New catalyst produces cheap hydrogen

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 29-Nov-2018

New catalyst produces cheap hydrogen

Queensland University of Technology


Caption A new water-splitting catalyst material produce hydrogen cheaply without fossil fuels Credit QUT: Ummul Sultana Usage Restrictions Media use only.

Professor Anthony O’Mullane said the potential for the chemical storage of renewable energy in the form of hydrogen was being investigated around the world.

“The Australian Government is interested in developing a hydrogen export industry to export our abundant renewable energy,” said Professor O’Mullane from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty.

“In principle, hydrogen offers a way to store clean energy at a scale that is required to make the rollout of large-scale solar and wind farms as well as the export of green energy viable.

“However, current methods that use carbon sources to produce hydrogen emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that mitigates the benefits of using renewable energy from the sun and wind.

“Electrochemical water splitting driven by electricity sourced from renewable energy technology has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods of producing high-purity hydrogen.”

Professor O’Mullane said the new composite material he and PhD student Ummul Sultana had developed enabled electrochemical water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen using cheap and readily available elements as catalysts.

“Traditionally, catalysts for splitting water involve expensive precious metals such as iridium oxide, ruthenium oxide and platinum,” he said.

“An additional problem has been stability, especially for the oxygen evolution part of the process.

“What we have found is that we can use two earth-abundant cheaper alternatives – cobalt and nickel oxide with only a fraction of gold nanoparticles – to create a stable bi-functional catalyst to split water and produce hydrogen without emissions.

“From an industry point of view, it makes a lot of sense to use one catalyst material instead of two different catalysts to produce hydrogen from water.”

Professor O’Mullane said the stored hydrogen could then be used in fuel cells.

“Fuel cells are a mature technology, already being rolled out in many makes of vehicle. They use hydrogen and oxygen as fuels to generate electricity – essentially the opposite of water splitting.

“With a lot of cheaply ‘made’ hydrogen we can feed fuel cell-generated electricity back into the grid when required during peak demand or power our transportation system and the only thing emitted is water.”


“Gold Doping in a Layered Co-Ni Hydroxide System via Galvanic Replacement for Overall Electrochemical” was published in Advanced Functional Materials.


234 thoughts on “New catalyst produces cheap hydrogen

  1. “electrochemical water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen using cheap and readily available elements as catalysts.” ?

    Wait, I thought the world was running out of fresh water ?

    • The hydrogen fuel cycle does not create a net loss of water. Whatever water gets “consumed” to produce hydrogen fuel gets recreated inside the fuel cell.

      • MArkW

        The electricity comes from renewable electricity generating equipment that was produced cheaply enough to attract investment. It was cheap enough because it is largely created using coal-powered electricity generating stations in China.

        The overall effect is to employ Chinese workers and enrich Chinese companies turning coal into electricity to make panels and wind turbines that produce less energy than that used to create, transport, erect and maintain them, to turn, at an energetic loss, water into H2 and O2, which can be stored and turned into electricity (again at a loss) during times when the renewable sources are not operating, while producing water vapour that adds to the water vapour created at the power station that supplied the electricity which originated started the whole process.

        Because this involves a systematic loss of energy at a real cost, the selling price of electricity at the destination will have to be increased to fund this enterprise.

        Taking the original coal and turning it into electricity as needed near the destination is an option that is off the table because burning coal is bad.

        • None of these solar panels were cheap, as they are subsidized by the government in China. And the purchase and installation over here are subsidized. No Free Lunch.

      • In the system described in this post, the electricity to produce the hydrogen fuel comes from renewable sources – wind or solar – that is stored in the form of hydrogen fuel that can be transported for use in vehicles, aircraft, or central power generating plants. As another commenter wrote above in this thread, in this scenario the hydrogen fuel operates like a storage battery .. but it provides a much more robust and practically useable fuel source than do today’s lithium ion batteries.

        This method is by no means the only method of producing hydrogen gas. Today, actually, most hydrogen gas is commercially produced from steam reforming of hydrocarbon fuels such as propane. Hydrogen gas can also be produced from a catalyzed reaction of ammonia, with ammonia typically produced in large industrial scale quantities and used all over the world in producing chemical feedstocks, fertilizer, etc.

        Honda provides to all of its FCV customers a “home fuel station” that uses electrical power to produce hydrogen from an electrolytical process – the same process our nuclear submarines use to produce breathing oxygen while submerged for long periods – so the vehicle owner can fuel up at home in their own garage overnight. The station also serves as an emergency power generator for the home in the event of power blackouts. The cost in electricity from even such a small scale system comes in at well under one dollar a gallon of gas equivalent. Commercial hydrogen fueling stations that operate in California today sell retail for about a dollar a GGE, including a profit, and significantly less than half the prevailing price of gasoline at the pump in California today.

        • “but it provides a much more robust and practically useable fuel source than do today’s lithium ion batteries.”

          Let me guess. You don’t have any practical experience of handling, transporting or storing hydrogen, do you?

          • It is very unusual for peoples working in marketing and PR to have any practical experience of handling, transporting or storing hydrogen!

        • “Cost of gasoline at the pump” should be reworded to the “cost of transportation taxes plus a bit of gasoline at the pump” in most places nowadays…

    • It sounds good, but does not mention the amount of energy required to split the hydrogen.

      What if the energy required is greater than the energy in the hydrogen?

      The article seems silent about this probability.



      • It does take more energy to split water than is recovered. Hydrogen is a store like a battery and needs to be viewed that way.

      • Roger,

        Electrolysis in conventional electrolysers has an energetic yield of about 80%. Recombining H2 and O2 in fuel cells to generate electricity has a yield of around 50%, or an overall yield of around 40% PgP (power to gas to power).
        The above new catalyst may increase the yield of the first step, but still there is a huge loss of energy in this route.
        And there is the storage: as H2 is a very light gas, you need 700 bar pressure to have some reasonable energy capacity. H2 is a quite difficult gas to keep it in: it creeps through a lot of materials like rubber gaskets, even metals at higher temperatures. No thanks, not in my car…

        Batteries are much better, as they can have yields of over 80%, power in – power out, but then the price, volume and weight for capacity still are real problems.

  2. No need for wind or solar. You can use among others nuclear, geothermal and coal. Hydrogen is not a good energy carrier either. Hydrocarbons are better. In any case cheaper method for breaking water is needed.

    • The problem with hydrogen is its density. True, it’s the cleanest burning fuel, but it takes a huge storage container to transport it about. That really huge orange tank on the Space Shuttle was to carry the hydrogen and oxygen used to launch the beast. 80% of that tank was for hydrogen alone, and that was cryogenic liquid hydrogen! Furthermore hydrogen does not like to stay contained and H2 is a VERY small molecule (none smaller). It has a tendency to diffuse even through solid metal while damaging the crystalline structure of the metal, and hence its strength. It’s called hydrogen embrittlement. Its not the best fuel to be carrying in a vessel expected to repeat numerous cycles of pressure loading.

      • Yeah the energy density isn’t that great either (by volume). Natural gas has a similar problem with energy density – though it is not as bad as hydrogen. In the end to get a similar range you need tanks twice the size of gas/diesel and then your car engine is downgraded by a third to get the range. And of course there is no longer trunk space – where would you put the extra tankage? For NG anyway – they find it is only viable on trucks where there is a lot of space to add the extra tanks.

        • An NG tank in VW taxi trunks in China fifteen years ago was the way things were. Don’t know if those were primary, secondary, or swapable.

      • From my long ago metallurgy class memory the monatomic hydrogen can migrate into the lattice structures of the metal then when two hydrogen atoms meet up in the metal they readily combine together into H2 which takes up more space than 2 single H atoms thus causing internal stress or embrittled metal.

      • Rocket–
        Not an expert here.
        My understanding is that it is elemental hydrogen, not H2, that permeates steel.
        H1 is available during electrolysis, acid reactions and welding processes and can be absorbed by steel.
        It then readily combines to form H2. This results in expansion and internal stresses that lead to embrittlement.
        Hydrogen normally exists as H2. Even that form is rare in nature since it is highly reactive.

      • No, it does not take a “huge container” for hydrogen fuel systems.

