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Storing Hydrogen At Room Temperature

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-that-cool dept.

Power 152

cylonlover writes "Hydrogen storage, along with hydrogen production and the lack of infrastructure, remains a major stumbling block in efforts to usher in hydrogen as a replacement for hydrocarbon-based fuels in cars, trucks and even homes. But with the multiple advantages hydrogen offers, developing hydrogen storage solutions has been the focus of a great deal of research. Now an MIT-led research team has demonstrated a method that could allow hydrogen to be stored inexpensively at room temperature."

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talk to cowboy neal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473746)

He stores methane at body temperature.

that's why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473772)

And that's why I bought a Saturn.

DEaRs MIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473796)

1. Start with a VW (not the new kind)
2. Obtain permission slip from parent for kegger bottle
3. Drill Holes
4. Show off your hack job to news 10

The trick is using oxygen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473800)

I just mix it in, 1 part to 2, and all my room-temperature storage problems solve themselves!

Re:The trick is using oxygen (2)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473862)

Except for it being exothermic.

Re:The trick is using oxygen (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474086)

details details, we will make up for it in volume.

Re:The trick is using oxygen (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475178)

He was not precise. He meant to say he buys it *pre-mixed* with oxygen at a 2:1 ratio.

Re:The trick is using oxygen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37476622)

I just mix it in, 1 part to 2, and all my room-temperature storage problems solve themselves!

Surely it's better to bond it to carbon and oxygen.

Importance of Hydrogen (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473822)

Before people write off hydrogen as old hat in the face of the proliferation of EV's, keep in mind planes, ships, and the ground shipping fleet require far too much energy per trip to use batteries. For these vessels, It's going to be a race of energy efficiency and cost between hydrogen and bacteria that can utilize airborne or liquefied CO2 to produce hydrocarbon fuels.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473892)

Cars require far too much energy for batteries too, people are just too blinkered by green ideals to admit this. Until we have an order-of-magnitude increase in battery storage density electric cars are always going to be several compromises beyond being a practical solution to the problem of personal transport.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

PopeScott (1343031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473938)

Ground transport is at least doable, if not great. Air transport OTOH is utterly hosed. Most people don't think of aircraft when we talk of this subject. It's at least if not more important piece of the subject.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474392)

Graf Von Zeppelin seemed to think that aerial transportation using hydrogen was 'practical, as long as you don't need high speed.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475950)

Yes, he also showed it was a great way to keep a large group of people warm.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477138)

Half the people in the Hindenburg survived. How many survived the last airline crash? How warm does the jet fuel keep you? Modern aircraft are a big flying fuel tank that *cannot* go slow. A 747-400 takes almost 100T of fuel IIRC.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

SteveAyre (209812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477184)

And of course now they're still around, using helium which is far safer. It's only the speed that's made planes the preferred option.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475696)

why bother? If all cars and trucks used something other than oil, then there is much much more oil available to planes, and at a much cheaper cost. Is that a perfect solution? No. But it's a great start. Besides, I'd wager that the amount of pollution put out by cars owned by the parts of civilization that can afford to migrate to a newer electric car is less than the amount of pollution put out by jets.

So I say let's focus on one thing at a time.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474058)

That's partly true, but cars are also frequently underutilized. For most people, the median trip is under perhaps 20 miles, but a few trips are hundreds or thousands; for one person/one car, that long trip tends to make EVs impractical, but a family with 3 cars might reasonably replace one or even two with EVs.

Planes are right out in any case, and ships and freight trucking are more-or-less fully utilized; there's no feasible way to replace them with a mixture of battery and fuel, because each vehicle needs full range.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474218)

Sure, planes may be right out, perhaps shipping too, but trucking? No way. I don't know how much more efficient it would be, but what about a system like they use in diesel locomotives, and in ships (engine turns generator, electricity from generator turns wheels). IIRC someone in Oklahoma started refitting cars with a similar system, Neil Young was one of his first customers (classic Lincoln, I think), claimed it got 100 miles to the gallon. Can't be arsed with a link right now, but this is slashdot, I'm sure someone can find it.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (3, Informative)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474776)

It's actually Wichita, Kansas. Here's the link:

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/motorhead-messiah.html [fastcompany.com]

That is utilizing conventional hydrocarbon liquid fuel in a much more efficient way than the traditional internal combustion engine. The energy/lb/ft^3 is magnitudes higher for gasoline/diesel than the most advanced battery system even in the R&D labs. Coupling a microturbine generator to a small battery/super-capacitor combo to drive an electric motor (high torque at low speeds) is perfect for driving. A normal gasoline engine only makes high torque at high speed - really only good for race cars.

