NY Times: Know What’s Awesome? Hydrogen Cars

But, hey, some of you critics are just so shortsighted, says the Editorial Board, who probably haven’t given up their own use of fossil fuels for their vehicles

Hydrogen Cars, Coming Down the Pike

The once-distant promise of clean, affordable hydrogen-powered cars is starting to become a reality.

Several major automakers, including Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, have started or will soon start selling these cars, which will be more expensive than comparable gasoline models but a lot cheaper than they were just a few years ago.

Hey, this is a great opportunity for limo liberals to Show They Care. Of course, this is what the big power using folks at the Times care about

The broad adoption of hydrogen-powered cars, which emit only water and heat, could play an important role, along with electric vehicles, in lowering emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants responsible for climate change. Cars and other modes of transportation account for about 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, second only to power plants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Yeah, you didn’t think I would care that much about the editorial without “climate change”, right? Of course, they ignore the fact that water vapor is the #1 greenhouse gas, and adding more water vapor to the atmosphere could actually have a big effect on warming. Stress could, because the studies really do not exist except as possible models. A lot would depend on where the vapor goes, whether it stays lower in the atmosphere and creates more of an urban heat island effect, or goes into the upper atmosphere and messes with the global trapping of heat.

Most hydrogen today is created from natural gas in a process that generates carbon dioxide. But scientists say fuel cells are still good for the environment, because making hydrogen produces far fewer emissions than burning fossil fuels. Hydrogen could be produced more cleanly by using alternative energy sources like solar and wind power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. And it can be generated from renewable sources like sewage and animal waste.

Sounds like wishful thinking. Perhaps far in the future. And they may well be minimizing the release of CO2 from the process of releasing hydrogen. One article notes

Then again, hydrogen isn’t always clean to produce. It’s expensive to pull hydrogen from water. Non-renewable sources of hydrogen, such as oil and natural gas, are much cheaper, but using them still puts a drain on our fossil fuels supplies. Ironically, the carbon dioxide released in the process of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels cancels out any benefits to the environment. Experts say hydrogen that escapes during the production process could erode the ozone layer even further and exacerbate global warming [source: PBS]. There are other problems as well: Scientists are still struggling with the challenge of how to store hydrogen. Because it has such a low energy density, hydrogen needs to be stored and transported under high pressure — which makes it bulky and impractical. The pressure issue compounds another issue with hydrogen energy; like gas, hydrogen is highly flammable, but unlike gas, it has no smell. Sensors must be used to detect a leak before hydrogen can combust. Another issue is the need to provide enough refueling stations to supply all the hydrogen-powered cars throughout the country. Are hydrogen fuel producers willing to put a hydrogen station on virtually every corner?

Huh. So also bad for the ozone.

But cost isn’t the only problem. There are just 13 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States today, according to the Department of Energy. Big investments will be needed, and some are on the drawing board. The state ofCalifornia, where many of the first fuel-cell cars will be sold, plans to spend up to $200 million to build 100 fueling stations in a decade. Countries likeJapan and Germany are also investing in refueling stations. And car companies like Toyota and Honda are providing loans to help their business partners build hydrogen stations.

In other words, they want Government to pony up. According to this source, there are more than 13, but still not even close to being able to make it viable. Oh, and then there’s the part about it being tough to transport, tough to store, and highly flammable. Say, remember what the Hindenburg was full of? Hydrogen. And you won’t be able to smell a leak.

Some critics of hydrogen cars say they remain expensive and impractical compared with electric vehicles, which can be plugged into the existing electricity system. But that is shortsighted. The real competition for hydrogen-powered and electric vehicles is the gas guzzler. There is little doubt that the world will need many transformative technologies to deal with climate change.

I’ll agree, we do need something transformative. I’ve said time and time again I’m not a big fan of fossil fuels, they are dirty to the environment, and I’m not talking about greenhouse gases. Hydrogen, though, has too many dangers, such as …. being highly flammable. When it comes to “climate change”, though, we also learn

To produce usable hydrogen, it has to be separated from water, biomass (plant and animal waste), coal, or natural gas. About 95 percent of the hydrogen used today is produced by a process called steam reforming — separating hydrogen atoms from carbon atoms in methane [source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory]. This process releases greenhouse gasses, which contributes to global warming.

