How power-to-gas technology can be green and profitable

From the “you can wish in one hand…” dept

Public Release: 26-Feb-2019

Economists map out economically viable path to renewables-based hydrogen production

Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Hydrogen production based on wind power can already be commercially viable today. Until now, it was generally assumed that this environmentally friendly power-to-gas technology could not be implemented profitably. Economists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Mannheim and Stanford University have now described, based on the market situations in Germany and Texas, how flexible production facilities could make this technology a key component in the transition of the energy system.

From fertilizer production, as a coolant for power stations or in fuel cells for cars: Hydrogen is a highly versatile gas. Today, most hydrogen for industrial applications is produced using fossil fuels, above all with natural gas and coal. In an environmentally friendly energy system, however, hydrogen could play a different role: as an important storage medium and a means of balancing power distribution networks: excess wind and solar energy can be used to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis. This process is known as power-to-gas. The hydrogen can recover the energy later, for example by generating power and heat in fuel cells, blending hydrogen into the natural gas pipeline network or converted into synthesis gas.


“Should I sell the energy or convert it?”

However, power-to-gas technology has always been seen as non-competitive. Gunther Glenk of the Chair of Management Accounting at TUM and Prof. Stefan Reichelstein, a researcher at the University of Mannheim and Stanford University, have now completed an analysis demonstrating the feasibility of zero-emission and profitable hydrogen production. Their study, published in the renowned journal Nature Energy, shows that one factor is essential in the current market environments in Germany and Texas:

The concept requires facilities that can be used both to feed power into the grid and to produce hydrogen. These combined systems, which are not yet in common use, must respond optimally to the wide fluctuations in wind power output and prices in power markets. “The operator can decide at any time: should I sell the energy or convert it,” explains Stefan Reichelstein.


Production in some industries would already be profitable today

In Germany and Texas, up to certain production output levels, such facilities could already produce hydrogen at costs competitive with facilities using fossil fuels. In Germany, however, the price granted by the government would have to be paid for the generation of electric power instead for feeding it into the grid.

“For medium and small-scale production, these facilities would already be profitable now,” says Reichelstein. Production on that scale is appropriate for the metal and electronics industries, for example – or for powering a fleet of forklift trucks on a factory site. The economists predict that the process will also be competitive in large-scale production by 2030, for example for refineries, ammonia production, assuming that wind power and electrolyte costs maintain the downward trajectory seen in recent years. “The use in fuel cells for trucks and ships is also conceivable”, says Glenk.


Energy sources for intelligent infrastructure

The economists’ model offers a planning blueprint for industry and energy policy. It can take into account many other factors, such as charges for carbon emissions, and calculate optimal sizing of the two sub-systems. It is also applicable to other countries and regions.

“Power-to-gas offers new business models for companies in various industries,” says Glenk. “Power utilities can become hydrogen suppliers for industry. Manufacturers, meanwhile, can get involved in the decentralized power generation business with their own combined facilities. In that way, we can develop a climate-friendly and intelligent infrastructure that optimally links power generation, production and transport.”

###

Publication: G. Glenk, S. Reichelstein: Economics of converting renewable power to hydrogen. Nature Energy, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0326-1

More information: Gunther Glenk conducts research at the Center for Energy Markets of the TUM School of Management. The study was supported by the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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202 thoughts on “How power-to-gas technology can be green and profitable

  1. It’s hard enough to keep CH4 from leaking out of the pipes, but they propose “blending hydrogen into the natural gas pipeline network”? Seriously??

    Also, this…
    “In Germany, however, the price granted by the government would have to be paid for the generation of electric power instead for feeding it into the grid.”
    …sounds like a fancy way of saying “they could make money at it if the government would subsidize it as much as they subsidize or provide price supports for wind-generated electricity fed into the grid.

    • No, Dave. It says that hydrogen generators would have to pay the grid price demanded by the government. Not economical by any means.

    • The authors have discovered a highly profitable solution to all our problems: the government pays windmill operators inflated wholesale grid prices for output at the source rather than for what goes onto the grid. So now operators make money even when the electricity is not needed.

      The excess, already paid for, energy is converted, with huge losses, into stored hydrogen on government subsidized hydrolysis plant where it will be redistributed and sold on government subsidized pipelines or tankers and purchased at government subsidized prices to fill government mandated quotas in government subsidized cars trucks and ships.

      These scientists have surely discovered something entirely new in the field of Command Physics. Deserving of A double Nobel—one for Physics and one for Economics.

        • As always MarkW, when one reads the link griff supplies it quickly becomes obvious that it doesn’t support whatever assertions griff is making. the 2 trials aren’t even “in operation” let alone the technology being in operation. The one trial is still building the equipment (so nothing is operating as of yet) and the other trial hasn’t even started yet.

      • griff in operation and in trial are two different things. According to your link it most definitely is not in operation and the trials aren’t even up and fully running.

        HyDeploy is “currently in the ‘Build’ phase of the project” meaning “the hydrogen production unit and other supporting equipment” is still being constructed – they won’t be running the equipment until Summer 2019.

        HyDeploy2 hasn’t even gotten that far as it doesn’t begin until in April 2019. As the time between starting the project and running the equipment for HyDeploy will be approx. 2 years, that means HyDeploy2 likely won’t be running any equipment until 2021.

        So how is it exactly that a trial project that hasn’t begun running it’s equipement and another trial project that hasn’t even started constitutes being “actually in operation” in your mind griff?

      • Griff,

        Do you base your on line arguments on Dogberts advice, or did Dogbert get his counseling wisdom directly from you???

      • The experiment is strictly a blending operation of H2 and CH4.
        Consumer gas is distributed typically at12in water pressure.
        Natural gas pipelines run up to 100 bar(40,000in).
        High pressure lines operate at 100-200bar(80,000in).

        At those pressures hydrogen will flow freely through the slightest leak. Pipelines are made from high strength steel with the pipe wall in the range of 15-21mm. Even solid pipelines leak a small, but significant amount.

        What prevents explosions now is that as long as hydrogen that leaks can free mix with the local atmosphere it won’t reach the explosive limt(4-74%) and the loss will only show up in the plant usage.

        The main danger is a hydrogen leak that bypasses the metering controls on the blend system
        Lots of hydrogen in the mix will flow much faster and cause much hotter burners. Evidently 20% is reasonably safe. If a leak caused it to be 50% the results would probably be catastrophic to the users.

        What Happens when high pressure gas leaks into a distribution system.
        Similar to what would happen if excess hydrogen leaked through in the blending system.
        https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/PLD18MR003-preliminary-report.aspx

    • When we changed over in the UK from town gas to natural gas in the 1970s all the gas nozzles had to be replaced.
      Would this have to happen if hydrogen is mixed with natural gas?
      Would there have to be a consistent ratio of hydrogen to natural gas?
      Anyway, in a short time we won’t be allowed to use natural gas for cooking or heating our homes.
      Will bottled gas still be allowed for remote housing, or will it be back to the old unreliable windmill and solar panel?
      ‘Sorry dear, it’s dark and we haven’t had any wind for a week, and the backup battery is flat!’