I'm hearing lots of news releases for hydrogen, but I'm not seeing any real leaps of engineering. Hydrogen requires either bulky, heavy, expensive, storage tanks, or it's chemically bound, requiring processing to release (slow). H2 fuel cells are barely controlled bombs, so those won't be allowed to run around loose in these terror stricken times. The only current way to generate the industrial quantities of hydrogen needed to run a fleet is to "crack" natural gas. Not too green.

Hydrogen also tends to seep right through metal, causing embrittlement (it is the smallest molecule out there), so you can't store it long before it's gone. It has a HUGE range of combustion ratio with air, so a little leak or a huge leak will still go BOOM! A car fire is deadly hot now, but a H2 vehicle will explode and kill everyone around it. Good times.

I used to be a real proponent of hydrogen, it really appealed with the simple "we can make it with solar hydrolysis" line. It's locked up in water, which is all around us. But I finally got hold of a book which actually pointed out the engineering difficulties, and dangers of it. These are real problems that aren't going away, and aren't being addressed. If someone comes up with a magic method of generation and safe storage, I'll be first in line. Until then, it's still the empty 50-year-old promise the marketing shills of the car and energy companies have been making. It's the old whore on the corner they trot out every couple of years in new makeup.

If you want to look at a potential fuel that's all around us, but can be used without the billion dollar infrastructure of the energy companies, look at carbon monoxide. It's a proven technology (since WWII!) and can be created from any bio-waste feedstock: chunked wood, grass clippings, sewage, dead politicians, etc... Some of the "fringe science" enthusiasts call it Bingo fuel (rapid hydrolysis using a welding arc and carbon electrodes), but the gases are still carbon monoxide, H2, and water vapor. Thermal depolymerization is also a possible way of creating liquid hydrocarbons to replace natural oil (uses optimized pressure cooking process to simulate a million years of natures "hit-or-miss" process). Don't put too much hope in Hydrogen, but don't give up, either.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475046)

Sure, planes may be right out, perhaps shipping too, but trucking? No way. I don't know how much more efficient it would be, but what about a system like they use in diesel locomotives, and in ships (engine turns generator, electricity from generator turns wheels). IIRC someone in Oklahoma started refitting cars with a similar system, Neil Young was one of his first customers (classic Lincoln, I think), claimed it got 100 miles to the gallon. Can't be arsed with a link right now, but this is slashdot, I'm sure someone can find it.

This is the system the Chevy Volt [chevrolet.com] uses. It doesn't get anywhere near 100 mpg when running on gas instead of its battery. However, if you drive less than 40 miles on most days it doesn't use much gas either.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475072)

Certainly you can go diesel-electric (though the more frequent stopping/starting and lower payload fraction makes the mass of the motor/generator pair more an issue), but your main energy store is still fuel, not batteries; you size your battery for regenerative braking. An oversized battery ala plugin-hybrid might get you the first 50 miles for free/cheap, but then you're hauling an empty battery (weighs the same as a full one) the rest of the day.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476070)

I don't understand the fixation on electric vehicles that require re-charging.

IMO, Nuclear powered vehicles. Completely doable (ships / submarines for example) huge energy density, you can build them as "battery packs". and they last 14+ years before you need to recharge (replace the fuel).

the biggest hurdles are power to weight ratio of the engine, it takes about 20kg of matter (& 0.9kg of fuel) to produce about 140W safely... if you had an array of 10 (200kg worth), then that's about half of the power output from your wall socket, in comparison the engine in your car weighs about the same and produces about 100x the amount of energy, it however can't do that for 14 years straight before you have to refuel.

the fuel itself produces about 700W of thermal energy per kg for at least 14 years, its a matter of converting that energy into momentum efficiently. you can make the fuel run hotter, but that becomes more dangerous and the energy tapers off earlier.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476048)

Bullshit. It depends on what you're doing with your car. If you're wanting to drive across the country on a road trip, then yes, EVs will not work for that. If you just want to commute 10 or 20 miles to work every day, then EVs will absolutely work fine for that, even with today's battery technology. Even distances of 40 miles each way are within reason, though distances much greater than that will either need better batteries, or a workplace that has a charger. Anyone commuting farther than 30 miles really needs to either move or get a new job anyway.

