Climate Change Friendly “Clean Gas” Movement Gathers Momentum

Hindenburg Hydrogen Explosion Disaster

Last time someone tried tp create a Hydrogen economy – the 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

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Green plan to make natural gas from US fracking operations really expensive and dangerous.

Reenvisioning The Role For Natural Gas In A Clean Energy Future

Clean” gas, or hydrogen sourced from natural gas, represents an alternative that has been receiving increased attention.

If the process of converting natural gas into hydrogen is combined with CO2 capture and storage, the bulk of the associated emissions can be avoided.

By Dolf Gielen, Morgan D. Bazilian, and Kenneth B. Medlock III

To meet climate goals, enormous changes to the world’s energy systems are required. The impacts will no doubt be significant for fossil fuels ranging from coal, to oil, to natural gas. With regard to natural gas, various regional and national pipeline systems represent important and large infrastructures with long life spans. Additionally, natural gas resources—proven, probable, and possible—represent an enormous asset. So, strategies that avoid stranded costs along the natural gas value chain while being aligned to climate objectives are attractive. “Clean” gas, or hydrogen sourced from natural gas, represents an alternative that has been receiving increased attention.

If the process of converting natural gas into hydrogen is combined with CO2 capture and storage, the bulk of the associated emissions can be avoided. Still, worldwide just three plants for hydrogen production are employing CCS (Air products, Quest, and ACTL Sturgeon). One plant has dedicated storage while the others use the CO2for enhanced oil recovery, but quantities are modest, each at around 1 Mt per year.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2019/02/01/re-envisioning-the-role-for-natural-gas-in-a-clean-energy-future/

How much energy do you discard if you convert methane to hydrogen?

According to World Nuclear Association:

Hydrogen 120-142 MJ/kg
Methane (CH4) 50-55 MJ/kg

HOWEVER the molecular weight of methane is carbon (12) + Hydrogen (1) x 4 = 16.
The molecular weight of Hydrogen (H2) = 2

If you start with 1kg of methane and discard the carbon (12 of 16, 3/4 of the mass of the methane molecule), you only end up with a quarter of a kilo of hydrogen.

So even assuming a perfect zero cost conversion, 1kg of Methane (50 MJ) gets converted to 0.25Kg of Hydrogen (30MJ) – an immediate loss 2/5 of the original energy.

When you add the cost of building and maintaining the conversion plant, you have at least doubled the cost of gas.

Add to this the difficulties of handling hydrogen – hydrogen leaks prolifically (small H2 molecules find every crack), it can burn in air with a flame so hot it radiates ultraviolet (like a welding torch), and it ignites, often explosively, at a very wide range of hydrogen concentrations in air; in my opinion a hydrogen economy would be an economy which kills people.

The following is a video of some explosive hydrogen experiments performed by the University of Nottingham.

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137 thoughts on “Climate Change Friendly “Clean Gas” Movement Gathers Momentum

  1. I really DO want my stove to turn into the Hindenburg when I’m trying to cook.

    Seriously, when is the Good Idea Fairy planning to stop visiting these people?

    • When they have total control and the green politburo can decide your energy future for you (and themselves).

    • https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/04/08/this-new-battery-is-a-game-changer/#comment-1752281

      Meanderings about electric cars, and grid-scale storage to mitigate the intermittency of renewable energy:

      Remember all the hype circa 2000 about automobiles powered by hydrogen fuel cells? I dismissed that notion in an article written in 2002, because hydrogen is a very low-energy-density, hard-to-store fuel that does not exist in nature and must be manufactured from a primary energy source. I claim success on that prediction, because hydrogen fuel-cell autos have not come to the mass market. [Bing#1]

      I also wrote in 2002 that battery-powered electric cars would find a place in the market, and now there are several models in mass production. [Bing#2]

      I expect future improvements in batteries and fuel cells that will improve the performance of electric cars – recognizing that the majority of car travel is short urban commutes, not long-distance driving.

      I do not believe that dedicated battery technology will soon solve the huge problem of intermittency of grid-connected wind or solar power at the grid level – there may be battery solutions at the household level, but they will tend to be expensive and short-lived, especially when compared with a simple fossil-fueled standby generator.

      Many years ago I suggested that when electric cars become commonplace, a distributed “super-battery” for the electric grid could be utilized consisting of many electric cars, plugged in when not in use – in effect the super-battery company would “rent” your car battery when your electric car is parked and return it to you charged at a programmed time of your choosing. The virtue of this approach is that the super-battery is already paid-for by the car owners, and the super-battery use is secondary.

      It will take a remarkable improvement in battery technology before a dedicated grid-scale super-battery is an affordable and effective solution for the intermittency of wind or solar power.

      Best to all, Allan

      • I’m starting to think that this prediction thing is easy – all you need is a good engineering education and a good night’s sleep. I’ve got two good engineering degrees, but don’t sleep all that well. 🙂

        • Article in Friday’s paper about “new” cars and trucks included a hydrogen cell-fueled Big Rig (tractor for 31T gross load trailers) Kenworth manufactured by Toyota. It is part of a project with an $82 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, meant to put fuel-cell tractors, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and zero-emissions cargo-handling equipment into operation at the Port of Los Angeles.
          So far, Kenworth and Toyota are planning to build 10 zero-emissions Kenworth T680 tractors with this system installed in them.

          • Sounds similar to the AU$90 million grant given to Toyota in about 2008-ish by Kevin Rudd to make an Australian made hybrid car. Toyota never made it but posted a profit that year of about AU$90 million.

          • Hi Sara,

            Your hydrogen big rigs are being built as “part of a project with an $82 million grant from the California Air Resources Board”. Say no more… …$82 million!

            Hydrogen buses were built for the Vancouver Olympics – they have now been retired. Wonder Why? I understand the Hydrogen was transported from Quebec. How grossly inefficient! Looks like more Green virtue signalling.

      • Allan, I can think of a few minor glitches in the plan to use idle electric car’s batteries as grid storage.
        One being the additional charge/discharge cycling imposed upon car owners. This is not without reduced lifecycle/performance costs. Another would be the readiness state of any vehicle when the owner intends to use it.
        Now if these were public vehicles such as buses, trams, trolleys, etc. then there would be so good merit to using idle assets.
        I suppose my concerns are more on the economic utility and mis-application of ‘common goods’ which are private.

      • Alan Macrae- good thinking there. We are at least two orders of magnitude off the pace in using batteries for grid-scale storage but Vehicle to Grid (2G) storage has a role to play in stabilising the grid if the powers that be continue to insist on these silly windmills.

        More cheaply, it would be helpful (and already technically possible with most charging protocols without modification of cars) to dial EV chargers up and down remotely to help stabilise the grid without going full V2G. There would be a lot to accomplish at the customer-contract level, but it could be done as most cars spend most of their time parked and on average in the UK only do 24 miles a day.

