The Green Hydrogen Swindle

From NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT


By Paul Homewood

h/t Philip Bratby

From the Telegraph:

Engineers will rarely tell you something is impossible, even when your proposal is a very bad idea. Computer scientists at Stanford and MIT in the 1970s came up with a wonderful expression for this, an assignment that was technically feasible, but highly undesirable. They called it “kicking a dead whale down a beach”. The folklore compendium The Hacker’s Dictionary defines this as a “slow, difficult, and disgusting process”. Yes, you can do it like that. But you really don’t want to.

In its efforts to show the world how keenly it is embracing CO2 emission targets, our Government has left a lot of dead whales on the beach for us, and as consumers, we’ll be the ones doing the kicking.

For example, it’s not impossible to heat a home with a heat pump, but it is a very noisy, ineffective and expensive way of doing it. An electric car might be fun to drive, but it is also expensive, and because of the inferior energy density of batteries, a petrol equivalent will always be lighter and go further. Nor at the end of the day will an EV be able to boast any CO2 emissions savings, we now know, thanks to Volvo. But perhaps the greatest whale to land on our beach is hydrogen.

Every day, manufacturers announce that they’re working on some kind of hydrogen initiative.

These include our best and brightest companies, such as Rolls-Royce and JCB. The Government has a Hydrogen Strategy. The Climate Change Committee thinks hydrogen is wonderful. You may think these are all signs that it’s a good idea. But things are not what they seem.


To replace gas boilers with hydrogen boilers requires thousands of miles of new, much thicker, high-pressure pipes. Last year, Lord Martin Callanan, the energy minister, candidly described the plans to replace our gas boilers with hydrogen boilers “as pretty much impossible”. 


Hydrogen has two big problems which turn any project into a dead whale exercise.

The first is that pure hydrogen doesn’t exist – it’s both everywhere and nowhere. We must generate all the hydrogen we can then use, and this requires a lot of energy. This is fine when the output of the process is something very valuable to us, such as fertiliser. But less so when the output of the process must compete with much cheaper commodities, as it must in an energy market.

Secondly, hydrogen’s intrinsic physical properties create a whole range of unique problems. It’s a tiny atom that easily escapes confinement. Keeping it captive for storage is expensive, and moving it around safely even more so, because in liquid form it must be very cold.

Hydrogen advocates tend to shrug off these issues – solving them will be someone else’s problem, they reckon. Individually, none of these factors make hydrogen as an energy carrier or storer impossible, but the whale-like properties are becoming harder to ignore.

To replace gas boilers with hydrogen boilers requires thousands of miles of new, much thicker, high-pressure pipes. Last year, Lord Martin Callanan, the energy minister, candidly described the plans to replace our gas boilers with hydrogen boilers “as pretty much impossible”.

Wrong, m’Lud. It’s not impossible – it’s just a supremely bad idea. And when hydrogen explodes, it is quite spectacular. Right on cue, Australia’s first hydrogen carrying ship set sail for Japan this year, and burst into flames on its maiden voyage.

Again, hydrogen powered transport is not impossible, it’s just hampered by reality. Liquified hydrogen may be as light as petrol or kerosene, but keeping it at -257C requires much heavier apparatus. Converting a two engine turboprop from kerosene to hydrogen, I noted here recently, increases the weight of the engine from two tonnes to 13 tonnes.

As for storage, the story is little better. Wind often generates electricity when it is not needed (and doesn’t generate it when it is needed). So when the wind is blowing, the hydrogen lobby argues, we can create “green hydrogen” using electrolysis. These electrolysers are expensive, and sensitive, and switching them on intermittently to produce the mythical green hydrogen isn’t economic.

So green hydrogen is really not one, but two dead whales, engaged in a gruesome act of congress.

In his devastating assessment of the Government’s energy paper, Prof Dieter Helm calls it a “lobbyist’s utopia”. Prof Helm, an energy expert, describes how rent-seekers “[react] to each problem… by inventing another intervention. Each has unintended consequences, and these unintended consequences need more ‘fixes’”. That’s green hydrogen in a nutshell.

Green hydrogen may be generated reliably and cheaply using high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors (HTGRs), a technology the Japanese have been refining for two decades. Japan’s first HTGR opened in 1997, but incredibly, was out of commission for a decade.

The history of nuclear energy is full of such stories, of untapped potential, and of avenues not explored. Our own Government tepidly hopes for a “HTGR demonstration by the early 2030s at the latest.” But even with a fleet of HTGRs generating hydrogen, the nasty stuff still needs to be stored and moved, and those costs haven’t gone away. Using hydrogen remains the worst way of doing almost anything.

Special interest groups however have discovered that the magic words “net zero” have the same incantatory power as “Open Sesame!”. In Arabian Nights, the phrase opened up a cave full of treasure. Here, they open up an unlimited trove of research grants and subsidies, and tap into abundant buckets of ill-directed “green” capital. The dead whale is never removed from the beach – and perhaps that’s the point.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/04/16/great-hydrogen-swindle-green-gas-not-seems/

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John Bell
April 17, 2022 2:10 pm

Government types always hope that if they just subsidize something enough in the beginning then it finally hits a tipping point where economies of scale kick in and the idea starts to make it on its own. And the subsidies can never stop or it all falls down like a house of cards. Hydrogen is just one of them.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  John Bell
April 17, 2022 2:26 pm

What amazes me is how devoid of basic engineering and technology facts they are. Astounding ignorance. And, it’s not like they could not seek expert counsel concerning same.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 17, 2022 3:14 pm

Rud, you know that ideology trumps science, engineering and economics. That continues until people are really hurt and lash out at those they believe are responsible. Currently Brandon and the Leftist media are blaming Russia and a lack of unreliables for our energy and inflationary woes. It is, however, now expected that the U.S. voter will punish Brandon and the Left at the next couple of elections. Who knows?

John Larson
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 17, 2022 3:39 pm

I don’t think ideology has much to do with what is going on, unless you want to call self-enrichment an “ideology”. Of course those involved want us to believe there’s a more “noble” motivation causing them to do what enriches themselves, but as Mr. Istvan pointed out, “it’s not like they could not seek expert counsel concerning same.”

AndyHce
Reply to  John Larson
April 17, 2022 7:20 pm

There have been plenty of example of what happens to those ‘expert counsel’ heads that stand up and speak out.

JohnTyler
Reply to  John Larson
April 18, 2022 6:27 am

Ideology has EVERYTHING to do with it.
Several cities in the USA are determined to move primarily to wind and solar energy; both unreliable and intermittent.
And everybody knows by doing so there will be blackouts, brownouts, etc.
The greenies do not care !!!
Their goal is to end the use of all hydrocarbons, come hell or high water, irrespective of the harm – economically and existentially, as in people dying – it will cause.
Ideologues, such as the green zealots, in the past pursued other goals such as bolshevism, nazism, etc. Other similar modern day zealots pursue the defund the police movement, knowing full well that crime rates will skyrocket.
The ideologues DO NOT CARE.
Ideolgues believe; that’s it. Facts and data – of which they ARE FULLY AWARE do not matter to them.
The ends justifies the means; that pretty much sums it up.

John Larson
Reply to  JohnTyler
April 18, 2022 1:52 pm

I don’t doubt that many people have come to believe the world is in grave danger because of the use of fossil fuels, but I am convinced it’s what the author here calls a “scam”. And that those who have perpetrated the scam have done so for their own enrichment, in terms of wealth and power.

“Ideologues, such as the green zealots, in the past pursued other goals such as bolshevism, nazism, etc. Other similar modern day zealots pursue the defund the police movement, knowing full well that crime rates will skyrocket.
The ideologues DO NOT CARE.”

In a sense you are “making my case” there. True Ideologs would CARE. That’s why we call them ideologs, isn’t it?

Last edited 1 month ago by John Larson
LARRY K SIDERS
Reply to  John Larson
April 18, 2022 8:46 am

The “ideology” creeps in when our corrupt MSM/Press reports nothing about the truth of the matter. Truths that are easy to come by…even by “Journalists” who never leave their computer terminals to do Journalism. Least of all any Engineering or Cost related Truths.

That willing blindness is nothing but ideologically driven.

Sturmudgeon
Reply to  LARRY K SIDERS
April 18, 2022 12:40 pm

Correct! (imo) Likely that The Epoch Times is the only paper that promotes True Journalism. SUCH a failure by msm and major newspapers.

John Larson
Reply to  LARRY K SIDERS
April 18, 2022 3:05 pm

Again, if you include self-enrichment in the category of “ideologies”, I can’t disagree that “ideologs” are behind a great many “scams”, including the corrupt MSM/press aiding and abetting the scams.
Would it make sense to say those in the “corrupt MSM/press” are zealous about reporting the truth (which is their job, and what they purport to be zealous about), when they report “nothing about the truth of the matter”?

