight and balance reasons), because the fuel volume requirement was vastly higher than what could fit in wings.
        Obviously, neither design progressed to prototype. Seemed exciting, but in addition to having to give up passenger/cargo space, the technical issues in refueling were immense. Space boosters require highly trained technicians whose efforts are monitored closely by engineers. Liquid hydrogen is tricky! Kerosene refueling is a snap by comparison.

      • Why make such problem out of nothing? Just put the passengers from the space required for the H2 tanks in the wings ! Low cost tickets, of course: there’s not coffee and sandwiches.

      • Gasoline contains about 120,500 BTUs, diesel about 138,700 BTUs.per
        US gallon. Mileage comes from BTUs.

        Try driving across the US in a solar powered car probably weighing
        much less than 2000 lbs ~26 MPH on our interstate highway system,
        next to 70,000+ lb trucks driving 70+MPH.

        If the highway patrol doesn’t throw you off first. (min. speed 40-45 MPH
        most places), Darwin will take care of the obstruction.

      • For “dan no longer in CA”
        Boeing solved the fore and aft fuselage compartments interconnect as far back as the B-29 design –


        A bit inconvenient for the drinks/meals trolley though.

    • If supply were an issue, the price would increase, stimulating increased production and alternative sources.

      Tax is never the solution.

  2. Unless I am seriously mistaken, liquid hydrogen is quite dangerous to handle, and has serious structural issues in aircraft/rocket construction. Perhaps Hermans is aware of some advance on those issues that never reached the media?

    • The military have tried on a number of occasions to make hydrogen aircraft work. It’s basically been a disaster for numerous reasons: the most obvious being that you need much larger tanks to carry the equivalent amount of liquid hydrogen as you do for kerosene.

      • Simple
        Passenger aeroplane with 300 + on-board and 25% tankful of ordinary jet fuel, followed by hydrogen refuelling jet tanker with just one pilot. Ordinary fuel is used for the take off and landing, while at cruising altitude hydrogen is fed directly to the passenger jet’s engines by a long refuelling line.
        In case of hydrogen tankers explosion, just one pilot and the tanker jet are ‘collateral damage’, while the passenger jet with its 300+ people utilises conventional fuel to safely proceed to the nearest airport.
        (surely /sarc is not needed, but a Josh cartoon might help)

      • The tanker jet would have to carry enough LH both for itself and the passenger jet, and need extra dense tanks to keep the hydrogen in them. I’d be surprised if such a big bulky aircraft could even take off. ;)
        [/takesarcsrs]

    • No, he has not. I am an engineer and worked at a LNG liquefaction and storage facility.

      He is a BOZO of the first order.

      • Ha, exactly the same term that sprang to my mind. He does not even realise that hydrogen is not a source of energy : you can’t mine and it does not grow on trees: you need energy to make hydrogen.

        Does this jerk actually have any qualifications beyond writing books?

      • GW: I agree with you relative to two points. First, as a materials engineer, storage of nitrogen subjects the containment structural material to hydrogen embrittlement (Fe,Ti, and others). Second, having worked as an undergraduate nights (stupidly and untrained) at a major Cambridge MA technical university liquifying nitrogen and helium, I can attest that the production, handling, transfer, and use of liquid gases is highly risky. After a day of classes/labs, it’s hard to work 5PM until 7AM; but for this job … constant fear made it easier!

        Dan

      • GW: I agree with you relative to two points. First, as a materials engineer, storage of nitrogen subjects the containment structural material to hydrogen embrittlement (Fe,Ti, and others). Second, having worked as an undergraduate nights (stupidly and untrained) at a major Cambridge MA technical university liquifying nitrogen and helium, I can attest that the production, handling, transfer, and use of liquid gases is highly risky. After a day of classes/labs, it’s hard to work 5PM until 7AM; but for this job … constant fear made it easier!

        Dan

  3. Don’t we already use liquid hydrogen for air travel?
    (Of course, only when the destination is out in (or beyond) the ozone.)

    • No, it’s mostly kerosene for space these days, too. At least for manned vehicles like the Soyuz and (soon-to-be-manned) Falcon-9.

      It’s hard to make hydrogen work even in spaceflight. It mostly seems to be used in upper stages these days, where mass matters more than size.

      • Boeing’s Delta IV booster (their biggest booster) was hydrogen fueled. That’s still a far cry from aircraft needs.
        I’m pretty sure that was the only rocket the US built that had a hydrogen fueled first stage. It was more a political (since primary customer was the US Government) solution to give it an edge over the Atlas V booster.

    • I keep trying to explain to my green science illiterate friends we’ve already moved to hydrogen, we stopped using carbon as a fuel for transport a long time back when we switched to hydrocarbons especially ones like C4H10 and C3H8 where essentially we’re just using the carbon atoms to bond and stabilize the hydrogen fuel.

      • Bryan A- no sarc tag necessary. You do know that C4H10 is butane and C3H8 is propane? When oxidized you get lots more molecules of H20 than CO2 from these two fuels. So in a way, you can think of the carbon as just a carrier for the hydrogen.

        br

  4. Low energy density is and advantage for aircraft fuel?

    How did five generations of aircraft design engineers miss that?

    Maybe they are insufficiently rounded and need to have taken more non-quantitative liberal arts credits

  5. …“Given the severe weight limitations for fuel in aircraft, liquid hydrogen may be a viable alternative in the long run,”…

    Whatever Hermans is a specialist in, it’s not air travel. Does he think that people have not studied the possible use of hydrogen on aircraft extensively? Of course they have – for many years.

    It fails on the difficulty of keeping it in storage, but also in its volume. As this BBC item points out, Hydrogen is “three times more efficient than oil but four times bulkier”. And volume is important in an aircraft.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11707135

    Why do people who don’t know what they’re talking about continue to get paid by environmentalists?

    • “Why do people who don’t know what they’re talking about continue to get paid by environmentalists?”

      Without that ignorance there would be nothing to talk about.

    • Some people have come to view themselves as so smart, that they find it impossible to believe that someone else has come up with whatever idea they are pondering at present.
      Therefore the notion that someone else has already come up with and rejected what ever beautiful notion he’s pondering at present just doesn’t occur to him.

  6. “Given the severe weight limitations for fuel in aircraft, liquid hydrogen may be a viable alternative in the long run,”

    And where do you store on an airplane this volume of hydrogen?

    I guess that why we have a picture of the Hindenburg

    • Though the Hindenburg was not using hydrogen as fuel, but as ballast for lighter-than-air flight. The ballast bladders were light-weight by necessity, so H2 was constantly seeping out of them and then seeping into everything else, turning the whole craft into one big matchstick waiting to be lit.

      • Be fair to the Hindenburg. The catastrophic fire was most likely caused by static electricity(nearby thunder storms)and faulty grounding connections igniting the silvery paint on the shell- it was a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powder in a binder of nitrate dope. In other words, Thermite or a close relative.

        These days you could make the shell out of aluminum coated plastic film at 1/4 the weight and 1/1000 the fire hazard.

  7. “•Second, liquid hydrogen itself is very light (in fact, it is in a gaseous state at ordinary temperatures), which is an important advantage for air travel.”
    Does he actually understand what he has written? I would think that liquid hydrogen as a fuel should never see the gaseous state, except for the venting of the boil off.

    • I was impressed he felt the need to state that hydrogen is a gas at ordinary temperatures, like that is a revelation.

    • the third point is even worse:

      Third, the disadvantages of “boil off” (created by the low boiling point of liquid hydrogen) would be reduced in air travel because of the low outside temperature at cruising altitudes.

      Liquid hydrogen (LH2 or LH2) is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. Hydrogen is found naturally in the molecular H2 form.

      To exist as a liquid, H2 must be cooled below hydrogen’s critical point of 33 K. However, for hydrogen to be in a fully liquid state without boiling at atmospheric pressure, it needs to be cooled to 20.28 K[3] (−423.17 °F/−252.87 °C).[4][5]

      from wiki.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_hydrogen

      • And the gentleman never refers to the actual percent of time that the average fueled aircraft spends at “cruising altitudes”.

      • However, for hydrogen to be in a fully liquid state without boiling at atmospheric pressure, it needs to be cooled to 20.28 K
        =================
        This drops to about 16 K for an aircraft at 35 to 40 thousand feet, where air pressure is only 1/5 of surface pressure.

    • Well, isn’t it obvious? Hydrogen is like, light, y’see, and that’ll help the plane stay in the air. In fact, if you make the H2 fuel tanks large enough, the aircraft will just float off the tarmac! I know this to be a fact because I’ve designed hydrogen facilities!

  8. This guy apparently is not in touch with current battery technology. It is this close to being a practical alternative.
    I wonder what this guy considers “unnecessary air travel” to be ? I’ve never seen anyone friviously flying here and there just for the hell of it. And since when is it cheap and how much of the cost is in the fuel? Also, even those who want to reduce CO2 emissions certainly should be aware that CO2 levels cannot be allowed to fall to, say, Civil War levels. Which mean that we in all likelihood NEVER want to remove all CO2 emissions. So keep those fossil fueled planes flying. When electric cars replace gas powered jobs, we will ahve LOTS and LOTS of oil lying around.

    • I am sure he does not consider “unnecessary air travel” flying to Paris, Copenhagen, Cancun etc for climate change conferences…

    • Battery technology may be near for Southern Calif. (Doubtful – but let us use that as a premise). It is a very long ways away for Chicago in the winter.

    • I’m not ‘this guy’ but i consider flying from Europe to NY for three nights and christmas shopping to be ‘unnecessary air travel’.

  9. Unless I’m very much mistaken, one reason the US never got a certain SSTO vehicle off the ground was …. the liquid hydrogen tanks for it kept failing quality control and the entire project ended up being scrapped.

    Look up VentureStar.

    And this guy just handwaves it into use, with a presumptuous tax – well I’m fine with it, but please tax all these enviro people flying to their critical talks in whatever tropical resort they decide on first ….

    • “Dr Dave”
      Try actually studying the parameters and issues involved.
      Liquid hydrogen has been extensively studied for aircraft propulsion.
      For aircraft the critical parameter is energy/MASS NOT energy/volume. Even then distinguish liquid hydrogen from gaseous.
      See some references below

      • unfortunately you are wrong.
        Both are critical. hydrogen tanks to power a jumbo would be big enough to create massive extra drag.