  2. Really? Trying to store hydrogen is a bitch, to put it mildly. Aside from the embrittlement issues and leaks, it is just not dense enough to be really practical.

    • I have worked with Hydrogen from cryogenic to 600 oC and pressures from atmospheric to 35 bar, never experienced problems

      • And what does it cost to refrigerate and pressurize H2? A lot. Poof – another negative energy solution.

      • You are likely in laboratory or controlled industrial situation. Put hydrogen
        In houses for heat and fuel for cars and the result will be many problems. Industrial sites with high pressure hydrogen have to do a lot of awareness training for their employees and still eventually end up with someone getting “blowtorched” from a invisible blue flame ignited by static.

        • It was industrial application, the first time a coke oven plant, the second time was a fertilizer plant to produce ammonia. The third time a petrochemical plant, several applications. I made a design for a cleanup unit to produce 99% H2. More interesting was the design (modifications/debottlenecking) for a hydrodealkylation plant. The hydrogen used in the fertilizer plant came partially from a cokeoven plant and was originally used for household warming and cooking until it was replaced by natural gas. The fertilizer plant had a coal gasification unit and was later replaced by an oil gasification. This all I did 30 to 60 years ago, it should nowadays with all the modern tools available a much easier job.

      • Under what conditions?
        Remember these systems have to work in the real world, without maintenance for decades at a time.

      • I expect a tank of liquid hydrogen will have a pressure well in excess of 35 bar once it warms to room temperature unless vented to the air.

        I expect an alloy scuba tank rated at 200 bar / 3000 psi is going to explode if filled with liquid hydrogen and allowed to come up to room temperature.

        • Wow, a refrigeration system in your car big enough to keep a tank filled with hydrogen stable. Where would ya put the kids and dog? The more I read about all these “green” innovations the more I want gasoline.

      • I worked as a firefighter and leader on a Hazmat team for many years. As JJM mentions, hydrogen is not particularly dangerous to work with or around. Although it has a wide flammability range it dissipates very quickly because it is 14 times lighter than air at room temperature. Even when the Hindenburg exploded the people who were burned, were mostly burned by debris not radiant heat from the hydrogen fireball which quickly rose into the sky.

        The problem here is the amount of energy that is needlessly wasted converting natural gas to hydrogen which makes absolutely no sense in most applications.

      • Now take those tanks and dewars and put them in a vehicle, expecting them to 1) hold securely for a week or three without leaking, 2) handle routine vehicle vibration and shock, 3) handle crashes and accidents.

        Personally, I’m not too keen about driving around with a cryogenic tank in the summertime.

        • My Dad used to do exactly that.
          He was a well trained specialist in cryogenics, particularly handling liquid helium.
          (Ex Rutherford Lab, where they had both hydrogen bubble chambers and liquid helium super cooled magnets and targets).

          For a while it was more economic to fetch liquid helium in dewars from London than make them in the rather old lab machine.
          The car that carried all this stuff had to go quite a few miles, and also carried dewars of liquid nitrogen.
          It was real fun and games to get the stuff to transfer from one container to another, taking many happy hours.

          It was kind of de-rigeur never to have a serious crash in the van, because the remains of the driver would have been removed as a pile of frozen bones if the worst of the worst scenario happened.

          Back in Rutherford they had “frangible walls” around the bubble chamber just in case, because the result of a monster explosion would not have been contained.
          The over-pressure if solid walls were in place (would kill people) was the theory, which luckily was never tested.

          The idea we should be handling a high pressure (liquified?) gas which explodes from anything between 4% and 98% strikes me as one of the most monumentally stupid ideas proposed in a long time.

          Hey what do I know, why not use deuterium too?
          That must be greener, cos it’s extracted from sea water.

          • 50 kg for a short range car’s fuel tank, compared to a normal petrol car’s fuel tank (with fuel) that would weigh less than that and travel at least three times the range?

        • Paul, Dave, In terms of practical ‘dummy proofing’, yes, Hydrogen fueled cars have been proven by the ‘Hydrogen Highway’ demonstrator in Norway. In that case H2 was reformed from natural gas, sourced as an industrial byproduct (from chlorine production) or on-site electrolysis at a hand full of service stations (one in Stavanger, a couple in Oslo and about three for refill en-route).
          As Eric mentioned in the article, leak proofing was a principal concern, particulary when refueling but this was overcome by using suitable elastomer seals. There were three make/models involved that I recall seeing on the road; the Toyota Pious, a Mercedes (F-class if I recall, a fuel cell derivative of the B class compact) and the Mazda RX8. What was telling was the rated power of the RX8 (whose wankel engine needed minimal modification to suit H2 fuel) was cut by about a third and that all three were so expensive to buy and service that participants were only able to lease the cars for their corporate fleet’s virtue signalling.
          The main objection to H2 is the insane waste of energy (and in addition to doubling gas demand to meet a given energy requirement as noted in the article, parasitic carbon capture adds about 15-20% to the energy cost of a host industrial process).
          As I mentioned in a post to another WUWT article, the reason H2 is starting to get attention now is that it’s seen by the sort of evil big oil who feel greenwashing is good for business as being a way of perpetuating their gas businesses beyond it’s tenure as a ‘bridging fuel’ (that is once the green blob is done eviscerating coal, has oil under seige and is starting to aim at gas). More over, most of them have followed the green gold rush and are thus in the business of subsidy mining by way of unreliables like wind, Hydrogen is seen as a direct competitor and has been kept low key until now.
          Watch for H2 to make its explosive debut on something large scale rather than more expensive corporate fleet cars, e.g.an application that’s far too big for anyone with a working brain to imagine that batteries are up to the job; ships, trucks or reticulated town gas.

    • And surprisingly, there is more hydrogen in a litre of gasoline or diesel than there is in a liter of liquid hydrogen.

      The advantage of hydrogen is weight, which justifies its use in spacecraft. When GM releases a Chevy that can actually drive to the moon and back, the flex fuel sticker may well include hydrogen.

      • Hydrogen is not used in spacecraft because of the low weight. That’s actually a disadvantage. When the Apollo missions launched, the Saturn-5 rocket engines were fueled by methane because it has a much higher energy density. Later rockets (such as the now defunct Space Shuttle) used hydrogen because it has a much higher burning temperature to increase the exhaust speed.