The main problem is that most people want each of their vehicles to be able to serve for both purposes: commuting, and long-distance driving, even though many families have multiple vehicles these days. Higher fuel costs will change that attitude quickly.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473910)

However, at the moment, Hydrogen is difficult to store safely, and takes a huge amount of resources to make. Moreso than putting power into a battery. Aircraft (especially) already have huge surface areas upon which to put solar panels for power generation to augment a battery pack. Look at the "Solar Impulse" project.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473976)

Hydrogen also is produced from fossil fuels. Just because we can make it cleanly doesn't mean it will be done so until it is cheaper than squeezing out the last dregs from methane.

It also leaks from any containment much faster than any other fuel. It is also potentially harmful to the ozone layer (free radicals of hydrogen produced by cosmic rays at the ozone layer can form water vapor which will fall, rather than stay in the oxygen-ozone-oxygen cycle). Hydrogen can also escape into interstellar space.

The best thing to do would be to cleanly make long chain hydrocarbons from water and atmospheric CO2. This is exactly as clean and renewable as hydrogen. And hydrogen, because it is cheaper to make from fossil fuels, is exactly as clean and renewable as gasoline. The only differences are: hydrogen is MUCH harder to use safely, and it produces less "pollution" at the consumption level.

I am all for clean fuel, but hydrogen is not it. I suggest elemental boron [eagle.ca] . Go on, read it and try not to say "wow, that would be perfect if we could get around to doing all that".

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474792)

Oh? I thought that boron fuels were fairly toxic, which is one of the reasons that they never caught on for aviation in the 50's.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475048)

Elemental boron is completely biologically inert and safe.

Crystalline boron is inert chemically and is resistant to attack by boiling HF or HCl. When finely divided it is attacked slowly by hot concentrated nitric acid. Where people can breathe, boron is the fuel that will not burn. But when they provide combustors that immerse it in oxygen at lethally high purity and pressure, it becomes the fuel that burns there, and only there, only where it is meant to.

Try reading the linked thingy.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

rocketPack (1255456) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474908)

exactly as clean and renewable as gasoline

Which is... not at all?

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477514)

The Solar Impulse, however beautiful and amazing it is, is about as useful as a production aircraft as a sailplane. Probably worse actually as sailplanes are quite capable of flying in moderate upwind.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477808)

[ I had a look -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Impulse [wikipedia.org] ]

Well, no .. at least no to the "already have huge surface areas" bit.

The first Solar Impulse has the wingspan of the Airbus A340 but can only carry one person in an un-pressurised cabin. The second edition has a pressurised cabin (still one person) but a wingspan bigger than an A380!

It be interesting to calculate how much of a battery pack a Boeing 747 would need, and how much of that pack could be augmented with solar power in an 8-hour daylight trip across a clear desert sky. I'd go out on a limb and say "too much" and "not enough". Viable passenger aircraft that use solar power meaningfully will have to be newly designed, and will have massive wingspans.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474262)

You can use hydrogen in two different ways. You can burn it in an internal combustion engine instead of petrol, where both are around 25% efficient [wikipedia.org] . Some cars you can work directly with hydrogen unmodified, others you can adapt.

Or you can use the hydrogen in a fuel cell to power an EV. This gives incredibly high efficiency. The hydrogen and fuel cell are effectively your battery in the EV. We know it works as hydrogen fuel cell cars have been driving around for a decade. Getting them cost effective is the billion dollar battle, and that is the engineering problem.

It currently looks like a dual market, battery for urban vehicles and hydrogen for longer range and commercial vehicles, but it only takes a breakthrough in either field to sweep the market.

Phillip.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474960)

The efficiency of any practical hydrogen fuel cell is also around 25%. That is why people just don't care about it. Not to say that it will last just a few years, and the "injection" system is quite unusual.

Ok, the theoretical maximum efficiency is 100%, so it is a great research topic, but it just isn't viable right now.