      I can see some spectacular explosions in the case of car accidents.
      Incidentally, why do cars that go off a cliff in movies always seem to explode before they hit the ground?

      • It’s the CO2 in the glove compartment exploding, you know the magic gas that is responsible for anything anyone says it is. Hollywood, ahead of the curve, not.

        Incidentally, although the contributors clearly tell us all the problems about using hydrogen, the fact is that it does work very well to run cars in a reliable, affordable and predictable way – a great deal more than electric cars can claim. The explosions don’t seem any more common than electric car fires.
        But I agree that this should not allow the wind farm fraud to scam even more billions from the public purse, far too much has already been wasted on that unreliable @nd dead-end medieval nonsense.

      • You are correct. Gas burners have to be designed for the molecular weight of the fuel, which diffuses at a rate defined by Graham’s Law – inversely proportional to the square root of the molecular weight with other conditions (pressure, temperature) held constant. If the flow is too fast, the flame is unseated from the burner, and may blow itself out, allowing gas to escape and threatening the creation of an explosive mixture. If it is too slow, the flame will die back, with similar risk. Methane (m.w. ~16 : 1/sqrt(16) =0.25) diffuses just over a third of the rate of hydrogen (m.w. ~2 : 1/sqrt(2) ~= 0.707). Another way of looking at this is that the kinetic energy of a gas molecule (1/2 mv^2) is defined by its temperature (kT, where k is Boltzman’s constant), so v is proportional to sqrt(T/m).

        With a mixed fuel there is only a narrow range of supply rates that are consistent with maintaining a safe flame for its components, so it reduces the flexibility of the burners. There are other hazards with a hydrogen fuel in burners: its flame is colourless, making for a bigger risk of accidents. Stenching agents will of course have very much higher molecular weights than hydrogen, meaning that they will diffuse much more slowly and therefore take time before they alert anyone to a gas leak or extinguished flame.

        • Every time I see an article about someone thinking about using hydrogen in a mobile application I think of the Hindenburg. Not GOOD!

          • Hydrogen was used for lift in the Hindenburg. Had it been filled with gasoline, it of course wouldn’t have floated, but instead of burning, it would have exploded. There would not have been the awesome video footage, as the camera would have burned and melted. The announcer would not have said “Oh, the inhumanity” as he would have used his last breath screaming.
            Look up videos showing canisters filled with hydrogen, gasoline, and propane being fired on by a rifle. The hydrogen bottle will put out a burning jet of flame if an additive is added. The others just blow up.
            Not to say that I would prefer hydrogen to gasoline engines. The hydrogen manufacturing, distribution, storage, and dispensing is a daunting challenge.

          • Hydrogen was used for lift in the Hindenburg. Had it been filled with gasoline, it of course wouldn’t have floated, but instead of burning, it would have exploded

            Of course, had the Hindenburg been filled with gasoline, the “air bag” (the part holding the hydrogen) would have been 1/3rd the size and it would have exploded in Germany instead of NJ since, as you point out, it wouldn’t have floated so wouldn’t have made the trip at all.

          • The risk with a Methane flame is that its flame speed is so low that it may ‘blow off’, this was not the risk with town gas which consisted of ~50% H2. Some H2 mixed in with natural gas would increase the flame speed and make it less likely to ‘blow off’. The high diffusion rate of H2 makes it safer because a leak mixes so fast that it produces a non ignitable mixture. When town gas was used in the UK explosions weren’t a hazard, when replaced with natural gas there was an outbreak of house explosions, a national pipe replacement was undertaken as a result. There were similar house explosions in Massachusetts last year for the same reason.

          • All those Zeppelin bombers over Britain during WWI weren’t that easy to shoot down. The British had to devise special ammunition combinations of explosive and phosphorus rounds to cause them to catch fire.

        • The risk with a Methane flame is that its flame speed is so low that it may ‘blow off’, this was not the risk with town gas which consisted of ~50% H2. Some H2 mixed in with natural gas would increase the flame speed and make it less likely to ‘blow off’. The high diffusion rate of H2 makes it safer because a leak mixes so fast that it produces a non ignitable mixture. When town gas was used in the UK explosions weren’t a hazard, when replaced with natural gas there was an outbreak of house explosions, a national pipe replacement was undertaken as a result. There were similar house explosions in Massachusetts last year for the same reason.

  2. There’s so little to like about it, it’s almost a waste of time discussing it, but … hydrogen is low intensity energy, expensive and dangerous to transport, and the whole process is just an inefficient way of trying to make lousy generators look better. A much better plan would be to build up nuclear energy – ultra reliable ultra safe – to replace some fossil fuel usage so that fossil fuels will be available for much longer for their truly essential uses such as transport.

    • High pressure hydrogen or hydrogen in liquid form has a much higher energy density than gasoline.

      In hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, about 1.4 kg of hydrogen will take the vehicle as far as full tank of gas that typically weighs at least 34 kg of gasoline (assuming a gas engine vehicle that gets 30 mpg). That’s partly due to the energy density of the fuel itself, and the very high efficiency of fuel cell vehicle compared to a typical gasoline fired vehicle

      Internal combustion engines are inherently inefficient at converting chemical fuel into miles driven. Gasoline engines only convert about 25-30% of the energy in the tank to energy expended at the wheels. Whereas FCVs are typically around 65%. The difference is the heat of combustion that is simply exhausted to the atmosphere rather than harnessed to drive the wheels.

      A typical FCV like the Honda Clarity delivers a range between fillups of about 300-360 miles. It uses two high pressure fuel tanks rated at 10,000 psi. The time to do a fill-up is 5 minutes – about the same as a typical gasoline powered car.

      The safety of hydrgen is actually far greater than gasoline fueled car. A rupture in the high pressure fuel tank of an FCV will simply vent the gas to atmosphere, where it immediately dissipates given the much lighter density of hydrogen compared to air. A ruptured gasoline tank easily ignites and immolated the occupants of the car, and gasoline freed by a collision will tend to spill or spray all over the interior of the vehicle and stay there until it burns out, which hydrogen won’t do.

      Hydrogen fuel is easily produced and distributed by any number of means. Renewable power plants can generate hydrogen electrolytically from water and store the energy in the gas for distribution – eliminating the issue over “dispatchability”. Or it is produced from carbon fuels. The gas itself can be transported via gas pipelines, as we do with natural gas. Or in liquified gas tankers.

      The hydrogen gas can also be produced electrolytically at home (Honda manufactures a home gas generator that operates off household electrical power and water) that doubles as a home emergency power generator, or in remote locations (as long as power and water are available).

      The only tailpipe emission is pure water. No water is “consumed” by electrolytic gas production since the water is simply converted to hydrogen then reconverted back into water again with no net loss of water.

      Combining hydrogen with natural gas is also an option as described in the post above.