        • Hivemind, you are incorrect on several accounts:

          1) Saturn V first stage rocket engines (five F-1s) used RP-1, a refined kerosene, but the second stage rocket engines (five J-2s) and the third stage (one J-2) used liquid hydrogen. Methane was never used on any rocket, including attitude control rockets, on any Saturn V launch vehicle stage. (Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V )

          2) Achieving higher flame temperature is not the primary reason hydrogen is sometimes used as a rocket fuel . . . instead, it is because it very effectively lowers the average molecular weight of the combustion exhaust gases. Specific impulse (basically, how many seconds in duration one pound of combined propellant mass can produce one pound of thrust force) is the key measure of propellant use efficiency for rocket engines. Specific impulse varies as (absolute combustion temperature/combustion gas molecular weight)^0.5. And the molecular weight difference between hydrogen and RP-1 combustion gases, both burned with pure oxygen, far overwhelms any possible difference in absolute temperatures of the associated combustion gas, on percentage bases.

          Interestingly, at optimum oxidizer-to-fuel mass flowrate ratios (O/F) giving highest deliverable specific impulse, LOX/LH2 at O/F=6.0 delivers about 450 sec vacuum specific impulse* at a combustion gas temperature of about 3000 K, whereas LOX/RP-1 at O/F = 2.56 delivers only about Isp 350 seconds vacuum specific impulse*, despite it having a combustion gas temperature of about 3700 K (700 K hotter than the LOX/LH2 design point!).
          *Note: rocket nozzle expansion ratios assumed to be equal at about 40:1.

    • The biggest problem to converting nat gas to hydrogen is, why bother? You create several levels of difficulty that way when all you have to do is combust the nat gas directly, and you get all the energy you want. Capture the emissions if you’re really scared about CO2. (which I am not)

    • Compared to a battery, hydrogen is a black hole! Per kg, hydrogen has around 142 MJ of energy, and a LiPo battery is around 1.8 MJ – about 1.2% of the hydrogen gas:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density#Energy_densities_of_common_energy_storage_materials

      Hydrogen gas also enables pretty quick refills, and the energy per volume is also very much in favor of compressed hydrogen gas.

      I think using hydrogen IS a bad move – but it’s better than batteries, especially for cars (where weight is the big driver of road damage, damage going as the 4th power of weight).

  3. Who’da thunk it? Scientists haven’t completely worked out what’s happening in a simple hydrogen balloon explosion. But the tremendously complex questions of earth weather and climate are understood well enough to know with certainty the average temperature of earth in the year 2100. Give me a fricken break.

    • That’s different, Mike. Three are two kinds of ‘settled science’. One kind involves countless experiments and observations that support the scientific explanation every single time, without exception. The other kind of settled science is ‘proclamation from authority’. The former is tedious, difficult and has almost no political value. The ladder is quick, easy and worth a fortune in money, power and prestige.

      Therefore, is it a scam to proclaim that climate science is settled science? Absolutely! The proclamation is a lie. The motivation for lying is to manipulate people to get something from them or to protect yourself from them. Both apply in the case of the ‘climate-science-is-settled’ lie. The liars seek to get power and money from the masses, while simultaneously protecting themselves from public ridicule and career suicide.

      “Oh what a tangled web we weave,
      When first we practice to deceive!”

      • The kind based on experiments can still be “unsettled” at any time when a new experiment finds something unexpected.

        • Certainly! There is no such thing as ‘settled science’ when we get right down to it. Still, decisions have to be made. Science tested by a myriad of experiments and observations will enhance good decision making much, much better than science that is proclaimed by authority. Using Newton’s laws of motion to land a ship on the moon is a reliable decision because the laws have been born out through uncounted experiments and observations. Sacrificing the global economy and the modern standard of living on the untested and unobserved ‘proclaimed’ catastrophic climate change theory would be a insane.

          There is always a nefarious motive behind proclaimed science.

      • It is not different.

        The goofball professor above followed exactly the same steps that climate science follows.

        He was happy blowing up balloons, and to defend his fun, he invented assumptions.
        Assumptions that almost any kid who popped or had their balloons popped could have corrected.

        The first reaction of a balloon in reaction to damage caused by a pin, thorn, nail, knife, cigarette, scissors, match or burning tissue is the rubber ruptures with the rupture continuing depending on stress. A rip continues until the rubber returns to relaxed flaccid state.
        This happens whether the balloon holds air, water, oil, acetylene, oxygen or hydrogen.

        One can also observe rip propagation if one cuts rubber balloons into strips and then stretches the rubber to translucent thinness. Simple cuts, pin pricks, burns, etc.

        Meaning that ripping rubber pulls away from the rupture site, quickly.

        The burn/explosion process comes down to how fast a substance burns or explodes. Most substances burn, not explode.
        Substances that must first mix with reactants, burn at a rate governed by the mixing rate.

        No real research.
        No research or testing designs.
        Gross assumptions and conclusions.
        One does get curious just how long this entertainment continued?

        Where the professor differs, is he is willing to listen to constructive criticisms.

        • The Nottingham Uni experiment is nothing new, apart from the high-speed camera bit. My chemistry teacher “Bim” Wright did exactly the same demonstration back in about 1959? 1960?
          Bim had a particular interest in the properties of hydrogen mixtures, because he had witnessed the shooting down of the Schütte-Lanz SL 11 over London in 1916. Bim and his mates had pedalled their bikes to Cuffley to see what was left of it.

  4. Green dreams and energy schemes are all based on the huge lie that “CO2 is bad”, and all, if implemented, would have disasterous consequences on economies, making energy costs skyrocket and disrupting electric grids. Converting NG to H2, and employing stupid, and costly CCS technology is just more insanity on the part of delusional Greentards.

    • Bruce, yes but not green dreams if implemented would, but as implemented have. The world economy has wasted at least a $trillion on wind, solar and bio-fuels, and surely at least another $trillion will be wasted before this insanity ends.

  5. Pay me a few million dollars and I think that even I could come up with some ideas that wouldn’t work.

  6. Not only does hydrogen leak through every invisible crack and microscopic hole, it also diffuses through intact materials with no defects.IN addition, have any of the geniuses promoting the use of H2 as fuel given any thought to the production of the powerful greenhouse gas H2O as the product of hydrogen combustion? The idea should be DOA, but the forces of hatred of the coal/oil/gas industry will prevail in the media and public mind, I fear.

  7. Wait a second, if CO2’s effect is supposed to be massively amplified by the much stronger “greenhouse” gas water vapor, how does that make burning lots of hydrogen a “green” idea?

    • Because it’s not carbon. The only thing greenies know is carbon=bad. Whatever else happens on the planet they have no idea and don’t care.

  8. Willis E. wrote a very informative article on hydrogen as a “fuel” right here on WUWT. Worth revisiting as more and more unhinged green schemes come flying out of the belfry.

  9. This is almost a bad as importing wood chips across the Atlantic Ocean.
    To be burnt in a converted coal burning power station.
    That is Built on top of a coal field.
    Yes you have really have got to give that some thought.

  10. “If the process of converting natural gas into hydrogen is combined with CO2 capture and storage, the bulk of the associated emissions can be avoided.”

    And if I could fly, I wouldn’t need to use any fossil fuels at all.