        At cruise, all the energy is spent overcoming drag. Only in the climb is energy used to raise the plane weight

      • Leo Smith. Re”all energy is spent overcoming drag”???
        Try some real engineering calculations. Five of the Tupolev TU-155 liquid hydrogen aircraft have already flown! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen-powered_aircraft

        For a Boeing 747-400 type aircraft, this would reduce the takeoff gross weight from 360,000 to 270,000 kg (800,000 to 600,000 lb). Thus, the performance of a hydrogen-fueled aircraft is a trade-off of the larger wetted area and lower fuel weight. This trade-off depends essentially on the size of the aircraft.
        Prototypes[edit]
        The Russian manufacturer Tupolev built a prototype hydrogen-powered version of the Tu-154 airliner, named the Tu-155, which made its first flight in 1989.[6] This was the first experimental aircraft in the world operating on liquid hydrogen.

        See details at:
        http://en.avia.pro/blog/tu-155 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/tu-155.htm
        PS Try at least doing some preliminary searching before pontificating.

      • Volume is critically important, too, when you’re trying to push that volume through the air at 500 knots. Ne’ertheless, here’s an energy/mass chart for you.

      • Some numbers. The energy density of hydrogen on a weight basis is 142MJ/kg. For kerosene it is 46MJ/kg. That is a significant improvement, and would be a great advantage in air travel. The volume needed is much larger, which is a significant disadvantage. It is plausible that the advantages could outweigh the disadvantages for certain applications.

      • David L. Hagen,

        You should try reading your own links/references. From
        ‘Alternate Fuels and their potential impact on Aviation’, NASA 2006; “The volumetric heat of combustion for LH2 is so poor that it would force airplane design compromises.”

        That supports Dr. Dave’s statement and is in direct contradiction of your statement “For aircraft the critical parameter is energy/MASS NOT energy/volume.”

      • Ray in SC All engineering design requires “design compromises”. A LH2 jet plane will be different from a JP8 jet plane. So? How will we provide transport with insufficient JP8? Global production of conventional crude oil has been flat since 2005. What happens when that begins to decline and fracking “tight oil” can’t keep up with global population and desire for economic growth? Think ahead for the sake of your great grandchildren.

      • David L Hagen,

        You suggest that Leo Smith is wrong for saying that “hydrogen tanks to power a jumbo would be big enough to create massive extra drag” and you post the following link to support your assertion; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen-powered_aircraft

        From your link: “Liquid hydrogen has about four times the volume for the same amount of energy of kerosene based jet-fuel. (snip) This lowers the performance due to the extra wetted area of the fuselage. The larger fuselage size causes more skin friction drag and wave drag.”

        It is a funny thing that my quote above came from the same paragraph as your quote: “For a Boeing 747-400 type aircraft, this would reduce the takeoff gross weight…”

        It would appear that in your zeal to contradict Leo Smith that you ignore the part of your source which directly supports his argument about increased drag and instead present a red herring response about takeoff weight.

        This type of obfuscation of the truth is one of the hallmark qualities of a troll.

      • Ray in So. Carolina Try examining the actual claim and doing an engineering “sniff test”. Smith asserted it would “create massive extra drag”. “increased” is different from “massive”. Tupolev would not have built and flown 5 TU-155 aircraft with such “massive extra drag”. The major reduction in mass/energy more than compensates for small increased drag. PS your accusation of “troll” is but a rhetorical fallacy and failure to address the substance of the argument.

      • David L Hagen,

        I am an engineer and no, this does not pass the ‘sniff test’. You have provided a number of links and I have read them. It would seem that H2 powered aircraft have been studied for over 50 years and yet the tecnology has not progressed pass a few prototypes.

        The TU-155 that you refer to was an alternate fuel prototype that was primarily powered by JP-8. For the LH2 prototype, one of three JP-8 engines was replaced with an LH2 engine and the fuselage was equipped with a 17 cubic meter LH2 fuel tank with the required cryogenic equipment. The aircraft was a testbed for alternate fuel engines and at no time did it sustain flight while on LH2 power alone. This program was terminated without demonstated success and a picture of the now abandonded air frame is available on one of your links.

        It would appear that, once again, you have responded in a conceited, condescending, and demeaning manner while making claims that are totally unsupported, if not refuted, by your own links.

        If I may make a few suggestions; read your own links as they are quite informative and try not to come across as being conceited, condescending, and ill informed. That is the trifecta of trollness.

      • Ray in SC None of that negates LH2 as a feasible fuel. The primary issue remains the relative cost and the long term availability of conventional fuels.

    • Well, this vehicle is actually a low-Earth orbit vehicle, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be used as an aircraft to fly between points on Earth. It might be kind of much for short-haul routes, but you could get from New York to Paris pretty quick. :)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylon_%28spacecraft%29

      “Skylon is a design for a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane by the British company Reaction Engines Limited (REL), using SABRE, a combined-cycle, air-breathing rocket propulsion system, potentially reusable for 200 flights. In paper studies, the cost per kilogram of payload carried to low Earth orbit in this way is hoped to be reduced from the current £1,108/kg (as of December 2015),[4] including research and development, to around £650/kg, with costs expected to fall much more over time after initial expenditures have amortised.[3] In 2004, the developer estimated the total lifetime cost of the programme to be about $12 billion.[3]

      The vehicle design is for a hydrogen-fuelled aircraft that would take off from a purpose-built runway, and accelerate to Mach 5.4 at 26 kilometres (16 mi) altitude using the atmosphere’s oxygen before switching the engines to use the internal liquid oxygen (LOX) supply to take it into orbit.[5]:5 Once in orbit it would release its payload (of up to 15 tonnes). The vehicle will be unpiloted, but also be certified to carry passengers. All payloads could be carried in a standardised container compartment. The relatively light vehicle would then re-enter the atmosphere and land on a runway, being protected from the conditions of re-entry by a ceramic composite skin. When on the ground, it would undergo inspection and necessary maintenance. If the design goal is achieved, it should be ready to fly again within two days.”

      end excerpt

      I always liked this design but it resembles the development of fusion energy: It’s completion is always “down the road a few years” and has been that way for years.

      • “The vehicle design is for a hydrogen-fuelled aircraft that would take off from a purpose-built runway, and accelerate to Mach 5.4 at 26 kilometres (16 mi) altitude using the atmosphere’s oxygen…

        I nearly stopped reading after this statement [sigh – there aren’t any sane aerospace engineers around anymore, are there??].

        But then there’s this…

        ” The vehicle will be unpiloted, but also be certified to carry passengers.”

        Yikes!!!!

      • …. it resembles the development of fusion energy: It’s completion is always “down the road a few years” and has been that way for years..

        The reasons for this are political, not technical. Such a vehicle would render all current rocketry obsolete, and many billions are invested in current rocketry. The Skylon concept is kept going by laughably small injections of occasional tens of millions of pounds – chickenfeed for this kind of engineering…

        …accelerate to Mach 5.4 at 26 kilometres (16 mi) altitude using the atmosphere’s oxygen…”

        I nearly stopped reading after this statement [sigh – there aren’t any sane aerospace engineers around anymore, are there??]….

        Lots of the best of them are working for Skylon – British Aerospace, for example. The concept has passes all technical and business plan design audits it has been subject to.

        …” The vehicle will be unpiloted, but also be certified to carry passengers.”

        Yikes!!!!…

        Er…ALL current staged rockets are essentially ‘unpiloted’. They are controlled by onboard computers during launch, with remote direct command backups. The SpaceX vehicles follow exactly the same regime.

      • “Lots of the best of them are working for Skylon – British Aerospace, for example. The concept has passes all technical and business plan design audits it has been subject to.”

        I’m afraid, Dodgy Geezer, that this concept has been look at before and was rejected (I used to work at major aircraft engine manufacturer during the time when National Aerospace Plane project was in full swing). I can’t believe they’re still going to use that idea for SSTO. Hope their R&D money is being well spent…

        “Er…ALL current staged rockets are essentially ‘unpiloted’. They are controlled by onboard computers during launch, with remote direct command backups. The SpaceX vehicles follow exactly the same regime.”

        OK. You first… :)

      • Why should company A care that company B has invested millions in a rocket concept that is about to be made obsolete???

      • “The reasons for this [Skylon’s long development time] are political, not technical.”

        Well, I would say the reason is Skylon research and development has never been adequately funded. We can speculate on the reasons for that.

        I notice a couple of people dismiss this SSTO concept, but I put it out there not as an SSTO, but as an example of what could be done using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels.

        Skylon uses a hydrogen/oxygen engine to get it up to ramjet speeds, but for a commercial aircraft there is no big need to go 4,000 mph, except for long distance travel, so I was thinking they could adapt the hydrogen/oxygen engines of Skylon for suborbital flight and use it in aircraft. The hydrogen/oxygen engines obvously have more than enough power to propel an aircraft, and the design is compatible with aircraft. So what prevents us from using hydrogen engines to replace fossil fuel engines?

  10. Assuming that Hydrogen can be produced economically in bulk, it should be used to synthesize kerosine.

    • BZ – the correct answer. Hydrogen is produced in bulk for oil refiners and to produce synthetic fertilizer.

    • Some historians argue that the hydrogen in the dirigible wasn’t the culprit. Two points support this. First, hydrogen burns with a fairly dim, BLUE flame. It’s hot, but not visually bright. The Hindenberg fire was remarkably bright. The second point is that the German dirigible fabric exteriors were doped with a compound that pretty much consisted of a thermite-like compound. If you dig around, there has been experimental work on both issues and the results supported the idea that the Hindenberg doping material was really the problem. More interesting, the hydrogen may have saved lives because it would have retarded the descent of the burning hull allowing people beneath to scatter away from it. Some of the other well known dirigible disasters are mainly due to a mix of inclement weather and under-powered engines.

  11. “Alternatively, Hermans writes, the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility, for example, by having shorter distances between the workplace and home. “In other words, urban planning provides an important key,” he concludes.”