      • Gaseous H, even at 800 Bar, has only 1/3 the energy of gasoline by volume and would require a very heavy and/or expensive tank. Not practical for transportation when using IC engines.

        It would require more than 3x the pressure of typical natural gas service to provide the same energy by volume. Tricky for home distribution. Something like a 5% mixture could work in existing lines, but would make only a minor contribution.

        Liquid H still requires more than 3x the volume of gasoline by volume. It costs 20% or more to compress and cool into liquid form, and there are significant losses incurred in storage and with every transfer. Expensive.

        http://planetforlife.com/h2/h2swiss.html

        http://planetforlife.com/h2/h2swiss.html

        • You’re ignoring the massive energy losses due to heat of combustion.

          The bottom line is energy delivered to the drive wheels. And per the data I gave above, high pressure hydrogen gas in a FCV is vastly more efficient than any internal combustion engine.

          Didn’t you ever wonder where all that heat comes from that your car’s engine gives off, both in the engine compartment, and out the tailpipe?

          • It may or may not be a more efficient fuel/engine combination (I couldn’t say), but due to it’s low energy density (energy per volume) it takes an awful lot of it to compare to an tank of good old fashion gasoline, which means lugging around a bigger tank. The extra weight of that bigger tank is always with you, even when the fuel is low.

            The Honda Clarity FCV has a tank that is slightly larger than 37 gallons for a range of 366 miles on a full tank. A comparable Honda Accord ICE has a slightly larger than 17 gallon tank for a range of 516 miles on a full tank. Bigger tank and smaller range – what ever you are “gaining” from a more efficient engine it clearly isn’t enough to fully compensate for the lower energy density of H2.

          • BTW
            37 gallons for a range of 366 miles is ~10 miles to the gallon of H2
            17 gallons for a range of 516 miles is ~30 miles to the gallon of gasoline

            gasoline packs more energy (as seen by the work in miles it performs) in a gallon than H2 (hence by gasoline is the more energy dense of the two despite H2 having a greater specific energy).

        • No – it is calculated by weight. Weight is mass as measured in earth’s gravity. Volume varies with pressure and temperature – mass is the same regardless.

          Hydrogen much more than “cuts it” – it totally overwhelms gasoline fired internal combustion engines. Much cleaner, much cheaper, much safer, much easier to transport.

          • No – it is calculated by weight.

            Wrong again Duane, that is specific energy you are talking about. Density is *always* a per volume measure. Energy Density, specifically. is ““the amount of energy stored in a given system, substance, or region of space per unit volume

            Think of it this way: A pound of Styrofoam and a pound Iron weigh the same/have the same mass but one is obviously more dense then the other. Which one do you think takes up more space/volume the denser one or the less dense one? Energy density is the same, only with energy instead of mass. The more energy dense something is the less space it takes up for that amount of energy.

      • High pressure hydrogen or hydrogen in liquid form has a much higher energy density than gasoline

        Bzzzt! Wrong. Density is mass per unit of volume, not unit of weight. kg is a unit of weight you don’t fill your tank by weight, you fill it by volume (gallons or liters depending on which side of the pond you are driving on)

        So while it’s true that Compressed hydrogen gets you 143 megajoules of energy per kilogram compared to Gasoline’s 47.2 megajoules of energy per kilogram (which is what you were likely thinking of) – that’s by weight, the wrong metric when talking about density or talking about a tank of gas. By volume Hydrogen is 5.6 megajoules per liter compared to 34 megajoules per liter for gasoline/petrol.

        • And (least I get nit picked for giving the definition of “density” and not “energy density”) Energy Density is “the amount of energy stored in a given system, substance, or region of space per unit volume

        • Nope – energy density is always a measure of energy per unit mass of the fuel.

          It is the mass that a car, boat, truck, or airplane always has to lug around, and burn fuel to lug around, not volume. It doesn’t cost any energy to haul volume -but it sure costs energy to haul around mass. In aircraft especially mass is hugely critical, but even in motor vehicles it still matters a lot. Every pound carried in a vehicle increases the fuel burn and decreases the energy efficiency of the vehicle.

          Besides, the volume of a H2 tank in a FCV is comparable to a gasoline tank in a regular internal combustion engined vehicle.

          • Nope – energy density is always a measure of energy per unit mass of the fuel.

            Bzzzt Wrong, Duane. Energy per unit mass is the definition of Specific energy. Density is always per volume, and energy density specifically is “the amount of energy stored in a given system, substance, or region of space per unit volume“.

            The concept of density is all about how much of something per the space it takes up. The more dense something is the more of it that fits in a particular volume of space.

            Think of density this way. Imagine you have two objects that weigh the same (say a couple of bricks). One object is more dense than the other (one is made of a light-weight material such as Styrofoam and one from a heavy material such as iron). Given that information which one would be smaller (IE takes up less space) for the given weight? the one made from Styrofoam or the one made from iron? The iron one, because it’s made of a denser material (IE more mass fits in a smaller volume)

            Similarly, the more energy dense a material is the less space it takes up per unit of energy per the scientific definition of energy density (which, to repeat, is “the amount of energy stored in a given system, substance, or region of space per unit volume“).

          • Besides, the volume of a H2 tank in a FCV is comparable to a gasoline tank in a regular internal combustion engined vehicle.

            Wrong again. The Honda Clarity FCV has a tank that is slightly larger than 37 gallons for a range of 366 miles on a full tank. A comparable Honda Accord ICE has a slightly larger than 17 gallon tank for a range of 516 miles on a fuel tank. So over twice the tank size for a smaller range.

          • Every pound carried in a vehicle increases the fuel burn and decreases the energy efficiency of the vehicle.

            And keep in mind that the extra weight of the larger tank to hold the equivalent amount of H2 to go the same distance as a smaller gasoline tank more than compensates for the lighter weight of the H2 itself, so all your yammering about how great the specific energy of H2 is, is rather meaningless. Not to mention that the extra room the tank takes up means less room for other stuff (like trunk space).

          • It is the mass that a car, boat, truck, or airplane always has to lug around, and burn fuel to lug around, not volume.

            And while that total mass is important, that’s not how we measure fuel. When you stop at the gas station and fill up your tank, the gas gage doesn’t show you how many pounds is being put into the tank, it shows you how many gallons*. We care about the amount of energy that will fit into our tank (which has a set limited amount of space) we don’t even give a thought to how much it weighs (the weight of the fuel is the least of a cars weight issues) – ask anyone how many pounds of gas their tank holds – you’ll get nothing but blank looks, but ask them mow many gallons and they’ll be able to give you specific numbers

            * substitute petrol, kg and liters as appropriate if you are on the other side of the pond.

          • I still remember while working for McDonnell Douglas trying to convert a DC-10 to a hydrogen fueled airplane. It was doable, although about 2/3 of the cabin had to be converted to a fuel tank, reducing the payload to approximately that of a DC-9.
            We didn’t build it. No one would buy it.