        The commercial FCVs produced and marketed today by Honda, Toyota, and others have relatively small high pressure (10,000 psi) tanks located typically in the rear of the vehicle. These tanks provide equivalent range to similar passenger vehicles, on the order of about 350 miles. Commercial hydrogen fueling stations, as operate today in California, Norway, and other locales, can completely fill a hydrogen fuel tank on an FCV in 5 minutes – about the same time it takes to refill a standard passenger gasoline tank.

        The actual weight of the hydrogen fuel in a completely filled FCV tank is very small – just a few kilograms, as compared to the 50-60 kg of fuel carried in midsize passenger vehicle gas tank to deliver the same range. The extra weight of the robust 10,000 psi fuel tank is compensated by the very light weight of the fuel itself.

        So actually, and contrary to common mis-perception, on a pound for pound or kilogram for kilogram basis, hydrogen fuel is actually far MORE energy dense than gasoline. About 3 kg of hydrogen delivers the same energy to the vehicle wheels as about 55 kg of gasoline.

        • I don’t know.
          It seems like a really stupid idea to have hydrogen refueling stations throughout town.
          Point of use (in the garage) even more so.
          Perhaps if they are installed only in cities that don’t experience earthquakes.

          The idea of 50% of the cars having 10ksi tanks of anything seems pretty dumb as well.
          Have you seen the maintenance of vehicles on the road? Yikes!

          But then again, if the government mandates the switch, then only a few would be able
          to afford these vehicles and the rest of the plebeians would be forced into public transportation.

  3. Hydrogen fuel cells are likely going to become a very big part of the future energy economy, and advancements like this will be key elements of developing that economy. Fuel cell vehicles are far more intrinsically efficient than internal combustion engine powered vehicles, and combined with hydrogen produced without burning hydrocarbon fuels, will also go a long way toward eliminating much of today’s air pollutants from both vehicles and powerplants.

    FCVs already achieve the same range as gas or diesel powered vehicles, and are refueled just as quickly. The infrastructure to support hydrogen production and distribution is not especially complex or difficult to install. There is tremendous flexibility in means of hydrogen production, including the use of existing electrical power, and the use of steam reformed hydrocarbon fuels, and even (when an efficient catalyst process is available) using extremely abundant ammonia as a vehicle-borne fuel stock.

    Hydrogen is actually a far safer vehicle fuel to carry – being lighter than air, a leak in the tank or even a violent impact simply releases the hydrogen upward to the atmosphere, rather than splashing on vehicle occupants and inside the vehicle itself.

    • ” … Hydrogen is actually a far safer vehicle fuel to carry – being lighter than air, a leak in the tank or even a violent impact simply releases the hydrogen upward to the atmosphere, rather than splashing on vehicle occupants and inside the vehicle itself. …”

      You’ve got to be kidding, hydrogen is explosive. Put a balloon on a long stick, fill it with hydrogen and lower filled balloon over a lit candle. Wear ear protection. People proposing hydrogen as a solution should see and hear such, as a small amount of hydrogen makes for an impressive detonation.

        • That is a great way to burst ear drums.
          Especially is a closed space.

          Even at several hundred feet altitude, balloons filled with acetylene gas plus a shot of air, dragged upward by a couple of helium balloons, are easily detonated by cannon fuse.

          An explosion noise loud enough to cause every door as far as the eye can see, opening while someone looks out to see what is happening.
          It is not an activity where one can remain secretive and quiet.

          • Balloons are not analogous to high pressure hydrogen fuel systems in any meaningful way.

            If a balloon is filled with pure hydrogen, it cannot burn or explode. It is only if the balloon envelope is breached allowing air to enter and mix with the hydrogen that it can burn or explode.

            A high pressure hydrogen fuel tank cannot act in the same way as a balloon envelope that is effectively unpressurized, or very slightly pressurized. If a high pressure fuel tank is breached, the most it will do is vent gas to the atmosphere at extremely high velocities, but that is still not within an enclosed volume that allows mixing of hydrogen and air in the correct proportions to allow burning .. whereas a balloon envelope does precisely all that (provides an enclosed volume and therefore mixing of hydrogen and air).

            Whatever hydrogen gets vented from a breached high pressure hydrogen fuel tank will vent directly to atmosphere, and perhaps at some significant distance from the vehicle might get mixed in a proportion to allow ignition if indeed there is an ignition source. Being far lighter than air, whatever gas mixture that might ignite will rise quickly, away from the vehicle.

          • Duane December 9, 2018 at 6:54 am
            Balloons are not analogous to high pressure hydrogen fuel systems in any meaningful way.

            If a balloon is filled with pure hydrogen, it cannot burn or explode.

            “ATheoK December 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm
            balloons filled with acetylene gas plus a shot of air”

            If you are not going to bother reading, why bother responding?

            Many explosives burn slowly, unless in an enclosed space.

            Hydrogen, acetylene, methane are explosive without the firm closed space!

            “Duane December 9, 2018 at 6:54 am

            A high pressure hydrogen fuel tank cannot act in the same way as a balloon envelope that is effectively unpressurized, or very slightly pressurized. If a high pressure fuel tank is breached, the most it will do is vent gas to the atmosphere at extremely high velocities, but that is still not within an enclosed volume that allows mixing of hydrogen and air in the correct proportions to allow burning ”

            Low pressure hydrogen easily burns, as it mixes with air.
            There is no such thing as “hydrogen and air in the correct proportions”!

            Either there is sufficient air/material that hydrogen can exothermically combine with, or there is not. Excessive amounts of air do not slow or stop the hydrogen fire. The hydrogen will simply combine with everything H2 can, which is most everything.
            Once the hydrogen has been ignited, the exothermic reaction supplies the energy hydrogen needs to rip molecules apart.

            During WWI, fighters used tracer bullets to ignite the dirigibles. Because they were containers of mostly pure low pressure hydrogen, the fire burned around the outside of the hydrogen, destroying the balloon and attached compartments.

            A flame, spark, extremely hot exhaust pipe, etc. are all possible igniters. High pressure containers are not safer!

            “Natural Gas Pipeline Explosions In Texas Critically Injure 5 Workers”

  >”Pipeline explosion in Canada cuts off Northwest natural gas supply”

          • Decades ago I was bored working the Sunday afternoon shift at the gas station.

            I went into the garage, got a nice blue flame on the oxy-acetylene torch and turned both gasses off at the bottle so the flame went out but the regulator settings were maintained.

            Turning the bottles back on, I filled a bread-bag with the gas mix, tied it off and placed it on the concrete floor in the garage (with the big, folding doors open).

            The first match missed.

            The second one didn’t. I couldn’t understand why the lights went out and the radio went off all of a sudden.

            Staggering to the front office as my vision and hearing slowly returned, I saw my co-worker scanning the area wondering what happened as a police car made a slow pass by the garage. I noticed that the ceiling tiles in the office had lifted and dust had settled down on to the floor and counter.

            In terms of “boom” that bread-bag punched way outside its weight class.

      • Gasoline, on the other hand, will put out a cigarette, contrary to what is depicted in numerous movies.

        Now, let us say the hydrogen gets mixed with some air BEFORE it is ignited?

        Why, then we have this lovely result in this next video.
        Imagine this scaled up by a factor of a few tens of thousand to represent the tank of a vehicle which has ruptured:

        Duane, you get yourself a hydrogen car, and keep it the hell away from me and anyone I know, thank you very much.

        • Gasoline will soak and adhere to any vehicle interior and its occupants. The liquid gasoline does not burn – it is the gasoline vapors that burn, and burns extremely energetically, and/or explodes if the gasoline vapor concentration exceeds the lower explosive limit.

          • I would hazard a guess that nearly or actually everyone on this board has seen at least one and likely several auto accidents, and most have been in at least a minor fender bender ( I have been in numerous horrible wrecks including fatal ones, head on collisions at highways speed, etc), and we all know how rare it is to have a tank rupture, and gasoline “soak and adhere to any vehicle interior or it’s occupants”.
            Diesel, as noted, is even safer.
            Probably no one on this board has seen it or heard of anyone they know experiencing it.
            So why are you trying to BS anyone into thinking this is an issue or a problem worth worrying about?