    Except for saving on my own expenses, why should I care about reducing my energy use?

    • ” … shorter distances between the workplace and home … urban planning provides an important key … ”
      Yep, this guy is away with the fairies. Shorter distance between workplace and home has been an urban planning shibboleth for as long as I have been a planner – 47 years. It has not existed since about the 1950s. Every attempt to create it has failed, but it keeps getting reinvented.The old new urbanism becomes the new old urbanism.

      • The problem with this sort of urban planning is that all the residential areas in close proximity to industrial (an attempt at short commutes) end up being slums. The middle class don’t want to live there. The residential near the core (an attempt at short commutes for the office workers) either ends up as slums or extremely expensive.

        Then there is the issue of attempting to get both income earners in the household to have jobs in close proximity. Good luck with all of that.

    • It’s agend@ 21 / 2030 in action, is all. They want all your money, and tgen to tell you how to live. Who said communism was dead, eh?

    • the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility
      ===============
      want to cut energy consumption, go to Mexico for the winter.

      of course, one could simply turn off the heat and freeze into a solid block of ice for the winter. energy use and mobility are minimized. just what the good doctor ordered. the only problem left is the spring-time defrost.

      • Or at the very least we could ban air travel travel by hollywood actors and warmist ‘scientists’ for social gatherings or trips between their multitude of houses spread across the globe.

      • “the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our nobility”

        FIFY (fixed it for you)

  12. Alternatively, Hermans writes, the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility…

    To be clear, that’s their goal, to REDUCE energy use, not change it.

    They present a smokescreen in talks about renewables and hydrogen and what not, but the bottom line, their Cap & Trade bill that passed the US House in 2009 would have mandated 83% cuts in CO2 emissions. Only a fraction of that 83% in cuts could have been replaced by prohibitively expensive renewables or other fancifuls like hydrogen. Same with a stringent carbon tax if it had same goal: it would destroy our economy and quality of life, while China would quickly become the dominating economic and military global power.

    “A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States.” -John Holdren, 1973 [just the US? lol]

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” -ex UNEP Director Maurice Strong

    “We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster… to bomb us into the stone age, where we might live like Indians.” -Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalogue

    • Agreed. To a hard-core green, peasant scum should not use any significant energy or resources (mostly because we would be dead).

      • When he was told about railroads, the Duke of Wellington was horrified. He could see no good coming from letting the common folk travel around like that.

      • Hermans would have to pry my Boss’ Super King Air out of his cold ,dead hands….
        One thing-Where does the Hydrogen come from -Nuclear powered electrolysis
        plants? Fusion by-products? Wind? Solar?
        These things need to be answered…
        OF course Fusion-practical- Fusion would render his argument irrelevant…

      • I could be wrong, I haven’t checked the numbers. But for the amount currently used it is byproduct of hydrocarbon processing. Gasoline refiners for example. But if you needed a lot more you’d probably have to make it by electrolysis powered by nuke plants. Every once in awhile you’ll see a claim that some in the lab managed to split water using solar energy but nothing ever comes of it. Hype to drum up further grants is my guess.

      • In-other-words:Hydrogen is a product of fossil fuel production. That is why I mentioned Nuke Plants,etc.
        New agey/greenie pipe dreams(stuffed with high quality ganja…) and just as ephemeral..

  13. Direct driving using solar power is difficult, Hermans finds, even under a clear sky. However, students from Eindhoven University of Technology are among those that have taken up the challenge;

    Kids just aren’t going to know what snow engineering is.

    In the near future, Universities claiming this is techonolgy should not know what tuition is.

  14. Bottom line is the UN just think there are too many breeders, that is the bottom lined and what this nonsense is all about. Lets not kid ourselves

  15. shorter distances between the workplace and home
    Get replaced by a robot. Go fishing.

    Cities are not torn down in a day (exception – Syria) and replaced according to a utopian planner.
    Still, some old malls and factories are being converted to residential spaces.
    This will take a very long time to impact the average distance per trip — thus, we are all doomed.

    • “Cities are not torn down in a day”

      They will be, once the food stamps stop.

      But they won’t be rebuilt. Big cities grew up because you needed a lot of people to work in big, centralized manufacturing. Now those jobs are gone, cities become less and less relevant every year.

      • Brown-field issues made it almost impossible to tear down old manufacturing facilities and replace them with new manufacturing facilities in urban areas. It’s cheaper to acquire farm land and build manufacturing plants on farm land.

        More environmental nonsense at work. Last figure I came across was ~ $250,000 per acre of brown-field to clean up a site prior to any new construction on the same site

        When new plants were built on farm land out in the stix, employees moved to these new locations and this left cities without manufacturing tax bases.

      • Barbara February 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm
        It’s cheaper to acquire farm land and build manufacturing plants on farm land.

        Barbara, I think there are other factors at play too, like political environments and taxes, and labor rates and issues, after all, WHO really wants to build in Detroit? Or Benton Harbor? Or Illinois even?

  16. the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility, for example, by having shorter distances between the workplace and home.

    Yes, let’s just stack humanity up in giant towers of pill boxes right next to similarly stacked work places and shopping.

    Children just aren’t going to know what grass is….

  17. “The only drawback is that the car is just over 1m tall and is not very comfortable.”

    And, uh, that it only goes 43km/h. A Model-T Ford was faster than that.

    “Hermans writes, the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility, for example, by having shorter distances between the workplace and home.”

    So, in the brave new era of ‘urban planning’, are we supposed to move house every time we change jobs?

    • I just love the thought of these solar powers cars. Everybody motoring away during peak our traffic and it starts raining. Instant car park. Won’t the reprobates driving conventional cars be pleased?

      • “Won’t the reprobates driving conventional cars be pleased?”

        They’ll be OK. They’ll be getting driven by their chauffers in the Zil Lanes.

    • So, in the brave new era of ‘urban planning’, are we supposed to move house every time we change jobs?

      Don’t worry, you’ll be told where to work and what job you have to do. And what their glorious leaders will allow to have for the privilege.

  18. I would think fatigue life of LH2 tanks would be a big deal as well. If I recall properly, the External Tank for the Shuttle had a limit of less than ten tankings due to the thermal stress of loading and unloading the cryogens. I LH2 tank would “shrink” with every loading and then expand during flight. How many flights a day for a modern commercial airliner?

  19. Does anyone with experience working with hydrogen in any form think it is possible to be dummy proofed?

    • Nothing is fool-proof, because fools are so ingenious.

      In December 2000, a maintenance worker at a nursing home in a small town in north-eastern Ohio, discovered one evening that the system that delivered oxygen to the patients of the home, was about to run out of the gas. He looked around for another cylinder of oxygen, but all he could find was cylinders painted blue. He ignored the green paint on the oxygen tank and took the blue cylinder out of storage.

      He tried to attach the blue cylinder to the oxygen system, but discovered that the coupling on the blue cylinder would not mate to the oxygen system. Nothing daunted, he removed the coupling from the old cylinder and used it to replace the coupling on the blue cylinder. Successful at last, he connected the blue cylinder to the oxygen system, and turned it on.

      That night four patients died because the system that was supposed to deliver life giving oxygen to their weakened lungs delivered sterile nitrogen instead.

      Oxygen containers are painted green, nitrogen containers are painted blue, and they use different couplings because the two gases should never be confused. But, nothing is fool proof because fools are so ingenious.

      • Walter,
        Noted and appreciated.
        The universe continues to breed and raise bigger and better idiots.

        I may be one.

        Auto

      • For those who may be wondering why nitrogen was there in the first place: pure oxygen is toxic, so it needs to be diluted with an inert gas before it can be breathed safely. The delivery system handles the mix, provided the right tanks are in the right plugs. Hence all the effort to clearly label the cylinders and square peg/round hole the couplings. Then a fool comes along and ignores or actively defeats the safeties.

        A family of 5 in Colorado Springs died from carbon monoxide poisoning after their landlord replaced a broken exhaust fan on the central heating. Those are designed to only go in one way, because if installed incorrectly it would blow the CO-laden exhaust IN to the house instead of out. The landlord kept trying to put it in the wrong way, and eventually grabbed a hammer and forced it in. The Homicide Hunter show on ID had an episode about it.

        A fool going out of his way to actively defeat a safety feature isn’t something you can design for. :[

      • In American Samoa, the tuna canning line broke down and the shop supervisor was off sick. The repair-man located the broken machine, made repairs, but when he installed repaired machine, he then found that the machine next to it was running backwards. Ever resourceful, the ingenious repair-man turned that second machine back to front, and all was right in the world. Except now a third machine next to the second was running backwards. The third also had to be unbolted from the floor and turned back to front….

        When the supervisor returned to work the next morning he found the repair-man was over the moon with pride of accomplishment. The canning plant was oh-so-efficiently taking cans of tuna and turning them back into fish.

        mostly true fish tale.

      • Murphy’s Law is always around to help …

        Perhaps you have not heard of O’Brian’s law. O’Brian’s law states that Murphy was an optimist.

      • The medical gas oxygen is ‘polluted’ with CO2.

        Receptors in the lungs detect CO2 and this stimulates movement of the diaphragm and thus breathing – without the ‘pollutant’ CO2 a patient would not breath properly and asphyxiate.

    • Hydrogen can NOT be dummy-proofed. It is just too dangerous and the molecule is so small it’s nearly impossible to obtain leak-proof fittings that require little or no maintenance.

      A 10 year old hydrogen powered car is literally a rolling bomb. CNG powered cars, however, ARE a good alternative, but maintenance issues of older vehicles can make them dangerous too.

      • This is great point GW. As a mechanical engineer, I am often amused by people who like to wave away the “little” problems of seals, fittings, material life, fatigue, cracking etc. that often doom concepts like these. It’s one thing to theorize about these systems, and quite another to make them work in the real world.

    • It is very difficult to safely use hydrogen even in a carefully controlled industrial setting. I have lots of experience. It is produced by the intense radiation field in the reactor core. It is used to cool the generator of all large power plants.

      Hydrogen is also used as a reducing agent for metal processing including making uranium fuel pellets.

      There have been fatal mistakes. In the context of a public environment, local fire marshals are going to be skeptical of changing fuel.