    • Poor hydrogen gets such a bad rap! It’s not really any worse than petrol. Both will explode when mixed with O2 in the right ratio and exposed to an ignition source. That’s why we generally dont use petrol onboard motors on boats. A slow H2 leak isn’t going to hurt anybody, as consideration of the charging characteristics of lead-acid batteries will show. By all means ridicule subsidies, but igoring or ridiculing the physics and chemistry is pretty foolish.

        • Dnalor50 February 27, 2019 at 2:29 am
          “we don’t use petrol outboard motors on boats” I think you need to research that.

          I think that you need to read more carefully. New glasses?(I have rotten eyesight and won’t wear glasses).

          Onboard ≠ outboard.

        • I think he was being sarcastic. Hydrogen in the bilge has led to some spectacular explosions, and I’ve never heard of a diesel outboard motor.
          It’s subtle, but it is sarcasm.

      • I’ll stand next to a full tank of gas while you spark it, if you’ll stand next to a Hydrogen fuel cell while I spark it…

        • A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will neither burn nor explode if you “spark it”. Only pure hydrogen is used anywhere in the vehicle, there are no mixtures of air and hydrogen that can burn or explode. Hydrogen does not burn unless it is mixed with air between the lower explosive limit (LEL) and the upper explosive limit (UEL).

          Gasoline vehicles, however ALWAYS HAVE IN THEM MIXTURES OF GASOLINE AND AIR THAT ARE COMBUSTIBLE IF NOT EXPLOSIVE. Inside the fuel tanks, for instance, that are full of explosive fumes occupying all volume but for the fuel itself and is constantly vented. Any fuel leak or fuel spill from a gasoline vehicle fuel system or engine instantly creates an explosive or flammable fuel-air mixture. That by the way is how an internal combustion engine works.

          Hydrogen fuel cell systems never expose hydrogen to air or mix air and hydrogen as do ICE vehicles. Hydrogen is not “burned”.

      • Hydrogen is explosive from 16% to 60% in air and flammability 8% to 75%. Way worse than petrol. It is dangerous that many chemists wont work with it. Outboard motors dont use petrol for its pollution potential. Petrol is pretty safe- a lit cigerette is extinguished by petrol.

        • I worked in a refinery and I have seen a hydrogen fire, No, wait, I didn’t actually see the flame, I just felt the heat. Very scary! You can walk right into it.

        • Yes but it tends to rise and disperse quickly unless you provide a means of keeping it in.

          You could argue that H2 is a better domestic gas for boat use because it isn’t going to sink and gather in the bilges waiting for you to start the engines…..

          • “What do you people think outboard motors burn?”

            Environmentally friendly Unicorn flatulence?? Mermaids Tears?

          • Ah, thank you. Most people in the US say INbord so I was confused. Also Dnalor50 said outboard so I was really confused.

        • What do you Brits use for Outboard motors in the UK? We all use gasoline, 87 octane here in the US. We only bitch a lot about it because all our gas is mixed with 10% methanol compelled by the Feds to meet “gas-ahol” demand to keep the wasteful subsidization of grain alcohol production from our last Green boondoggle.

          • You can find ethanol free gas for outboards here if you look a bit. Very expensive though. I only use it in my outboard and other small engines.

        • But leaking H2 dissipates so rapidly that you won’t get a flammable mixture, it was never a problem with town gas.

      • Dixon
        Apparently you are unaware of the number of boats that run on gasoline in the USA and elsewhere
        There are many more gasoline powered than Diesel.
        I just sold my 18 year old twin 502 cubic inch 43 footer.
        The days of gasoline fires on boats is rare with 1960 technology.
        I would never have Hydrogen onboard or parked in my garage with a 8 thousand bomb that can easily leak because the Hydrogen molecule is so small it can permeate steel

        • Gasoline fueled boats catch fire all the time here in Florida where I live, and where there are more registered boats than any other state in the US.

      • On this side of the water (where we say gasoline instead of petrol), virtually all small boats use gasoline (except for those sneaking up on fish with electric trolling motors). Larger boats use diesel for the same reasons that trucks do. Explosion is avoided by insuring good air flow through enclosed engine spaces/

      • Sometimes lead acid batteries explode due to said hydrogen. They normally don’t kill people, though they have killed some. Damage can be extensive, however, and sulfuric acid sprayed into ones face and eyes can injure.

    • Dirigibles are nothing like hydrogen fueled vehicles.

      The entire envelope of a dirigible is designed to contain a large volume of low pressure gaseous hydrogen. If ignited in the presence of sufficient oxygen, the gas in the envelope will burn. The Hindenberg is believed to have suffered an explosion of some kind, which ripped open the gas envelop introducing air into the hydrogen gas creating a moving wave of combustion.

      A hydrogen fueled vehicle has no such low pressure gas envelope capable of containing hydrogen and oxygen at the same time in a combustible mixture. The only enclosed envelope is the fuel tank itself, and it contains no oxygen just high pressure hydrogen. The passenger compartment is isolated from the fuel tank. Any leaks in the fuel tank immediately dissipates gas to outside atmosphere and will not collect inside the passenger compartment.

  3. All new subsidies for solar and wind have been taken off in Ontario Canada. The present solar and wind facilities still have their guaranteed contracts; but they will end. If this power to gas would work economically ; then I would think that some entrepreneur would try it, without having the advantages of subsidies. Somehow I doubt it given the dangers of producing and transporting hydrogen.

    • It is not the reverse of this at all.

      A key part of that concept is using electrolysis to produce hydrogen, exactly as the above article proposes. The concept you reference just adds an additional stage of combining the hydrogen with CO2 to produce hydrocarbons and water.

      The concept is theoretically possible but fantastically expensive, a perfect “green” solution.

      • Not so fast, science denier!

        If you extrapolate current trends on commodity prices for 70 years until the suppliers pay you $100/kg to take the stuff off their hands, and you combine that with extrapolating the current trend in northern hemisphere length of daylight hours out just a couple of years to where we have 36 hours of daylight per day, we can easily make almost $1/year producing ICE fuels from solar power.

        We already have four or five subsidy-capture farms like this operating in griff’s imagination!

      • It is hardly rocket science on many grids like Germany, Australia they can’t accept all renewable energy when it is occurring because it is at low demand period. So you need to store the energy for use later Australia is for instance doing pumped hydro .. google “Snowy 2.0”

        Making comments with no understanding of the topic is an “interesting concept”.

  4. Something wrong here! Am I misunderstanding something?

    WT’ and SP’s are not base load power generators, i.e. they don’t generate power when needed but when available. That means any national Grid using them has to have excess installed power generation capacity in the form of base load power generators such as GT’s to always be able to maintain power supplies to meet current power demands during periods of no/low wind and sun . In any period, WT’s and SP’s only produce power of a fraction of their rated output – say, for WT’s, 30% of their rated output. Using some of that power to generate hydrogen only reduces the power available for feeding the Grid, i.e. the proportion of power generated by the WT’s dedicated base load GT standby power system will be increased. The GT’s operate inefficiently because they are delivering an ever varying output to match the current shortfall in WT output.