      • Not kidding at all. Hydrogen cannot explode unless it is mixed to within the lower and upper explosive limits in atmosphere with Oxygen. A hydrogen tank leak will just leak the gas to atmosphere, outside of the vehicle and its occupants, where it is far lighter than air and it rises quickly. Hydrogen gas cannot adhere to the vehicle interior or to the occupants.

        Gasoline and diesel fuel, on the other hand, when the tank is breached (as it often is in vehicle crashes and in aircraft crashes), and being liquid it splashes on and adheres to the interior of the vehicle or aircraft and its occupants, turning them into torches.

        • I was in the UK in the early 80’s raising the sea wall along the Thames estuary (ready for the tidal barrier). The IRA came one night and put a bomb against one of the fuel storage tanks in the tank farm storing fuel for London.
          They put the bomb against a diesel tank. The diesel flooded out and put the fire out.
          I’m an Engineer. Personally I would not like a hydrogen vehicle until it had several years minimum of real world tests. Basic law of Engineering is that if something can go wrong it will go wrong!

          • I have seen accounts that the Hindenburg had flammable dope, the coating on the fabric covering of the airship. Supposedly containing cellulose nitrate, iron oxide, and aluminum, therefore the components of smokeless powder and thermite. The hydrogen did not help, but it did not look like a hydrogen fire on the newsreel.

          • Somewhat prior to that in the UK Hydrogen was the major component of gas circulated to most houses in the country. Explosions following leaks were virtually unheard of. The reason being that the diffusion rate was so high that the released gas mixed so fast that the mixture was outside the combustion limits. When they replaced it with methane (natural gas) fatal explosions started to occur and a nation-wide program to prevent the leaks was carried out. Also the Hindenberg didn’t explode, it burned. There are about 150,000 automobile fires in the US each year.

          • I was writing above about gasoline, not diesel. Gasoline has a much higher vapor pressure than diesel fuel and thus is far more flammable than diesel. Gasoline is therefore far more of a fire and explosion hazard in vehicles and aircraft than diesel. In the US, at least, gasoline fueled vehicles account for nearly all passenger vehicle sales and operations.

            Ditto with aircraft accidents. When gasoline powered light aircraft suffer accidents, in most cases if the actual impact does not kill the crew and passengers, it is the post crash fire that does kill the crew and passengers.

            It is the high flammability of gasoline that is the reason that most sailboat auxiliary engines, and the engines of larger/more expensive cruising boats are diesel rather than gasoline powered.

            But even diesel fuel is very dangerous to passengers in the event of a catastrophic accident

          • to Bill in Oz:

            The Hindenberg was in no way analogous to a FCV.

            Being a dirigible, the Hindenberg was a huge gas filled envelope, using hydrogen as the lighter than air gas. It actually was not the hydrogen that exploded, which cannot explode by itself; there had to be another explosion that caused the envelope to be breached, allowing outside air to enter the envelope and mix inside the envelope with hydrogen, in a confined volume. The result was a fire within the envelope. Hydrogen will burn only when mixed in proper proportions with the oxygen in air.

            In a FCV, there is no envelope – there is the high pressure fuel tank which supplies a fuel cell, with a low pressure fuel line leading to the fuel cell. If the hydrogen fuel tank itself is breached and vents, the tank itself cannot explode or even burn because it contains nothing but pure hydrogen which cannot burn by itself .. all that can burn is hydrogen mixed with air in the right proportion within a contained envelope – and there is no such envelope inside the vehicle.

        • Auto accidents happen all the time…every single day in every single state, and about a hundred die every day.
          Fires after auto accidents are very rare, and dying due to one even rarer…less than on in a hundred.
          Simply said, since the odds of dying in a wreck are a little over one per hundred million vehicle miles, and less than 1% of these deaths are due to fire, “being soaked like a torch”, it is disingenuous to suggest this is a reason to choose a different fuel, one which we have little experience with, which burns with invisible flame, which is explosive, and which must be contained under tremendous pressure and which will leak out no matter what you do.
          Electricity is cheaper, easier to transport, more efficient and the motors are even simpler than a ICE.
          Seems like you have yourself convinced though.
          One might wonder what skin you have in this game?

          • I read that Teslas are a 2 in 1 bargain
            car and crematorium in one package;-)

            i also see enron musk is probably in trouble again for his spaceshuttles contaminating the ISS when they dock. degassing into the space station and mucking up instruments.

          • Most car fires are electrical, not a result of gas burning after an accident.
            Lithium ion batteries are a different story…and phones, hoverboards, cars…anything with one of those batteries, can burst into flames.
            Nothing I have said applies to EV fires.

        • Duane, don’t know what stuff you have smoked lately but highly compressed H2 is a real engineering challenge.

          FYI H2 has a JT inversion temperature of about 193 K (-80°C) , so compressed H2 at ambient temperature will heat up on expansion to atmospheric pressure. Not enough for autoignition, but combined with other factors… BOOM! Autoignition temperature of hydrogen is 585°C. A small static discharge or a hot surface will do the trick.

          When your compressed H2 tank will rupture, the H2 will not wait to go to high altitude to mix with air and combust in an explosive way. Go ahead, try to fill a big garbage bag with H2 and while holding it, touch it with a propane torch.

          • Astrocyte-

            “Duane, don’t know what stuff you have smoked lately…”

            Before you get real snooty with someone who knows what they are talking about, you should realize that Toyota has a commercially available hydrogen fuel cell car – the Mirai. Google it to find out how they solved the hydrogen storage problem.

      • Forget the long stick. Fill balloon with hydrogen and tie with a string. Light the string. Let go. (preferably done outdoors).

    • Fuel cells, particularly PEMs, have remained stubbornly expensive. Just like the promise of miracle batteries for EVs, we are always told that THE key breakthrough is comming Real Soon Now(tm), and it never does.

      Hydrogen makes the reaction simple and clean, but hydrogen itself has terrible energy density requiring storage in highly compressed form which only exacerbates the fact that hydrogen is very difficult to store due to it’s small molecule and hydrogen embrittlement.

      • Battery technology and fuel cell technology face many of the same technical challenges in their fundamental science and engineering, as well as thermodynamics. (Catalysts aren’t magic and they don’t create energy from nothing; they lower activation energy allowing reactions to proceed at milder conditions.)

        I’d rather have a diesel powered FCV than hydrogen.

      • The hydrogen might be best used to reduce CO2 into methan and water. Methane has a much higher density and is less explosive than hydrogen. It still needs careful design and engineering for safety and economy.

      • Fuel cells are actually not that expensive anymore. The cost of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is comparable to an internal combustion or hybrid vehicle of similar weight and performance. The cells themselves have shrunk a great deal in the last decade, and have become considerably more efficient.

        “Energy density” is the great canard of the internal combustion engine apologists, but they always fail to mention that the large majority of the energy in the fuel is wasted to the environment as heat, such that the typical energy efficiency of internal combustion vehicles (energy in the tank to work performed by the wheels) is only 25-30%. For today’s FCVs that efficiency is in excess of 60%. The electrical components themselves are very nearly 100% efficient.

        Getting sufficient hydrogen mass to provide a comparable vehicle range of around 350 miles between fillups is simply a matter of pressure. Modern FCVs pressurize at up to 10,000 psi, and a complete fillup at the pump is accomplished in less than 5 minutes – same as for any gas or diesel vehicle.

        • ““Energy density” is the great canard of the internal combustion engine apologists, but they always fail to mention that the large majority of the energy in the fuel is wasted to the environment as heat, such that the typical energy efficiency of internal combustion vehicles (energy in the tank to work performed by the wheels) is only 25-30%. For today’s FCVs that efficiency is in excess of 60%. The electrical components themselves are very nearly 100% efficient.”

          What people like you fail to realize, or deliberately omit, is that even if the ICE got 20% efficiency and the EV 100%, the ICE would still wipe the floor with the EV.

          Gasoline: 34.2 MJ/L
          Lithium Ion: 2.63 MJ/L

          Batteries aren’t even on the same continent as hydrocarbon fuels when it comes to energy density. Gasoline has well over 10 times the energy density in terms of volume and 100 times the energy density in terms of weight.

          You also neglect that the “waste” heat of the ICE is actually used to heat the cabin during winter. Heating the cabin of an ICE car does not reduce the range to any meaningful degree. The only energy needed is to run the blower motor. EVs have to use battery power to heat the cabin.