      I also experience with jet fuel (JP-5) for fueling emergency diesel and refueling helos at sea.

      College professors like efficient options. If you are the people who could get killed by a mistake, you like the options that is easiest to mitigate the risk. That will never be hydrogen.

    • I was one of those “professionals’ referenced in the article for who would be handling this material (15 years I worked on the Shuttle Main Propulsion System) and this idea is one of the stupidest ideas I have heard of – for all of the reasons mentioned by others:
      1) The energy density is awful. Per mass sure it looks fine, but we have to carry the stuff. Whatever gains in mass density are eaten up by aero losses, extra weight of tanks and isulation.
      2) The cryogenic temperatures are extremely hard on materials and require exquisite care in handling due to cryo stresses and need for special insulation and purging. Imagine having to be worried about Nitrogen Ice in a fuel line. LH2 systems require purging with Helium to prevent it – that truly is a limited resource.
      3) Materials concerns – look up hydrogen embrittlement – only certain metals are resistant to it and they are not lightweight alloys. Then throw in the fatigue issues…

      Only someone who has not actually worked with the stuff (or a fool) would suggest using LH2 for this kind of use when JP1 works fine for commercial performance requirements. The only reason we use it on rockets is the need for very high Specific Impulse. Whenever possible, we would use Hyergols or LO2/RP1 engines – much safer and easier to work with.

  20. Another in the series of Liberal Thought Experiments involving incredible expense,danger, inconvenience, gross reductions in one’s standard of living, loss of individual freedom, etc. but posited as some sort of good thing.

  21. Hydrogen is insanely dangerous, low ignition temperature, wide range of cobustible fuel air mix ratios, burns with an extremely hot, almost invisible flame which is so hot it radiates ultraviolet. Using it for bulk transport is nuts.

    • Eric Worrall
      Liquid hydrogen has been studied by DOD and NASA for decades. In military/professional commercial use it would actually be very practical when produced from hydropower etc. that is cheaper than hydrocarbons.
      See ref below

      • Tom Trevor. Try digging in and examining the engineering, supply, and cost issues involved, (not the inflammatory journalistic hype.)

      • Ye, sure, it has been studied, is, and will be so. But it still not there in real, and never will.
        The hydrogen equation is very simple. Either we run out of energy, and hydrogen cannot be made (remember : hydrogen doesn’t freely exist, it must be made). Or we don’t run out of energy, and hydrogen doesn’t need to be made.
        Anyway there are so many more practical, safer, more efficient way to carry energy (power lines, liquid fuels, solid metals for batteries –zinc, aluminum, i don’t know what future will push forward– …)

      • paqyfelyc Try studying the engineering, physics and economics required to address real problems, not chicken little panic.

      • “Try studying the engineering, physics and economics required to address real problems, not chicken little panic.”
        What this is supposed to mean, David L. Hagen ?
        For the record, I did study “engineering, physics and economics required to address real problems”. But you don’t need them to see this idea (hydrogen for transport and power everywhere) won’t exist without panic against ICE. And is bond to remain in the virtual world of studies for very long time, just to get rid of the very long list of “if” that would get it some edge over already existing, practical, cheap, solutions to get the energy for everyday transport of things, people or energy.

      • paqyfelyc Then apply your expertise to explain why global crude oil production has remained flat since 2005 – while global population and the economy continue to grow. Why has only shale (“Tight”) oil and natural gas liquids have risen since then? How long will that growth continue to keep up with population / economic growth when global conventional crude begins to decline? – As it has in every US state except No.Dakota/Mexico. See Economist James Hamilton

        Oil Prices, Exhaustible Resources, and Economic Growth,” in Handbook of Energy and Climate Change, pp. 29-57, edited by Roger Fouquet. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013. Working paper version here. Start planning for your grandkids, not your grandparents.

      • WTF ? what any of this has to do with LH2 being, or rather not being, a fuel for aircraft ?

        “Start planning for your grandkids, not your grandparents.”
        /sarc
        with this kind of plans, France have plenty of wood to build warships, as planned by a foresighted minister of some old king, worried by the tremendous wood needs of his warfleet.
        And I am SO pissed off that Neanderthal selfishly exhausted all easy source of flint. If only he had planned for me, I could still make tools of flint to carve me a car, instead of using metal or ready-made-objects .
        And, can you imagine the huge pile of food that would be for our grandkids, if previous generation spared just 1% of what they produced, instead of eating it all on the petty ground that they were hungry right now [Talking of that, do you have an idea of the world food storage, right now ? between of few weeks and a few month. “If” food production stopped today… just figure out. ]

        Bottom lines: My planning for my kids is just to have them proper education and the spirit to cope with whatever will be, good or bad, that I cannot plan for. I plan that some EYI will mess things a lot, whatever I plan. But I also plan that some people will bring lots of wonders, we can not even dream of, that will ridicule any plan I could have of the world running the way it currently does

  22. Call this science (or engineering)? Barking!
    Apart from the low energy density (J/M^3) there is the work needed to liquefy the stuff and then to gasify it again (or corresponding heat taken from combustion). And where does it come from in the first place – hydrolysis from windmill leccie? Or from some fossil fuel based process?
    Dr Eckner’s Zeppelins were wonderful ships (and I’ve flown on one of their latter day baby sisters) but this idea is just (public grant funded?) stupidity.

    • you heat scrap iron and limestone in a furnace using coal as a fuel. Then as the molten iron leaves the furnace you spray water on it. This will turn the iron rusty, capturing the oxygen from the water and releasing hydrogen. You now return the rusty iron along with more limestone and coal to the furnace and the process repeats.

      you capture the hydrogen which you now use in place of coal to generate electricity. voila, clean coal. zero emissions power plants.

  23. “…students from Eindhoven University of Technology are among those that have taken up the challenge; they built a four-seater solar-powered family car that can be driven indefinitely under clear skies at a speed of about 43km/h. The only drawback is that the car is just over 1m tall and is not very comfortable.”

    I can see that in broad daylight in a solar powered family car that speed of 26 mph can be reached, but I do not need to build it to find this out. Going down hill, gravity will accomplish this, but it will take all four people to put their boots down to stop the momentum.

    And so with all Broken Window schemes in economics, you loose the enjoyment of a pair of shoes. In this case, four pairs of shoes.

      • Pshaw. We’ve had a solar powered vehicle available for thousands of years that’s faster than this.

        It’s called a horse.

      • The problem with horses in a city is the vehicle needs a large tank to capture the exhaust. One of the main reasons horses fell out of favor was the manure clogged the streets. I once read that if the current traffic in New York city was hauled by horses the manure would be 10 ft deep every day. Perhaps that would be a good way to discourage the wanky professors, such as the one that wrote this article, from living in cities or working at universities.

      • It’s called a horse.
        =============
        What more could you ask. A solar powered vehicle with a battery that lasts 20+ years; and can find its way home when the driver is drunk.

      • Fred Flintstone — powered family car! :)

        Yabba, dabba, DOOOO! (<– and that language is just ol' Herman's speed)

        Well. Kids can now look forward to bragging to their grandchildren about walking a mile to school. And pedalling the bicycle in the living room to keep the lights on so they could read their history lesson off of their chalk slate.

    • The Netherlands is noted for being flat – no hills to challenge battery/solar driven vehicles.

      It is also why bicycles are popular there.

    • They do not like to run with the rest of their herd. Strong on the dodgy CAGW part, no show on their proposed CAGW solutions, cause all are nuts. Discuss renewable intermittancy–nope. Hydrogen nonsense, nope. Biofuel catastrophy, nope.

      • The trolls and luke-trolls only show up in great numbers if a post really pokes a big hole in AGW “science.”

      • Wrong again jorge.
        That has to hurt.

        I tend to post only in the areas where I know the material where you might concievably benefit from my dissent. I don’t know or care about crazy plans to fuel aircraft differently. There is no point in me agreeing with folks here and no basis for me to think you might possibly benefit from my comment.
        I think this.

        A. We over regulate nuclear…and good libertarian principles would suggest that we change that. It would also abate climate risk.
        B. Subsidizing rich democrat to live by a ocean that may rise is foolish given libertarian principles and concerns over climate risks.
        C. Clean air is good. Exporting our pollution to china is economically stupid because it essential ly is also exporting our jobs. It also increases climate risk.
        D. A refundable carbon tax is worth considering as hypocrites like gore would get gored. But only if you swap it for other taxes. If that puts me in agreement with George Schultz. .well I’ve been in worse company.

    • I support decreased regulation on nuclear. duh.
      I see no cause for alarm WRT climate change. either fake alarm from skeptics WRT carbon taxes or fake alarm about warming

      • And yet Steven you make my point by not making any criticism of the trash highlighted by this article.

        It’s as though you have gone to the dark side of the force. What’s up with that?

      • Forest,

        What would be the point of Me pointing out what is Obvious?
        I did more than my fair share of calling out Jones, and Mann, Wadhams, and Lewandosky, not to mention
        catching Glieck

        The MINUTE any skeptic comes as close to my record in criticizing one’s own team, you let me know.
        the Minute any skeptic turns another skeptic in for forging documents you let me know

        So ya the idea in the post is nuts,

  24. “eminent physicist Jo Hermans ”

    With Ideas like that he’ll go far…rapidly & in small pieces.
    He should re-learn physics from the bottom… start with cleaning toilets.

  25. History, indeed….

    …. The Hindenburg was a 245-metre- (804-foot-) long airship of conventional zeppelin design that was launched at Friedrichshafen, Germany, in March 1936. It had a maximum speed of 135 km (84 miles) per hour and a cruising speed of 126 km (78 miles) per hour. Though it was designed to be filled with helium gas, the airship was filled with highly flammable hydrogen ….

    On May 6, 1937, while landing at Lakehurst, N.J., on the first of its scheduled 1937 trans-Atlantic crossings, the Hindenburg burst into flames and was completely destroyed. Thirty-six of the 97 persons aboard were killed. …. The Hindenburg disaster marked the end of the use of rigid airships in commercial air transportation.