  11. Every idea these folks come up with reminds me of why it’s not a good idea to play chess with pigeons. They only know how to find fault with refined, workable, albeit imperfect, systems and make a mess of everything while claiming moral victory.

  12. Eureka!
    I have discovered it.
    My new idea will surely be covered in the next EurekAlerts!

    The Hindenburg was doomed because it was filled with a flammable gas.
    All you need to do is fill an airship with a non-flammable gas. And what is the best one we could use, you ask. Simple, Carbon Dioxide!
    If you really want to go all hi-tech, you can use argon, neon, xenon and others.

    {Before anybody jumps on my brilliant idea, consider the quality of all the other EurekAlerts! bright ideas we have been subjected to recently.}

    • All aboard the CO2 balloon for those attending the next UN Climate Change Conference of Parties. Would passengers please retain their tickets for carbon credit purposes.

    • You want some fun, try this (originally it was a thought experiment in the basic physics course in college I tutored and graded papers for – physics for people too stupid to realize they should be taking biology for their basic science required course).

      Imagine a sphere, like a balloon, but it’s extremely thin, infinitely rigid, so unlike a balloon it won’t deflate if it’s empty, and it’s so light it’s almost weightless. Which will float better in the air, if you fill it with helium, or make it a total vacuum inside.

      The answers and the “reasoning” behind them were comical, and illustrated the complete incapability of most people to do anything resembling abstract thought. Always, without fail, they answered the helium filled one would float better, and even if you explained till you were blue in the face, they never really got it or believed you.

        • Ask the same idiots why balloons don’t float into outer space.

          BTW nothing ‘floats’ in outer space. There is no buoyancy in ‘nothing’. There is no ‘up’.
          However no object is stationary either.

      • Aerogel, aerographite or aerographene inside the rigid balloon, the balloon evacuated to a high vacuum.

        Aerogel’s dendritic microstructure is strong enough to withstand the vacuum, and aerogel is nearly as light as air (it is, in fact, so porous that it is 99.8% air), so pulling a vacuum should give buoyancy. The balloon can then be made of regular balloon material, rather than some hypothetical rigid-yet-ultralight material.

        Aerographite and aerographene are even lighter than aerogel, but can’t be produced in large quantities. They have even less density than helium.

        It’s time to return to the time of the zeppelins and do away with all airplanes. It’s for The Good Of The Planet ™. Who doesn’t want to cross the Atlantic at 85 MPH, after all? /sarc

  13. North Eastern Gas Networks in the UK are promoting a £23 billion scheme to pump pure hydrogen into 3.8 million homes which contain 15% of the poorest people in the UK. Right now they are ripping out all of the old metal pipes and replacing those with new plastic pipe. If they get approval for the scheme they will then rip out all of the new plastic pipe and replace it with high tensile steel piping able to withstand metal fatigue caused by hydrogen. I think it is all a plot designed to euthanize humans to stop climate change. Fit deliberately faulty appliances and bang Co2 mitigated. Cost is never an issue when it comes to saving the planet. £8.6 billion a year in turbine subsidies having spent £400 billion already. Global Co2 mitigated 0.0000037586%. Lord Deben says 7% of all UK emissions come from livestock farming so the cows have to die. Methane mitigated 2 millionths of global annual emissions. Nonsense.

    • Prior to 1970 they pumped hydrogen into all those houses without any problem and millions of people cooked and heated with it. There were no problems with the pipes until they started using natural gas, when they did that they encountered leakages and explosions and so undertook a nationwide pipe replacement program.

      • I think you are mistaken. Towngas (a mixture of H2, CO and CH4) produced from coal was indeed used earlier before switching to safer natural gas. The problem was not flammability, but rather the toxicity of CO.

        • Town gas to natural … correct. The problem with natural gas was the absence of smell, so you wouldn’t notice a leak until you struck a match. So a bit of stink was added.

        • The explosion hazard associated with natural gas was due to leakage from the old pipelines which had no such problems with town gas. Led to a nationwide replacement of the pipeline system. Similar problems with natural gas explosions are being encountered in Massachusetts. Hydrogen when it leaks diffuses very rapidly so that it is too lean a mixture to ignite methane diffuses much more slowly and tends to stay as a flammable mixture for much longer.

      • Prior to the expanded availability of natural gas natural gas as the result of pipeline expansion, manfactured “coal gas” was in common use for lighting and cooking in high density metro areas. While manufactued gas did contain hydrogen, most heating value came from methane, not to mention that before the introduction of the incandescent mantel, you wouldn’t get much light from a hydrogen “flame.”

        Big drawback of manufactured gas was the carbon monoxide. Methane kills by displacing air while CO is toxic in its own right.

        In other words, I wonder where in the world “they pumped hydrogen into all those homes?”

        What I do remember is folks being happy to switch from #2 fuel oil to natural gas for home heating in the 1950s when new supplies became available in a nearby suburban area . . . even though it meant tearing up their streets and yards to put in the pipes.

  14. Fuel cells convert as needed, you would not store H in mass quantities. The kargest souce of H is from crackinng oil so not sure you can hace a H economy without fossil fuels.

  15. I really like the scientist in the video. He says “it is always good for a scientist to be proved wrong.” We need more people like him, not just scientists

    • “We need more people like him, not just scientists”

      Indeed we do – but he wouldn’t last long in the Climate Science field with opinions like that. Clearly one of the 3%…

  16. All this nonsense is being proposed because they (liberal elites) don’t want a methane based economy, which is entirely achievable in our generation. A methane based economy is one where heating, transportation and utilities are all run primarily on methane (and propane a byproduct). That means no room for graft and rent seeking by the elites who fund political campaigns to manipulate politicians. It’s all about power, its not about saving anything other that their grip on power.

    IF they were truly interested in a “carbon free” energy, then they would be advocating nuclear power. They are not, energy efficiency, pollution is all a ruse for the self serving elites who enrich themselves on the backs of the taxpayers. And unfortunately, our enemies are also benefited by these schemes.

    But here’s the dirty secret…the West has been under attack via disinformation campaigns since the days of the Soviet Union. The point of all of these various campaigns, e.g. fracking, nuclear power, fuel switching, is to hold back the continual advance of technology and standard of living in the West which leaves the real dictators and their captive populations further and further behind. Hobbling the fuel switching to methane by promoting hydrogen holds back the West and gives dictators like Putin and Xi time to continue being in power. Their hold on power only exists in the vacuum of their captive population’s understanding of how far behind they are which is a lesson of East Germany and Eastern Europe. Time can only be on their side IF the West stays stagnant or collapses under the weight of their own decadence.

  17. Hydrogen is hard to store. Ammonia is easier to store. People are saying that ammonia could be the fuel of the future for the transportation industry.