I suggest they are zealous about enriching themselves, and that’s what causes what appears to be “willing blindness” on their part. I suggest they just don’t care much about reporting the truth, if the truth threatens their ability to enrich themselves.

And, that this is the “ideology” which binds all forms of “organized criminality” (parasitism, effectively speaking) against any who stand in their way. That this is the underlying “cause” that they share, which makes them so willing to “ignore” the truth, and any harm to their fellow humans in general, that willing ignorance results in.

John Larson
Reply to  LARRY K SIDERS
April 18, 2022 3:36 pm

PS ~ The “shrinks” currently classify what I am referring to as being zealous about enriching themselves, Cluster B personality disorders.

Antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. In common parlance, they “DO NOT CARE” ; )

C.R.Dickson
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 18, 2022 7:07 am

George Libowitz, one of the world’s experts on hydrogen storage, told me while at Allied Chemical in the mid 1970’s that hydrogen can be safely stored at room temperatures by adsorption onto transition metal alloys with densities greater than liquid hydrogen. The hydrogen can be recycled easily and safely with only gaseous hydrogen in the fuel lines ( not in the storage tank). He also told me they (his research group) had automobiles running on gaseous hydrogen (no fuel cells) in the 1950’s.
When I was at the RCA David Sarnoff Labs in Princeton, NJ, house hydrogen was available from lines running throughout the building. I know of no incident involving hydrogen over many decades of use throughout the buildings. Here are some of George’s books.  https://www.gettextbooks.com/author/George_G_Libowitz
And here is a typical patent for transition metal storage
https://patents.justia.com/patent/4440736
 
I have also seen some hydrogen research (for fuel cells) at the Univ. of Delaware that stores hydrogen on carbonized chicken feathers.

Sturmudgeon
Reply to  C.R.Dickson
April 18, 2022 12:44 pm

Do I gather then, that “suppression” of Truth(s) is not a ‘new thing’?

paul courtney
Reply to  C.R.Dickson
April 19, 2022 10:35 am

Mr. Dickson: I remember other things from the seventies. Lotsa stuff leaked from where it was contained. Did these storage systems for H2 really contain it, or was there leakage that didn’t matter? Did the leaked gas stay put, where it might ignite and blow up, or did it spread out (being H2, rising very fast might be so)?
H2 has been around awhile, and it is not much used for fuel. Why?

C.R.Dickson
Reply to  paul courtney
April 20, 2022 3:57 pm

The patent reference from above ( https://patents.justia.com/patent/4440736 ) contains detailed answers to most of your questions, however, here is a short version: Certain transition metal alloys have the ability to form metal hydride powders (by adsorption and/or chemisorption of hydrogen gas) at room (or near room ) temperatures after treating the metal alloys to an initial induction period that may (or may not) require higher temperatures and pressures. Typically, the metal alloy becomes a powder that has a high surface area making it possible to adsorb large amounts of hydrogen because of the large surface area of the powder. The adsorbed hydrogen (usually as a hydride compound) can be released for use as a gas, and after depletion, the hydrogen can be replenished at room temperatures by simply adding more gaseous hydrogen to the storage tank where it will form the hydride again in seconds or minutes. This effectively makes it a very safe “gas tank” because the hydrogen is chemically bound as a solid hydride. A small amount of heat (added when needed) to the reservoir tank causes the gaseous hydrogen to be released as needed so that gaseous hydrogen is only present in the fuel lines and not the storage tank. According to George Libowitz, more hydrogen can be stored this way (on a per volume basis) than liquefied hydrogen.
 
Why hasn’t hydrogen been used? Gasoline is still very plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The petroleum companies are monopolies making a lot of money, so that makes it tough for hydrogen to get a foothold as a competitor. There are many products that have not made it to the marketplace for a lot of reasons ranging from economics, patent litigation, and marketing decisions to politics, bureaucracies, and taxation. Hydrogen may eventually become a useful fuel to power vehicles, but that will be determined in the future.

Philo
Reply to  C.R.Dickson
April 26, 2022 6:16 am

All of you might look into “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by American writer, Walter M, Miller, Jr. It describes the destruction of the modern world in a devastating nuclear war in the graphic terms of a religious monk.

Miller followed up with Saint Leibowitz and Wild Horse Woman that follow the recovery of civilization over several thousand years.

I would think any “modern” thinker would take note and realize that destroying the viable culture we have is WAY more costly than any alternative. The biggest risk is that human civilization will never recover.

Speed
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 17, 2022 4:54 pm

“What amazes me is how devoid of basic engineering and technology facts they are.”

Nor do they know anything about running a business, research lab, or production facility. I doubt they can read an income statement, balance the books or qualify suppliers. Hiring and managing technical, production and accounting/financial staff is likely also foreign to them.

Slowroll
Reply to  Speed
April 18, 2022 12:18 pm

…because they couldn’t organize a one car funeral.

paul courtney
Reply to  Speed
April 19, 2022 10:39 am

They learn what they must- how to obtain and spend grant money.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 18, 2022 1:26 am

Rud, I suspect it is not ignorance of “basic engineering and technology facts” they suffer from, though, as dumb as way too many politicians are, that may well be part of it. I suspect they suffer from a desire to not know “basic engineering and technology facts” because they are being offered a great deal of money not to know and to remain ignorant.
The money may well be called “campaign donations” as if the folks who stand to profit from Hydrogen suddenly got a burr in their tail to support certain candidates or, it may be they got a sudden interest in the politicians’ Tax-Free Charitable Foundation. Either way, the politicians were highly motivated to be and to remain ignorant and, thus, they do.

Last edited 1 month ago by .KcTaz
Rocketscientist
Reply to  John Bell
April 17, 2022 5:07 pm

At MIT in the ’70s we had another phrase for techno-political loser concepts:
A bad idea, whose time had come!
I’ve worked (killed?) numerous proposals that will never happen because they often include the step: And then a miracle occurs

commieBob
Reply to  John Bell
April 17, 2022 6:07 pm

It worked once … for microchips. link

The problem is that the decision makers think that’s how technology always develops.

These folks need to know about Eroom’s Law. That describes the fact that drug development gets slower and more expensive over time. It also, obviously, describes the development of renewable energy technology.

The decision makers dream of technological and scientific breakthroughs. Then they put in place bureaucratic structures that guarantee that those breakthroughs can’t happen.

Microchip development was an outlier. If all technology developed like that, your car would cost five bucks and get a thousand miles per gallon … and fly. Common sense should tell the decision makers that almost no technologies develop the way microchips did. Sadly, common sense gave up on the liberal left, and ran away screaming, a long time ago. I heard a rumor that it is alive and living in Argentina.

.KcTaz
Reply to  commieBob
April 18, 2022 2:04 am

Bob, you remind me of this.
EISENHOWER FAREWELL ADDRESS

EISENHOWER ON THE DANGERS OF GOV.
https://bit.ly/2wx6e4Z
Many remember his warnings on the Military Industrial Complex but far fewer remember the rest of his speech which is, perhaps, even more important and prescient.

Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address had two warnings: the most often noted: military industrial complex; the other, science-technological elites dictating public policy.

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

AndyHce
Reply to  John Bell
April 17, 2022 7:18 pm

Much subsidizing is never even remotely intended to lead to the subsidized activity/product ‘making it’ on its own. The reasons given for the subsidies are probably far more numerous than I could ever think up but they are generally publicized as helping some segment of society seemingly in need while always greatly helping some relatively wealthy segment remain extra comfortable.

posa
Reply to  John Bell
April 18, 2022 9:32 am

China intends to capture hydrogen as an industrial by-product of industry and mining. Has anyone analyzed the feasibility of that strategy?

Slowroll
Reply to  John Bell
April 18, 2022 12:16 pm

Problem is all these art majors never noticed that products that needed a subsidy to make them attractive rarely ever succeeded without the subsidy. Anything really functional and economic gets going by itself. The government never subsidized gas stations when Henry Ford started mass producing cars.

DrEd
Reply to  John Bell
April 18, 2022 7:57 pm

like ethanol

April 17, 2022 2:12 pm

why not make methanol from hydroxen? This car runs on methanol and fuel cells. Very clean : https://www.rolandgumpert.com/en/

Rud Istvan
Reply to  David Dirkse
April 17, 2022 2:44 pm

Unfortunately, DMFC have some limitations, the main one being they are awful when cold. And take a good while to warm up after started. Details, details.
Also, their efficiency is only about 35% when hot, so when you factor in making the methanol (nowadays via hydrogenation of carbon monoxide) you are much better off (from a Green CO2 perspective, let alone economically) with a gasoline full hybrid.

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Dirkse
April 17, 2022 2:48 pm

It certainly makes more sense to store energy chemically in a fuel that is liquid at 1 atm and all normal operating temperatures of a vehicle. Whether the best choice for a chemical storage medium is methanol I am not sure, but methanol can likely be transported through pipelines and tank trucks, stored in tanks, and dispensed through pumps that were built for gasoline with little modification. It can also be used in ICE cars with cost-effective modification.