    The whole system would then have WT’s to generate hydrogen to feed the Grid and to feed fuel cells to generate electricity, together with the GT WT standby units – both GT’s and WT’s operating inefficiently and thus needing subsidies to make them commercially viable, and with extended and enhanced power transmission systems to feed the remote WT’s power to areas of actual power demand.

    How could this ever be cheaper than just using the same installed capacity of the same GT’s, operating efficiently and alone as base load units and without subsidies or additional PT works?

    • Correction: penultimate paragraph.
      The whole system would then have WT’s to generate electricity to feed the Grid and to feed fuel cells to generate electricity, together with the GT WT standby units ……

    • GT = exactly what? WT= Wind Mill and SP = Solar Panel and Maybe the G of GT stands for Grid or Ground but …. well maybe it’s Grid Turbine or maybe Gas Turbine but then most Grid power is Steam Turbine. Well I guess it’s Gas Turbine, but nowhere in the story or comments are gas turbines mentioned.

      Why people find it necessary to use undefined acronyms is a sign of the times. Do they think it makes them look smart or just ever-so trendy? The alphabet is really handy to spell out words, it really ought to be used more often.

      • UK investigations have shown that Gas Turbines are the only base load power plants capable of accommodating and providing the ever changing power demand required when providing standby power to cover varying shortfall power from wind turbines.

        • Water turbines are very good as well. They are so good that they can operate at nearly zero output and increase up to full output in the time it takes to open a valve.

          • That depends on having an adequate supply of sites where it can be deployed. Fine in Tasmania, and even New Zealand, or say the Pacific NW of the US. But utterly useless in countries without mountainous terrain. Even so, hydro has its problems: reservoir impoundments can cause serious earthquakes (ML 7 has been recorded), and there are major flood risks from dam failures.

          • Norway is using its connection to Denmark’s grid to buy wind power cheap when there is a surplus and then sell hydropower at a high price when the wind is not blowing.

            Germany’s current “solution” to its alternative energy problems are to construct a high voltage DC line to Norway so that they can give Norway money as well.

            The Norwegians are virtue signalling and laughing all the way to the bank.

      • steve, I call it acronym blindness. People are so use to acronyms that they see on a frequent basis that they are blind to the fact that others might not be as readily familiar with said acronym.

          • I have to nit pick: WT and SP are not acronyms, they are merely initials. Initials become acronyms when, and only when, they form pronounceable words.
            laser, sonar, radar, NASA, POTUS = acronyms
            IBM, GND, DNC, DVD, HTML – not acronyms

            Yes, some dictionaries also list initialisms as acronyms, but they are referring to usage, conceding that many people get it wrong.

          • as we are picking nits, if the dictionaries include it due to usage, then the folks are no longer “getting it wrong” as that’s a sign the language has evolved. Only dead languages don’t change over time.

  5. Once again it must be asked (in this case of expert economists no less) what the starting point is in this analysis. How much petroleum and coaleum did it take to mine/transport/produce those steel windmills/copper conductors and cook the limestone (with additional CO2 chemically also released to get the cement) to make the concrete that anchors them from blowing over — before we’ve liberated the first hydrolyzed hydrogen bubble from their electric output? From there on, the hydrogen could be viewed as a storage form of their resulting energy — but so was the hydrogen present in the original fuels that might have been employed directly (as now) in hydrocarbon consuming engines.

    And whither all the current thrust toward electricity consuming vehicles if this is the future instead? Of course “Green” electric vehicles likewise have much the same unspoken dependence upon fossil fuels (as most everything else that has prospered us for over a century) for their refined metal and plastic components, as well as most of their apparently “clean” (at the point of the battery charging station) propelling electricity.

    • Dude, commodity prices are dropping and we only extrapolated the trend out 11 years. Before you know it raw material suppliers will be paying us to haul away aluminum, crystalline silicon, and the like. Our analysis is 99.99% certain! It can only get better over time.

  6. This is an option for very remote, windy communities, not connected to the grid, that used to have to burn diesel, but now have surplus power from historical subsidised wind, and recent EU research subsidised tidal power. The Orkney islands now have a surplus of wind and tide electricity, and hydrogen is a way of deepening the use into local ferry transport. The only alternate for them is shipping costly diesel. http://www.surfnturf.org.uk

    • But they still need the over capacity provided by dedicated base load power when during no/low wind conditions and or low tide conditions. The latter can be minimised but only by mssive oversizing of the turbines and storage lagoons at an extraordinary extra price.

      What the renewable energy suppliers/operators, such as WT operators, repeatedly do is to publish fraudulent “comparisons” of the unreliable Wind Turbine unit power costs of with base load unit power costs of fossil fuel plants, such as GT’s. What they should be publishing is the total costs to the consumer of like for like systems, i.e. base load systems to base load systems, which means inputting not just the WT unit power costs but also the necessary massive additional costs to the consumer when using WT’s of subsidies, necessary dedicated standby base load power to cover no/low wind conditions from, say GT’s, and extended and enhanced power transmission works!-

    • Orkney is already grid connected, and has been since 1982. They are proposing a further 220MW of connection for export purposes on an assumption of more wind farms: OFGEM have been setting some higher hurdles for this, since essentially it requires that the 220MW go all the way into England via capacity expansions. The diesel set in Kirkwall is a backup generator in case they lose the mainland connection and there is no wind (and I suspect it helps with local grid stability, given the existing wind farms).

      • Empirical scale model testing suggests that the observed burn rate and spread seen in the actual incident, the presence of Hydrogen is required. :

        https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ncm5i

        Still not saying that coating your airframe with Thermite is a sound engineering decision…

        And at least the Jerries got their windbag as for as New Jersey before it became a tangle of burning wreckage…. Our good Socialist Airship couldn’t make it past Northern France before achieving that state.

        http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/coming%20of%20age/R101%20disaster.htm

        Again the burn needed Hydrogen to reach it’s level of intensity and lethality even if use of H2 was not the principal cause of the disaster.

        • Again the burn needed Hydrogen to reach it’s level of intensity and lethality even if use of H2 was not the principal cause of the disaster

          Exactly. The presence of Hydrogen is what made the difference between it being an accident and it being a disaster. regardless of what started the fire, the hydrogen made the fire into an inferno.

      • But it burned and quickly. As I understand it the problem with using hydrogen as a fuel on this planet, you first need to un-burn it which takes energy.

  7. My understanding is that the best P2G experiments are about 10MW, requiring hydrolysis at high temperatures and pressures in a process that therefore needs to be continuous. That means not only do you have to work out whether this can be scaled to larger reactors to be useful at grid scale, but also you need a continuous surplus supply to support it. That means a gross overbuild of renewables to generate the energy required for storage and round trip losses, and to keep the plant operating when the renewables supply is becalmed. Then you need somewhere to store the gas, which is only a third of the energy density of methane at the same pressure and temperature. Existing gas caverns are too few and too small and not everywhere available, and are required for seasonal methane storage already. Try to replace methane use, and you multiply the problem yet again.