          • And once you manage to make a battery that comes within 30% of the energy density of good old gasoline, because both reactants are in the same box, you also have a bomb.

            I am really beginning to wonder about our friends down south. Even if it was free, molecular hydrogen is a poor way to move (and that is all you are doing) energy.
            Better to mix it with carbon to manufacture alkenes, alkanes and cycloalkanes.
            Such mixtures are stable at all temperatures normal to human activity, they are easy to store for long periods of time unless you do something stupid like mix alcohol with them,
            and work nicely with already existing infrastructures for stockpiling, transportation and delivery.

          • I am not discussing EVs, but FCVs. The battery in a FCV is just a temporary energy storage and delivery mechanism to provide additional acceleration power when needed, similar to electric hybrid vehicles.

            Current production FCVs made by Honda, Toyota, and other manufacturers have exactly the same energy density, in terms of energy delivered at the wheels, as any comparable gasoline or diesel powered vehicles. The energy delivered at the wheels is measured by vehicle range – which is now virtually identical between FCVs and gas or diesel passenger vehicles -and the size and weight of the fuel storage system carried on board the vehicle, which again is virtually identical.

            The differences are that the fuel tank of a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle is relatively light, while the weight of the fuel carried to achieve the desired range is relatively heavy … while in FCVs the fuel tank itself is relatively heavy (to provide the necessary 10,000 psi pressure of full tank) and the fuel weight is very small. It only takes a few kilograms of Hydrogen fuel to equal well over 50 kg of gasoline or diesel to generate the same vehicle range of roughly 350 miles.

        • A “cheap” fuel cell target in the latest round of DOE grants is $400/kW.

          1 kW = 1.3 hp, so how many hp does our otherwise electric vehicle need?
          10? It needs at least that to match drag at freeway speeds, so we need some margin.
          40? Probably at least this to have any tolerable response to the driver.

          40*400=$16k just for the fuel cell at an already aggressive cost target. I guarantee your 130+hp family car doesn’t have an engine that costs $16k.

        • Duane,
          Professionally, I have worked around high pressure gas systems and have participated in the testing of rocket engines that utilize cryogenic O2 with various fuels.

          Some issues I have noted in your discussion that need to be addressed for mass scale use of hydrogen.

          1. Hydrogen is colorless, odorless and burns in the UV spectrum, thus flames are invisible.
          Flame temps can range from about 3800F to 5100F. This will melt steels and stainless
          steels, including inconel.
          2. Hydrogen is used as a tracer gas to detect leaks that are too small for helium. i.e.
          Hydrogen will escape from the tiniest of holes.
          3. Maintenance of Hydrogen powered vehicles.
          4. The dangers associated with storage of gasses (any gasses) at 10,000psi.

          You have frequently mentioned the use of 10,000psi tanks like it’s no big deal.
          10ksi is an extremely high pressure.
          Unless the system is hermetically sealed, it can be challenging to get perfect seals with any gas at such pressures that would see the abuse subjected to it by city roads.
          Probably, most of the tubing could be welded, but that makes repairs far more expensive.
          Probably a less obvious issue is that the tanks designed for DOE Hydrogen Composite tanks 10ksi tanks hold a smaller volume than do 5ksi tanks. 100L vs 145L. There are design limitations when going with higher pressure. They need to be skinnier and longer to hold the same volume while minimizing wall thickness and weight.

          Hyrdrogen leakage at low pressures is a big deal. Even Nasa thinks this is so.
          Please see:

          You have made also assumptions that a vessel or pipe breach would instantaneously dissipate all of the gas high in to the atmosphere where it would be safe. This is unfounded. It would leak gas for several minutes to bleed that kind of volume of gas.

          And if that’s not bad enough, the noise from a leak in a 10,000psi tube is likely to exceed 140dB.

    • Funny, South Australia was recently proposing a “Australian first” trial of hydrogen buses (despite the Western Australian trial occurring 25 years ago) – what they’ll find is what we did. Hydrogen produces steam – a lot of steam, which increases the humidity and of course with water being a fantastic carrier of energy, it carries a lot of heat. A dozen or so hot steamy buses might sound pretty innocuous, but it wasn’t and even in a little city like Perth the effect was noted post-trial. A couple of thousand of them and it’d be like hell on Earth.

      Atop that these buses broke down far more often, overheated like crazy and were so horrendously expensive to run despite the tax payers coughing up to cover the bills even the government decided to can it. Sure every time someone else has a go they can assure us that they know better, they have the new improved version or those old folks weren’t as bright as us new young folk, but the fact remains we’ve known how to make hydrogen for a really long time – if it were viable, we’d be doing it already.

      If I remember the joke correctly “Hydrogen : the fuel of the future! (and always will be)’

      myself – I’d prefer using the hydrogen fuel we already use in our cars which is nicely bonded to a number of carbon atoms ensuring the fuel is stable, won’t embrittle metal, carries something
      like 57MJ per liter and doesn’t require high pressure containment.

      • Even is Iceland, with readily available hydro and geothermal energy, hydrogen technology is still too expensiv,e and the breakthroughs needed to make it the fuel of the future are just around the corner.

        • Fusion would be best. Probably we can expect the cheap, reliable hydrogen economy right after fusion arrives in thirty years /sarc

          But first we need a Green New Deal to get these technologies working, of course /moresarc

      • No, hydrogen fuel cells do NOT produce steam. They produce liquid water as the only exhaust from the reaction. The liquid water can either be collected in a tank, or just discharged to the road like the air conditioner condenser does on a vehicle.

        • That will be great in Edmonton or Winnipeg for 3 months of the year when it can be -30 to -40 any day of the week. Now you need another heated tank to collect the water, or worse, you let the water leak out on the street creating one big ice rink. Can you imagine 100,000 cars at rush hour in Edmonton at -30 and all leaking water on the streets. Back to the drawing board…

      • We could all be driving hydrogen-powered vehicles. All we need to do to get there is superimpose a command economy. We would then get to drive our FCV’s to the bread line.

        These “superior” technologies never really seem to quite make it to the market, and the excuse is that those evil automobile/oil companies just don’t want to liberate people by supplying these machines that are amazingly better than the old-fashioned ICE.

        Economics is hard.

    • Duane: you’ve never worked in a refinery. When hydrogen burns, it is invisible. Very dangerous! Also, I’ve been sitting on my Ballard fuel cell shares for about twenty years, and they have gone from $120 to $3. The only real measure of the visbility of a technology is the marketplace.

    • Hydrogen is so hard to transport that ammonia makes much more sense as a vehicle fuel. link The problem is:

      … energy efficiencies demonstrated thus far “need to be improved at least by 1−2 orders of magnitude to allow for commercial use.” link

      Ammonia has some attractive qualities but it’s not ‘there’ yet.

    • Hydrogen also has the unfortunate property of increasing temperature when is escapes from high pressure, making it self igniting.

      • Yes, hydrogen is not an ideal gas at NTP and has a negative Joule-Thompson coefficient. It along with helium and neon heat up during expansion but hydrogen is flammable.

      • Gary and Peter,

        Mr. Shearer has the right idea, at certain pressures H2 does not follow the ideal gas law. I learned about this while doing calculations on explosive mixtures for a nuclear power plant.

    • Hydrogen fuel cells are likely going to become a very big part of the future energy economy, and advancements like this will be key elements of developing that economy.

      The money phrase is this: “Electrochemical water splitting driven by electricity sourced from renewable energy technology

      They expect to use electricity generated by wind and solar. That means the energy from hydrogen will be more expensive than wind or solar.

      The chemistry may be interesting (I haven’t checked). But whatever its intrinsic utility, hydrogen produced from wind or solar power will never, ever be economical for energy production at any useful scale in a technological civilization.

      It’s another pipe dream, courtesy of opportunistic scientists rationalizing their research using fashionable phrases and a prejudiced advocacy media that refuses to think critically.

      • 1) How much hydrogen will you need if it’s cloudy and wind free for a week or two?
        2) Where will you store all that hydrogen?
        3) First you use a lot of energy to make the hydrogen, then you use a lot of energy to cryogenically chill the hydrogen so it can be stored, then you have to use a lot of energy to keep the hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures until you actually need it.