Doing similar things with hydrogen is daft.

Having said that, there’s no need or justification for switching from gasoline. But some day in the distant future when fossils are more expensive to extract, our descendants will need to use their thorium molten salt reactors to synthesize liquid transportation fuels from biomass.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 17, 2022 3:02 pm

My dream of a Direct Ethanol Fuel Cell is getting closer. Ethanol is much less toxic. Rich, the nicety of the (m)ethanol fuel cell is that there are no principal thermodynamic limits to their efficiency, as opposed to combustion based machines.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Curious George
April 17, 2022 3:53 pm

The essence of my comment was related to the distribution and storage system infrastructure for the fuel, where hydrogen would require mostly or entirely new investment, whereas methanol would be much easier and cheaper (not to mention safer).

There’s no difference in the distribution or storage systems whether you plan to recover the energy that you put in via a fuel cell or via an internal combustion engine, but of course a difference in overall system efficiency and cost.

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 18, 2022 8:49 pm

We tried methanol a couple decades ago, got in the water, banned.

Scissor
Reply to  Curious George
April 17, 2022 3:53 pm

A disadvantage of all light alcohols is that they are hygroscopic so that they draw in moisture from air and mix with any water that would otherwise remain separated from the fuel, e.g., on the bottom of a tank.

They can become especially corrosive to metals and even alone tend to swell and soften many types of polymeric seals. They are more susceptible to oxidation than hydrocarbons forming aldehydes and acids.

There are engineering controls around all of these things, of course, but this requires additional expense.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Scissor
April 17, 2022 4:01 pm

You mean like a tight fitting gas cap ?

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  DMacKenzie
April 17, 2022 5:50 pm

Typically, gas caps are vented to let air in so that a vacuum doesn’t form as the fuel is consumed.

Tom
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
April 18, 2022 3:43 am

True, and more. They have to seal at -40 degrees and+150F, and after a collision, but not vent gasoline when upside down, and still be removeable to refill later, last at least a half century, keep dirt out while letting fuel in, remain dirt cheap, and more yet.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Scissor
April 17, 2022 4:13 pm

Sure, if you’re going to synthesize your transportation fuels, hydrocarbons would be ideal. As I said, though, there’s no true justification for any of this, as long as you can just drill for hydrocarbons, right?

Scissor
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 17, 2022 5:24 pm

I agree and sometimes it takes a long time for things to make sense.

For example, after some 50 years, it’s coming to be realized that gasohol doesn’t really save any fuel.

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  Scissor
April 18, 2022 8:56 pm

Dr. Lindzen, at least 30 years ago, explained in detail that producing ethanol consumed more hydrocarbons than the carbohydrate corn based ethanol yielded as transportation fuel. Everyone except liberals understood it then, not decades later.

We’re currently going through the same exercise with battery dependent solar. Thirty years from now even the liberals will admit is was a bad idea. Same as they now admit ethanol is worse for the environment and economy than conventional gasoline and diesel.

Tom.1
Reply to  Scissor
April 17, 2022 7:44 pm

Almost all gasoline sold in the US contains 10% ethanol. It is blended at truck racks when the gasoline is in the process of being shipped to retail outlets. We know how to manage ethanol.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 2:21 am

There are a great many, including greenies, who think ethanol is terrible for the environment. The Arab Spring, if you recall, was caused by ethanol raising food prices to exorbitant levels. Burning the world’s food supply and raising the price of food as a result, is a moral issue that cannot be easily dismissed.
Also, the impact of ethanol on the environment, ecology as well as humans is significant.
If you examine the effects, ethanol is a horrible idea.
Regarding the Arab Spring, I heard the man who started it by setting himself on fire saying he very much regretted he did that as it has only made things much worse. Do remember, he did that to protest high food prices. The food prices had skyrocketed thanks to Western and other nation’s farmers taking their corn and burning it for fuel, ethanol, because the US Gov. and others heavily subsidized that fuel. Ethanol is a very inefficient fuel which, in the end, does not reduce CO2 but increases it. Not to mention that to this day, Brazilian farmers keep clearing parts of the Amazon to plant sugar cane for bio-fuel, thus, removing huge parts of the natural CO2 sinks. This and much else demonstrates that the people pushing this are in it for the money, not for the alleged climate CO2 problems.

FROM A GREENIE AGWer

BIOENERGY
A DISASTER FOR
BIODIVERSITY,
HEALTH, AND
HUMAN RIGHTS
RACHEL SMOLKER
https://bit.ly/2Yec4mS

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  Curious George
April 18, 2022 8:47 pm

Ethanol, even worse than hydrogen and lithium batteries, dream on. Lots of “combustion based machines” in the plowing, planting, fertilizing, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, transporting. And that just gets you to the gate at the ethanol plant, then the hydrocarbon input really kicks in! (Give it up).
N2N, Natural Gas to Nuclear (small scale modular, factory assembled, semi-trailer transported, walkaway safe and affordable. Search: NuScale and TerraPower).

.KcTaz
Reply to  Rich Davis
April 18, 2022 2:30 am

Will biomass synthesized from thorium salt reactors be any less dirty than they are now? I have no idea. Just asking.
The Obvious Biomass Emissions Error
Anthony Watts
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/02/07/the-obvious-biomass-emissions-error/

Rich Davis
Reply to  .KcTaz
April 18, 2022 1:04 pm

Biomass synthesized from thorium salt reactors, KcTaz? You’re a bit mixed up there. Biomass could supply the carbon needed to synthesize liquid transportation fuels in the distant future provided that we have a heat source which is where the molten salt reactors come into play.

In the far distant future (dozens of centuries probably) the fossil fuels run out. You have to get the carbon somewhere if you want to make hydrocarbon or alcohol fuel. I guess if you really want to make it hard on yourself, you can try to extract CO2 from the air directly. But a bit easier, you could make methanol from wood or agricultural waste via pyrolysis as one example. Heat coming from the molten salt.

This was not a proposal for eliminating fossil fuels or for burning wood chips a la Drax. It was a comment on what could happen once there are no fossil fuels to be had.

AndyHce
Reply to  David Dirkse
April 17, 2022 7:30 pm

“Clean”, by any reasonable definition, isn’t the point.

Philip Mulholland
April 17, 2022 2:14 pm

The first is that pure hydrogen doesn’t exist

Not true.
Natural, or native, hydrogen is an exploration play in South Australia.

Two wells on the Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island produced samples with hydrogen concentrations of up to 90% (for reference, hydrogen’s often co-located cousin helium is considered highly commercial at rates of 2%).

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
April 17, 2022 3:15 pm

“hydrogen’s often co-located cousin helium”
How often? Are there more than three hydrogen wells?

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  Curious George
April 18, 2022 9:04 am

George,

I was very surprised by this discovery. There are other examples of natural hydrogen, e.g. Mali in Africa.
Discovery of a large accumulation of natural hydrogen in Bourakebougou (Mali)

Last edited 1 month ago by Philip Mulholland
Scissor
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
April 17, 2022 3:59 pm

Very interesting. Helium at the moment is in short supply, so doubly good.

Rud Istvan
April 17, 2022 2:20 pm

I covered these hydrogen problems, and some more, in essay Hydrogen Hype in ebook Blowing Smoke 8 years ago. Truly kicking a dead whale down the beach.

Opened that essay with a quote from Jules Verne ‘The Mysterious Island’ (1874) ending, “Water will be the coal of the future.” For his time, he was a great sci-fi writer. Hydrogen 148 years later remains green sci-fi.

Vuk
April 17, 2022 2:20 pm

Set up a solar farm in Yuma in Arizona, it is the place to make green hydrogen. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, Yuma has an average of 4,000 hours of sunshine per year or about 11 hours (on average) every day in a year..
10 litres of water will produce 1.1 kg of Hydrogen and 8.9 kg of Oxygen, both valuable industrial commodities,which requires 55 kW hours from your solar panels.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vuk
Vuk
Reply to  Vuk
April 17, 2022 2:46 pm

One m sq solar panel will generate 150-200 W output, so you might need about 30×10 m of panels to break 10 litres of water every hour of sunshine.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Vuk
April 18, 2022 2:37 am

Unfortunately, water is Arizona’s scarcest resource.
There is an old saying in my town dating back to the 1800s, “Whiskeys for drinking, waters for fighting over!” Nothing has changed since then.

William Astley
Reply to  Vuk
April 17, 2022 2:49 pm

11 hours a day seems very high. That is 46%, unfortunately solar only produces peak power for 2 hours per day.

electrolysers are expensive, and sensitive, and switching them on intermittently to produce the mythical green hydrogen isn’t economic.”

Not economic possible for countries is a hard constraint.