    • I should have added that such schemes assume the power is available for free, when the reality is you massively overinvesting renewables to produce it in the first place, especially since you will also end up with high marginal rates of curtailment. If you curtailed 75% of marginal output its effective cost is four times that when no curtailment is needed.

    • A further point:

      there is no operational experience of using underground salt caverns to store large quantities of hydrogen over a period of decades. Given the ability of hydrogen to permeate anything that it is put in, there could be some very nasty surprises.

  8. Back in olden times (in the UK, before 1971), domestic gas was called ‘coal gas’ or ‘town gas’. It was a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen: and it was distributed successfully for nearly a century to houses all over UK. I don’t see why blending hydrogen into natural gas would have to be problematic – except for maybe having to adapt every gas burning appliance…

    • It isn’t problematic at all… if you look you can find details of actual trials now taking place in the UK.

      Plus of course the hydrogen powered trains being rolled out in the UK by 2021.

      • The subway system in Montreal is powered by water. That is a form of hydrogen I suppose.

        Water is quite heavy. Engineers find a place where water falls downhill and run it through a generator.

        They can turn the power on and off at will, and there is so much of it, Quebec sells it to the USA for almost nothing.

        The subway system in Toronto is powered by uranium.

      • If there were no problems there would be no need of trials. Please see my post higher up the thread for an introduction to some of the problems.

        • This is introducing the technology for the first time… therefore it is a trial: all technologies have a trial phase.

          • And it hasn’t been introduced yet. They’re still in the building the equipment phase for the first trial and haven’t even started the second trial. The equipment in the first trial does start running until summer.

            In any event, trial phases are where you try to determine if it is problematic or not (contrary to your baseless assertion that “It isn’t problematic at all”). Not all trials result in the thing being trialed going on to being widely used. Trial can and do end with “this thing is no good or not good enough, next”.

          • And not all technologies progress beyond the trial phase. Trials are used to determine if the technology will work as intended or not. And if there are any unforeseen problems with the technology. You can’t say “It isn’t problematic at all” before the trials have been completed (at least not if you wish to be taken seriously).

      • H2 is highly problematic in a natural gas grid.

        – Any steel fittings will unlikely to be stainless steel, thus will be subject to hydrogen embrittlement, and will need to be replaced.

        – It will be difficult to put an odorant in, due to density differences. This will make leaks more dangerous.

        – All natural gas appliances will need to be replaced.

        – H2 burns almost colorless. It will need a chemical added to show a flame. But again, the density differences will mean separation.

        – A high leakage rate would mean destruction of the entire ozone system through hydroxyl chemistry. Massive global cooling would follow. H2 is notoriously hard to contain.

        – The energy density of H2 is about 1/3 that of natural gas. That means the pipes will need over 3 times the pressure, or 3 times the size, to get the same energy as natural gas.

        If by not being problematic, you mean that the entire gas grid needs to be changed (from source to appliance); the safety chemistry needs to be wholly invented; and there is a danger of ozone loss and global cooling; then yes, its not problematic.

    • Coal gas (also town gas and illumination gas) is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal and contains a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and …

  9. I stopped reading at the headline, “Economists map out economically viable path to renewables-based hydrogen production”

    Economists?

  10. In Texas, there is already all of the CH4 you could ever need to make H2 a few thousand feet below any government subsidized windmill. Enron knew this in the late 1990’s (it was what the stupid “hydrogen economy” was based on) and that was years before fracking technology made the amount of CH4 we could access go up exponentially.

    Forget about all of those windmills in Texas making H2, furiner.

  11. “can already be commercially viable today” I see CAN be, NOT IS.

    Griffy, of course, does not understand the difference between TRIALS and actual implementation. I’m betting I could do a trial of “sprinkles” as a viable energy source and some gullible fool would think it was real and viable. Humans are the ultimate in gullible and soooo easily deceived. Con men love that quality.

    • It is clearly actually being injected into the UK gas grid. No explosions reported. That means it works to a point… we shall see how it works out, what the commercial viability is.

      but the point is: it is already happening.

      • griff says:
        “it is already happening.”

        No it is not. I checked the link you gave above. They are in the construction phase of a pilot plant sized experiment on a university campus. Even if things do go forward as planned, it is only a small scale test scheduled to last for only a few months.

        Nothing is actually happening.
        From the link you provided.

        Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

      • It is clearly actually being injected into the UK gas grid

        they’re still building the trial equipment. Nothing has been injected anywhere yet.

        No explosions reported

        because they haven’t build the equipment yet let along started running it. It won’t start running until the summer.

        That means it works to a point

        Bwahahahahaha. It doesn’t “work to a point” because it hasn’t finished being built yet according to your own link. duh!

        but the point is: it is already happening.

        The point is: no it’s not. Not yet. They have to finish building the trial equipment. Then they have to run the equipment and then they have to evaluate the results. Once they do all that, then and only then, can they decide whether or not to make it happen at scale.

  12. During the fossil fuel-to-hydrogen fuel production process, a considerable amount of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Therefore any Rube Goldberg system to power this process by wind turbines intermittently or not by any means defies logic. Why not simply burn compressed methane / “natural gas” which would be far less expensive, more readily available and in the real world do far more to reduce carbon and real pollution. ——or what am I missing?

  13. Why can’t the Greens come up with a method of electricity generation that doesn’t kill millions of birds?

    Do the Greens just block all this death and destruction out of their minds, or are they just cold-blooded?

    Nuclear reactors don’t kill birds and they don’t produce CO2, but apparently Greens think killing birds is the lesser of these two evils. Poor birds, your caretakers have lost their minds.

    • The answer is: wind turbines are not killing millions of birds. Early 1980s wind turbines in California did kill many birds. Those types of turbines and that sort of site is not now used anywhere else in the world. So bird deaths are very low indeed (less than collisions with office buildings on migration routes). Extrapolating from one set of old designs to all wind turbines world wide is misleading in the extreme

      check out the claimed eagle deaths over the last 2 decades… then look at actual eagle population stats. The entire US eagle population apparently died about every 2 years.

        • I can’t access the content of that -but I would say they are very likely to have used the Altamont Pass figures (from 1980s model turbines) and extrapolated those, invalidly, to all US turbines

          • You are wrong. As I pointed out they specifically looked at the types of turbines most in use currently in the USA (monopole) not the older lattice tower design (which are largely being de-commissioned). They also “found support for an increase in mortality with increasing turbine hub height”

          • The 380,000 figure equates to one bird per tower per year, a fair percentage of which are Raptors…and 2 bats per tower per year.
            The only reason that Millions aren’t dying YET is that there aren’t Millions of wind turbines YET.

      • Apparently, Griff is one of those Greens who blocks it out of his mind. I guess that’s better than being cold-blooded. It doesn’t help the birds much either way.