    (http://www.history.com/topics/hindenburg )

    Crash of The Hindenburg — live commentary

    (youtube)

    And I’ll bet you could sit P. Hermans down in front of that video and he would swivel around in his chair, eyes wide, and breathlessly exclaim:

    {Oh, but,} handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues{!}

    **************************************************************8

    (as others have already pointed out)

    That guy is mixed up coming

    …. liquid hydrogen may be a viable alternative in the long run,” he argues: babbles

    and going

    For road transport, Hermans argues babbles …. that electric vehicles offer the most promising solution.

    Pitiful.

    • Janice:

      Just finished watching some of the Hindenburg disaster videos on Youtube. The Nat Geo documentary said the Hindenburg disaster was caused by hydrogen leaking from one of the hydrogen gas cells that was ignited by the static electricity which was building up on the cotton linen skin of the ship. The ship was flying into headwinds all the way across the Atlantic from Germany, and there were thunderstorms in the areas around the Lakehurst Naval Air Base in NJ that day where it was landing.

      Hydrogen burns invisibly, so the orange flame in the old news reels was the skin of the ship burning. Anybody who still thinks hydrogen is a good alternative to fossil fuels for air and surface transportation needs to watch those old Hindenburg videos from 1937. Ignorance can be deadly.

      The documentary concluded by saying that helium is used for airships today—it does not burn. It said that the U.S. is the world’s only source for helium and that we would not sell it to Germany after the disaster because of the world’s growing opposition to the Nazi regime at the time.

      Oh the humanity indeed.

      • Yes, the orange flame from the fire is the aluminum from the paint on the linen skin. Most of the hydrogen was gone in seconds – too volatile and too buoyant. Aluminum, however, also makes an excellent flame. It is the main fuel component in solid rocket fuel.

    • Actually 2 out of 3 people on the Hindenburg survived. As did 14000 pieces of mail on board. As we’ve been discussing hydrogen is light, when it was released from that aircraft it went up and away from the people. You can imagine a big tank of gasoline rupturing and burning. There would be a burning lake of gasoline.

      Hydrogen is very dangerous if it is contained in a room or other container, but so is methane or a whole long list of other gasses. So the problem with hydrogen is that it makes a poor substitute for high density fuels not that it is insanely dangerous.

      BTW the Hindenburg used hydrogen because the US has a monopoly on Helium and refused to let the Germans buy it.

      • How nice, Mr. Kramer. If you are correct (and I think you probably are), only about 33 people died. No big deal, then.

        *****************

        Re: U.S. monopoly being the controlling

        — According to the article I read, this is why Hydrogen was used for that flight (Mike is right):

        …. the airship was filled with highly flammable hydrogen owing to export restrictions by the United States against N@z1 Germany. …

        (Source: http://www.history.com/topics/hindenburg )

        Your comment while factually correct, creates the false impression that the U.S. was simply at fault. The ultimate blame lies on the thugs across the Atlantic.

      • Nothing to do with Germany being nazi at that time. Wiemar Republic wouldn’t be allowed, either, helium and Zeppelins being considered a weapon.

  26. Ammonia is a good way to use hydrogen as a transport fuel. It’s even been used in aircraft. link

    If fossil fuel becomes prohibitively expensive, ammonia generated by nuclear, solar, or even wind, is an already existing proven alternative. Do I think that will happen? Once the CAGW scare is put to bed, we won’t have to worry about it for a long time.

    • …. and I think …. nano-tech/synthetic chemistry (and tech, in general) jeeeehst maaaayybe…… will advance over the next few decades…. (eye roll)

      (not contradicting you, cBob — attempt at supplementing)

      (and if my comment did not make sense — that happens a lot with me — I meant that by the time fossil fuel supply is low enough that a cost-effective alternative is needed to keep the price of fuel reasonable….

      aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I am NOT going to explain that simple idea! I’ll just wait for someone to say, “Janice: What good does future nano-tech do us now?” Heh.

    • Actually, he takes apart renewable energy too. Is Don the ultimate realist? Maybe.

      Don’s web site is well worth visiting. link He focuses on finding real opportunities and rejecting the ones (like renewable energy) that won’t work.

  27. “…a new study published by eminent physicist Jo Hermans…”

    Please, PLEASE tell me this person is not really an “eminent physicist”…what’s that quote from some famous guy from the distant past about seeing further only because he was standing on the shoulders of giants? This perfesser’s view is blocked even by midgets.

  28. It is a sign of the times, I suppose. This is all recycled garbage. This “Hydrogen Everything” idea was beaten to death in the 1970s, partly in response to the Arab Oil Embargoes. The numbers did not add up then, and they still do not add up.

    So people like this prof. do 2 things.
    1) Unable to come up with original garbage of their own, they endlessly recycle old garbage dredged up from the past.
    2) They lead their students to believe that this is some new and futuristic solution and all they have to do is make it work.

    I think deliberately misleading students who do not know better is the most troubling. There used to be ethical issues with professors doing things like this.

    • TonyL The professor is in the enviable place to get brand new students ( that know very little and in no position to fight back) every year while he sits on his throne of incompetence and gets away with this BS every semester. These students just don’t hang around long enough or go the their next year and just dismiss him. And if they don’t? I doubt they get through their first job application.

  29. Forget all those nasty practicalities. From a pure energy perspective, also makes no sense. I explored the car version of this nonsense in essay Hydrogen Hype in ebook Blowing Smoke. Answer, you want energy efficiency, buy a Toyota Prius.

    • I would, except Toyota has been foot dragging on the Prius plug-in battery size and type for so long I gave up considering it. And with each successive model getting uglier leading to the pinnacle of ugly strategy with their hydrogen model, I finally concluded they are out to stop or slow new sales with a combination ugly strategy and battery excuse list. The hydrogen car is a tip off to this strategy where they lose money on each model so making it as ugly as possible limits cost exposure. It’s smart in the case of the hydrogen car but dumb for the plug-in Prius.

    • I just flew in from Ulaanbaatar. If you want to see the highest Prius population per capita anywhere in the world, go there. Every second-hand Japanese Prius heads to Mongolia. Also, if you are interested in reclaiming the largest pile of Prius batteries on the planet, ditto. That is where they go to die.

  30. “…by having shorter distances between the workplace and home. “In other words, urban planning provides an important key,” he concludes.” Another useful idiot pushing Agenda21.

  31. handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.

    Right there we have an insight into the level of lunacy of these people!

    liquid hydrogen itself is very light (in fact, it is in a gaseous state at ordinary temperatures), which is an important advantage for air travel.

    Do they really not understand the concept of energy density? Again, just by using incorrect terms they reveal their ignorance of basic physics!

    So we have ignorant lunatics trying to tell us what to do. I guess that’s par for the course.

  32. “It is a defect that kerosene is so irrationally cheap, which triggers much unnecessary air travel,” he writes. “A worldwide tax on kerosene–if at all politically possible–should be something to pursue.”

    OK, there’s the money shot, right there.

    the most efficient way for us to reduce energy use in future is to reduce our mobility, for example, by having shorter distances between the workplace and home. “In other words, urban planning provides an important key

    Aaaaaaannnnnd there’s the political agenda, right there. Agenda 21 / 2030 in all it’s naked glory.

    So not only do we have ignorant lunatics tellig us how to fly, they also want all our money, and to tell us how to live. How much more blatant do they have to get before people wake up to this?

    • Seems to me, Jer0me, you can only expect people with fully functional amygdalae (conservatives) to wake up to it. The rest (liberals) actually want to be told how to live, and to give away all their money, and cosy up to tyrants in an effort to appease them. It is the “r” psychology, and it is genetic, and biological. And there are a lot of them. Asking them to “wake up” is futile… but if we could stimulate their amygdalae to finish developing to its adult form and function, we might have a chance. Apparently that takes a large fear stimulus. Possibly repeated. I am not sure what to use though. It can’t be the same things we fear (destruction of civilization, chaos, socialist collapse, etc.) because those are already their deep-seated goals. Their prime fear should be the rise of a K-style civilization, which is what Trump is trying to create. I am not sure whether the subconscious fear of genetic obsolescence would be enough to stimulate the development of the amygdala, or whether it requires a more immediate personal fear to do that…

  33. “First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.”

    This is why some greens like nuclear too. By contrast to the risk and high tech of a nuclear plant, the fuel for a coal plant sits in perfectly harmless piles until you need it, and a plant can be run by locals in the community. Not nearly as expensive or regulated.

    People who claim LEDs are the only reasonable choice for future lighting — and will inevitably replace the incandescent light bulb — sound only slightly less mad than Prof Hermans to me. Sorry. I try to understand that even intelligent and witty commenters at WUWT have their own little weak points and idiosyncracies. (:

    • A bulb that uses 1/10th the energy and lasts 10 times longer, will never, ever replace incandescents?
      Really?

  34. There is video footage of an airship crash that tells an interesting story about human conduct and loyalty.
    The ship was having trouble docking. A long rope from the nose was grabbed by one, then more ground staff as the nose bobbed lower for some seconds. The rope was pulled down to give a length on the ground.
    Then, the nose lifted. More people ran to hold the rope, but the weight of a person was puny. As the nose lifted ever higher, those loyal souls who first grabbed the rope were lifted highest above the ground and had to hang on for the longest time.
    They started to fal to their deaths, from earliest and most loyal first.
    There is a philosophical point about life in this footage.
    Perhaps it is already known to people in the armed services who are said to advise “Never be the first to volunteer.”

      • “From experimental to museum piece. It seems to have bypassed the commercial stage . . .” The same could be said of the Wright Flyer.

        The point needed to be made (that such aircraft actually existed and have actually flown) because up until this point in the the ‘debate’, comments had ranged from incredulity to outright ‘ROFL’. A few key facts were missing.

        You might also want to check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-155
        “The Tu-155 first flew on 15 April 1988. It used hydrogen fuel and later liquified natural gas (LNG). It flew until the fall of the Soviet Union and it is currently stored in the Ramenskoye Airport near Zhukovskiy”

  35. Less comfort, less mobility, higher taxes. Nice view from the ivory tower. We have and will continue to develop appropriate useful forms of energy. Unless of course people disconected from our lives get to dictate otherwise.

    • “And reported in the Guardian – straight – without an AGW twist, interesting and commendable on their part.” Nothing more than self preservation IMO. The media is being called out as biased and political for good reason and needs to get back to reporting…. not editorializing… to survive.