Re:Importance of Hydrogen (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476666)

Making them cost effective also means making fuel cells without platinum. There just isn't enough platinum in the world to make a billion fuel cells.

duh??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473834)

That's an easy one, it's called water.

Re:duh??? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473988)

exactly, it's stored already in lots of places. It's both the storage and releasing of the hydrogen which is needed. I'll now go back to TFA and see if they address or it's another waste of a few million.

LoB

Re:duh??? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474184)

They talk about the releasing of hydrogen from the storage mechanism. But, there's one catch and that is that it currently requires platinum and it isn't cheap. So all they have to do is find another material which works besides platinum. that's all.

LoB

Re:duh??? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474536)

Didn't the legendary cold fusion experiment utilize platinum?

Re:duh??? (2)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474626)

Palladium

Re:duh??? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475218)

Well no wonder no one could repeat the experiment; it took them the whole first night just to make their characters and character growth was so slow no one bothered past three sessions!

Re:duh??? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474216)

Except that water is a lot heavier that hydrogen gas is. You're carrying around an additional ~16 grams per Mole and water itself is really difficult to compress.

Unless the technology for electrolysis comes a long way in a very short period of time, water isn't likely to be a viable source of hydrogen for a fuel cell. Ethanol OTOH, has somewhat less extra mass per Mole of hydrogen, but has other downsides such as volatility and flammability.

Inexpensively? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473844)

"Platinum-doped activated-carbon lattice" is not the material that comes to mind when I think of "inexpensively".

Re:Inexpensively? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37473888)

Why not? Hopefully your not talking about the platinum right? Do you know what doped means or how little is required?

Re:Inexpensively? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474090)

Doped means it's a significant portion of the chemical stoichiometry of the assembly, when the assembly is essentially a massive-surface manifold. Which makes it a significant portion of the mass. And that stuff ain't cheap. And we're not talking $800 catalytic converter, here. This thing will have to be an appreciable portion of a cubic meter in size. And this implementation will create an enhanced demand for the commodity. Not less than kilodollars, just for your gas tank. And you don't get that savings back with simplified systems elsewhere in the vehicle, as you do with batteries.

Re:Inexpensively? (2)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473974)

I guess that it is inexpensive if it works forever...

A former employer has a solid state storage system for toxic gases that seems similar on the surface:
SDS is a groundbreaking technology designed to reduce the hazards and environmental risks associated with transporting, storing, and delivering highly toxic gases. The SDS3 employs a novel nano-porous adsorbent to contain hazardous gases at sub atmospheric pressures. SDS houses toxic gases at sub-atmospheric pressure-virtually eliminating catastrophic releases while dramatically minimizing fabrication downtime.

the system is delivered as stainless steel canisters with a metered connection on the top, not sure what 'magic' is going on inside... and it sure the heck was not inexpensive

Re:Inexpensively? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474652)

Well, yeah. But cars nowadays are designed to work for five-ten years more or less...

Inexpensively. (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475150)

Not if it's used only in small quantities. We are talking about nanoscale here. Like the gold in chips doesn't make them expensive.

Re:Inexpensively? (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477130)

Another case of a sensational spin added by the headline and summary, but not present in the linked article.

FTFA:

Sow-Hsin Chen, MIT professor emeritus in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and senior author of a paper describing the new method, says it should make it possible to increase the storage capacity of the activated carbon material by fine-tuning the size and concentrations of the particles of platinum and carbon. The team also hopes to identify a catalyst that isn't quite as expensive as platinum.

Once the storage system has been tuned to achieve the desired capacity,* Chen says it should be capable of storing hydrogen under moderate pressure - possibly around 500 psi - and release the gas on demand by simply releasing the pressure. This is because when the hydrogen molecules are broken down into atoms using the spillover effect, they bind with the activated carbon with much less energy.

[*emphasis mine]

The researchers think this 'tuning' can be accomplished, and combined with finding a less expensive catalyst than platinum, this could be a game winner.

Sometimes it pays to actually take the 30-60 seconds needed to RTFA to not appear to be going off half-cocked about something.

Re:Inexpensively? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477452)

So, you agree that they don't actually have a workable solution, and are just pimping for funding?

An easy solution (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#37473912)

I know an easy way to store hydrogen safely at room temperature: make a chain of carbon atoms, then join hydrogen atoms in the leftover "slots".