        • I’m not a green, though I care deeply about birds.

          so I have looked at the evidence – and it just doesn’t stack up for that number of bird deaths.

    • They are not looking for solutions. They are only interested in propagating problems real or imaginary.

    • “Our annual estimates of between 8 and 57 million birds killed by collision and between 0.9 and 11.6 million birds killed by electrocution indicate that bird mortality at U.S. power lines constitutes a major source of anthropogenic mortality. The range of our estimates for power lines is greater than systematically derived U.S. estimates for all other anthropogenic structural threats except buildings (365–988 million), including collisions with communication towers (6.6 million), collisions with all wind turbines (573,000 [9]), and collisions with modern mono-pole wind turbines (140,000–328,000 )”

      https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101565

      So that’ll be between 60 and 180x more killed colliding with power lines and 2000 to 3000x killed colliding with buildings.

      • Do you have any idea of just how many hundreds of thousands of miles of power lines there are crisscrossing the united states? It would only be surprising if they weren’t such a large hazard for flying critters. Same with buildings, do you realize just how many buildings exist across this great nation? What should be surprising is how large the number of bird deaths compared to the relatively few (in comparison to those other objects) wind turbines there are. Those wind turbine deaths are only going to increase as more and taller bird choppers are built.

        • “Those wind turbine deaths are only going to increase as more and taller bird choppers are built.”

          Well, obviously, but the 3000x rather puts the issue into comparison.
          I do expect we will build more structures other than wind turbine also.
          And just when did all ways out of a conundrum lead to wholly +ve consequences?

          • What really puts it into perspective is that there are many multiples more than 3000x the number of buildings. the per turbine number is much greater than the per building number.

  14. Oh, and lest we venture too far from the shores of Reality Island, let’s not forget that this comes to us from EurekAlert!

  15. This technology has no chance of competing against molten salt small nuclear reactors. For starters, it requires huge amounts of land, (which must be rented) for the windmills and ruins any visual environment and requires extensive wiring and can only exist where winds exist and cannot count on any given amount of power. In contrast, a molten salt reactors will always produce much cheaper power (4 cents per kWhr levelized cost) ,
    requires less land than is required for a single wind turbine, can be located anywhere – it has no requirements for cooling water or for anything else, save connection to the grid. It can be located close to the end user or the grid, eliminating the needs for extensive expensive electrical connectivity. Maintenance is at a minimum and a molten salt reactor will function probably 5 or more times more years than a windmill.

      • Um, how is he being practical? he’s pooh-poohing one technology that doesn’t exist in commercial operation but at least is close to going on trial for another technology that doesn’t exist in commercial operation and it’s anywhere near as close to going on trial. When the trials are run on both technologies, than and only than can we compare the results and determine which is the better “bet”. If they both live up to their respective hype, molten salt small nuclear reactors certainly seem to be the better bet, but hype and reality are two different things.

      • When we actually get a prototype commercial molten salt reactor, then you may well be justified in posting what you posted.

        That’s the one thing we agree on griff.

        • Lat year the Chinese head of their programme said in a speech in US that he expected a prototype no sooner than the early 2030s

  16. Hydrogen is fun. It may cause hydrogen induced cracking (embrittlement) of carbon steel. There may be full rupture. Steel welds must have less hardness than even for sour service. Good luck!

  17. There isn’t a metal (or material) that I know of that doesn’t leak hydrogen to some extent, and when it does, it makes the material brittle. This is why we have natural gas cars, but hydrogen cars never took off. Also hydrogen itself isn’t very energy dense by volume.

  18. The issue here is that people might come to believe that it’s actually feasible. And vote for it to somehow happen.

    Like knowledgeable comments already stated, hydrogen is significantly more complex to handle than bio olive oil.

  19. CTM,

    There is no feasible storage system for hydrogen gas, as the H2 molecule is just too small, leaks through virtually any sort of tank. Even rockets use Hydrogen fuel as a Liquid, difficult as that is to do.

    Economists do not design any functioning power plants, vehicles, ship engines, or planes that I know about.

    This article will not lead to the end of fossil fuel use.

      • None of which appear to be in actual operation yet. Germany’s are set to go into operation sometime in 2021. We’ll have to wait and see if they’re as good as Alstom claims.

      • Yes, one train is now touring Germany to demo the technology. Some company called Hexagon Xperion supplied 10,000-psi Hydrogen storage tanks. Tanks are carbon fiber, but no word on what keeps the hydrogen inside. Lots of press releases, but no technical specs available.

        Could be something new…

      • I can’t for the life of me figure out how or why a “Hydrogen Powered Train” would be desirable. Maybe as a switch engine in an intercity rail yard?

        There is Zero value in Europe for an inter or Intra city passenger train to be powered by Hydrogen and since europe’s use electricity. In the US for a light duty diesel rail, we’d use CNG in the US before we did something stupid like use H2.

        When I was young and naive in 1978, I wrote a term paper on “hydrogen, the fuel of the future”. That was before I realized what a wholesale environmental- cat-ass-trophy releasing large amounts of H2 into our atmosphere (try not releasing large amounts of H2 if your entire society runs on it). It’d be way worse than large amounts of CO2.

  20. Essential is that in Germany and Texas Theresa are already lot of wind turbines , leading to fluctuating power prices. When prices are low, this could well be profitable.

  21. On a side note researchers of the University of Louvain report they created hydrogen-producing solar cells without 15% efficiency

  22. From the above press release’s first paragraph: “Hydrogen production based on wind power can already be commercially viable today.”

    I will assume that phrasing is a German-to-English translation error. In any event, to the Technical University of Munich: please get back to me when you have hard evidence of “viability” and not just speculation.

    I have seen far too many studies and claims of what “can”, “might”, “may”, “could”, etc., happen that actually turned out to be rubbish. For example, remember when cold fusion could solve all of mankind’s energy needs?

  23. Years ago, I remember visiting a pulp and paper plant in northern Alberta that was investigating the feasibility of a cogen plant on site. They were producing roughly 7 MW equivalent of H2 daily and it was just vented into the atmosphere. Of course, they wanted to know if it was possible to use this as a fuel. Having such a low MW, it was uneconomic to compress for use in the gas turbine, but if a duct burner was added to the heat recovery boiler it might have made sense to stream it in. Any way, we never got that far as the project was dropped.

  24. Do note that hydrogen powered trains are now coming into service in UK and Germany… so there doesn’t seem to be a problem storing hydrogen there…

    Basic concept:
    https://www.dw.com/en/hydrogen-powered-trains-are-coming-to-germany/a-45525099

    Roll out in Germany:
    https://futurism.com/hydrogen-powered-trains-are-coming-to-germany-in-2021/

    roll out in UK
    https://www.alstom.com/press-releases-news/2018/5/alstom-confirms-plans-to-bring-hydrogen-trains-to-the-uk

    • we’ll see how they do in Germany in 2021 when they’re actually in service. (the UK link didn’t specify an in service date, so looks more like in discussion rather than an actual roll out there). While I certainly don’t hope for a train crash, it will be very enlightening as to how safe these trains are when the first crash of one happens.