The other production method, electrolysis, separates hydrogen from water. Electrolysis can be powered by renewable energy such as wind, hydropower and solar energy, so that it produces no emissions. The downside is that it’s expensive. For hydrogen to reach its full potential as an energy source, scientists need to figure out a way to produce it inexpensively from clean, renewable sources.

That’s not sounding too impressive, and what happens when they start using water for this, leaving less for drinking and stuff, much like they are using food to create ethanol?

On the plus side, hydrogen is much more prevalent than fossil fuels. And, it is certainly clearer for the actual environment. It also provides roughly double the efficiency of fossil fuels (which is, itself, much, much more efficient than ethanol).

There are certainly pros and cons, but, hey, according to the NY Times, if you fail to get 100% behind hydrogen power, you’re a stupid meany critic and shortsighted. They do not want debate and discourse, they want people to shut the hell up and get in line.

Save $10 on purchases of $49.99 & up on our Fruit Bouquets at 1800flowers.com. Promo Code: FRUIT49
If you liked my post, feel free to subscribe to my rss feeds.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed

RSS feed

You can login to comment with:

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

18 Comments

Comment by John
2014-12-02 10:21:33

BMW has announced they could be pretty much all electric by 2024

 
Comment by Jeffery
2014-12-02 10:31:30

Teach,

You are more hoftian every day – wrong in every post.

Of course, they ignore the fact that water vapor is the #1 greenhouse gas, and adding more water vapor to the atmosphere could actually have a big effect on warming.

Humidity is dependent on temperature. Air at a given temperature can only hold so much water vapor. When that is exceeded, something happens. And what is that something that happens? You know what it is… Yes! You’re right. It rains!

CO2 on the other hand just keeps accumulating.

Now, why do you think the humidity in the atmosphere is increasing? You’re right, again. It’s because the atmosphere is warming and warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.

Think about a warm humid day in the Midwest with an approaching cold front. What happens when that mass of cold air undercuts the warm, moist air, driving it ever higher? You’re right for the 3rd time! The moist air cools and the water vapor is “wrung out” of it. Yep. Rain.

So you think that water vapor can cause warming but that CO2 cannot. That’s so right-wing authoritarian of you!

And this should make you very happy. From the NYT article:

Most hydrogen today is created from natural gas in a process that generates carbon dioxide. But scientists say fuel cells are still good for the environment, because making hydrogen produces far fewer emissions than burning fossil fuels. Hydrogen could be produced more cleanly by using alternative energy sources like solar and wind power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. And it can be generated from renewable sources like sewage and animal waste.

You still get to generate CO2, which conservatives worship, just less of it.

Hydrogen powered vehicles will be a very good thing for us humans. Good for the planet, good for the economy.

You are against it why?

 
Comment by david7134
2014-12-02 10:41:55

In chemistry, which obviously our resident liberals/communists have never taken, hydrogen in a container is called a bomb.

 
Comment by Stosh
2014-12-02 11:25:07

Hydrogen powered cars would make traffic accidents more entertaining. Mushroom clouds of flames for the evening news from the fender bender on Main street.

 
Comment by Jeffery
2014-12-02 11:53:48

dave,

Will gasoline in a container explode?? Gasoline in a bottle is called a Molotov cocktail, so what’s your point?

Do you think hydrogen gas fuel cell cars are more dangerous than gasoline cars? Or natural gas cars? Or propane cars?

In any event, no one will force you to buy one. The market will decide. When they come on the market they will compete with rechargeable battery powered all-electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and the Tesla, as well as others. What will win out? Can’t say.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2014-12-02 13:06:08

Will gasoline in a container explode??

Actually, that is a good question. Congratulations Jeffery, you got one right.

The answer is generally “no,” gasoline in a container will not explode. There are lots of reasons for this (temperature being one of them) What will explode are gasoline vapors, which will then set the liquid gas on fire. In fact, in a car’s engine, you are burning a gas / air mixture – a vapor because the vapor is much more explosive than just plain liquid gas.

Hydrogen as a gas is a whole different animal than liquid gasoline.

Gasoline in a bottle is called a Molotov cocktail, so what’s your point?