        • Hydrogen fuel is permanent fuel – it does not wax or wane with the weather. Once created, it stores chemical energy that is released in a fuel cell. Storage is via high pressure tanks today. But storage can also be accomplished at low pressure using ammonia, which is yet another method of producing and storing and transporting hydrogen.

          No – a “lot of energy” is not used to produce hydrogen gas. In fact, a “lot of energy” IS used to produce, transport, refine, store, and retransport to final users all petroleum and other hydrocarbon fuels.

          Typical new wind energy plants have a 50% energy capacity factor – same as a typical hydropower plant.

          Hydrogen gas is commonly produced today from other sources besides electrolysis, including steam reforming of otherwise waste propane gas. It can also be produced from a catalyzed reaction of ammonia, an extremely common industrial product widely distributed throughout the world.

          • Steam reforming produces CO and/or CO2 from the hydrocarbon, Duane, as well as hydrogen.

            Thermodynamics tells us that the amount of energy in the hydrogen produced is less than the amount of energy used to produce it.

            So, not only does it take a lot of energy to produce hydrogen, your method wastes a lot of energy as well because you get out less than you put in.

            Every mole of hydrogen produced takes two Coulombs of electrons to produce it (true using hydrocarbons or by electrolysis). That electricity has to come from somewhere. Solar can’t do it cheaply or easily, and neither can wind.

            Electrolytic hydrogen is therefore produced using the electricity made by burning fossil fuels.

            The ammonia you tout is produced by reduction of nitrogen gas, taken from air. Every molecule of ammonia requires three Coulombs of electrons.

            Every nitrogen molecule requires six Coulombs of electrons to reach the oxidation state of nitrogen in ammonia.

            Ammonia production is an extremely energy-intensive process, also requiring a molybdenum-iron catalyst. The large amount of needed electricity requires fossil fuels (again) or nuclear.

            The metal catalyst must be refined and manufactured — another energetic process.

            Bottom line Duane? There’s no magic bullet, and you need to study what you plan to talk about, before you talk about it.

    • Like most everything else Duane knows, nothing he wrote here is actually true.

      The question is, where does the electricity needed to make the hydrogen come from? If you say wind/solar, go to the nurses office for an immediate brain transplant.

      Anyone who thinks that the infrastructure to transport hydrogen is not difficult to install has never bothered to actually think.
      Hydrogen is distributed in one of two methods, cryogenic or very high pressure.
      Hydrogen can and does leak very easily, it can even migrate through solid metal.

      PS: Gasoline doesn’t splash on the occupants during a crash. Any crash that’s violent enough to get gas into the passenger compartment has already killed anyone in the vehicle.

      PPS: Being lighter than air only matters when you are in the open air.

      • Regarding the risk of dying by fire in a car crash, stats on this are very easy to determine: It is far less than 1% of automobile fatalities.

      • You obviously know nothing but just propagate propaganda and make personal attacks.

        Really, you just write like a crank.

        The infrastructure to transport hydrogen gas is easy peasy – it is just a pipeline, as the primary mechanism, nothing special there at all, having been in use for over a century. Just exactly as we use today for natural gas. Or it can be produced locally at the point of sale, using electrolysis and water. Or it can even be produced inside the vehicle itself using a catalyzed conversion of low pressure ammonia. Or it can be transported as liquified gas in road tankers or sea tankers, just as we already do at very large scales today with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, acetylene and other industrial gases, and with natural gas.

        Gasoline most certainly DOES splash on vehicle occupants in the event of a large collision and breach of the tank. Gasoline splashing is also the secondary killer of light aircraft occupants when they crash – if the blunt force trauma doesn’t kill you, the post crash fires usually does the trick.

        • I am with Menicholas . I have seen a lot of car crashes in the 60 or so years I have been around. I have never once seen a car fire except in the movies. The movie Marathon Man was filmed near my parents apartment and I saw them film one scene. They wanted a car to crash into a heating oil truck and burst into flames . Problem was no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get that car to burst into flames. They kept loading it up with more incendiary devices but it would not go up in flames. They finally got enough incendiary devices to cause a fire.
          Gasoline car fires are very rare. I also think gasoline airplane fires are very rare too. Air travel is the safest form of travel . Jets use jet fuel which is much closer to kerosene than to gasoline.

          • I have seen a couple of car fires, but neither was a result of an accident.
            One was when I was a kid, about 8 I think: A VW on the street where I live was idling outside a house and caught fire, and was an inferno in no time.
            It was not a fuel fire I do not think.
            Another time was last Winter on I-75 in North Fort Myers…I have it on a cell phone video I took…the car was pulled onto the shoulder…I suspect it started burning and the person driving it pulled over and got out.
            Car fires from accidents, caused by gas leaking, are, as you say, very rare, and few people die by being burned alive after a wreck.

  4. So a country that frequently suffers from drought is going to turn scare water into hydrogen for export in order to make unreliable, cost ineffective, green energy viable. Oh, good idea, boss.

  5. 1. It uses Cobalt, which is also a key ingredient in LiIon batteries, and is mined in the Congo by people in absolutely horrendous conditions.

    2. The type of fuel cells used to make electricity use platinum cataylysts. This does not change that.

    3. By definition half of the energy in the process goes to producing oxygen. Oxygen is not useless. I rather enjoy breathing it myself. But, it is not economical to make oxygen this way. Air liquefaction is a lot cheaper. The oxygen is essentially a waste product.

    The storage of hydrogen is an energetically intensive and dangerous process. Compressed hydrogen is voluminous and liquid hydrogen is dangerous, and not very dense. Storing hydrogen in the form of hydrocarbons is actually denser, less dangerous, and more economical than as elemental hydrogen.

    • My thoughts exactly. Even Liquid Hydrogen is insufficiently dense, as well as being a cryogenic liquid.

      • A bit of perspective:
        A block of balsa wood will not float in a container of liquid hydrogen.
        balsa: 6 lbs/ft3
        LH2: 4 lbs/ft3

        …and its at -423 °F (-253 °C). Try making seals work at that temperature…now that’s rocket engineering!

    • Hydrogen stored as a compressed gas or cryogenic liquid has two dreaded problems: 1) it migrates through the walls containing it and, 2) it embrittles metals. It is an engineering nightmare to contain, pipe, and store.

      Dan Kurt

      • No, and irrelevent anyway. Hydrogen is certainly NOT an engineering nightmare – we have been using hydrogen as an industrial gas or liquid for many many decades, just as we do many other industrial gases and liquified gases. No nightmares at all. You are making stuff up.

        Current production FCVs use composites for the fuel system including the tank. No metal. The longevity and robustness of FCV components is actually better than for typical internal combustion engines and their fuel systems. Far fewer moving parts, none of the high heat of ICEs, gasoline is probably the most dangerous substance in society in terms of fire and explosion danger and distribution, as well as pollution of the environment.

        • Break it down…crude oil is the devil himself…#1 reason for cancer,pollution,global warming and corruption at all levels of government..abolish crude oil..make the world a great place for everyones children..

    • To produce a lot of hydrogen from electrolysis, you are going to produce vastly more oxygen by mass. Oxygen is highly corrosive. Any plan for large scale production of hydrogen must include a plan for dealing with the oxygen. Venting it to the atmosphere won’t work if large scale.

      • The idea of using hydrogen for energy storage, except in(possibly) certain niche applications, is utterly mad but venting O2 to atmosphere during production would work just fine.

    • Walter Sobchak
      1.” It uses Cobalt, which is also a key ingredient in LiIon batteries, and is mined in the Congo by people in absolutely horrendous conditions”

      Cobalt is usually not mined alone, and tends to be produced as a by-product of nickel and copper mining activities. The main ores of cobalt are cobaltite, erythrite, glaucodot, and skutterudite. The world’s major producers of cobalt are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainland China, Zambia, Russia and Australia.

  6. “The Australian Government is interested in developing a hydrogen export industry to export our abundant renewable energy” – abundant energy that can’t keep the lights on at home.

  7. “3. By definition half of the energy in the process goes to producing oxygen. ”

    That’s a matter of perspective.
    Conservation of mass & energy … the energy provided to split the hydrogen from the oxygen has to be released by the recombination of the hydrogen with some different oxygen (, “process” losses notwithstanding).

