Hydrogen technology - is it as lucrative as we think?
01:00 PM US Eastern Timezone
Source:Brishen Miller-The South End
In today's world of rising fueling costs, an ensuing debate has been
whether, as an alternative energy source, hydrogen power is a feasible
option. President Bush, for one, seems to thinks it is. "Ultimately,
in my judgment, one of the ways to make sure that we become fully less
dependent on oil is through hydrogen," said Bush at the Renewable
Energy Conference last Thursday. "And we're spending $.2 billion to
encourage hydrogen fuel cells." So, firstly, why is so much funding
being poured into this research?
Well, the concept behind fuel cell technology is simple. When oxygen
and hydrogen ions fuse in a fuel cell chamber, they create electricity
as they interact. This electricity is harnessed for locomotion - with
water, as opposed to toxic chemicals, as a byproduct. This hydrogen
splicing is both efficient and environmentally friendly, which makes it
an attractive energy source - particularly for automotive industries.
DaimlerChrylser Corp., for instance, has produced a fleet of fuel cell
vehicles that run on compressed hydrogen gas. Wayne State University
actually has possession of one of these vehicles - a Mercedes A-Class
with a revamped fuel-cell interior - which is used by the police to
patrol the streets. Fuel cell vehicles are undergoing trials all across
the country, and are slowly being considered a possible alternative for
However, Lawrence Hands of Transportation Riders United (TRU), a
Detroit organization dedicated to improving transit in Southeastern
Michigan, disagrees with the focus on this technology. Hands said the
hydrogen craze is just "a way for the auto industry to avoid doing
something now by saying it will do something later.
"Hydrogen may be very environmentally safe to use but it is very
costly and difficult to produce. To make hydrogen, you need to expend
more energy than you get out when you use hydrogen. A cheap way to make
hydrogen is out of natural gas, but this produces lots of greenhouse
gas. A more expensive way is from nuclear power plants, even more
expensive is from wind or solar energy."
Until we find a cheaper and easier way to produce it, Hands sees
hydrogen fuel cell technology as a very long-term goal for Michigan, if
a possibility at all. Hands says that Detroit must invest in transit
and get "sprawlsville" to move back into the city. TRU is currently
working on a program to get a light rail transit system to run the
length of the Woodward corridor ending in Royal Oak or Birmingham.
"Light rail vehicles are frequently operated on electricity and there
is a range of electricity sources available that are kinder to the
environment than hydrogen," he said.
"If we can reduce the amount of energy we need as a region, we can
become more competitive and keep more of our money here. The look of
our current region is based on the premise of cheap energy, but really,
energy has historically been expensive and may go back to being
expensive and an economic limiter."
Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) agrees with Hands,
stating in their June report on transportation funding that "while
three major and three smaller transit systems exist in Southeast
Michigan, as well as a number of private providers, the alternatives
for the region are few. The single occupant vehicle will remain the
only mode of travel for most of the region's residents."
Energy and transportation are definitely major problems in this state.
Michigan imports 100% of the coal and uranium and 96% of the petroleum
used to power the state. In 2004, imported fuels cost Michigan citizens
and businesses roughly $0 billion (about 5% of the State's GDP),
"transferring economic power we need here to fossil fuel-rich states
and countries and terrorists," said Hands. "If energy is dear, we
will not be able to survive as a region and continue to commute 50
miles a day in a single passenger automobile, but we could commute 3-8
miles per day on a quality transit vehicle."
On Mon, 23 Oct 2006 22:19:14 -0400, "Solar Flare"
It was Tony who twigged to the variation on the username, all I had to
do was expand the search a little. Should the spammer keep irritating
people here, I'm sure that someone will be able to find a whole bunch
more embarrassing posts from ol' Uncle Creepy the hydrogen whacko.
Anyway, I do get the credit for catching a different nitwit who, after
wearing out his welcome here as Gymmy Bob the embroidery maven/online
changed his nym to John P Benji, and then to Solar Flair, flare, fart,
etc, the solar Walter Mitty who attempts to projects his nym-shifting
MO onto others. Which reminds me, whatever happened to those cops you
were sending to confiscate my TV?
Physician, heal thyself! And when are we going to hear more about
that invisible place you claimed to be building in Michigan?