  36. More efficient and safer
    From an engineering perspective, liquid hydrogen is actually a very sensible fuel for long haul aircraft because it has 36% the mass of jet fuel. NASA M and many others have seriously studied for at least four decades. Compared to jet fuel with its very “hot” radiant flame, hydrogen is actually much safer as a fuel because it generates little radiation. e.g., See
    LIQUID HYDROGEN AS A JET FUEL FOR HIGH-ALTITUDE AIRCRAFT 1955, declassified 1962.
    HYDROGEN AS AVIATION FUEL: A COMPARISON WITH HYDROCARBON FUELS 1997.
    With finite quantities of hydrocarbons, sooner or later we will need to transition to alternate fuels generated by sustainable or long lasting energy sources.

    • “alternate fuels generated by sustainable or long lasting energy sources.” What energy sources do you have in mind? Hydrogen is not a source; it is a carrier that needs a source to be created.

    • We now get cheap hydrogen from natural gas. When we ran out of fossil fuels, we can get hydrogen from pyrolysis of biomass. But syngas has to undergo the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert it to liquid hydrocarbon fuel. It’s an old technology, the Nazis were doing it during WW2

    • Mass is only half the equation. The other half is energy density, which hydrogen does not have. Read the comments above.

      • Hang on, the LHV of Hydrogen is 120 MJ/kg, How is that not energy dense? Kerosene is about 44.

      • “The biggest challenge is the chicken/egg problem of providing sufficient cheap supply of liquid supply for each of the hubs.
        H2 is quite cheap, but LH2 is different: very impractical, so not cheap.
        Fuel accounts for 10-20 % of planes weight at take-off, so it makes sense to try to use a lighter one, but it much be cheap and practical. Even military, that don’t really care about cost, don’t use LH2, because it not being practical.

        Take off is an issue. Gliders are now winch-launched, and i know this solution is considered for planes, too. Planes engines are quite efficient in flight, while they are most needed at take-off when they are pretty inefficient. That seems a much better solution to save engine power, fuel, and weight, than installing cryogenics to use LH2 as a fuel.

  37. “Second, liquid hydrogen itself is very light (in fact, it is in a gaseous state at ordinary temperatures), which is an important advantage for air travel.”
    The word gaseous did come to mind while I was reading this.

  38. More efficient and safer
    From an engineering perspective, liquid hydrogen is actually a very sensible fuel for long haul aircraft because it has 36% the mass of jet fuel. NASA, DOD and many others have seriously studied for at least four decades – well before “global warming” became an issue. Compared to jet fuel with its very “hot” radiant flame, hydrogen is actually much safer as a fuel because it rises rapidly and generates little radiation. e.g., See:

    Liquid hydrogen as a jet fuel for high-altitude aircraft DTIC 1955

    Liquid Hydrogen as a Propulsion Fuel, 1945-1959 NASA SP4404, 1978 341 pp

    HYDROGEN AS AVIATION FUEL: A COMPARISON WITH HYDROCARBON FUELS 1997.

    Alternate Fuels and their potential impact on Aviation NASA 2006

    With finite amounts of hydrocarbon fuels, sooner or later we will need to transition to alternate fuels made from sustainable energy sources.

    • Mr. Hagen: Several other comments in this thread make the point that hydrogen may be possible (from an engineering perspective), however, it is prohibitively expensive.

      Further, (is this YOU, Mr. Hagen?? “sustainable” — gag (that term has a pretty shoddy, non-scientific, connotation, now))

      the EROEI of hydrogen is currently, apparently, negative.

      Surely, by the time, over 50 years at the LEAST, fossil fuels are depleted, synthetic/nano-tech fuels with as good as or better EROEI as and safer than hydrogen will be on the market. And, maybe not, but:

      why are you, essentially, pushing hydrogen so strongly today?

      Just curious.

    • “hydrogen is actually much safer as a fuel because it rises rapidly and generates little radiation”

      I don’t believe it was a Radiation issue or Rising slowly that ended the Challenger…

      • Hey, Dems Certainly R Dcvrs :)

        Just wanted to say, I SURE AM GLAD YOU ARE COMMENTING this evening. Well done!

        I manage to fire off a small pistol here and there — you step up with one big high-calibre rifle blast after another! :)

      • BZ – I am trained to fight shipboard/aviation fires. Certainly radiative heat is serious issue.

        No need to worry about hear with a hydrogen detonation. Fire fighters, crews, and passengers are all dead.

        Ventilation systems with the potential of hydrogen detonation must have blow out panels directing the damage to an area away from people.

  39. If we want plentiful energy well into the future it would probably be time and money better spent looking at ways of getting a Thorium fuel cycle working with Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors…. Work out a way of doing that and electrical generation is solved for the entire existence of human kind.

  40. These are topics I have spent considerable time and energy working with. Liquid hydrogen requires a lot of additional kinetic energy to be imparted to make it liquid and that energy has to be made from other fuels. Any liquid fuel that instantly vaporizes at ambient temperatures is far more dangerous than those that remain liquid. Diesel fuel does not release vapor below 40 deg C making it extremely safe relative to all other liquid fuels yet retains tremendous energy density.

    Hydrogen powered aircraft cannot use jet turbines but must instead use a hydrogen fuel cell, i.e., battery to drive an electric prop motor. Therefore the altitude and speed are severely limited.

    Finally it is well know that Great Britain and it’s educational institutions are more inclined towards the arts and law and weak in the sciences. Re: Leiden University’s famous Huygen’s Laboratory may have been “famous” once upon a time because of some great scientists…… but where are they today? Not in GB. If you want solid scientific advancement with respect to alternative energy solutions for travel etc. don’t look to GB…

    The best work in applied science these days is happening in Russia followed by Germany and China….
    Check out the book entitled “Power Hungry” by Robert Bryce……. https://www.amazon.ca/Power-Hungry-Myths-Energy-Future/dp/1586489534

    • Source on air-breathing turbines cannot use hydrogen? Some of the prototypes in what became the SR-71 program used hydrogen, but could not get useful range, so i wonder what your source is.

  41. The professor’s bio:

    L.J.F. (Jo) Hermans
    Jo Hermans is professor of physics emeritus at Leiden University.
    He was also part-time professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, and visiting professor at Princeton University, Kyoto University and Universtite de Paris.
    His research focused on the role of internal degrees of freedom on collision processes in polyatomic gases, on molecule-surface interactions, on light-induced kinetic phenomena and on nuclear spin conversion in polyatomic molecules.
    His teaching activities included freshmen and graduate courses on general physics for medical students, on kinetic theory and transport processes, on optics and on molecule-surface interactions.
    In addition to his scientific career he served on a number of Committees and Boards, and was vice-Dean of the Science Faculty at Leiden University. He was also actively involved in various outreach activities.
    These include popular scientific talks on national radio broadcast, numerous lectures for schools and the general public, and three books (in Dutch) aimed at the general public:

    – ENERGIE, een blik in de toekomst (met A.J. Hoff, Het Spectrum, 1982);
    – HOOR JE BETER IN HET DONKER? Antwoord op alledaagse vragen (Betatext, 2006; four editions, 17 000 copies);
    – Energie survival gids (Betatext, november 2008).
    He is Science Editor of Europhysics News (the magazine of the European physics community and the membership journal of the European Physical Society) and columnist of “Het Financieele Dagblad”.

    • Sadly, it all seems to boil down to: “He used to be able to think.”

      I think he is just being used, now. That is too bad (not sarcastic).

  42. I have this nice idea to store the hydrogen by attaching it to little nano sized carbon chains. Fuel will be liquid at room temperature and have high energy density. :-)
    As for ammonia as a fuel I read something about the use of ammonia during the X-15 rocket plane program. Author said it convinced all the rocket engineers NEVER to use ammonia again. I’m hard pressed to think of another rocket that used it.

    • “I have this nice idea to store the hydrogen by attaching it to little nano sized carbon chains. Fuel will be liquid at room temperature and have high energy density. :-)”

      Let’s hope some of the students raise their hands and say that! :D

  43. As an aircraft fuel hydrogen may have some advantages. Back in the mid 1950s Lockheed skunk works did a lot of work on liquid hydrogen for the supersonic successor to the U-2. This work was valuable for Apollo but the successor to the U-2 was the SR-71 which used hydrocarbon fuel as the LH2 powered aircraft couldn’t do the mission demanded.

  44. The dangers of hydrogen for lift in airships is overstated- Hindenburg’s loss was most likely due to imperfect design, possibly static buildup between H2 bladders. As a fuel for anything, hydrogen has many limitations, not the least of which is the amount of energy needed to produce it for the energy return. Hydrogen is a viable alternative for lighter-than-air flight given technological advances.

    • Mike T, you will need to provide something more than just your “Mike T saith” to qualify yourself as an expert witness. Either that, or provide some good cites to evidence for your claims. Otherwise, your comment will just float off like a dandelion seed in the wind.

      Did you not notice all the STRONG refutation of your comment in the thread above your comment?

      You have a pretty strong burden of production and proof to meet, Mr. T.!

    • “Hindenburg’s loss was most likely due to imperfect design, possibly static buildup between H2 bladders.”

      Or Not!

    • You could say that the embargo on Germany with regards to helium forced them to use hydrogen was the root cause of the disaster. Either way, we will never know for sure, only speculate.

  45. Global production of hydrogen has been fairly consistent for the last five years peaking at 14,391.1 million standard cubic feet per day in 2015. The United States produced 30% of that total.
    http://hydrogen.pnl.gov/hydrogen-data/refinery-hydrogen-production-capacities-country

    $1.7 trillion dollars put into into infrastructure could make hydrogen fuel available for a fraction of the surface vehicles on the planet by 2050 if costs and technical challenges are overcome. Current hydrogen production is consumed in chemical and refinery industries.
    https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/essentials5.pdf

    Hydrogen fuel is expensive. A 2016 Edmunds long-term road test compares fuel costs of the hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai to a conventional gasoline powered Prius. The hydrogen powered Mirai averages 19.2 to 24.8 cents per mile compared to 4.1 cents per mile for the Prius just for fuel comparison. The overall operating costs per mile are unknown.
    https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/mirai/2016/long-term-road-test/2016-toyota-mirai-hydrogen-is-ridiculously-expensive-or-free.html

  46. Your implication that the use of hydrogen for propulsion of heavier-than-air aircraft is comparable and has the same or worse dangers as use of hydrogen for lift in lighter-than-air aircraft is truly asinine. Truly.