    • In other words, you get the same amount of energy out from ‘burning’ (oxidizing) the hydrogen as you spent splitting it in the first place (minus any efficiency losses), and as long as you do it in an oxygen environment, like the air, you don’t need to bring it with you.

      So all that you really need to deal with is storage. As pure Hydrogen is so difficult to deal with, I recommend chemically combining it with another material that will form a nice, stable molecule. Maybe a liquid for ease of storage and use.

      Now, Carbon also produces energy when oxidizing, and forms some really nifty molecules with Hydrogen. And Greens seem really concerned with how much is in the atmosphere. If these Scientists could figure out how to get their ‘cheap’ Hydrogen to ‘cheaply’ combine with that carbon, they might find they had something actually useful. something to think about.


      • +42
        The next major breakthrough paper on hydrogen as a viable fuel will be:
        “A new ‘discovered process’ that stabilizes hydrogen for safe transport and improves its energy storage density by combining each hydrogen atom with 4 carbon atoms.”

          • HC4 is a rare molecule indeed. It is found only in poor editing from fat finger fools.
            …mea culpa

            Of course you are correct.

        • And imagine adding an oxygen atom! Methanol would be pretty good as a vehicle fuel, and liquid to boot. Honestly, I wonder how much more time it will take for the world to get beyond this carbon-as-a-pollutant fad.

      • Schitztree, and carbon hydride is …wait for it… methane! Ta daaaaah! A perpetual motion machine at last.

    • Yes, but elemental Oxygen is superabundant and ubiquitous. The only use for this quantity of elental oxygen might be CCS. But the availibility of oxygen is not a barrier to CCS.

  8. My geoengineering thought of the week is to build an armada of nuclear plants and position them up wind of Greenland.

    The power to make hydrogen as discussed in the main article.

    Use the steam produced by the nuclear power plants to raise the humidity above Greenland and let it precipitate over the ice sheet for the 8-10 months a year it won’t melt off.

    Reasonable? Practical?

    And if the climate cools, that armada of ships can be moved to up wind of an arid area to induce rain.

      • I once consulted on a project that was to fly a space launched vehicle “piggy-backed” atop a larger transport plane. The transport plane would fly the ‘orbiter’ to the desired launch location (actually a big benefit). During transport, the carrier aircraft would be generating LOX (liquid oxygen) from the ambient air using compressor/chillers. Seems rational unless you realize that for stability, aircraft balance is very important, and rarely do we design aircraft that are intended to gain weight as they fly.
        Beyond the obvious the concept had numerous other issues which relegated it to the “not-ready-for-prime-time” category.

    • My idea was to use nuclear power plants to pump seawater from the Antarctica coast to the interior, where it would freeze, even though it is salt water.
      Much more direct, and the amount of water pumped is the amount removed from the ocean for a very long time.
      But I doubt this will ever be necessary.
      Any realistic rate of sea level rise can be handled by just rebuilding further inland after storms, building sea walls, and other such measures.
      There is zero indication of any acceleration in the rate of sea level rise.
      Besides, warmistas now tell us that global warming will mean more snow.

  9. Hydrogen diffuses through just about anything, especially under pressure, so storage by itself has losses to the atmosphere. Plus you will get leakage transferring it from storage. And the atmospheric hydrogen atoms will ultimately end up in outer space, gone forever. Given enough time we will totally lose our oceans and the Earth will have an atmosphere that although very rich in O2, will pretty much kill us all.

    I’ve put together some computer models that show once this is put in place, within 20 years sea levels will be falling at 3 cm per year and accelerating. By 2100 the oceans will be a full 10 meters lower. The Great Barrier Reef will be the Great Barrier atoll. And by 2200, you can walk from Alaska to Russia.

    Is that what we really want?

    • Look spare me model runs for things climate! It will oxydize in the air. Now a really good idea would be to use a reinforced nonmetal composite tank that permits leakage of hydrogen at the rate neded for combustion or reaction for needed energy.

      • Mr. Pearse,

        DOE has done extensive research on carbon composite tanks for H2. They looked at compression to 10,000 Psi and 20,000 Psi. Ultimately the research was abandoned as the tanks did really awful things in an automobile crash, fires that you can’t put out, explosions, the tank becoming an accelerating projectile, etc…

        • A high pressure carbon fiber tank, filled with hydrogen, in a fire … pressure rises with temperature as the fibers burn, until BOOM! A pressure relief valve could prevent the BOOM, but the hydrogen venting adds fuel to the fire.

  10. See essay Hydrogen Hype in ebook Blowing Smoke for the details on why a cheaper catalyst makes no difference at all. A Prius is better at reducing catbon emissions than a hydrogen fuel celled vehicle.

    • These geniuses developed an electrolysis without emissions. Old methods of electrolysis produced a lot of emissions from water 🙂

  11. Hydrogen fuel cells are not exactly a new idea. GM used, as in past tense, have a fuel cell research facility is the local area. It got shut down. The problem with hydrogen are one that hydrogen is not a fuel source but rather a fuel medium, akin the battery in your car. And, two there is no hydrogen infrastructure. The Aussies didn’t solve either problem.

  12. I thought splitting water into Hydrogen and Oxogen by electrolysis was already nearly 90% efficient.

    Isn’t the main problem with storing energy as Hydrogen is that it itself is hard to store? You need cryogenic storage, and even then few materials don’t ‘leak’ because Hydrogen is literally the smallest possible Atom.


      • Actually helium will form a dihelium molecule at cryogenic temperatures called a helium dimer.
        Interestingly also liquid helium is colder than liquid hydrogen. Liquid helium tanks are used as pressure sources for liquid tanks as they can be nested within the hydrogen tank without freezing up.

        • So are you proposing that personal cars could tote around either hydrogen or helium at 4K sufficient to generate a dimer? What would the cook off time be?

    • H2 fueled cars are storing it at extremely high pressures, so no cryogenic tanks required.

      For a sense of the pressure they use, methane stored at the same pressure is not a gas, liquid, or solid!

      It’s a super-critical fluid.

      I think H2 is also a supercritical fluid when in a cars fuel tank, but I’m not sure.

      • How do you refuel your automobile at high pressure safely?
        Remember , in most labs the H2 bottles are stored outside the work area in secure, ventilated and locked compounds to avoid malicious mischief or just accidents through ignorance.
        What would motor insurance premiums look like?

      • Last time I checked, rockets also work by releasing gases stored at extremely high pressures. This could be a problem.

        • Not exactly so. Actually fueled rockets behave more like the simple water rockets.
          They are impulse motors. They throw mass aft behind the rocket to push the rocket forward. Simple momentum physics. The propellants stored in the tanks are not under very high pressure otherwise the tanks would have to be very strong..and consequently heavy. All the pressure is generated by the turbo-machinery in the engines themselves. Through various schemes of preburners and turbo-chargers the fuel is ‘squirted’ out the nozzle very fast with incomplete combustion. YEAH, we run oxygen rich because LOX is much heavier that LH2 and ejecting mass out the back is what we are after.

      • What happens in an accident when that high pressure tank ruptures?
        What happens when the fittings between the tank and the engine fail due to age and vibration?

    • It can’t be that efficient. The cells themselves put out a lot of waste heat and in addition capital costs are quite high for a reason.

      • If you are looking at electricity balance H2O > H2 at best 60%, back again another 60%, 36% round trip. Add to that H2 storage (compression or refrigeration), electricity storage, distribution losses, and motor you are around 20% generator > road.

        All electric is perhaps as much as 60%. Problem is storage for long haul vehicles. There are other alternatives like dynamic charging, synthetic fuels and biofuels that all need to be in the mix.

    • HHO Generators have been around for a long time. I’ve made 3 different designs of them in my shed. Small gas engines can be ran on just HHO and bigger engines that run on gas or diesel can be enhanced by HHO into the air intake lowering their fuel consumption. HHO Generators only require about 5 amps going through a Square Wave Rectifier, to the plates in the water/sodium bicarbonate mixture (to make it electrically conductive) to split the water molecules. There are many people selling these HHO Generators online, but few know about the need of a Square Wave Rectifier and what the plates are made of is important. I used a special non-corrosive stainless steel and the process of splitting water, releasing Oxygen still Oxidizes the plates, to form a mixed metals Oxides on the plates that reduces efficiency. So I Gold electroplated them and they work much better.