    For some reason, deep sea ships seem to be an attractive application for ammonia fuel. Here’s an article describing work on fueling large marine engines with ammonia.

    When I first saw stories about ammonia fuel for marine applications, it was easy to dismiss them as somebody’s pipe dream. There is a steady drum beat of such stories and a variety of companies and institutions working on the problem. I’m beginning to think they’re serious.

    • As someone who responded to many ammonia leaks during my Hazmat career… I am not very fond of the idea of ammonia gas being used in anything but large scale refrigeration units. Even the leaks from them which is what we most often responded to could be very unpleasant and disruptive.

        • Anhydrous ammonia is some nasty stuff. I am an industrial refrigeration tech and I know what I am talking about. Using it for fuel is insane. The liquid is deadly and so are the fumes. If you get even a small amount on you you must immediately flush the area with copious amounts of water. This would be a tough thing to do in a truck. And a wreck with a spill would be a disaster.

  18. As I recall. those uses of hydrogen as a fuel always involved conversion at or near the source and then creating electricity, which was sent to the end user. Hydrogen was never envisioned as a substitute for natural gas.

  19. This is a relatively straightforward flowsheet that could be modeled using a good process simulator. These programs actually are reliable since the chemical and energy industries actually spend their own money to build the process after engineering it. The reactions are well-known – this being one of the two most common ways of making hydrogen. The other starts with coal. I would love to see the economics of the process once it is properly simulated with the scrubbing system and CO2 pipeline and re-injection. As you lose 40% of the energy immediately, without considering the efficiency of the conversion process, and then add on the energy required to operate the CCS system, it’s likely to be a net consumer of energy, rather than producing energy. For comparison, a modern natural-gas powered furnace is about 90% efficient, so much more efficient than this idiocy.

  20. The scientist in the video said it was good to be proven wrong; I wonder if climate “scientists” are paying attention? His statement was at about 2:20 in the video.

  21. The cost of infrastructure change is probably staggering. What will they add to the hydrogen to let your nose detect a leak? H2S maybe.

  22. There is just no getting around the fact that combustion is essential to life. And combustive fuels are essential to industial, AKA civilized, life. Whatever the green ideologues chose to believe.

    Now, in the future, we may get nuclear fusion going and there is nuclear fission, but of coure the ideologues are opposed t that too.

    • And before my statement about combustive fuels is disputed, it was the harnessing of fire by ancient man that enabled us to make better use of food and grow a brain. Life was tough surviving on roots and carrion.

  23. “To meet climate goals, enormous changes to the world’s energy systems are required.”

    Translation: “We’re here to make you poor, miserable and dead because we believe failed computer models. Are you in?”

    • Translation: We k now what’s good for you and the planet. You will be serfs to serve your transnational master class.

  24. The flame of hydrogen burning in air is not especially hot as far as gas flames go and does not produce any hazardous amount of any kind of ultraviolet. The flame temperature is comparable to that of propylene. Torch kits similar to propane torch kits but with propylene (which burns a little hotter than propane) are commonly sold in hardware stores and home centers. For that matter, acetylene burns with a hotter flame than hydrogen does, and acetylene burning with air (as opposed to pure oxygen) does not have an ultraviolet hazard.

  25. If they really want hydrogen why not make it from sea water? Sea level is rising! Turn it into hydrogen and stop sea level rise!

  26. If we somehow magically converted to a hydrogen economy, the Green Marxists would be demonizing that most potent of all GreenHouse gasses, water vapor.

    What they don’t talk about is even with a methane to H2+CCS system, significant world-wide exploration, drilling and fracking is still needed for the nat gas. Let’s imagine a modern large platform drilling rig trying to run all its operations on H2…. sorry can do it.

    And methane can be (is) easily and stablily stored in underground salt domes. H2 storage in underground geologic structures is not feasible as H2 will have side reactions with sulfur and metals present to make strong acids that would rapidly deteriorate (dissolve) the geologic structure and escape or be lost entirely.

    And mercapten is added to natural gas so that the human nose can detect its presence, a key natural gas safety feature. Will they do this to hydrogen? Can you safely add an odorant like H2S? Which is highly toxic?

    Safety will be essential. It cannot be discounted.

  27. Wow, this is a great idea…take perfectly good Natural Gas and extract the Carbon, combining it with oxygen and then storing it underground at high pressure where it eventually will likely leak back out to feed plants. But it has one drawback. Its hard to store H2 safely without the container breaking down.

    So, thinking this through, you could then add a different Carbon atom (taken from CO2 in the air to I am now officially Green) in-between four hydrogen atoms to “stabilize” them, making them easier to store. And this would reduce CO2 from the air!

    To power this industrial conversion I could build lots of Mirrors that focus the light of the Sun onto a tower to melt a salt, that is pumped around to make steam (the pumps run off of batteries), that generates electricity to charge batteries, to run my new factory. In order to keep the salts molten during the night, and of course to keep the batteries fully charged, I could build a power generator that burns the H2 gas (stabilized with an extra Carbon atom) to spin a generator. I could use wind turbines to produce extra electricity that moves water up into storage tanks, that at night falls through a tube connected to a different generator to charge another set of batteries so that when the wind is not blowing I can use that stored power to keep the turbines spinning.

    I may have to patent this idea. I bet the greens would love it! I just need the government to pay for it now.

  28. This is analogous to what the late Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Georgia) used to say about the more leftish members of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “They are one-hundred percent in favor of whatever weapons system you are not trying to build right now.”

    • They are chaos spreaders. Chaos is a bad thing, not a good thing.

      When you use fake engineering that is the end of the silly road.

      This is sort of an Enron scam (there are lies, data altering, fake models, and so on) except there are no winners.

      This is an interesting response to a young Cult of CAGW followers question Do you think CAGW will unite the right and left? at an Oxford conference. Manias end one person at time.

    • What is their loss rate? Hydrogen leaks out of natural gas rated systems at a prodigious rate, what is your plan to make up all that lost energy?

    • People can make a good living helping the Left spread chaos, by providing essential fake engineering and fake science.

      The cult of CAGW do not understand there is a shortage of non-hydrocarbon-based energy.
      It takes energy to make hydrogen from let say methane. I have seen scam Siemens cartoon pictures of wind and solar farms connected to a cartoon picture of plant that makes hydrogen. There is zero chance this scheme will reduce CO2 emissions regardless of how much it would cost and the impracticality of shipping gaseous hydrogen.

      It is pathetic that Siemens and Scientific America pushed the hydrogen scam.

      The purpose of this study is to look at the pros/cons of injecting hydrogen into a country’s natural gas system.

      “The £6.8 million project, led by National Grid, is an important step to providing practical, referenecable data to allow hydrogen gas-grid injection in the UK, and kick off the process of decarbonising the grid and heat (providing heating and hot water) in the UK. The three year project will begin in 2017 and the results will be used to inform a further public trial of the use of hydrogen-blended natural gas in the UK grid, with the intention of then rolling out the use of hydrogen blends nationwide.”