    • DHR: Your comment is, as written, nonsense. Parsing and annotating it for clarity:

      1) Anthony correctly implied that the hydrogen proposal of Herman the Zealot is comparable to using hydrogen in other applications.

      2) You put words into Anthony’s mouth by writing “and has the same…,” implying asininely that Anthony could not assert comparability unless he also, necessarily, asserted equality (“same”) or aggravation (“worse.”)

      No WONDER you do not reveal your identity.

    • DHR: Have you ever worked with Hydrogen? Have you ever worked with Kerosene or Diesel fuel?
      Cause you sure don’t seem to have a grasp of significant difference between two.

      • Yes, for about 30 years. We successfully use compressed natural gas and liquified propane contained in durable tanks as fuels for vehicles and other devices. But from my experience, I do not recommend toying with balloons filled with either of those gases or with hydrogen.

    • Except that Anthony was spot on: hydrogen is a dangerous fuel. Highly corrosive, difficult to handle, low energy density, requires more energy to produce than it creates, and burning it creates huge amounts water vapor. The burning zepplin is a great icon for a stupid doomed idea.

  47. Hydrogen is commercially produced my subjecting natural gas to super heated steam. In the past it was made with coal and steam and frequent explosions. However it is made the cost of the hydrogen is a lot more expensive than natural gas or coal. It would be much easier to simply burn natural gas in the aircraft or autos. The net CO2 production would be about the same.

    Producing hydrogen by electrolysis of water is terribly inefficient. First electricity has to be produced with about half of the potential energy lost in that process. We don’t have freely available hydrogen on our planet. I understand it can be found in abundance on Jupiter.

  48. “First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.”

    Seriously??? Has this guy ever flown? Has this guy missed all Airport fiascos?
    Baggage handlers – spilling bags from carts, throwing bags to ground
    Airport Traffic controllers – a sleep or stoned on job
    Check In attendants – booking luggage elsewhere
    Mechanics – plane access panels left un-latched
    Deicing of planes – that didn’t
    Airplane pilots – drunk on job, take off / landing wrong runways or taxiways
    TSA – need say nothing more

    • Dems B.

      You are on the ball. Imagine how little explosive it would take to bring down an aircraft loaded with H? Kerosene is so safe that on smooth surfaces it can be used to put out fires.

      As a person who designs combustors there is nothing I want to work on less than a hydrogen burning device. I was assured by Garth Foxcroft, who did, that is was a extremely difficult fuel to work with because of the extremely high flame speed – basically it blows the head off everything.

  49. Janice Moore invokes the 97%
    >> Did you not notice all the STRONG refutation of your comment in the thread above your comment? <<

    • SF:

      I never invoked “the 97%”, moreover, I have several times on WUWT provided evidence/cites which prove it a bogus, deceptive, statistic.

      Your comment is grossly in error (or a boldfaced lie).

    • The 97% is a lie. The claim that 97% of scientists believe such and such is an appeal to authority.
      Janice on the other hand directed the reader to actual arguments that refute the point made.
      Huge difference. You owe Janice an apology.

  50. Actually, liquid hydrogen would be superior to kerosene in terms of safety under most conditions, especially in a crash situation. Though ignition would be assured in such a case, hydrogen and hydrogen flames disperse very quickly. Jet-A just hangs around and burns, and burns, and burns.

    The only adverse safety impact would be following in-flight damage to the aircraft (as in an uncontained engine failure) where fuel tanks were penetrated. If the leaking fuel were to ignite, it would be a bad day. Unlike kerosene, hydrogen’s flame speed is high enough to sustain attached flames under all airspeed conditions (and a huge range of air/fuel ratios). It would not necessarily be a fatal day, however, if the ullage in the fuel tanks were always inert.

    • (this is a real question)

      Isn’t, however, kerosene much less highly flammable than hydrogen (thus, less likely fire at all)?

      • Yes, and that makes the fueling operation more hazardous – especially since a hydrogen flame is invisible. (Back in the early Apollo program days, technicians working around LOX/hydrogen rocket test stands would walk with a broom held out in front of them. It was the only way, at the time, to avoid walking into a hydrogen fire). But we’ve been working with liquid hydrogen for 65 years, now, and there have been no accidents. I think it could be mastered.

  51. “First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.” Utter nonsense based on abysmal ignorance. I’ve worked around liquid hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen is nothing like kerosene. The explosive concentration limits of hydrogen range from 4 to 75%. For kerosene, the range is 0.7 to 5%.

    “Second, liquid hydrogen itself is very light (in fact, it is in a gaseous state at ordinary temperatures), which is an important advantage for air travel.”

    As others have noted, above, the low density of liquid hydrogen is an important disadvantage for air travel.

    “Third, the disadvantages of “boil off” (created by the low boiling point of liquid hydrogen) would be reduced in air travel because of the low outside temperature at cruising altitudes.”

    Boil off is proportional to the differential temperature (ΔT) between the liquid hydrogen, minus 423°F, and ambient T. Assuming ground T of 60F and cruising T of -40F, the ΔT at cruising altitude will be 383F. At ground, the ΔT is 483F. Yes, boil-off is reduced, but only by 20%! Insignificant.

  52. There is a difference between fighting a fire and a detonation. Hydrogen has an explosive range and a detonation range.

  53. I used to work in a chemical plant that made hydrogen as a by product from the electrolysis process for Caustic soda and Chlorine from salt and water. We would gather the hydrogen in a large header and compress it to feed another burner system to make Hydrochloric acid. Hydrogen is such a small molecule it is almost impossible to seal it in any closed system. All of the flanges, pipe joints, valves and connections leaked regardless of what we tried to seal them with. After the skin of the compressor building was blown off of the support structure three times we gave up and left the compressors “outside” in the cold winter. The solution was to insulate all of the piping more as a result but there were no more explosions from the trapped gas. The original buildings were ventilated to code but the explosions still happened. Another strange thing with hydrogen that people tend to ignore is it is very easy to get it to com-bust. We had a number of occasions where the exhaust stacks on the process would ignite from the static caused by a heavy wet snow striking the stack during a snow storm. Using hydrogen as a transport fuel on an airplane is going to reduce air travel by the fact that the safety of air travel is going to nonexistent.

  54. “First, handling of liquid hydrogen would be carried out by professionals, which reduces the safety issues involved with liquid hydrogen to the same level of risk involved in handling kerosene.”

    That makes me nervous. The word professional only means that somebody makes money doing a thing. It does not necessarily mean that someone is good at doing that thing.

    • Human beings are notoriously bad at repetitive jobs. Those ‘professionals’ would make me nervous too.

  55. One future method of producing hydrogen in the future is using high temperature gas cooled reactors. This is is produce hydrogen more efficiently.

  56. he says ” which triggers much unnecessary air travel,”

    I wonder how many climate conferences he has been to. ?

  57. “achieving sustainable transport in the post-fossil fuel era will be a huge challenge”

    Seriously, am I the only one who wishes people would think about what they mean by “sustainable?”
    Unless we repeal the laws of entropy, that word should be thrown in the trash bin where it belongs.

    • “…am I the only one who wishes people would think about what they mean by “sustainable?”
      Unless we repeal the laws of entropy, that word should be thrown in the trash bin where it belongs.”

      +1 It’s a virtue signaling buzz word. The second it’s used the BS meter pegs.

  58. The hydrogen fuel tanks ruptured in the Challenger Disaster.
    Not that this was the cause, but it certainly finished things off.

    Even professionals make mistakes.
    These rocket fuels are too dangerous to have widespread application on Airports or over cities.

  59. “Third, the disadvantages of “boil off” (created by the low boiling point of liquid hydrogen) would be reduced in air travel because of the low outside temperature at cruising altitudes.”

    Whilst that is true, the friction on the skin of the plane can make it quite hot and that would have to insulated against.

  60. Oh, I know….

    Because hydrogen is so bulky, just use all the entire fuselage for hydrogen storage, and then strap the pesky passengers on the outside of the plane!!!

    Only “professionals” would be in charge of “passenger strap-on”, so there wouldn’t be any problems..

    • It really is sad the depths trolls will go to convince themselves that they have something intelligent to say.
      The many differences between liquid hydrogen and other fuels have been detailed above. Your attempt to proclaim that all flammable liquids are identical is an insult to your readers intelligence.
      Yours on the other hand has never been demonstrated.

  61. Hilarious!
    “solar-powered family car that can be driven indefinitely under clear skies at a speed of about 43km/h”
    Please don’t use it in a tall buildings city, their shadows would imply that you never reach your destination without push the car by its back.
    :)

  62. Why don’t they use the Green House Gas Effect?
    Its simple, science is settled. From 100+ years ago and from laboratory experiment – we are *constantly* reminded. Surely older and more reliable tech than even Wind Turbines!!

    How it works is get a big bag (like the Hindenberg) and fill it with CO2. That ain’t gonna blow up. Safe as ‘ouses innit?

    Then, the GHGE says the contained CO2 will rise in temp, so the thing will become lighter than air and float up into the sky – like a hot-air balloon.
    Then, being red-hot by now, some of the high temp and consequently high pressure CO2 can be shot out the back of the thing to push it along. Like a rocket. 1000’s of years old technology.

    And the really great thing, the sky is now so full of CO2, it can re-fuel as it goes along.

    What’s not to like? Its perfect.
    PS. All these Nobel prizes are getting a bit tedious, just a nice cuppa tea will do this time :-)

    • This is a perfect way for the CAGW minions to prove their case.
      I expect to see it in pal-reviewed publications soon.
      Where, again, do I send the money?

  63. The usual reference when hydrogen is mentioned is to the Hindenburg, but it’s not commonly known that sister ship the Graf Zeppelin covered over a million passenger miles, and was only scrapped because the Hindenburg incident made passengers wary of airships.