The hydrogen scheme is 100% political. It is the end of age when countries are promising to spend an impossible amount of money and are hiding basic facts and honest estimates from the public.

Germany has the most expensive energy in the world. German small industries are failing because the cost of energy there makes it economically, not possible, to operate in German. The green schemes fail when the countries fail.

.KcTaz
Reply to  William Astley
April 18, 2022 3:02 am

“The hydrogen scheme is 100% political. It is the end of age when countries are promising to spend an impossible amount of money and are hiding basic facts and honest estimates from the public.”

So, business as usual for governments, then, in today’s crazy, insane world.

Richard Page
Reply to  Vuk
April 17, 2022 2:50 pm

In an area with 1/10th of the average US rainfall. Looks as though you can either have abundant solar power or abundant water, but not both in the same place at the same time?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Richard Page
April 17, 2022 3:27 pm

Richard, I was going to make a similar reply to Vuk. The Colorado River is essentially dry at Yuma. All of the water in the Colorado River is allocated, plus water it doesn’t have! I guess we could go to war with Mexico to take what little currently goes south.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Richard Page
April 18, 2022 2:39 am

Richard, you are 100% correct!

Tom Halla
April 17, 2022 2:32 pm

Kicking a dead whale down the beach is such an evocative expression.

Scissor
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2022 4:02 pm

I rode my bike to Walmart yesterday and was quite amazed at the whales wobbling into that store, some plopping onto the electric carts provided to them at the entrance.

warreni
April 17, 2022 2:33 pm

Erm, the hydrogen carrier did not burst into flames. There was a fire in the exhaust port that was designed to prevent the rest of it going up in flames. Like any new technology there will be teething problems and a report into the incident will be completed by the third quarter of this year.You don’t need that sort of schit in your articles. Leave that for the MSM.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  warreni
April 17, 2022 3:37 pm

I agree that this is not a nail in the coffin of hydrogen, but it’s not exactly encouraging, either.

Scissor
Reply to  warreni
April 17, 2022 4:07 pm

I agree with your comment.

Interestingly, hydrogen has a negative Joule-Thompson coefficient so that it heats up under adiabatic expansion. I’ve heard of hydrogen leaks self igniting but have never seen it first hand.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  warreni
April 17, 2022 8:30 pm

The article was in the MSM – the Daily Telegraph. But perhaps you’d like to consider that the vessel only holds 1,250m3 of LH2, or about 2.5GWh, and yet on a 20 day round trip voyage it will consume around 6 tonnes a day of diesel – almost 1.5GWh of fuel. Maybe more if they use some to try to maintain the low temperature and recycle the boiloff. Plus even if they supersize the shipping say to Q-max, it will always be energy inefficient transport.

https://energycentral.com/c/pip/shipping-liquid-hydrogen-would-cost-5-7x-lng-costs-unit-energy

Note that estimate is still likely on the low side.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
April 18, 2022 12:40 am

Also, when you start to fill a new tank at room temperature, a lot of hydrogen will evaporate until it colls down enough to take the fill. The reverse might apply apply on unloading, so that there is tank full of room temperature hydrogen gas when the liquid has been pumped out.I wonder how much hydrogen is wasted these ways?
Geoff S

John MacDonald
Reply to  warreni
April 17, 2022 9:35 pm

All cryogenic transport systems for H2 require a vent to release the always present evaporating H2. It is also very difficult to prevent these vents from maintaining a flame, since the self-ignition energy for H2 is so small and static charge from even air movement is enough to ignite.
In the late 90s, I attended a tour with AACE of the demo project for H2 powered buses in Sa Jose, Ca. It convinced me the whole concept was iffy, although the tech they already had was impressive. Busses could only be filled by certified personnel, though. I worried about ordinary motorists doing the fills on cars. There was a flame on the storage vessel.
The demo project didn’t last very long.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  warreni
April 18, 2022 12:37 am

Did you know that the hydrogen in this expensive demonstration was not at all green? It was produced from brown coal. It is not stated whether the electricity involved was from windmills, or the ordinary Victorian plug on the wall 70& fossil fuel electricity.
This must be on the margins of false advertising. Geoff S
https://time.com/6139820/liquid-hdyrogen-shipment-hesc/

.KcTaz
Reply to  warreni
April 18, 2022 3:08 am

“New technology?” Seriously?

Hindenberg
ihttps://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/hindenburg

saveenergy
Reply to  warreni
April 18, 2022 12:57 pm

“Erm, the hydrogen carrier did not burst into flames.”

Why the down ticks ???
Warreni is correct, here’s a link …
https://www.bairdmaritime.com/ship-world/tanker-world/gas-tanker-world/australian-transport-safety-bureau-starts-probe-into-fire-incident-on-japanese-hydrogen-carrier/

The 8,000 ton ship has Diesel electric propulsion
link …
https://www.marineinsight.com/videos/watch-launch-of-worlds-first-liquefied-hydrogen-carrier-suiso-frontier/

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  saveenergy
April 19, 2022 6:26 pm

So it’s not CO2 free hydrogen transported in a not CO2 free ship….

Allan MacRae
April 17, 2022 2:36 pm

Excerpt from this very good article:
“The first is that pure hydrogen doesn’t exist – it’s both everywhere and nowhere. We must generate all the hydrogen we can then use, and this requires a lot of energy. This is fine when the output of the process is something very valuable to us, such as fertiliser. But less so when the output of the process must compete with much cheaper commodities, as it must in an energy market.
Secondly, hydrogen’s intrinsic physical properties create a whole range of unique problems. It’s a tiny atom that easily escapes confinement. Keeping it captive for storage is expensive, and moving it around safely even more so, because in liquid form it must be very cold.”
 
Competent engineers have known the above facts since forever. I dismissed Hydrogen as an energy source in an article published on 1Sept2002, for the above reasons – and also due to Hydrogen embrittlement of metal, and so on. Hydrogen in large quantities is made by steam reforming of methane – necessary for petroleum upgrading, but methane is a much superior fuel! Hydrogen for fuel makes no sense whatsoever – a giant step backwards.
 
In the big picture, it is difficult to find any significant improvements in all the energy technologies promoted by the “woke” greens – Hydrogen as fuel, grid-connected solar and wind power, heat pumps, this list goes on – all uneconomic nonsense, all discounted decades ago by knowledgeable engineers – trillions of dollars and millions of lives wasted by green energy nonsense. Told you so 20 years ago [insert strong expletive here].

Last edited 1 month ago by Allan MacRae
Joe Crawford
Reply to  Allan MacRae
April 17, 2022 2:57 pm

Don’t totally knock heat pumps. They do have their uses. They just lose their efficiency when the outside temperature gets around 40°F.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 17, 2022 3:21 pm

Don’t totally knock heat pumps. They do have their uses. They just lose their efficiency when the outside temperature gets around 40°F.”

Agreed Joe – but idiot politicians in northern climes like Britain are promoting and even mandating heat pumps – at much greater capital cost and inefficient during cold weather.

We seem to be electing the most stupid/corrupt people on the planet to public office.
Of course I’m not referring to Biden, Trudeau, Johnson , Macron, Merkel, etc. (sarc/off)

AndyHce
Reply to  Allan MacRae
April 17, 2022 7:51 pm

Those are the pioneers of the great socialist awakening! Don’t they deserve some respect?

Disputin
Reply to  AndyHce
April 18, 2022 2:36 am

No.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  AndyHce
April 18, 2022 6:47 am

Let’s Go Brandon!

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
April 19, 2022 10:32 pm

Let’s go Brandon! (Biden)
Let’s go Justin!
Let’s go Johnson!
Let’s go Macron!
Let’s go Morrison!
Let’s go Ardern!
And the beat goes on…
 
NEVER vote for anyone whose name ends in N – stands for ____

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 17, 2022 3:55 pm

If you live in a colder area & can’t access natty gas, I’d look at geothermal where H2O is
used rather than air. The big expense is building the underground pipe/digging wells into
which you get your heat in the winter & put the heat into while using it as AC in the
summer. It worked well even @ -35°F.

Bruce
Reply to  Old Man Winter
April 17, 2022 6:08 pm

Yes, we have a ground source heat pump that works well even in very cold weather. The caveats are: when it gets colder than -30 C, it runs often and it is noisy. The bigger caveat is that it works great for us, because the piping is in wet clay and we have close to a hectare of land in front of the house we can use. Not an option for many, although there are subdivisions in Manitoba that use a collective heat pump. Again, only works well if the proper soil conditions exist ( deep, wet clay).