      Where all you people are talking about storing the Hydrogen being dangerous. The solution is to keep it as water and convert it as needed. There is more Hydrogen in a small amount of water than in a larger volume of Gasoline. So pound per pound it takes less water weight in a vehicle, than it does fossil fuels, to get more energy and takes less energy than burning a tail light.

      • John,
        What you propose exists, sort of. Instead of using water as the source of extracted hydrogen these systems use methane (CH4) and ‘reform’ the fuel by stripping off the carbon atoms. The down side to these systems is they produce hydrocarbon sludge as a by product. The other issue with these systems is that they are not readily transportable. The system needed to power a city bus would fill about 1/4 of the bus. These types of systems are better suited for buildings.

      • So you are saying that the conversion process has to to be on the vehicle. So instead of using hydrogen tanks you would use water tanks and convert the water to hydrogen on the vehicle. What energy would you use to convert the water to hydrogen on the vehicle? I know there was an inventor in France who once claimed that he could run a car on water.

  13. Worked for a mining company for awhile.

    Cobalt was a challenge. Not much of it. Mostly from China. Was working FEED for a possible site in Idaho.

    BTW mining makes a heck of a mess, lots of water, lots of waste, energy & money.

    • Nick, stop reading green literature. A multi- billion $ mine has a smaller footprint than a modest commercial ‘organic’ farm. They are highly regulated and clean these days. Im a mining engineering consultant in Canada you require some 35 permits of federal and provincial jurisdictions. You know we are well over regulated when the UN has selected Canada’s system as a model worldwide. Before you mine, you are required to have a third party firm do an environmental baseline study which analyzes the elemental content of streams and lakes and counts and analyzes the fish pop including clams and other invertebrates, flora…once in operation, the baseline is resampled at regular intervals over mine life and if any significant variation is detected, the protocol is for shutdown and immediate amelioration! Air, of course and noise and unsightliness. You often could drive by and not know their is an operation a few hundred meters away. Oh and a remediation plan on closing has to be approved and fully funded 2 years after the mine is opened (half up front). In the US the industry is just a shadow of itself after about 40 years of regulations designed to d8scourage the industry. Trump has changed sll that and the enormous mineral wealth of the US will be coming on stream again (although Canadian, I belong to the American Exploration and Mining Association, a 123 yr old institution whose annual technical sessions in Spokane I’m just returning from – I gave a paper on Litium pegmatites on Wednesday).

  14. “New catalyt produces cheap hydrogen “

    And not a single explanation as to why it is cheap. How much energy is required to put say 1 kilowattHr into a car’s tank?
    This is typical of MSM press releases: Full of hype empty of substance. Designed with an agenda in mind.
    I suspect the agenda here is grant driven.

    • And of course the catalyst doesn’t produce it. The pronouncement leaves out the requirement for electricity.

      ‘With a lot of cheaply ‘made’ hydrogen’

      Cheap electricity assumed.

      “Electrochemical water splitting driven by electricity sourced from renewable energy technology has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods of producing high-purity hydrogen.”

      Nothing cheap about that.

      This is all quite fanciful. As is this:

      “Hydrogen fuel cells are likely going to become a very big part of the future energy economy, and advancements like this will be key elements of developing that economy.”

      • What is special about a catalyst is that it doesn’t get used up, so it is a one-time cost, so the great saving is that you don’t have to buy very expensive platinum catalyst (at $ 25 per gram) when building the hydrogen plant, replacing it with cobalt catalyst that is just expensive (at $ 25 per pound).

        Seems unlikely to have a noticeable effect on the price of the produced hydrogen.

  15. [Sigh…]

    The pipe-dream of the Hydrogen Economy rises yet again.

    The only way this ever works is if the electrical energy required to produce the hydrogen is absolutely free, and even if that energy were absolutely free, it would still be easier, cheaper, and safer to distribute that free electricity directly to points of use instead of converting it to hydrogen, a low-density fuel that is rather difficult to distribute to points of use safely and efficiently.

    I’ll agree that hydrogen is a pretty good niche fuel, but it’s not going to replace hydrocarbon fuels. As for “leveling” of renewable energy supplies, there are far better means of accomplishing that.

  16. I thought hydrogen had higher energy per weight than gasoline. I read something about military looking at hydrogen drones for this reason.

  17. Where to start…..

    Try here: The welding& cutting of steel.
    Previously done with foxy oxy-acetylene but now oxy-propane.
    Is that a working temperature of 1800 Kelvin? Minimum assuming steel melts at 1500 degC

    Sooooooo, it is the oxygen we want out of this. **
    Feed it into existing engines burning ordinary gasoline/petrol/diesel and with luck you’ll get an Input Temperature to your engine of ‘something like that’

    Everyone’s favourite, Monsieur Le Carnot, will then tell you that your engine will thus have a thermodynamic efficiency of 78% – slightly up from the existing 33 or thereabouts % – thus slashing oil usage to maybe 40% of current levels.

    Alert folks might venture that 2,000 degC will melt your engine (and your car and your house and the road) but but but…
    *Fusion Energy* is going to happen ‘sometime next week’ and as it runs at 10’s and 100’s of millions of C (the same temperature as the Centre of the Earth, isn’t that right Mr Gore) – the Fusion Folks must’ve sorted engines that can run at a paltry 2,000 degrees C otherwise their ‘next week’ target is a ‘bit off’

    ** Adding hydrogen into drinking water is THE latest must-have health enhancing scheme. Apparently.
    I’d say eat fat instead BUT, and here’s how the scheme might have merit, the ‘Molecular Hydrogen Water’ only works because (the hydrogen within it) it is Lipid Soluble.
    Hence, for the Healthy Hydrogen to work, you need to eat fat.
    haha Luvvit luvvit luvvit.

    Would fat be a way of storing (industrial) hydrogen – a bit like how acetylene bottles worked – and would save all that compressing malarkey?

    • Margarine was created by adding hydrogen to vegetable fats. A catalyst can give it back. Sounds like you’re ready draft a grant proposal for a “cheap” hydrogen storage medium.

      Then you only need to make an engine out of ceramic. You should be able to have a working prototype in a few months. Might as well partner with these guys from Queensland.

    • “Adding hydrogen into drinking water is THE latest must-have health enhancing scheme. Apparently.”

      Might have undesirable side effects. The Apollo astronauts did drink the water produced by the fuel cells. I remember Michael Collins telling in Carrying the Fire that it worked but that the residual H2 in the water caused flatulence. He apparently didn’t notice any other health effects.

  18. Just burn the fosil fuels that was used to produce the wind turbines, and to produce all the materials going in to them. That would for sure produce no more carbon dioxide than this chain of losses.

  19. Hydrogen gas has some demand. Hydrogen is produced mainly by steam reforming from methane (natural gas). If this new catalyst with wind or solar energy can produce cheaper hydrogen, then there is small step to a carbon neutral world. I doubt. It is working technically but it fails at economy.
    Proposed “hydrogen battery” for electricity storage is competing with batteries in use like lead-acid batteries. Not sure, if this new “battery type” is better. And you don’t need elecricity storage at all, if you produced power on demand.
    I wish best luck for new electrode.

    • Yes Hydrogen has lots of applications, but for “green” purposes, not ,… Wind and Solar are only zero carbon in producing power, they are far from carbon neutral when manufacturing and materials al the way back in the supply chain are considered.

  20. There are better ways to store and use energy. Hydrogen is good, but somewhat dangerous—and on a grand scale it would make an inviting target.

  21. “Electrochemical water splitting driven by electricity sourced from renewable energy technology has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods of producing high-purity hydrogen.”

    “The [second] law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. … if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

      • To produce electricity nuclear reactors are the ultimate way to go. That is why we have nuclear subs.