      • As I understand it one reason for the UK considering hydrogen in the gas grid is because the supply of natural gas is being depleted faster than expected. In which case the hydrogen wouldn’t be produced from methane.

  29. “So even assuming a perfect zero cost conversion, 1kg of Methane (50 MJ) gets converted to 0.25Kg of Hydrogen (30MJ) – an immediate loss 2/5 of the original energy.”

    That’s not how chemical reactions work.

    More specifically thats not how this chemistry would work. Even if we take this luddite oversimplification the energy isn’t lost. It would be given off as heat from the process and likely used to generate electricity.

    But the actual method of conversion would be through steam reformation reactions. These reactions produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of CO2 as products and it consumes energy. The carbon monoxide would then be run through a Fischer-Tropsch process which would produce longer chain alkanes and potentially chains into the naphtalene regions. Some of this heat would supply the reformation. Reactions. The FT process from natural gas is actually profitable to produce oil conversion under $20/BBL for oil.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://web.anl.gov/PCS/acsfuel/preprint%2520archive/Files/42_2_SAN%2520FRANCISCO_04-97_0672.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjLxZ25_5_gAhULTt8KHQMBAyEQFjAEegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw02fE1hhnkb_pZnK6g-CRzz

    In addition hydrogen is pretty safe with modern fiber tank storage and is a viable green energy alternative via fuel cells to hydrocarbon sources maintaining their refueling advantage without the costs or weight of batteries.

    • I am glad someone caught on to this. In steam reforming, you will convert the methane (CH4) to H2 and CO/CO2. The CO can be oxidized to CO2, releasing all the heat from the oxidation of carbon. The CO2 can then be captured, which is what the article says. It does not leave behind the 2/5 of energy Mr. Worrall has stated. But I do agree that the use of the hydrogen as a replacement energy source is problematic.

      • CO being oxidized to CO2 does not “release all the heat from the oxidation of carbon.”

        And according to Wikipedia, no, you don’t “leave behind” 40% of the available energy . . . instead only 25-35%. Ha-hah.

  30. I live off grid and I was thinking of using the extra electricity of my solar panels, when my batteries are full, to run an electrolyser and inject the hydrogen in an anaerobic biodigester, which combines with the CO2 in biogas to produce methane, qhich is far easier to store.
    Many here have commented that indeed having hydrogen stabilized by carbon is the best way to go.

    This world is so f upped, if you are “green” you should follow the most efficient methods available, not try to make energy conversion more inefficient… Much ado about nothing. Poor life giving CO2 is unjustly demonized.

    • Speaking of efficiency, do you have any idea of the realizable efficiency of running a high capacity water electrolyzer?

      • According to wikipedia (the subject of electrolysis is not very politicized so I think it is an acceptable source in that case) :

        Conventional alkaline electrolysis has an efficiency of about 70%.[24] Accounting for the accepted use of the higher heat value (because inefficiency via heat can be redirected back into the system to create the steam required by the catalyst), average working efficiencies for PEM electrolysis are around 80%.[25] This is expected to increase to between 82–86%[26] before 2030. Theoretical efficiency for PEM electrolysers are predicted up to 94%.[27]

  31. The linked Forbes article waits until its fourth paragraph to surface the big “If . . .” paragraph about the feasibility of CO2 capture and storage. The only method for doing so offered in the article is by pumping the CO2 into underground cavities that have/will have resulted from petroleum or natural gas extraction (most likely formations having salt domes). And what could possibly go wrong with that?

    If that wasn’t enough insult, the Forbes article has this little gem: “The idea is to produce ammonia from natural gas with CCS in Norway, then ship the ammonia to the UK where it is converted to hydrogen upon landing. The cost of such conversion roughly doubles the wholesale cost of gas.” This is tacit admission that there is no practical, economical method to ship elemental hydrogen (in gaseous or cryogenic liquid form) over even intermediate distances, let alone across oceans. Norway is only about 400 miles from the UK, but apparently still requires the ammonia-intermediate pathway . . . go figure!

  32. I’m confused, I thought gas burnt to produce CO2 and H20 only, so is clean without any messing about.

    CH4+2O2 = 2H2O + CO2 plus a bunch of molecular binding energy? Perfect.

    But I’m a physicist and engineer, not a consensus scientist, and prefer the simple honest engineering approach to deliver what is wanted at the lowest cost. Unnatural acts with energy to appease fictional green gods are not in my philosphy, Horatio.

    CCGT is also 60% thermally efficient, the highest thermal conversion efficiency of the three controllable intense power sources. Gas, Coal or nuclear.

    PS Of course nuclear is SO intense and sustainable it doesn’t matter its a tad thermally inefficient.

    • Steam reforming of methane

      CH4 + 2H20 = 4H + CO2

      The inconvenient truth is that this method of Hydrogen production is a greenhouse gas producing process!

      And a grossly inefficient one at that – and that before getting into all the energy spendthrift processes of compression and storage.

      They simply ducked the issue by adding magical carbon sequestering as a solution.

      It once was my belief that Hydrogen was the fuel of the future but the technological problems piled up against Hydrogen keep piling up with no solutions in sight.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen
      For me the final nail in the coffin of Hydrogen is the problem of leakage – something engineers have been unable to solve. It is a very small molecule and leaks through most materials, some metals and microporosity in welds etc.
      The problem: if we start to use Hydrogen as a world wide portable fuel to replace petrol, diesel & LPG will be that the loss of Hydrogen through leakage will be appreciable.
      Also “unburned” hydrogen on misfires or “rich” running will also be “leakage” to the atmosphere.
      Cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen – typically stored in thermos flask type vessels is initially cooled and then kept cold by evaporation – another major source of “leakage”.
      Losses to leakage, cryogenic evaporation, coupling & uncoupling etc. can be from 1% to 10%
      Leakage Hydrogen will rise rapidly through the atmosphere, through the stratosphere and eventually meet the Ozone layer – there it will react with the Ozone to produce water vapour. (6H+O3 = 3H2O)
      Even an extremely optimistic 1% will release sufficient free hydrogen to be extremely damaging.
      This will be bad for two reasons :-
      Firstly the damage to the Ozone layer – by depleting it will bring about greater UV exposure.
      Secondly this water vapour above (and within) the Stratosphere will produce (previously rare) noctilucent clouds which will drastically increase the Earth’s albedo (reflectiveness) thereby causing a significant Global Cooling.
      So my current position is that Hydrogen will not solve our energy problems principally because it is dangerous, grossly inefficient (overall) and a pollutant with real and serious consequences for global climate.