Mike Jonas(@egrey1)
Editor
Reply to  Bruce
April 18, 2022 12:13 am

In our last place we used a geothermal heat pump for winter underfloor heating. It used five outside 30m (100ft) vertical holes at 10m spacing for the heat source, wasn’t particularly expensive to instal and was very cheap to run. The compressor was noisy, but we put that in the remotest room so it was OK. But as Bruce said, it’s not an option for many.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 17, 2022 8:58 pm

That’s 9 months a year here in calgary

Pass

Slowroll
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 18, 2022 12:24 pm

…like the entire north of the USA for most of the winter and a good bit of the spring. 22 F here this morning.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Allan MacRae
April 17, 2022 3:34 pm

Allan, on the up-side politicians, bureaucrats, academia, NGOs, the UN and crony capitalists worldwide reaped those trillions of wasted taxpayer dollars. Look at the grand parties they throw themselves annually at the finest resort locations with all the nubile females a satyr could ever want.

AndyHce
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 17, 2022 7:54 pm
Scissor
Reply to  Allan MacRae
April 17, 2022 4:14 pm

If the price of hydrogen came to be less expensive than natural gas, then this could be a reason to use it as fuel. The comment above about “native” hydrogen is interesting.

Also, if electricity becomes inexpensive, e.g., from fusion, then it could make sense to crack methane to hydrogen and carbon. The carbon could end up in tires, etc.

But yes, at this point, there is not much sense in it.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Scissor
April 17, 2022 6:55 pm

Natural hydrogen is pretty uncommon, to my knowledge. Methane is a vastly superior fuel to hydrogen, because it has more energy density and is much easier to store.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Scissor
April 18, 2022 3:30 am

Given the amount of electricity needed to get most hydrogen and the extremely cold temps needed to store and transport hydrogen and the fact that it is a slippery little molecule that can even go through steel and that it is highly explosive, I’ll pass on it.

Marcus
April 17, 2022 2:48 pm

Great post !

H B
April 17, 2022 2:56 pm

A effort to rescue the failing wind and solar energy industries. It must be becoming apparent (to at least some of the funders) that intermittency is a fatal flaw, and batteries are way way to expensive.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  H B
April 17, 2022 8:57 pm

That is exactly it, except that hydrogen is to be the magic battery.

Not impressed

tomo
April 17, 2022 3:02 pm

Green Hydrogen is the new sunbeams in cucumbers

Rud Istvan
Reply to  tomo
April 17, 2022 3:53 pm

Ah, the Swiftian brilliant parody in Gulliver’s Travels. Nothing has changed for centuries.

William Wilson
Reply to  tomo
April 18, 2022 10:02 am

A cultured chap to know that.

April 17, 2022 3:03 pm

Switching from natural gas to hydrogen is a “no-brainer” in the since that someone who thinks it’s a good idea must be missing a brain. You don’t have to convert natural gas to hydrogen in order to burn hydrogen, When you burn natural gas, you burn four hydrogen atoms for every single carbon atom. On top of that, natural gas is the ultimate “renewable” that is being produced from bio-mass both naturally and by man. The technology has been around for years. Some sewage treatment plants and waste landfills produce natural gas to produce power. Nature has been producing natural gas “forever” and here in the US we have more stored underground than we could use in many years. Even a “half-brain” should be able to understand that burning natures gift is the way to go for both improving the economy and the environment.

AndyHce
Reply to  Fred Haynie
April 17, 2022 7:58 pm

But where is the opportunity for rent seekers in that?

Reply to  AndyHce
April 18, 2022 5:19 pm

They can buy stock in a gas line company.

Peta of Newark
April 17, 2022 4:01 pm

hahaha
Quote:”Green hydrogen may be generated reliably and cheaply using high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors (HTGRs),

That was exactly Chernobyl.
Chernobyl was a Hydrogen explosion – created by muppets running an unauthorised experiment that created a ‘high temperature’ – which in turn created Hydrogen from what was left of the cooling water after it all boiled away.
Thus their reactor core became exactly that = High Temp and Gas Cooled

The Hydrogen thus created had nothing else to do but detonate and lift the 500 ton concrete roof/lid off the containment building. Everything inside then caught fire and because all the ‘nuclear stuff’ was white hot, it caught fire and the nuclear fumes/smoke went out through the now non-existant ceiling.
(Plutonium and Caesium metals are highly flammable if nothing else)

Meanwhile the nuclear core simply melted its way through the concrete floor to disperse, settle-out and freeze in the basement. The nuclear part of Chernobyl actually defused itself

There was no nuclear explosion or a particular ‘nuclear accident’ – it was just an accident at a nuclear station – a bit more than someone falling off a ladder but hardly really any different.

If there hadn’t been a Hydrogen explosion at Chernobyl, no-one outside of the containment building would have ever known that anything happened

Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
AndyHce
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 17, 2022 8:00 pm

You described Fukushima. Was there a containment building at Chernobyl?

Meab
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 18, 2022 2:04 pm

No Peta, WRONG AGAIN. The first explosion at Chernobyl was definitely a steam explosion.caused by an extremely high power pulse. It was caused by untrained operators who made a critical (pun intended) mistake on a badly designed reactor. In technical terms, the reactor had a positive coefficient of reactivity with temperature so an increase in power causes further increases unless actively controlled. If the operator doesn’t take appropriate action the power runs away. That’s very bad. The second explosion might have been caused by hydrogen, but it’s not known. In any case, the grave damage was already done by the steam explosion.

An obvious point, which seems to have gone way over your head, is that a badly designed reactor which had an accident is in no way “exactly” the same as an HTGR that is desinged to operate safely at temperatures that can be used to separate hydrogen. HTGRs aren’t cooled with water like Chernobyl, they’re cooled with Helium or another inert gas. HTGRs can’t have a steam explosion.

This is another one of your idiotic posts that would have been avoided had you spent two minutes doing some research on the web. Are you ever going to stop beclowning yourself?

Chris Hanley
April 17, 2022 4:07 pm

A blast from the past.
Hydrogen car incorporating nuclear fusion from the sunshine sunbeam state circa 1980:

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 17, 2022 4:32 pm

Queensland gets hot but not 40M° hot! Definitely no fusion involved!

I do remember seeing an article about “burning” H2O in a small tractor claiming it was running
on hydrogen. Being from MN, the “fuel” would be subject to freezing ~ 8 mos of the year so
I didn’t keep the article. (~1980)

The fact that they put water in the gas tank doesn’t mean that the car engine was getting its fuel
from there. Keeping stuff hidden was always a trait of perpetual machine hoaxers, too!

Duane
April 17, 2022 4:49 pm

This entire post is bullshit every single word.

The job of any engineer is to figure out how to build anything with the most efficient and practically feasible means of doing do. Starting with the bullshit tagline of this bulkshit post, every word thereafter is bullshit piled upon bullshit. Hydrogen is an extremely efficient means of storing energy and converting it into work. Vastly more efficient than burning hydrocarbon fuels.

Jtom
Reply to  Duane
April 17, 2022 5:34 pm

I can see why you reached your conclusions since you have little understanding of the issues. Perhaps when you actually learn something about generating, transporting, and storing hydrogen you may appreciate the article. Those are three dead whales being kicked down the beach.

Richard Page
Reply to  Duane
April 17, 2022 5:52 pm

Since the original post doesn’t even mention fuel efficiency issues, I find it highly amusing that it comprises the entirety of your post. As to the ‘highly’ efficient then ‘vastly more efficient’ comments you made, well they were even more amusing – Green hydrogen isn’t an improvement over other hydrocarbons in the fuel efficiency stakes either really and it becomes far less so when you have to invest in the transport and storage equipment necessary.

Brian
Reply to  Duane
April 17, 2022 5:52 pm

Very persuasive counter argument Duane /sarc

Graham
Reply to  Duane
April 18, 2022 12:57 am

What a tosser you are Duane .
Talk about bullskit you are full of it .
The energy needed to manufacture hydrogen would be more than you could get from using the hydrogen as fuel .
That is why the politicians pushing this dumb idea want to use surplus electric power from wind farms at night to manufacture hydrogen .
As explained in the artical intermittent electric power would not work .
Extremly high presure vessels are needed to transport the hydrogen and also it has to be kept at low temperatures .
It is an even dumber idea than using pumped hydro storage using surplus wind and solar power to push water up a hill to generate a lot less electricity when it runs back down the hill to generate power .
Far easier to construct a number of small dams on rivers to store water , then generate power during peak use times.

William Wilson
Reply to  Graham
April 18, 2022 10:09 am

The idea that wind power produces excess energy at night is a myth. Wind power never exceeds total demand in the uk. Does it elsewhere?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  William Wilson
April 18, 2022 11:18 am

Actually we have now reached the point when wind power can exceed total demand, and this will happen more and more as capacity is added. The cumulative installed capacity reached 24.7GW at the end of last year, and overnight demand has fallen as low as 18GW. Even allowing for the fact that in practical terms across the whole wind fleet as an average it is rare for the capacity factor to exceed 75%. Of course, we already see curtailment long before that simply because there is insufficient transmission capacity to handle a big surplus of generation in Scotland by shipping it south. Other generators in England and Wales and interconnector imports have to make good for the curtailed power.