You realize that a Molotov cocktail won’t explode, don’t you? At least not in the same manner that hydrogen will explode in that same container.

Do you think hydrogen gas fuel cell cars are more dangerous than gasoline cars? Or natural gas cars? Or propane cars?

Yes. The government thinks so as well as it is requiring more safety devices and construction around the hydrogen tanks to make them safe. So if your question is “given all things being equal, is a hydrogen car more dangerous than a gas car?” the answer is yes, it is. If your question is “can hydrogen cars be made as safe as a gasoline car?” the answer is “probably.” Anything can be engineered to be relatively safe.

 
Comment by jd
2014-12-02 14:00:40

You actually CAN detect a hydrogen leak. When your voice starts sounding like a duck, it’s time to run!!

 
Comment by Casey
2014-12-02 14:07:58

Jeff actually had a good point, for once, about water vapor. Then he had to go and screw it up with a bonehead crack that “conservatives worship CO2.” That’s about as true (and as dumb) as saying Obama is a Muslim.

I’m not sure vehicular hydrogen tanks are as dangerous as some here claim. Isn’t the H2 in liquid form? It’s been a while since I did any reading. Still, 30,000 people die every year in gasoline-fueled cars, and I don’t hear many people advocating their elimination. Not to mention we regularly transport hydrogen in tanker trucks without incident.

Same thing for Hindenburg references. No one talks about all the safe trips hydrogen-lift dirigibles made, just the one accident. Which accident killed a whopping 37 people. Not to be callous, but we’ve all seen airliner accidents involving multiples of that number killed, but those events never became famous events. Again, no one’s advocating elimination of airliner flights. Except CAGW types. Because of their carbon. :)

And as for “worshiping” CO2, Jeff, perhaps it is because CAGW advocates tend to obsess over carbon, including the introduction of carbon offset bills, use of carbon “sinks,” and carbon offsets, complaints about carbon emissions, and the unholy fascination with carbon “footprints.” They tend not to fuss so much over water vapor.

 
Comment by William Teach
2014-12-02 15:06:14

You are more hoftian every day – wrong in every post.

Your attempted slur is ridiculous, and shows you have no real argument nor did your read and comprehend the post.

The Fact That you don’t know that water vapor is the #1 GHG shows you are scientifically illiterate.

Now, why do you think the humidity in the atmosphere is increasing? You’re right, again. It’s because the atmosphere is warming and warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.

I didn’t say that. And real world data does not support that. But, het, keep beating your CO2 bandwagon. Do you master bate to it? Actually, I don’t want to know.

You still get to generate CO2, which conservatives worship, just less of it.

Have you given up all use of fossil fuels, Jeff?

Hydrogen powered vehicles will be a very good thing for us humans. Good for the planet, good for the economy.

You are against it why ?

You obviously are so bent in a partisan manner that you do not understand discussion.

 
Comment by Mark E
2014-12-02 18:06:12

will the water exhaust be vapor or liquid?

If it is liquid, will the commie-libs be hoisted on the various water discharge, water capture, illegal dumping petards … or will special indulgences be issued, like those given to excuse the rotary bird killers & solar bakers from the endangered species act?

 
Comment by jl
2014-12-02 18:45:46

J- (hydrogen cars) “In any event, no one will force you to buy one. The market will decide.” You mean like light bulbs and Obamacare?

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2014-12-02 18:48:12

I’m not sure vehicular hydrogen tanks are as dangerous as some here claim. Isn’t the H2 in liquid form? It’s been a while since I did any reading.

Toyota’s fuel cell is being built to withstand pressures of 10,000 psi.

That type of pressure constraint wouldn’t be necessary for a liquid. (It will be interesting to see how the cell handles the cycling of pressures that high.)

Toyota says that their tank has a system that detects a crack and will quickly vent the hydrogen which prevents an explosion. Clearly they too are aware of and worried about the thought of an explosion from a hydrogen fuel cell being ignited.

 
Comment by Jeffery
2014-12-02 18:51:57

Teach,

Not sure what real world data you’re talking about but as the Earth warms from increased CO2, water vapor increases from evaporation.

Water vapor is a very powerful greenhouse gas, but is only partly responsible for the increased warming, since it is a short-lived gas (remember precipitation?). CO2 is a long-lived gas and is steadily increasing.