      • You have presented the argument for not moving to hydrogen fueled power that greenies can not rebut: ozone layer destruction. They don’t seem to care about economical or practical non-feasibility of green schemes, but they do say they want to protect the ozone layer at all costs. So, emphasize that not converting to H2 for power is the cost of saving the ozone layer.

        SR

        • The explosion hazard associated with natural gas was due to leakage from the old pipelines which had no such problems with town gas. Led to a nationwide replacement of the pipeline system. Similar problems with natural gas explosions are being encountered in Massachusetts. Hydrogen when it leaks diffuses very rapidly so that it is too lean a mixture to ignite methane diffuses much more slowly and tends to stay as a flammable mixture for much longer.

      • Why didn’t this leakage of hydrogen to the stratosphere occur during the 20th century when coal gas was being widely used?

        • How do we know it didn’t? Ozone hole was already present when capability to detect it was developed.

          I’m not saying ozone depletion in the ozone layer is something to worry about, though. Greenies worry about it, so let them know H2 is destructive to the ozone layer and maybe they will stop trying to force us into using H2 to power autos.

          SR

          • How do we know it didn’t? Ozone hole was already present when capability to detect it was developed.

            No the ‘hole’ didn’t develop until the late 70s, the ability to detect it had existed since ’56.

  33. Someone upthread asked if the scheme even produces net available energy. I can’t find the posting at this point, but the answer is assuredly no. The gibbs free energy to go from methane to graphite (carbon) and hydrogen is 12 Kcal/ mole. Thus it takes an energy source of some sort to do this. Not only this, but what will we do with all the carbon black produced? Maybe we can bury it in the coal fields that will be outlawed. Since this represents burying a great deal of availability, at some future time when sanity prevails again we can dig it up and use it.

    Maybe, as an energy source, we can use wind and solar to reform natural gas to hydrogen, and thus take care of the problem of energy storage in these non-dispatchable sources. The problems of leakage of hydrogen can be mitigated as HDPE makes a good hydrogen barrier to use in coating metal pipes. But still ,there is a staggering cost to all the changes to infrastructure required. I look forward to the chaos.

  34. H2 + 1/2 O2 —> H2O ΔHf = -241.818 kJ/mol
    C + O2 —> CO2 ΔHf = -394.36 kJ/mol
    C + H2 —> CH4 ΔHf = -74.85 kJ/mol
    2* -241.818 + -394.36 + 74.85 + -803.85 kJ/mol

    -802.85 kJ/mol / 16 g/mol + -50.1966 MJ/kg which is the lower heating value for combustion of Methane

    So 49% of the heating value of methane is lost regardless of the efficiency of steam-methane reforming. Then there is the loss of heat running the unit, plus the energy consumption scrubbing the methane from the gas stream, then regeneration of the (usually) amine scrubbing solvent to recover CO2 from the stream, and finally compression costs for putting CO2 into a pipeline (~2000 psi) and transport to a stable formation for sequestration. The best use of CO2 though is for enhanced oil recovery where roughly 1 ton of methane displaces 2 bbl of crude, depending on the field.

    What a total waste of useful energy!

    • Dr. Bob,
      You chemical equations giving heats of formation of different compounds does not support your conclusion “So 49% of the heating value of methane is lost”.

  35. Hydrogen will leak out of any tiny hole or crack and has to be kept under strict control. It burns hot in air and ignites at a wide range on concentrations as the well known Hindenburg pictures show. It would not be a happy experience driving in a car which at any time and especially in an accident could produce your own private Hindenburg. Cost of production would be at least doubling petrol. These people, Dolf Gielen, Morgan D. Bazilian, and Kenneth B. Medlock III need better employment for their idle hands.

  36. Eric,

    You’ve done triggered my engineering OCD.

    Let’s get the chemistry right. Hydrogen is manufactured from methane using the steam reforming reaction:

    CH4 + 2 H2O -> CO2 + 4 H2

    In the end we convert 1 Standard Cubic Feet (SCF) of methane into 4 SCF of hydrogen.

    The net heating values are (Engineering Toolbox):
    Methane: 910 BTU/SCF
    Hydrogen: 275 BTU/SCF

    In the end since we get 4 hydrogen molecules for each methane molecule it looks like we come out ahead with 1,100 BTU out for each 910 in, but we know thermodynamics doesn’t work that way. The reaction requires high temperature and pressure and is highly endothermic. Thermodynamic losses run about 40% assuming you use methane as the fuel for the heater. If you choose to use produced hydrogen as the fuel for the heater losses go up quite a bit.

    The attraction of pairing steam methane reforming with carbon capture and storage is the CO2 off the end of the separation train is nearly pure and is therefore ready for storage without further processing. The same cannot be said for the heater flue gas should methane be used as the fuel.

    Finally CO2 compression, transport, and storage could apply another 10% thermodynamic penalty.

    And we still haven’t talked about the thermodynamic losses in converting our ‘clean’ hydrogen fuel into useful work or heat. If you are worried about producing energy economically this is not the way to do it.

    As alluded to by others hydrogen has a myriad of hazards that make it more dangerous than most flammable gasses, starting with an extremely wide flammability limit. Essentially if you have hydrogen in air it’s flammable. Hydrocarbon gasses have narrow flammability limits which limits the possibility that a flammable mixture will exist near an ignition source in the event of a leak. [Picking nits from above: electrical classification for potential hydrogen containing atmospheres is Class 1 Division 1; hydrocarbon atmospheres are Class 1 Division 2. It makes a big difference on what you are allowed to do in the area.]

    Hydrogen is also a very rare gas whose temperature increases when pressure is released (it cools when you compress it). This almost guarantees that a high pressure hydrogen leak will catch fire. Hydrogen flames are not visible in the daylight, leading to the very real possibility of unwittingly walking through a fire (and don’t let anyone kid you that a hydrogen fire is not that hot). When hydrogen leaks it also cuts, turning small leaks into big leaks. In the refining industry special leak detection procedures are followed whenever a hydrogen unit or process line is inventoried after maintenance.

    Hydrogen poses special corrosion risks, requiring special metallurgy and monitoring of process temperatures and pressures.

    As for substituting hydrogen in natural gas (methane) lines, to go much beyond 10% hydrogen would require a total replacement of all commercial gas fired appliances. As noted above hydrogen has 30% of the heating value of methane, requiring the modification of fuel flow orifices. Also the stoichiometric air fuel ratio for methane is ~10:1, whereas it’s 5:2 for hydrogen (5 SCF air to 2 SCF hydrogen). The air handling side of all fired equipment would also need to be modified since, as odd as it may seem, less air would be required. (Refineries despite being large users of hydrogen try to avoid putting it in the fuel gas system because it messes up heater operation.)

    Transporting hydrogen in the current natural gas infrastructure would require modification of let’s just call it all compressors to handle the much lighter mole weight of hydrogen.