Because of the need to keep the grid stable, and the fact that nuclear generation is inflexible, there is a minimum of other generation that must be run including plant to maintain inertia, so in practice wind moves into surplus any time it exceeds demand less must run generation. Have a look what happened during December. At the left hand end of the chart we see conditions of wind surplus, with low and even negative prices, maximum exports, and in fact extensive wind curtailment (although the chart only shows actual generation there is probably at least 3-4GW of curtailment). At the right hand end we see the oppostie: sky high prices, bidding in imports from everywhere (even Ireland), and all manner of rarely used generation with gas generation maxed out, because the wind has failed.

GB Grid Dec 21 by price.png
Slowroll
Reply to  Graham
April 18, 2022 12:30 pm

And hydrogen is only more efficient when compared by weight, not volume, and it must be stored, transported and used by volume.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Duane
April 18, 2022 3:45 am

Did you miss this, Duane?
“To replace gas boilers with hydrogen boilers requires thousands of miles of new, much thicker, high-pressure pipes. Last year, Lord Martin Callanan, the energy minister, candidly described the plans to replace our gas boilers with hydrogen boilers “as pretty much impossible”.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Duane
April 18, 2022 6:51 am

Go for it, Duhane! Come back here and tell how it turns out.

TallDave
April 17, 2022 4:58 pm

lol if you want to burn hydrogen there’s a bunch right there in C2H6O

Niven was right, if there’s nothing else biofuels will do

Last edited 1 month ago by TallDave
BCBill
April 17, 2022 6:28 pm

I remember reading about hydrogen, fuel of the future, in Popular Mechanics and or Popular Science circa 1970. There were just one or two bugs to work out. Gas metal hydrides would solve the storage problems. It is not as if the promise of hydrogen is even a newish concept. Still waiting.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  BCBill
April 17, 2022 8:55 pm

Almost here
Just like fusion.

Philip
April 17, 2022 6:36 pm

A couple of comments. As I remember, the “dead whale” comment came from the author of yacc (Yet Another Compiler-Compiler) – I forget his name, but I believe that he was working at Bell Labs. The difficulty of doing productive work on TSO was what spurred the Bell Labs group to write their own operating system – UNIX.

Also, I have been living in a house heated (and cooled) by a heat pump for 30 years. They work just fine. The problem with the ones being forced on people in the UK is that they are trying to use them as a drop-in replacement for gas boilers which create hot water for use in radiator based heating common in the UK. If you just use them to heat air, to a much lower temperature, life is much easier. But then you have to rip out all those radiators and install warm-air ducts. There is nothing wrong with heat pumps, just the way they are trying to use them.

Oh, and that far north, they are not a good idea anyway, because during the winter the temperature falls much too low for any sort of heat-pump efficiency anyway.

JoeG
April 17, 2022 6:41 pm

“…a petrol equivalent will always be lighter and go further. ” It might go FARTHER, but it won’t go any further.

.KcTaz
Reply to  JoeG
April 18, 2022 3:50 am

Absolutely correct, JoeG! Good catch.

Tom.1
April 17, 2022 7:15 pm

Secondly, hydrogen’s intrinsic physical properties create a whole range of unique problems. It’s a tiny atom that easily escapes confinement. Keeping it captive for storage is expensive, and moving it around safely even more so, because in liquid form it must be very cold.

I’m sorry Paul but you really must get up to speed on where technology is with regard to handling hydrogen. It is used widely in multiple industrial processes at various pressures and purities. While the economics are not good, there are no technical or safety obstacles to using it widely much like we now use natural gas.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Tom.1
April 17, 2022 8:35 pm

It’s just more expensive to make sure that things are hydrogen safe. Probably rather more difficult to be sure of that if you use pure hydrogen as domestic boiler fuel.

Tom.1
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
April 18, 2022 2:24 am

I would not disagree that the equipment will cost more. The big cost would be changing out existing equipment, but that makes little economic sense. Economics aside, there is no technical reason it can’t be done.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Tom.1
April 17, 2022 8:54 pm

Tom.1

Oh stop it, ok?
Industrial sites built to class 1 div2 classification with all sorts of hugely expensive explosion proof equipment (I know as I work with it) will never resemble a house on a residential street.

It’s not even apples and oranges, it’s apples and subatomic black holes.

Tom.1
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 18, 2022 1:55 am

Having spent a career working in petroleum refineries, I am also familiar with area electrical classifications as regards electrical equipment. There is nothing about a residential furnace or boiler that would require “hugely expensive” explosion-proof equipment. Even so, what would be it? There simply is no technical reason why residential furnaces and stoves could not burn hydrogen, and you cannot cite one. People here keep bringing up this canard about hydrogen being too dangerous from combustibility or leak containment standpoint. This is all nonsense.

Slowroll
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 12:34 pm

You never heard of hydrogen embrittlement? Standard pipes and connectors will fail in time.

Tom.1
Reply to  Slowroll
April 18, 2022 3:01 pm

This is just wrong. Do your own research.

Slowroll
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 4:01 pm

Do my own research? You need to do some before you make oblivious comments. I’m an engineer and an aircraft rebuilder/inspector, and we have to be extremely careful even about cleaning solvents that have hydrogen as a disolved component because of embrittlement of aluminum and steel. Plus, hydrogen leaks out of everything since it’s such a small atom.

paul courtney
Reply to  Slowroll
April 19, 2022 12:30 pm

Mr. roll: Tom.1 makes oblivious comments without doing research, then he does some research and returns with another oblivious comment. Here, he worked in refineries, so he knows all about hydrogen storage. He does not acknowledge that it leaks, based on these comments. He does not recognize that H2 is more likely to leak than NG. He has proposed uses for H2 but later says he knows it is not economical.
pat from kerbob got him right- oh stop it.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 4:14 am

“…Hydrogen sensors, manufactured by Fastsense, work like carbon monoxide alarms but for detecting a hydrogen leak. Unlike carbon monoxide alarms, hydrogen sensors must be installed on the ceiling, because hydrogen – the lightest element – rises in air. Why use hydrogen? Around 17% of the UK’s carbon emissions comes from domestic heating.
To help meet the net zero emissions target by 2050, we’ll need to change the way we heat our homes. The government recently announced that homeowners will be able to get £5,000 grants towards installing a heat pump, and hopes that they will cost the same to buy and run as gas boilers by the early 2030s – encouraging more of us to make the switch.”

£5,000 grants? Times how many UK households? Holy s#it! And most Hydrogen is going to be made by using some form of electricity and stored at extreme cold temps by some form of electricity and new pipes for transporting it to homes is going to be necessary and this is in any way good? How much of the boogyman CO2 is going to be expended making and installing all those new pipes to every home in the UK?
I guess you think the British taxpayers are all George Soros’s who have unlimited funds to pay for all this and have no other pressing needs like your NHS?
You have GOT to be effing kidding! On top of all that, Earth is cooling, not warming!

Tom.1
Reply to  .KcTaz
April 18, 2022 8:49 am

I’m not advocating using hydrogen since it is uneconomic to do so. I’m only responding to comments which suggest that is technically infeasible or unsafe.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 7:50 am

This piece says that in the UK there is growing evidence that a blend of up to 20% hydrogen with natural gas is compatible with current infrastructure but higher concentrations would require not only significant network and infrastructure upgrades but also hydrogen specific appliances and boilers.

It further points out that because hydrogen has lower energy density per metre cubed of gas than methane the maximum reduction of emissions from the grid would be 7% and queries whether the expense involved is worth it.

https://hydrogen-central.com/hydrogen-heat-homes-uk-wired/

Tom.1
Reply to  Dave Andrews
April 18, 2022 8:47 am

I had wondered about mixing hydrogen with natural gas. It always seemed like it had limited potential to me if your goal is to substantially impact CO2 emissions.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Tom.1
April 17, 2022 9:48 pm

You may be able to make non-industrial hydrogen gas systems fool-proof but you can’t make them damned fool-proof. [I’ve forgotten who to credit for this.]

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 18, 2022 7:56 am

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” Douglas Adams.

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 18, 2022 8:07 am

“You can make a system foolproof but you can’t make it damned foolproof.” I can’t really pin down – it might be a ‘Murphy’s law’ version or possibly Frank Abagnale?

TonyG
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 11:17 am

“Keeping it captive for storage is expensive”

“While the economics are not good”

I’m not clear what you’re objecting to?

Robert of Texas
April 17, 2022 8:12 pm

You are ignoring the green-energy breakthrough that allows two hydrogen atoms to be combined with one oxygen atom making the resulting fluid transport easy. You simply add a device in each home to break the hydrogen atoms back off the oxygen atom at home and now you can power any hydrogen device! Splitting the hydrogen atoms off is straightforward – it just requires electricity from wind or solar.