 
Comment by Jl
2014-12-02 21:05:37

Doesn’t matter if it’s short-lived. There’s much more of it.

 
Comment by Jeffery
2014-12-02 21:34:56

j,

You’re wrong. Here’s a dumbed-down discussion from Skeptical Science.

When skeptics use this argument, they are trying to imply that an increase in CO2 isn’t a major problem. If CO2 isn’t as powerful as water vapor, which there’s already a lot of, adding a little more CO2 couldn’t be that bad, right? What this argument misses is the fact that water vapor creates what scientists call a ‘positive feedback loop’ in the atmosphere — making any temperature changes larger than they would be otherwise.

How does this work? The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere exists in direct relation to the temperature. If you increase the temperature, more water evaporates and becomes vapor, and vice versa. So when something else causes a temperature increase (such as extra CO2 from fossil fuels), more water evaporates. Then, since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this additional water vapor causes the temperature to go up even further—a positive feedback.

How much does water vapor amplify CO2 warming? Studies show that water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1°C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3°C.

The other factor to consider is that water is evaporated from the land and sea and falls as rain or snow all the time. Thus the amount held in the atmosphere as water vapour varies greatly in just hours and days as result of the prevailing weather in any location. So even though water vapour is the greatest greenhouse gas, it is relatively short-lived. On the other hand, CO2 is removed from the air by natural geological-scale processes and these take a long time to work. Consequently CO2 stays in our atmosphere for years and even centuries. A small additional amount has a much more long-term effect.

So skeptics are right in saying that water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas. What they don’t mention is that the water vapor feedback loop actually makes temperature changes caused by CO2 even bigger.

 
Comment by The Neon Madman
2014-12-02 21:47:37

Hydrogen cars are a long, long way from reality. It’s a lot like fusion power, which is also always “just around the corner”. There’s a lot of issues that are usually glossed over.

Hydrogen is not a “free fuel”. It takes energy and a significant industry to produce it, especially in the quantities that would be required for significant automotive use.

It is not a trivial task to store hydrogen. It has a nasty tendency to leak, and when mixed with oxygen (i.e. atmosphere) is extremely explosive. This is a huge consideration for auto use – any tank on a car would not just have to handle pressure and the leak considerations, but also be safe in a crash. It wasn’t too long ago around here that a truck driver was killed when his CNG-powered truck was hit and the tank exploded in a huge blast.

Petroleum (gasoline and diesel) have always been the motor fuels of choice for the same reason our cars still use the 150+-year old technology of lead-acid batteries – the laws of economics and chemistry dictate it. Gasoline is an energy-dense fuel that is relatively simple to produce and store. I’d like to see technology that improves motor efficiency and cleanliness – unleaded gas and catalytic converters have brought us quite a ways forward, but replacement by hydrogen (and more likely, CNG) is still off in the future.

 
Comment by rkeva
2014-12-03 09:58:31

Well, all these cheerful articles concerning environmentally “friendly” vehicles ignore the endless environmental destruction wrought by building asphalt roads upon which they run.

Even a vehicle running on air serenely motors on petroleum-based roads through countless destroyed natural landscapes and habitats.

Prius owners: where is your rage?

 
Comment by Casey
2014-12-03 12:17:24

I was wondering when someone would whip out the “hydrogen is not (free) fuel.”

And, no, there are no hydrogen wells. In fact, it is a less than optimum system in terms of efficiency in that it takes (lost) energy to crack the H2 in the first place.

One should properly view H2 as a sort of battery, rather than fuel.

I would say we’re closer to H2 cars than fusion, although we’ve seen some interesting development there the past couple years. There’s a huge difference between achieving a break-even fusion reaction and engineering a reliable H2-powered vehicle.

We don’t even have to use H2 directly; as gitarcarver points out, fuel cell technology is available as well.

What we really need to remember is that economic efficiency is the key factor, which is why wind has had so many issues. It can’t even break even without government subsidies. Gasoline-fueled vehicles are economically more efficient.

On the other hand, we’ve been refining them for over a century; they should be very efficient by now. Take, for example, the Beast of Turin, a 28.5 LITER engine producing 300 hp back in 1911.

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Bad Behavior has blocked 7128 access attempts in the last 7 days.