    So let’s sum up:
    • Use thermodynamic inefficiencies to discourage energy usage via high prices – check
    • Opportunities to decrease the surplus population – check
    • Green energy job opportunities to modify or replace all gas fired appliances – check
    o Or maybe just get a wood fired stove?

    As they say, an idea so bad only an academic could love it.

  37. What would Hollywood do without Hydrogen. Watch the cars explode, and the flames always rise up.

    Seriously why bother, natural gas as we here call it, LPG, is easy to use both in cars and as a gas for domestic use.

    MJE

  38. What is the difference between Natural Gas and Oil and Coal? They are all natural and should therefore be pre-fixed with ‘Natural’.

    • Time factor. Natural gas is produced very soon after eating beans. Oil and coal production takes a little longer.

      SR

  39. It’s pretty much par for the course in the world now run by our new green overlords: Forever funding people to rediscover old technologies that work half as well at twice the price.

    What humans need is more and cheaper energy. If we had properly pursued nuclear designs at full speed then we might now have electricity produced cheaply enough to be able to afford such wasteful schemes for what is mostly just going to be transport fuel. A functioning electricity grid will take care of all other requirements.

    The only merit I can see in schemes like this is as a distraction. A pacifier, a baby’s dummy, to make the loud-crowd think we are doing something and keep them from wreaking worse damage upon the world’s economy.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the world will get on with business as usual, using fossil fuels. Eventually, even the hardest of hard-core greens will be forced to admit defeat and that the world passed them by. Just like that Beavis and Butthead cartoon where they actually try and do a potentially useful mathematical calculation beyond their abilities before coming to the inevitable (to the viewer) conclusion: “Errrr.. this is hard. Let’s do something else.”

  40. Just to open a different can of worms, the Hindenburg did not explode.

    It burnt.

    Exactly what and why it burnt is open to debate. Personally I am still a supporter of the Addison Bain school but we digress.

    This is not to say that hydrogen filled airship didn’t explode as if anyone has even a casual look at the historical record they will discover airships basically exploded all the time – usually with 100% fatalities – but ironically the most famous airship to ‘explode’, didn’t.

  41. During WWI fighter pilots shot hydrogen filled airships full of holes and it didn’t seem to have any effect.

    Interestingly enough tracer bullets didn’t do the job either. A tracer round cannot ignite a pure hydrogen environment and its travelling too fast to cause ignition on exit so they didn’t even start fires.

    Eventually they figured out they needed to mix fragmentation heads and low velocity tracer / base bleed rounds at about 1 in 5 rounds – that was the end of the airship raids on London.

  42. Hydrogen production, worldwide, is around 50 million tons. Per year. If it was such a huge hazard you would have heard of it. Hydrogen gas, while both very flammable and explosive, is not very much different from acetylene, which is a common welding gas. Is it hazardous? You bet. But so are gasoline fumes, and they hurt and kill quite a lot of people each year.

    So, is hydrogen a hazard? Yes, it is. But it is manageable.

    The real question is, as many have pointed to, the energy equations involved. There are many ways of looking at it. For instance, one kg of crude oil contains enough energy to produce 5-20 kg more crude (depending on where you extract it). One kg of hydrogen contains enough energy, today, to produce about 1/4 kg of new hydrogen. The difference is, of course, that crude oil is a source and hydrogen a carrier of energy.

    In another perspective one might look at the amount of primary energy you need to produce a unit of usable energy. By this I mean how much energy do you need to input at one end of a process in order to have one unit of usable energy at e.g. a shaft or electrical socket. Let’s us a car as an example. If your car is electric, you need to produce about 1.3-1.5 kWh at the hydro plant/wind turbine/solar plant in order to have 1 kWh at the drive shaft. If you are running on diesel, you need to get about 1.8-2.5 kWh at the diesel pump in order to have 1 kWh on the shaft. If you run on hydrogen, you need 4-5 kWh from the hydro plant/wind turbine/solar plant that provides the energy to make the hydrogen you need to have 1 kWh at the shaft.

    Hydrogen has tremendous amounts of energy per unit mass. But is so light that it doesn’t matter. You only get 80 kg of hydrogen per cubic meter (in liquid form). So to use it we are thinking of other carriers of hydrogen. You may do it by carrying hydrogen in methanol, and using the methanol as fuel. It is a good possibility, but today it is hampered by that pesky carbon in the molecule. So we could turn to ammonia, and either use it only as a carrier i.e cracking the hydrogen out of it before using it or bruning ammonia directly. The drawback is of course that ammonia is noxious, and it is lethally toxic in small doses. There is no Goldilocks solution for this, only a bunch of compromises.

    Hydrogen has a distinct advantage over batteries. It can be ‘charged’ way faster than any conceivable battery, ever. This will not change with ever better batteries, and is the achilles heel of all battery solutions. Fast charge has to do with power, and nothing to do with energy.

    State-of-the-art maritime batteries in industrial use already compete directly with 300 bar compressed hydrogen when it comes to energy density. If the promise of a quadrupling of battery capacity within the next 10 years holds up, batteries exceed even the 700 bar compressed hydrogen solution used in cars.

    Hydrogen is a hazardous gas, but nothing we cannot handle. The energy budget, however, is what makes it a ludicruous solution. In a world with abundant, cheap fusion power – maybe. But in any other world – not!

  43. When working testing electrical enclosures for use in explosive environments, one of the classes – flameproof – was designed to be able to contain an explosion. In order to be able to carry out a static hydraulic pressure test on the enclosure, a peak explosion pressure was needed as the base. As this was a worse case, guess which gas was used? Yes, Hydrogen as it gives the biggest bang.

  44. I think the power and pollution to make hydrogen can be fixed very fast.
    Just buy it from the China.
    Of course, all the ship terminals would have to be in California.
    Can you imagine a 100,000 ton H2 Gas tanker parked in San Fransisco.

    Or off shore terminals, with dirigibles to bring it on shore.
    I bet I could consult for CARB at 1/4 million a year.

  45. The leading article reads like a tabloid science scare story, complete with dramatic photo. It reminded me of the flaming faucets pic used so often in anti-fracking propaganda. Then there’s the line: “in my opinion a hydrogen economy would be an economy which kills people.”
    Anders Valland’s comment is spot on: “So, is hydrogen a hazard? Yes, it is. But it is manageable.”
    We have been producing and using huge quantities of hydrogen for over a century. There are hydrogen pipelines running across Holland, Belgium and Northern France that I know of and there are probably others around the world in heavily industrialised countries. As many others have already noted, Town Gas contained 50-60% hydrogen and was ubiquitous in the UK until replaced by North Sea Gas: some of the massive old gas-holders can still be seen.
    These schemes fail on the grounds of efficiency, practicality and cost. Scare-story reportage is irresponsible and detracts from the factual counter-arguments. It’s disappointing to see it on this website.

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