I also hear they are working on trying to combine hydrogen atoms with carbon atoms – almost as easy to transport but it actually carries more energy! Several carbon atoms can supposedly be chained together to make a liquid, where you can then strip off the hydrogen and release the carbon back into the air from where it came – possibly using oxygen from the air as well.

No, using hydrogen as a fuel has a big future. ;-p

(I wonder if this sarcasm would actually fool a green-energy tard?)

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 18, 2022 7:03 am

Considering that they don’t know the chemistry difference between chlorine dioxide and bleach, the answer is likely ‘yes’.

Slowroll
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 18, 2022 12:36 pm

Well, many were fooled by the dangers of dihydrogen oxide.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Slowroll
April 20, 2022 7:35 pm

Dihydrogen monoxide is even more scary dangerous.

April 17, 2022 8:16 pm

“Nor at the end of the day will an EV be able to boast any CO2 emissions savings, we now know, thanks to Volvo.

What is the story behind this statement…has Volvo broken rank with the green mob?

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 17, 2022 9:48 pm

Thanks Pat,

Here’s a couple of quotes from the article:

“Volvo’s spinoff electric car brand, Polestar, has kicked off a war of words with rival car makers over just how ‘clean’ their electric cars really are…”

“…Polestar agrees with this general trend, saying: “Environmental experts have warned that offsetting is not sustainable in the long run. Questions around the long-term carbon-storage capacity of forests and soils remain, as a forest might be logged, devastated by fire or altered by climate change.”

Volkswagen, for its part, acknowledges a general feeling of ‘lots done, more to do’ when it comes to the carbon and climate-neutrality of its cars. “The production of an electric car produces significantly more CO2 than a vehicle with a classic petrol or diesel engine – on average 1.5 times more.”

It’s quite fun to see these woke companies desperately trying to out do eachother with their greenness. The concept of scope 1,2 and 3 emissions are another example of the latest in these useless exercises to keep ESG activist and supposedly worried shareholders at bay.

.KcTaz
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
April 18, 2022 4:36 am

Thank you for finding that. I must say I admire Volvo for being somewhat honest. It wasn’t quite clear, but I don’t think they included all the CO2 and real pollutants, including Radioactive waste, emitted and created in the mining in China, Africa etc. for the rare earth metals needed for the batteries for the “green” cars and for the windmills and solar panels for “renewable” energy.

02/03/2019
Green New Deal: Is 100% Renewable Energy Even Possible, Or Good For The Environment?
http://bit.ly/33C4Jhh

…About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent to that in one pound of hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of various materials are mined, moved, and processed for one pound of battery produced.[54] Such underlying realities translate into enormous quantities of minerals—such as lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, and cobalt—that would need to be extracted from the earth to fabricate batteries for grids and cars.[55] A battery-centric future means a world mining gigatons more materials.[56] And this says nothing about the gigatons of materials needed to fabricate wind turbines and solar arrays, too…[57]

RADIOACTIVE WASTE
In China, the true cost of Britain’s clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale
https://dailym.ai/2kX87Sm

.KcTaz
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
April 18, 2022 4:16 am

I was wondering the same thing.

G. Yowell, Recovering Governmental Engineer
April 17, 2022 9:16 pm

Excellent article we all need to loudly condemn this hydrogen pursuit. Hydrogen is the highway to nowhere. Our California hydrogen retail stations are 100% government funded from taxpayers $7.00 annual car registration fees. Still hydrogen retails for over $16 per kg and annually rises.
As an automotive engineer it frustrates me to no end how much a waste each and every dollar spent on this technology for automotive applications. In governmental programs it is 90% political direction overriding 10 technical recommendations. Hydrogen promotion is a perfect example of how terribly dishonest (and perhaps corrupt) policy makers and rent seeking stakeholders are.

.KcTaz
April 18, 2022 1:21 am

Wrong, m’Lud. It’s not impossible – it’s just a supremely bad idea. And when hydrogen explodes, it is quite spectacular. Right on cue, Australia’s first hydrogen carrying ship set sail for Japan this year, and burst into flames on its maiden voyage.”

As a kid, I vividly remember my parents gas stove. Back then, there were no auto shut offs when the pilot light went out. A number of times, I recall coming home to a house filled with gas and the resulting panic to air out the house and praying we did not get blown to kingdom come in the process.
As a result of those experiences, I’ve never bought a gas stove or clothes dryer, though, I have gas water heaters and furnaces but never had one in the main part of my home. My elderly neighbor did have a gas dryer. She kept smelling gas in the garage and so did I. Numerous calls to the Gas Co. resulted in a declaration of no leaks. Later, after she died, the buyers immediately, also, smelled gas. It turned out it was from the dryer in the house, not the garage! How the Gas Co. missed it, repeatedly, I’ll never know.

Hydrogen to me is natural gas on steroids! I would never have it in my house and I sure as heck would never, ever, get into a hydrogen powered vehicle! Also, yes, I do think of the Hindenburg and imagine being in an accident in a hydrogen powered vehicle as not being much different from it except you don’t have so far to fall.

Tom.1
Reply to  .KcTaz
April 18, 2022 7:30 am

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the federal agency responsible for investigating air, sea and rail accidents, has launched an investigation into what it has labelled a “serious incident”.
“The ATSB is investigating a gas pressure control equipment malfunction on board the gas carrier Suiso Frontier after the ship had loaded liquefied hydrogen at Western Port, Hastings,” said the agency.
“At 2147 AEST [Australian Eastern Standard Time] on 25 January 2022, a flame was seen coming from the gas combustion unit’s exhaust on deck. The unit was immediately shut down and isolated before the crew implemented the fire prevention response plan.
“No further abnormalities were reported and there were no injuries, damage or pollution.”
The investigation is due to be completed in the third quarter this year, following interviews with “relevant persons”.
‘Serious incident’ | Fire aboard world’s first hydrogen carrier vessel investigated by Australian authorities | Recharge (rechargenews.com)

Reply to  Tom.1
April 19, 2022 9:55 am

Interesting that it never made any TV or online news I saw – being the day before Australia Day would have helped keep it quiet.

Tom.1
Reply to  .KcTaz
April 18, 2022 7:39 am

Couldn’t help but notice how you omitted important facts about the incident from your post.

Eric Vieira
April 18, 2022 1:51 am

I won’t stop repeating it: the best, most economical, safe source of hydrogen is, and will remain: hydrocarbons, especially liquid ones at room temperature (i.e. gasoline and diesel fuel) period.

April 18, 2022 3:55 am

Hydrogen is a very simple and easy to use fuel, if one uses a very simple change: add some carbon to make a hydrocarbon. It can then be easily stored, easily pumped, and the output is just water and plant food … how much greener can we get?

michael hart
April 18, 2022 6:19 am

“These electrolysers are expensive, and sensitive, and switching them on intermittently to produce the mythical green hydrogen isn’t economic.”

I’d like to see some more detailed analysis of that claim.

I can easily believe that a hydrogen distribution network makes little sense when there is a good electrical grid that can do the same thing. But excess wind energy is sometimes sold at less than zero cost. Why not convert it to hydrogen at a central facility, mediated by the electrical grid?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  michael hart
April 18, 2022 10:57 am

Try having an intelligent read of this:

https://refhyne.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/D7.2-report-v7.0-clean.pdf

It’s a report on Shell’s REFHYNE electrolysis project at the Wesseling refinery. It goes into the economics of low utilisation of electrolysers, which isn’t pretty. They also talk about the economics of hydrogen distribution to filling stations, which again isn’t particularly pretty.

As to whether you can have a way to use the surplus economically, a look at this chart should tell you that intermittency is going to make it very unlikely: most of the surplus is too costly to harvest (especially if you have to bump up grid capacity to move it to electorlysers conveniently located next to salt cavern hydrogen storage)

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/nZM72/1/

I hope that answers you questions.

Cuyana(@cuyana2000)
April 18, 2022 6:49 am

Excerpted from the 3rd paragraph of the above article: “Nor at the end of the day will an EV be able to boast any CO2 emissions savings, we now know, thanks to Volvo.”

I’ve done an “un-extensive” online search … and I could not find any Volvo article referencing any such CO2 emissions study.

Is this Volvo study something of a “landmark” or seminal study?

If yes, particularly, I am interested in finding and digesting this paper … because, intuitively, I sense that EVs eventually will dominate the globe; however, because of their inherent multitude of drawbacks, the world still needs to recognize that, at the moment at least, such are not the panacea which many profess them to be.

Would be appreciated if someone can provide a link to this Volvo document. TIA.

catcracking
Reply to  Cuyana
April 18, 2022 1:06 pm

I can confirm the above comments having worked on hydrogen reformer furnaces. the outlet headers of these furnaces is about 1500 psi and at 1500 F and above. if there is a burning leak it cannot be seen in daylight. As I recall it can be seen at night. One particular furnace had a outlet header failure and pieces of metal flew around the plant denting adjacent pressure vessels. One cannot exaggerate the hazards of handling Hydrogen but the dangers don’t matter if it is green.