        Nuclear cars? NOT SO MUCH

        • Electrify the road grid and use e directly. A dedicated nuke for each sub grid. All these intermediate energy transformations are just not going to cut it on economic and sensible engineering grounds. Think cheapest electrical energy and you jump out of the familiar box you are in. Heck, we did it for homes a hundred years ago. What a concept! Power for lights and appliances gridded up to every door. A little ‘backward’ thinking to an engineering ‘atmosphere’ of a century ago when engineering was truly a derivative of the word ingenuity, unalloyed with “diversity” safe rooms, and ‘thought lite’ would solve all these “terribly homes and gardens” problems without the participation of social pissychologists, NYU pillossifers and feminine glaciologists and without the conundrum of mulling over which bathroom one should use.

  22. From Forbes with the CO2 misinformation deleted:
    Hydrogen from steam reformation of methane.

    Net positive source of energy.
    No negative emissions at end point of use.
    Less expensive than hydrogen from electrolysis.

    It’s energy inefficient compared to burning the methane in a combined cycle gas generator to get much more of the energy.
    Nitrous and sulfur oxides are emitted by processing and create air pollution.

    Hydrogen from electrolysis

    No negative emissions at end point of use.
    No Nitrous and sulfur oxides are emitted

    Electrolysis is about 70% efficient, meaning about 30% of the energy in the electricity is wasted. This is much less efficient than batteries.
    Fuel cells are only 40% to 60% efficient and waste heat is generated. If the waste heat is used as well, overall efficiency at point of generation can be greater, but the theoretical maximum is 85%. At minimum, 15% of stored electricity is thrown away. In reality, no automotive fuel cell captures the waste heat, so 40% to 60% of the stored electricity is thrown away.
    If the hydrogen is burned in a Carnot or steam cycle, then efficiency is even lower than via a fuel cell, closer to gasoline where efficiency is in the range of 20%.
    A quick search reveled some active projects:
    Ohio system:

  23. Just what the greens desire – water as a major transportation fuel. Be careful what you wish for as H2O vapor (which would come out out the millions of tailpipes) is the major greenhouse gas for Earth with 90% by volume., which may gives us real global warming. It could also cause more clouds and storms which can give us more extreme weather that could make a switch back to fossil fuels to return to today’s base level of extreme weather.

    • you will never guess what comes out of the tailpipe ,that is connected to burning fossil fuels..
      water ,from the hydrogen in fossil fuels…(including coal)

  24. Remember what “catalyst” means. This invention doesn’t produce hydrogen without input energy, it just reduces the price of the machine that converts electrical energy into hydrogen; and the price of that machine is not what’s holding back the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is much more difficult to store than gasoline, and brings a bigger risk of explosions.

    • I have been looking (Goggling) the current state of use for Hydrogen, seems I was out of touch:
      From 2012 and now with the latest news along with Kenworth and Cummins both producing engines and vehicles. It seems that using batteries that are charged by hydrogen fuel cells (HFC) is becoming a reality. Germany has a train based on HFC
      Is it cost effective ? I doubt it, I can’t imagine a train with enough LiPO batteries and HFC storage hauling freight across the country being cost effective or even close to a factor of 1,000 but who knows, a lot of people are trying like Costa Rica and Cummins .

    • In particular, look at Figure 2 in that post. “Energy density of selected materials”

      The winner is diesel, unless we figure out a good way to burn aluminum. The surprise loser is lithium ion battery.

  25. Imagine an industrial process in full scale, to produce a very dangerous substance, powered by unreliable and intermittent sources.

    No, it is not a possible solution from an engineering point of view, unless there are back-up power sources, such as diesel generators.

    PS: this topic was discussed some 4 years ago, here.

  26. Biology has already invented all the cheap ways to produce reduced hydrogen, and thus the electrons from its subsequent oxidation.

    Everything else is just a bad copy.

  27. Wait a minute, this will never be allowed. Is H2O not a green house gas many time more potent than CO2. Beside cheap energy for our cars cannot be a good thing either.

  28. Do these engineers know a gallon of gasoline has 4 (four!) times the energy of a gallon of liquid hydrgen? You aint shipping this stuff anywhere! Do these engineers know that you are selling your hydrogen energy (having to make it with 60% effiiciency for a true cost of at least a buck fifty a kilowatt before transshipment and distribution? Do you know whose paying for this wonderful export opportunity? An already impoverished overtaxed poor citizenry. Shame on you.

  29. Sounds like ANOTHER wait and see boondoggle. Riding around sitting on oxygen and hydrogen liquids (Think NASA and rocket science) is like riding on TNT or C4. LNG/butane is much safer and readily available, my Father’s old 1948 Ford Pickup truck used butane. He drove it until he died in 1975. A collector paid 10 grand for it.

  30. Hydrogen is just an “energy carrier” a bit like an electron. We actually found a safe way to store it, move it around and use it a long time ago. It’s called hydrocarbons.

    As per others above, the energy required to split the H2O bonds has not changed, cannot be changed and never will be changed.

    Fuel cells? Ask the Ballard investors what they think about the commercial viability of fuel cells.

    Every ten year or so some money grubbing third rate professor re-invents this hysteria which the forever ignorant media then promulgate. This is the fifth time I have seen it started.

    • Well said.

      The only catalyst that will matter is the one that sends hydrogen up the lumen of the porous pipe and oxygen outside the pipe to recombine with the OH radicals of disassociation.

  31. I thought that the amount of energy in the world / universe is constant / fixed, except for conversion to heat, waste, leakage and massive unexplained unrecoverable losses, e.g., in Washington D.C.

  32. The entire proposal sounds (again) like on of those “free HHO energy from magnetic motor” ads where you can purchase the plans and training video on internet and pay by Western Union or I-Tune cards.

  33. Up until the mid 1950’s much of NYC’s fuel of choice was coal gas. It was the product of “cracked” coal and was made of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It was handled and distributed successfully from the mid 1800’s until the natural gas pipelines reached the Northeast and the last plant in Terrytown closed.

    The coal gas pipes did become infused, but not weakened. They were almost impossible to cut and pounding them with a hammer did nothing. The place I lived in Manhattan had been originally lit and heated by coal gas (Town Gas). The old pipes were the most indestructible pipes I’ve ever seen.

  34. ““Fuel cells are a mature technology,

    “With a lot of cheaply ‘made’ hydrogen”

    Statements that prove the alleged researchers did not really study the problem, materials and solutions involved.
    Which damages any credibility these characters were depending upon.

    A) “Fuel cells are a mature technology“; no! fuel cells are not a mature technology!

    B) “With a lot of cheaply ‘made’ hydrogen“; extremely doubtful!!
    As the claim is made, it appears to be more press release smoke an mirrors.
    Cheaper than gasoline?
    Cheaper than acetylene?
    Cheaper than methane?
    Cheaper than coal?
    Cheaper than unaltered water and calcium carbide?

    C) Then there are the problems about how to obtain power back from the hydrogen? Controlling hydrogen flow and feed rate is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially in simple mechanisms in a minimalist method.

    Just a couple more warmists solving the entire world’s problems through teacup and tea room solutions.

  35. Turning the surplus energy into hydrogen is an OK idea, especially if the hydrogen then pushes electrons via a fuel cell. However, there is a lot of infrastructure required. Compressors to compress the hydrogen, vessels to store it, and fuel cells to use it. None of these are cheap. Coal is stacked in a huge pile next to the power plant. Much cheaper. I doubt the economics are there without taxpayer support via taxes.

  36. The next question is, what do university professors or governments know about cost?
    And why would you build a vast array of solar panels to produce energy you can’t use in the first place?
    Solar is expensive and low yield. I suspect this is all ivory tower fantasy. No efficiency figures are cited.
    He is probably fishing for another research grant, as usual.

  37. If they want hydrogen for fuel cells, get it from natural gas via steam reforming and water-gas shift reaction:
    CH4 + H2O = CO + 3 H2
    CO + H2O = CO2 + H2

    That’s the industrially economical way to produce hydrogen. Electrolysis of water is for high school science projects

  38. They lost me at Australia exporting hydrogen in support of wind. If you’ve had a breakthrough on hydrogen, you don’t need wind. And your breakthrough is a scientific process that others will copy. So you’re left with exporting water.

  39. “The Australian Government is interested in developing a hydrogen export industry to export our abundant renewable energy,”
    So Oz can make an export industry based on exploiting our cheap reliable renewable energy? Is that intended to augment the growing, profitable unicorn breeding industry in this country?

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