Seriously, the whole idea of "hydrogen economy" is simply stupid. It's not going to do anyone any good unless you have a power source to produce the hydrogen; and if you have said power source, it really isn't that hard to crack carbon dioxide and water to produce hydrocarbons rather than just water to produce hydrogen. Either produces carbon-neutral fuel, but hydrocarbons are far safer to store and use and hold more energy per mass or volume unit. Hydrocarbons also have the advantage of being compatible with existing vehicles and distribution network, being another name for oil.

The final nail in the coffin of hydrogen is that biofuels are hydrocarbons. That's understandable, since biofuel projects are simply trying to mimic, hasten and optimize the same processes that formed oil in the first place. However, that means that a hydrogen-burning vehicle can't use biofuels, at least not without losing massive amounts of efficiency.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474062)

Finally I see that there is at least one other person in the world that understands that hydrogen is an energy storage medium and not an energy source.

Re:An easy solution (2)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474412)

What do you think petrol is?

Phillip.

Re:An easy solution (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474706)

True, but we're not the ones who are putting the energy into the petrol, so other than all the bad side-effects, it's a win for us. Less so as we have to spend more and more energy getting useful petrol, though.

Re:An easy solution (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476132)

Petroleum is an energy source, not an energy storage medium like hydrogen. The difference is small, but extremely significant: to get hydrogen, you have to create it from other sources (such as electrolysis of water), and that requires a LOT of energy. You get some of that energy back when you burn that hydrogen, but not all; it's a net negative.

Petroleum, OTOH, doesn't have to be created at all, because that's already been done for us by millions of years of time of geological processes. So all we have to do is drill a hole and pump it out, and it's nearly ready to use (after refining). The amount of energy you get from burning it is much more than what you expend in extraction and refining, so it's a net positive. Of course, the supply of this convenient energy source is limited, and that's a problem.

So theoretically, you could get all your society's energy needs from petroleum; you pump it out of the ground and then burn it to make all the power you need, for both vehicles and for land-based electricity. You can't do that with hydrogen; you have to get the energy to make it from somewhere else, such as burning oil.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474174)

Agreed. Hydrogen is an energy storage medium, not a fuel. For every 10 parts of energy used to create free hydrogen, 1 part is returned when recombining it with hydrogen. Even corn ethanol fares better at 8:1.

Re:An easy solution (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474254)

Even easier: put it in a blimp ;)

Hear, hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474286)

Well said.

Re:An easy solution (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474312)

"However, that means that a hydrogen-burning vehicle can't use biofuels, at least not without losing massive amounts of efficiency."

If your powerplant is a turbine that trims-to-temperature it can efficiently burn both and mixtures thereof. Capstone turbine-powered hybrid buses work just fine, and other turbine styles can do it too.

Re:An easy solution (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37478358)

You read the comment, but you missed the point. The hydrogen has to come from somewhere. If you're going to use a turbine anyway, then there is absolutely zero benefit from using hydrogen as opposed to fuel oil, while meanwhile there are numerous massive drawbacks. The only way it makes sense to use hydrogen is if you're going to use a fuel cell, and that idea has yet to be proven to have any practical merit. As long as fuel cell production is an energy intensive process, and their recycling as well (take into consideration mining and refining the raw materials which eventually become the fuel cell, please, and either capturing or cleaning all the emissions) they are a non-starter in terms of ecological benefit.

In theory we could use excess nighttime base load to produce some hydrogen, but we aren't actually even doing that. Virtually all of our hydrogen comes from cracking natural gas in a process which is itself energy-intensive.

Hydrogen is a boondoggle on the same order as non-cellulosic ethanol.

We could be making biodiesel from algae using technology developed and proven by the USDOE at Sandia NREL in the 1980s. As well, we could be using this same technology to simultaneously capture up to 80% of the CO2 output of coal- and oil-fired power plants, which also increases algae production. Aviation fuels based on biodiesel have already been successfully tested. As a road fuel it is already common. Virtually all of the energy for the process comes from the sun; even the biodiesel production can be done with a combination of direct solar thermal (black tanks with solar reflectors for reactor heating) and PV solar (for mixing engines.) Thin-film PV panels which last ten to twenty years pay back the energy cost of their production in three. This is a path that makes sense using already proven technology which could produce immediate profit in the middle of the desert using dirty salt water. What year is it?