Reply to  catcracking
April 18, 2022 8:23 pm

Many thanks for adding some real world practical experience to this discussion.

Only in the magical world of misty eyed greens is hydrogen ever going to be a good idea for transport, especially on roads shared by others.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
April 18, 2022 6:56 am

Computer scientists at Stanford and MIT in the 1970s came up with a wonderful expression for this, an assignment that was technically feasible, but highly undesirable. They called it “kicking a dead whale down a beach”. 

I don’t think the origin of this phrase has been conclusively established. I believe I first saw it in the July 1978 edition of the Bell Systems Technical Journal, devoted to UNIX and the C programming language. My copy has been long since lost. As I recall the statement was made about the unpleasant user experience with IBM’s MVS/TSO (Time Sharing Option); from the context the author was most likely Ken Thompson or possibly Brian Kernighan. None of that excludes that he got it from someone else who said it earlier. Pithy sayings have a way of being widely repeated.

OweninGA
April 18, 2022 7:52 am

I have another issue with hydrogen as a common fuel: When it burns, the flame is invisible (UV output primarily). If there were a hydrogen fire about ones boiler, one would only recognize it by the things around it catching fire. If a line leak occurs and ignites, one could literally only find out about it if one happened to walk through the flame and incinerated oneself.

At the local plant that produces and stores various industrial gasses, they keep straw brooms at all the entrances to the hydrogen processing area and anyone entering the area is supposed to take a brook with them to check for burning hydrogen. If the broom bursts into flame turn around and go back the way you came.

Now imagine a car with a large enough hydrogen tank to have a 500 mile range. Someone runs a red light and plows into the car releasing that tank of hydrogen. Very likely everyone in both cars would burn to death before anyone knew they were on fire.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
April 18, 2022 8:07 am

Had reason recently to lookup specs on Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) car currently available in California and Hawaii (Oahu). I was curious about the storage tank pressure. The specs at Edmunds say the Mirai has two “70 MPa” tanks for a claimed range of 402 miles.

An “MPa” is a megapascal, and is about 9.8 atmospheres or 145 psi. So 70 MPa is about 690 atmospheres, or roughly 10,150 PSI. A standard aluminum scuba tank is filled to 3,000 psi — less than a third of the Mirai’s hydrogen tanks.

A full scuba tank is nothing to mess with; people have been killed by catastrophic tank failures. US regulations require interior visual inspection annually and hydro testing at 60% overpressure (5,000 psi) every 5 years to verify expansion is within safe limits.

I don’t like the idea of sitting on top of a tank of anything at those pressures, and I really don’t like the idea of all the distributed high-pressure fueling infrastructure required to support a large population of HFC vehicles.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
April 18, 2022 11:27 am

This is like unchained gas bottles in a lab, aka torpedoes, a huge safety no-no.

TonyG
April 18, 2022 8:15 am

We must generate all the hydrogen we can then use, and this requires a lot of energy.

More energy to generate than we get back out of it. That simply makes no sense.

Tom.1
Reply to  TonyG
April 18, 2022 8:44 am

What do you mean when you say it takes more energy to generate than we get back out of it? In any case it does not matter. What matters is the cost effectiveness, period.

Slowroll
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 12:41 pm

It takes about 5-7 times the energy to electrolize hydrogen than you get from the resultant hydrogen. How is that efficient or economic?

Tom.1
Reply to  Slowroll
April 18, 2022 2:52 pm

I’m not sure how you arrive at that figure, but the cost effectiveness depends on the amount of usable energy produced vs. the capital and others costs to produce it. Since, practically speaking, we cannot manufacture energy, the value of energy made available to an end user is the sum of all the costs going into collecting it, transporting it, and converting it, etc. Energy, however you get it, is essentially free, delivered by nature. Production of hydrogen by electrolysis, is in and of itself, is a very efficient process, like 80%. You need to explain the 5-7 times number.

Slowroll
Reply to  Tom.1
April 18, 2022 3:51 pm

It is not efficient at all. Quite simply, you need to expend more energy to separate hydrogen from either hydrocarbons and especially water than the the usable energy that you then get get from the hydrogen. One learns that in basic chemistry. Your 80% figure is made up.

Tom.1
Reply to  Slowroll
April 18, 2022 8:00 pm

Yes, the 80% number is probably too high; it was just the first number that popped up when I did a search. According to the link below a better number is in the range of 60 to 80 percent for several different technologies. In any case, it’s fairly high as energy conversion processes go, and it’s not something anyone learns in basic chemistry.

Technology Brief: Analysis of Current-Day Commercial Electrolyzers: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Fact Sheet) (nrel.gov)

Jack
Reply to  Tom.1
April 19, 2022 1:02 am

Producing hydrogen through electolyzers needs very pure water, which you can get by bidistillation. First energy waste.
60 to 80% efficiency of electrolyzers is the maximum you can get when the electric energy input is very steady and constant, which is not the main feature of the one produced by the wind mills.
Then the compression process to reach a high pressure storage such as 800 Atm requires much energy. 3rd energy waste.
Then you have to heed the yield of the fuel cell you will feed the hydrogen in to produce the electricity that will make the wheels running. It’s not more than 60%.
While the yield of a Li/Ion battery is close to 80%.
Adding all the yield losses of every stage of the hydrogen production, storage and its conversion to electric energy will show an overall much lower yield than the Li/Ion battery, that’s obvious.

TonyG
Reply to  Tom.1
April 19, 2022 7:17 am

So you lose 20-40% of your energy just in that step of the process. How much loss is there in the other steps?

I don’t see anyone here arguing that it’s not possible at all, just that it’s not feasable as a viable form of mass energy delivery due to the technical challenges. You seem to take that as people saying it’s totally impossible.

Tom.1
Reply to  TonyG
April 19, 2022 11:40 am

A lot of people here only look for and exaggerate any potential problems. Often, they cite things that are irrelevant, such as hydrogen embrittlement or the Hindenburg disaster. Safety problems are exaggerated. The author of this thread cited in incident on a liquid hydrogen ship that was due to equipment malfunction and did not result in significant damage. There was a failure to note significant facts about the story; it was misleading. He also suggests that hydrogen is difficult to contain because of the “tiny molecules”. This is just an engineering problem that has already been solved many times over. Here is a link to a company that is offering commercial electrolyzers for hydrogen production. Read what they have to say. I do recognize that switching to electrolytic hydrogen is not and maybe never will be cost effective. I’m just saying that the only real impediment to using it is the cost.
Leading platform for distributed generation of electricity and hydrogen | Bloom Energy

paul courtney
Reply to  Tom.1
April 20, 2022 6:18 am

Here, we see Mr..1 posting H2 company sales brochures, but he’s not in favor of it. Above, he says that the technical feasibility is the point, but here Mr. roll’s “5-7” numbers is not an economic analysis, and we need to look at the economics. Oh well, at least he didn’t try to shade the website this time.
Oh wait, he did, albeit he limits it to “a lot of people here” this time. Mr. .1, I can’t speak for other commenters here, but I do get irritated when you insist on posting immaterial comments, which you later admit were not material. Transporting a bit of H2 does not solve the engineering problems of using it to heat homes or generate grid electricity, and a fire aboard that particular ship (on its maiden voyage?) is a story about risks in upscaling H2 that you, for some reason, think we should stop talking about. The details were linked, right? If you like the sales brochures, you buy in

Dennis G. Sandberg
April 18, 2022 9:10 pm

Quick, somebody, tell Canada, Shell and Mitsubishi what they plan to do for blue hydrogen is impossible and can’t work / sarc

10 September 2021 21:45 GMT UPDATED  10 September 2021 22:07 GMT
By Naomi Klinge   in    Houston 

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell and Japanese giant Mitsubishi announced a memorandum of understanding to create a blue hydrogen production facility in Alberta, Canada, as part of Shell’s previously announced carbon capture and storage hub.
Mitsubishi would build the hydrogen facility near Shell’s Scotford refinery facility, with Shell providing carbon dioxide storage with the proposed Polaris CCS project.

Dave K
Reply to  Dennis G. Sandberg
April 19, 2022 6:47 am

Quick, somebody tell Dennis to read the first paragraph. Oh and greenwashers will always want to make more money.

Bartemis
April 19, 2022 1:14 am

I suppose we have literal oceans of it stored away, but has anyone actually done any calculations to see how much hydrogen we would lose due to leaks, and what impacts that would have? Even more so than helium, hydrogen will rise and achieve escape velocity, and then it’s gone forever.

tommyboy
April 20, 2022 4:39 pm

I propose a simple method to tame hydrogen’s difficult properties. Add one carbon atom to four hydrogen atoms and produce a much easier to handle substance called methane.

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