    • Griff, you have a serious English comprehension problem. “Coming to Germany in 2021” and “plans to bring hydrogen trains to the UK” are not the same meaning as “now coming into service”. Please find a remedial language course and learn the difference between present and future tenses.

      • Griff, you have a serious English comprehension problem

        That would explain why he so often posts links that don’t exactly match the assertions the he makes.

      • I think you have the comprehension problem: these trains are scheduled to be put into live operation, will be on the railways, are definitely going to happen, or any other form of words which make you happy.

        • No griff, you are the one with the comprehension problem as you are the one that was using present tense for something that you now admit hasn’t happened yet but rather is planned to happen *in the future*. You really do need to learn the difference between present and future tense, it makes a big difference.

  25. “…excess wind and solar energy can be used to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis.”

    The way grids have to balance power, effectively almost all wind and solar energy is excess energy. Perhaps hydrogen production can be the primary use of such non-dispatchable power, with a grid hookup to use the wind farm as surge capacity.

    But if this approach is economical, why would it not be even more economical to use excess energy from the base load to generate hydrogen? After all, even a grid based on coal and gas sometimes has to dump power. Whatever technical challenges exist in setting this up with a traditional plant, will be even more complicated when using wind and solar.

  26. According to Wikipedia, the current best two processes for water electrolysis (PEM and alkaline electrolysis) have an effective electrical efficiencies in the range of 70–80%. Undoubtedly, this efficiency will decrease with scale-up of electrolysis to industrial-use levels (e.g., 100 to 1000 of MWh)

    Overall conversion efficiency (electricity-to-H2/O2-to-hydrogen compressed and stored at high pressure-to-transport to hydrogen fueling stations-to-combustion with air in piston or turbine engines) only goes downhill from there. There is probably an additional 30% or so loss of energy from using electrolysis-generated hydrogen versus use of the same electrical energy to directly charge a battery. That’s a tremendous amount of waste heat to dump into Earth’s environment, as if anyone cares.

    And if anyone thinks storing compressed hydrogen for later combustion might be akin to pumped storage hydropower, they have no concept of the low energy density of hydrogen and the risk such a scheme entails . . . on the latter matter, think of a oil well blowout ^5.

  27. My concern about hydrogen powered cars is that the gas has to be compressed to a very high pressure to get a sufficient quantity in a container small enough to fit in a car. The rupture of one of these vessel in an accident could create a massive fireball which will kill or injure people who wee not involved in the actual accident. Also hydrogen has a low energy density compared to any carbon based fuel even when compressed.

  28. There is new hydrogen storage technology that could be a game changer.

    The company, Electriq Global (https://www.electriq.com/), has a method of trapping hydrogen stably in a water based solution (stable for a decade…better than gasoline…and claimed to be safer). The hydrogen is removed from the solution in real time by a catalytic process…then used to generate electricity in a hydrogen fuel cell. The aqueous solution can be recharged with hydrogen.

    A tank of this hydrogenated solution is claimed to be able to run a hydrogen-fuel-cell-electrified car with twice the range and at half the cost of a gasoline powered car…so 1/4 times the cost of a gasoline. (e.g. 1000 miles for $25 vs. 500 miles for $50)

    This technology (if close to as good as claimed) could be used to store wind and solar energy.

    In addition to transportation, this hydrogenated solution could be delivered through pipelines to run a hydrogen fuel cell economy…?? eventually replacing the grid ??

    • Website strangely devoid of real facts or real industry partners or real demonstration or proper description of the technology. A bit like cold fusion, really.

      • Which is pretty much what you find every time some shill comes along touting “a new xxxxx technology that could be a game changer”. The links are always devoid of real facts, real industry partners, real demonstration or anything else real. Lots of hype and nothing else.

      • I did some digging and got some numbers…and ran the numbers “back of the envelope”:
        – Getting twice the range (example 15 gal x 20mpg = 300 miles…x 2 = 600 miles ) per tank requires ~87 gallons (but need 2 tanks!!) of hydrogenated fuel (3% H2 by weight) weighs about 700 EXTRA POUNDS (lbs. more than a tank of gas at 43 lbs.)

        – 3% by weight doesn’t sound like nearly enough…but H2 energy density (MJ/Kg) is 3.3 times that of gasoline…and “H2 fuel-cell-through-motors” is 2.5 times more efficient than “gasoline-through-a-motor”. 43 lbs of gasoline equates to only 5 lbs H2.

        – WEIGHT OF DRIVE TRAIN replaced is only ~500 lbs… so 200 lbs min. is added…not good but plausible.

        – Cost (CH4 to Hydrogen × 2 times mark-up) is around $3+/gallon gasoline equivalent…which is half the cost IN ISRAEL at $6.50 a gallon. So their 1/2 cost claim works IN EUROPE AND ISRAEL.

        – This $3/gal calculation is based on twice the driving range…so for same range the equivalent would be $1.50 per gallon BEFORE TAXES.

        So a doable…and a possibly competitive…thing cost-wise, but not as great a deal in the US.

        A demonstration project (running converted electric buses) is soon under way…so real numbers in ~3 to 6 years.

        I hope this works and they do it in Europe and elsewhere… that would drive the cost of petrol down in the US.

        • but H2 energy density (MJ/Kg) is 3.3 times that of gasoline

          No, it isn’t. As I just got done pointing out in another part of the thread, density is by volume not by weight. So while what you say may be true by weight (there’s more energy in a kilogram of H2 than there is in a kilogram of gasoline) that’s not density and we don’t fill tanks with kilograms. (When you stop at the local petrol or gas station, do you ask for xx kilograms of gas? no, you ask for xx liters, liters are a measure of volume), and by volume, H2 has 1/3rd the energy of petrol/gasoline.

        • Or to put it another way, if H2 energy density was, as you claim, 3.3 times that of gasoline, you would not need ~87 gallons of the stuff to equal 30 gallons (15 gal x 2) of gas, you’d only need less than 10 gallons. Because, the definition of energy density is “the amount of energy stored in a given system, substance, or region of space per unit volume“.

          • Or think of it this way. Imagine you have two objects that weigh the same (say a couple of bricks). One object is more dense than the other (one is made of a light-weight material such as Styrofoam and one from a heavy material such as iron). Given that information which one would be smaller (IE takes up less space) for the given weight? the one made from Styrofoam or the one made from iron? The iron one, because it’s made of a denser material.

            Similarly, the more energy dense a material is the less space it takes up per unit of energy. Since H2 takes up more space (~87 gal) for the same energy as gasoline (30 gal or 15 gal x 2) the more energy dense material is the one taking up less space – in this case gasoline.

  29. Great post. Not my area of expertise, but good to see griff back. Containing Hydrogen has been a problem, but NASA seems to have worked it out (albeit without economic constraint).

    What the hell, certainly worth trials…

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