Re:An easy solution (2)

timothyf (615594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474316)

As has been noted elsewhere, hydrogen fuel cells are very efficient at converting hydrogen back into energy (around 75%). Is there anything comparable for hydrocarbons? Today's engines are only around 20% efficient at doing that.

Re:An easy solution (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474880)

Talked to anyone actually doing research on fuel cells? I have. To keep the temperatures down in a "safe" range, the power output isn't much. Kick the power output to a usable level, like to run a drive motor, and now you're carting around a bomb. It's a barely controlled reaction (reaction = explosion).

Internal combustion motors aren't that efficient, micro-turbine generators are loud but better, and both are comparatively safe/inexpensive.

Re:An easy solution (1)

AgentGibbled (688180) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476158)

It's a barely controlled reaction (reaction = explosion).

You *do* know what goes on inside an internal combustion engine, right?

Re:An easy solution (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476202)

Internal combustion motors aren't that efficient, micro-turbine generators are loud but better

They are? They must not be anything like regular gas turbines, because those things are horribly inefficient (much less efficient than any piston engine).

You're wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37476230)

A fuel cell will run cooler than an internal combustion gasoline engine, since the cell is more efficient (75% vs 20%). So your objection is only a red herring.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475130)

Actually, there is something pretty much identical for hydrocarbons, hydrocarbon fuel cells. There has been more work done on hydrogen fuel cells, and they would need to make the hydrocarbons relatively "clean", but it would work as well. People focus on hydrogen because of the bullshit about its only output being water vapor. (Most of the time they manipulate hydrocarbons to extract the hydrogen if they are trying to make it cheap.)

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37477896)

Perhaps the mentioned "spillover effect" used in this hydrogen storage device to split H2 molecules into H atoms could also split hydrocarbon molecules into atoms, thus allowing us to avoid producing CO2? Carbon atoms from hydrocarbon molecules could become attached to the carbon lattice permanently.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475458)

As has been noted elsewhere, hydrogen fuel cells are very efficient at converting hydrogen back into energy (around 75%). Is there anything comparable for hydrocarbons? Today's engines are only around 20% efficient at doing that.

Can I get a source on that figure? Last I read, fuel cells max out at 50% efficiency and most are closer to 38%.

Re:An easy solution (1)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474394)

How is this modded '+4 Insightful'? It's not that hard to create cheap simulated oil from CO2 and water? What crackpot modded this up? Not being able to burn the statistically insignificant amount of biofuels is a nail in hydrogen's coffin? And the killer line that burning biofuels in a hydrogen engine will be massively inefficient... the whole combustion engine is massively inefficient hence moving to fuel cell technology that bumps efficiency up from 25% in an IC to currently around 60% for fuel cell. Oh plus you don't lose energy idling or through a transmission.

Slashdot really has gone to the dogs.

Phillip.

Re:An easy solution (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476182)

Oh plus you don't lose energy idling or through a transmission.

You don't have to lose energy idling with an ICE either; there's engines now that automatically shut down instead of idling, and instantly restart when the throttle is pressed. They generally require a sizable electric motor though, so you usually only see this with hybrid-electric vehicles.

There's no way around the transmission though, but to be fair, most pure-electric vehicle designs also have a transmission (with 1 or 2 speeds), because electric motors tend to spin pretty fast compared to the speed of car wheels. You could design a motor matched to the wheel speed of a car, but this usually ends up being problematic in other areas (impractical size, etc.).

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37476608)

The speed of an electric motor is controller by the number of poles and the frequency. There is a washing machine built by a New Zealand company Fisher and Paykel it used a special "smart drive motor" that had no gear box. IE no transmission and was able to carry out all the various speed functions required of a washing machine.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474402)

"It's not going to do anyone any good unless you have a power source to produce the hydrogen" - the current search is for hydrogen production methods that don't use large amounts of energy. If found, this would make the hydrogen economy extremely attractive, and there are some promising chemical advances in this area that just need to be made commercially viable.

Agreed, hydrocarbons are great for storage , but if you burn them you get all the particulate and nox sox etc, so combustion engines really aren't the way to go - you'd be solving the energy problem but not all the other issues of health and pollution. Using hydrocarbons in fuel cell driven cars would be much cleaner - you just get exhaust of co2 and water, no particulates/nox/sox. And that could be carbon neutral if it doesn't come from oil/gas.