    The American and British airships suffered some bad prangs but that was mainly due to poor design; the R101 hit the ground due to poor controllability, the Akron broke up in flight.

    The Apollo and Shuttle spacecraft both used hydrogen extensively, and neither suffered any serious incident due to hydrogen. Paradoxically, the Apollo programme suffered two serious incidents due to pressurised oxygen starting fires, and one due to a helium tank exploding on a test stand.

    The main issue with hydrogen is its very low density, and hence huge tankage required. That, and ice formation on liquid hydrogen tanks can have secondary safety issues.

  64. The comments seem to have nailed the scientific side of this idea comprehensively, but I find the line about “unnecessary air journeys” (spotted by one contributor) particularly sinister.
    Who does Hermans think he is to decide on who can travel; although I’m sure there would be an endless queue of green activists only too ready to serve on the committees of public Green compliance that they would love to impose if only given the chance. You can see where that would quickly lead, Big Brother where art thou?

      • Prior to the 2005 general election in the UK, there was a televised debate, in front of a studio audience, involving the minor parties contesting the election. The Green Party representative said it was their policy to immediately double the tax on petrol (gasoline) and then increase it annually by 10% over inflation to stop people driving cars. About 60% of the price of petrol in the UK is tax. A member of the audience pointed out if they did that then the bus and rail networks wouldn’t cope. The Green representative replied “you don’t understand, we want to stop people aspiring to travel’. They may not talk about this now, but that is still their intention.

  65. The burning of hydrogen results in water vapor. What’s all that water injected into the upper atmosphere going to do?

    • Be ignored!

      In the same way that CO2 emissions from wood which emits more CO2 than coal or gas mass per mass, are ignored because of the magic words ‘green’ and ‘renewable’.

      Once it is understood this is a quasi-religious issue based in Faith, the realisation that trying to use science and reason to rationalise is futile becomes apparent.

  66. ” supercapacitors for more rapid charging of the batteries” – the man is out of date. Yesterday’s solution. I have tested lithium ion batteries for hundreds of cycles charging at a 3C rate.(nominally a full charge in 20 minutes)

    And does he realise that the main source of hydrogen commercially is natural gas? Why not cut out the middle-man and use that instead?

  67. If much unnecessary air travel is a problem why not simply ban plebs from having foreign holidays? That would have the added benefit, for important people, of making tourist hot spots much less crowded.

  68. Mark Jacobson, the crackpot with all the 100 percent wind, water and sunlight (WWS) studies, proposes that all new long-haul aircraft by 2040 be electrolytic cryogenic hydrogen:

    https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf

    On page 2112:

    Short-haul aircraft: by 2035, all new small, short-range planes
    are battery- or electrolytic-hydrogen powered. Changing the design
    and manufacture of airplanes and the design and operation of
    airports are the main limiting factors to a more rapid transition.
    Long-haul aircraft: by 2040, all remaining new aircraft are
    electrolytic cryogenic hydrogen (ref. 6, Section A.2.7) with electric
    power for idling, taxiing, and internal power. The limiting factors
    to a faster transition are the time and social changes required for
    the redesign of aircraft and the design and operation of airports.

  69. The obvious solution is to simply build a single high-rise structure to house all the people on Earth. Ignoring engineering and physics (as the Greens and the Left does), put the farms and factories in the top of the building and use gravity (it’s renewable!) to elevator things around. Workers can get to work by gathering on platforms which will be lifted upward to their work space by the counterweighted goods moving down. At quitting time, same principle where raw materials move up while the workers move done. The math should be simple – Mann and Jones can write a model for it.

  70. “It is a defect that kerosene is so irrationally cheap.”

    There are a couple of things wrong with this. First is that bio-kerosene is no different from kerosene made from coal or oil. It’s renewable, numbskull.

    If you have a pile of hydrogen and you want to make it into a useful fuel, just add carbon and you have kerosene. Eliminating the carbon is stupid. Why would you want to make a dangerous fuel standard when a far safer, several orders of magnitude, fuel can be made from it?

    Both of these technologies, kerosene and hydrogen, pale in the ability to store energy compared with super-capacitors of the future. Sulphur battery technology will come along, but supercaps will dominate principally because they can be recharged in a few minutes.

    Aircraft will be recharged in flight by drones, supercap to cap. There is no need to carry the fuel for an entire flight – that is so old school.

    If we want to think far ahead, the future is all electric. There are just so many ways to generate and store power. That of course doesn’t rule out entirely new forms of physics based on future discoveries of as yet unanticipated forms of locomotion.

  71. Aircraft thrive on simplicity leading towards increased reliability. Kerosine pumped into a jet engine, is quite a straightforward concept. Admittedly, control, monitoring and emissions increase the complexity, but simple it is.

    Liquid hydrogen adds another level of complexity: the cold liquid would be pumped into a vapouriser, turned into a gas then pumped into the engine at a controlled rate. The vapouriser needs power to heat the hydrogen. This power source needs to be simple and reliable. On ships (LNG dual fuel) we use steam to heat the LNG. Perhaps additional shaft driven electrical generators could provide the additional power, but it would eat into the efficiency of the total system.

    There would need to be a safe way of venting ‘boil off’ or you need to use a compressor to compress the ‘boil off’ and perhaps use it in the aux power unit (apu) and leave it running all the time. But vent offs will still be needed in the event of system failure. On a LNG carrier, sometimes, some of the ‘boil off’ is re-liquified. Depends upon the length of voyage.

    So at any time, excess hydrogen could be vented off – at the wrong time (passengers performing an emergency evacuation in a hot country after a successful emergency landing without power).

    It just does not seem safe enough to my simple eye….

    PS: Before you query the above, please realise you can not rely upon ‘boil off’ alone, you need to pump your cold liquid into the vaporiser to give you enough gas to burn. After all, just like on a ship, when the pilot asks for 100% power, they want it now, not when the sun comes out to give you more ‘boil off’.

  72. Hyperloop.

    Electric air travel is too hard. Synthetic fuels are too hard. Hydrogen air travel isn’t much better.

    Electric ground travel at the speed of air travel is pretty easy. It is called the hyperloop and it will be cheaper and more efficient than air travel. The only problem is building the infrastructure.

  73. Hydrogen gives four times the lift than helium, it’s as simple as that. It’s far better to build sensible protection into a hydrogen dirigible than to use helium. Really, there’s no alternative, the difference is so profound.

    • Incorrect, Willy. The difference is slight, not profound. The average molecular weight of air is approximately 29 grams/mole. Hydrogen is diatomic, and hence its molecular weight is about 2. Helium has a MW of about 4. The lift, or buoyant force on the vessel is provided by the difference in MW between the gas inside and the air outside. The delta for hydrogen is 29-2 = 27. The delta for helium is 29-4 = 25. Hence, the buoyant force or lift provided by hydrogen is greater than helium by a multiplier of only 27/25, meaning less than 10% more lift for hydrogen.

  74. when is this so-called post-fossil fuels? With all of the methyl hydrates in the ocean off our coasts, just waiting for us to figure out how to mine and refine them correctly, don’t see that happening for 1000 years..

  75. It’s not even that they don’t pay attention to history, so much as are not concerned with repeating it.
    Remember, a few over-populated human lives is an insignificant cost to preserve the warm fuzzy… so long as those lives are appropriately buried in ‘statistics’ and therefore sufficiently removed from the forefront of consciousness.

    The warm fuzzy – it’s worse than meth.

  76. I suggest mega hydrogen storage sites in LA, Portland, and Boston. That would be worth the tax credits to watch.

  77. I disagree about solar powered cars. They can never be viable because the average amount of solar energy that falls on the area of a car will never be enough to power that car, even with battery storage. The fact that some students built a lightweight car only one meter high that only runs in bright sunlight proves nothing. This car would probably not pass crash tests, and can only make 30 mph under a clear sky. When the sky clouds over the power is reduced by 50%. It’s far more practical to have a solar array at home to charge an electric car. Then if need be the charge can be topped up from the mains if the sun lets you down.

  78. Seems like “playing with fire” to me.
    I can’t help but be reminded of this song by sme fellow STL musicians…

  79. This guy forgets that because hydrogen is so lightweight, you cannot take advantage of its high energy per unit weight ratio. It is energy per unit volume that counts, and then you will always lose.

  80. I am embarrassed that a physicist wrote this. Let’s run some numbers.
    Note: I am assuming that the author only intends to use hydrogen as the fuel source, not as a flotation mechanism. If he is proposing a return to dirigibles, other objections will apply.

    A 747 consumes approximately 36,000 gallons of jet fuel on an intercontinental flight. That works out to:
    4813 cu ft, 4.32E9 BTUs and 240,600 lbs of fuel.

    To get the same BTUs, you would need 75,800 lbs of H2. That’s only .31 the mass so that’s a savings. However, at 1 atm, that mass of H2 occupies 1.35E7 cu ft – or about 2800 times the total volume of the 747 itself. Since the dominant driver of airline fuel cost is air resistance and air resistance is dominated by the cross-sectional area component, you’re either going to go very slowly or have a VERY long airplane (that will still have much higher resistance).

    So presumably, he’s not proposing gaseous H2. Liquid H2 has a density of 4.423 lbs/cu ft so our international trip would require a bit over 17,000 cu ft of liquid H2. For scale, that’s about 4 railroad tankcars worth of liquid H2. That works out to about 3.6 times the volume of the existing jet fuel tanks. It’s not quite as absurd but it will still have a significant effect on design and aerodynamics of the plane.

    Note, however, that’s just the raw fuel weight and volume. We also have to consider the difference in container weight between something that can store jet fuel at ambient temperature and pressure (basically, any plastic or metal bag) and something that can keep H2 liquified at 20K or below. The external tanks on the Space Shuttle might not be bleeding edge technology anymore but they’re probably still pretty close. Scaled down to the volume needed for a single intercontinental flight, you’d have to add back about 20,000 lbs and a bunch more volume just for the containment vessel and control mechanisms.

    On net, you might with proper design be able to build a jet that can use H2 at or near parity with conventional fuels. But why would any sane engineer take on all the additional risks and costs of manipulating liquid H2 just to get back to about the same performance?

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