Re:An easy solution (2)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474404)

You seem to be ignoring the output of burned hydro carbons, namely carbon dioxide

The true hydrogen fanbois are looking forward to fuel cells that provide a portable power source that has no CO2 emissions. That is no easy bill to fill, so I at least can understand their joy at finding a way to transport hydrogen safely since it has been one of the major red herrings in the push to use fuel cells

As far as a higher cost to produce Hydrogen goes... the key words are portable and non-portable. Non-portable power sources (nuclear, I'm looking at you) can be used to break out the hydrogen, which can then be used (via this new 'gas' tank) to power a portable device like a fuel cell.

Would I rather have a 'Mr Fusion' to power my vehicle? you betcha, but the idea of finally delivering a practical hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle is frankly exciting

Re:An easy solution (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474714)

Way to miss the GP's point. It doesn't matter if an engine burns hydrocarbons and emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if that carbon dioxide came from the atmosphere to begin with.

Unlike traditional pollutants, nobody cares about a little carbon dioxide output at any given point, because it's nothing next to what's already floating around in the air.

Re:An easy solution (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475040)

Hmmm lets see... 200 plus million years to sequester all that CO2 and we have released, at least by some estimates over 50% of it in a little over 200 hundred years...

Nope, no effect at all. Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37476184)

mised the point , missed the point, missed the whole goddam point.

learn to read, you illiterate clod.

Re:An easy solution (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477230)

Let's try that again. The original poster's point is that if you want a Magical Zero-Emissions Hydrogen Storage System, you just take the hydrogen you were to use, combine it with carbon (from CO2 from the air), then ship your hydrocarbon around. The guy at the other end then burns the stuff and the CO2 you used is released back into the air. Voila, zero emissions.

(I still think sodium or lithium borohydride would be a better reversible energy carrier, as it has a greater energy density than gasoline and can be easily used in direct borohydride fuel cells, but first they have to get the "recharging" working at better than 10% efficiency.)

Re:An easy solution (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477212)

When your hydrocarbon fuel has the same emission characteristics as hydrogen fuel, then I will pay attention to your sales pitch. Until then, hydrocarbon fuel emissions are a deal breaker for me.

As I see it, the two major problems with hydrocarbon fuels (petroleum based), are emissions, and conflict/war over petroleum deposits.

Your cracking CO2 and H2O, and/or bio-fuels, only addresses the conflict/wars over deposits, and thumbs it's nose at the emissions issue.
No thanks, not a viable solution to me.

Re:An easy solution (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477434)

Emissions = Hitler. Can you list them? If the word "carbon" appears anywhere in a list of emissions from a fuel produced by cracking atmospheric CO2, then please don't bother.

Oh teh humanity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474004)

Easy. Just build a huge dirigible to keep it in.

Might want to stay away from New Jersey with it, however.

Re:Oh teh humanity! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474094)

Easy. Just build a huge dirigible to keep it in.

Might want to stay away from New Jersey with it, however.

You should stay away from New Jersey in general.

Sure. After all, Platinum now costs less than Gold (5, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474042)

At least it did this morning. Might have changed until now. However, quote:

Sow-Hsin Chen, MIT professor emeritus in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and senior author of a paper describing the new method, says it should make it possible to increase the storage capacity of the activated carbon material by fine-tuning the size and concentrations of the particles of platinum and carbon. The team also hopes to identify a catalyst that isn't quite as expensive as platinum.

So who the hell approved a story that says "Now an MIT-led research team has demonstrated a method that could allow hydrogen to be stored inexpensively at room temperature." If you follow the link it says that a way to inexpensively store hydrogen at room temperature is exactly what they haven't found.

Re:Sure. After all, Platinum now costs less than G (1)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474442)

The same editor that lied about a French nuclear leak [slashdot.org] ?

Phillip.

Re:Sure. After all, Platinum now costs less than G (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474496)

Then I would surely like to retract the statement I made [slashdot.org] back then. Because once can be a mistake, twice starts to look suspicious. There are limits to far one can grant people the benefit of the doubt. This limit has now been reached. (And will certainly be broken if/when this happens again.)

Jumping to conclusions? (1)

Olorion (2465574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476276)

[An inexpensive storage method] is exactly what they haven't found

You are jumping to conclusions, aren't you? The expense of Chen's method depends on how much platinum he uses. Without knowing the quantity, you can't conclude that his method is costly.

Re:Jumping to conclusions? (1)

LordWabbit2 (2440804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37477416)

The very fact that it uses platinum at all makes it costly - regardless of the amount. There is very little platinum in catalytic converters but that does not stop people from stealing them off of cars/trucks. At the time of writing this platinum was selling at 1761.00 a troy ounce.

Dihydrogen monoxide is the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474048)

I have a large quantity of hydrogen at room temperature on my desk right now.

--Oops, I just drank the rest of my water.

Re:Dihydrogen monoxide is the answer (1)

reasterling (1942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476492)

Trisolian Guard: "You just drank our emperor. What is your name?"

Anonymous Coward: "Anonymous Coward."

Trisolian Guard: "All hail emperor ... uh ... Anonymous Coward."

What happens when the tank is punctured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474136)

The internal pressure is ~4 atm and hydrogen is released when the pressure decreases.

I'm sure Chen asked himself whatcanpossiblygowrong, but did he find a way to mitigate it?

Did Anyone Read the Summary (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474168)

And think they invented a balloon?

Yes yes I know hydrogen atoms will slip through the pores in the latex. And also react violently if set on fire. And stuff. But you could celebrate your "invention" with colorful hydrogen storage devices!

The answer is simple. (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474278)

The best way of storing hydrogen at room temperature is to combine it with carbon.

what the heck happened to Millennium cell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474300)

Sodium Borohydride + catalyst. They had working stuff in 2003. low pressure, safe storage and transport, reasonably good energy density. Or course it all comes back to the fact we have no cheap way to generate hydrogen. http://gcep.stanford.edu/pdfs/hydrogen_workshop/Wu.pdf

Inexpensive? Bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474464)

In this experimental set-up, there is a nearly 1:1 ratio of Pt atoms to dissociated H atoms. Plus lots of carbon matrix. Overall, low hydrogen storage density, combined with *extremely* high cost.

Still interesting from a physical chemistry standpoint, but certainly not anything even remotely suitable for practical deployment.

This type of thing is not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37474822)

United Nuclear has a working hydride solution (except the government freaked out and blocked them):

switch to hydrogen [switch2hydrogen.com]

Simple, low pressure tanks that use heat/cold to release/store the hydrogen....

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475128)

I thought the major stumbling block is that it's not an energy source?

Ozone layer holes (4, Interesting)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37475318)

This is important and significant because Hydrogen is very bad for the Ozone layer. Loose hydrogen is so light that it attempts to leave earth and settles in the upper layers of the heterosphere or is whisked off into space. However, many molecules of H2 never make it that far because they are very reactive in the presence of ozone. Research from Caltech indicates that Hydrogen In the upper atmosphere they can easily turn to H2O and produce the harmful presence of upper atmosphere water. Eventually this will fall back to earth but it will have unintended consequences as H2 is ozone depleting and water is an inhibitor to ozone creation.

http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/news/2003/06/59220 [wired.com]

http://www.springerlink.com/content/h010v9w83l8j3441/ [springerlink.com]

Re:Ozone layer holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37476726)

We'll just fix that with a Hydrogen tax.

Combine it with Carbon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37475588)

There is an old solution to the storage and dispensing problem. Combine it with Carbon and turn the Hydrogen into a liquid at room temperature.

These guys already store it in pill-shape (1)

Plammox (717738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476886)

The company Amminex [amminex.com] have invented a technology that can store ammonia (for NOx emission filters, which is their primary business now). They claim this also enables solid hydrogen storage. Indeed, this was their primary research goal. The emission filter business apparently just happened to pick up on one of their side products.

Where's my award? (1)

villain222 (1120485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476946)

I store hydrogen at room temperature all the time. Especially after i eat some chili. FARTGAS!!!!

Carbonized chicken feathers (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37476974)

They already found out 2 years ago that readily available chicken feathers, when carbonized, make perfect carbon nanotubes to store hydrogen. I wonder if using platinum doping with that will have more benefits than costs associated to it. See http://www.greenoptimistic.com/2009/06/25/carbonized-chicken-feathers-hydrogen-storage/ [greenoptimistic.com] for details on the feathers.
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