Wednesday, March 23, 2011

hydrogen fueled cars, why not?

I was once excited about hydrogen powered cars as a green solution like many of you probably are.  Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and readily available here, no problem.  It's also not expensive to produce.  Hydrogen fuel cells work quite well.  Iceland currently powers many buses in its transportation system using it (in fact the entire country is like a green experiment using all kinds of technologies like geothermal plants, etc).

But... the problem for the rest of the world is this:
We have a MASSIVE infrastructure of gas stations now that would all need to be converted to expend hydrogen and the cost would be staggering.  Additionally, because hydrogen is the smallest element it readily escapes its enclosures unless sufficiently pressurized (it requires a ton of pressure).  The hydrogen 'tanks' in cars have to be specially manufactured to be highly pressurized as well, to hold the fuel.

Well, that put a damper on things, however, something exciting that's emerging are ways to contain the hydrogen at 1 atmosphere (regular pressure).  One research team discovered chicken feathers of all things have nano-pores that hydrogen readily will lodge within.  Essentially, they heat the feathers up to condense the material into a fluff, if you will, and then that may be placed inside a tank to hold the hydrogen very cheaply.  Chicken feathers are a very cheap commodity, obviously.  In addition to that, carbon nanotubes can be used.  It was not thought to be cost effective until recently.  A chemical engineer in CA discovered that putting waste plastic bags (like grocery bags) into a small reactor and heating them up would produce pure nanotubes extremely cheaply.  The exact technical specifications required are unknown to me, but it seems they don't need any special order (assuming the chicken feathers could be dumped into a tank, why not nanotubes?).

Very exciting!

38 comments:

  1. Definitely need to find a new source of fuel, whatever it is.

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  2. im pro anything that reduces air pollution

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  3. Damn I think this would be extremely worth it in the end. Problem is oil companies run our freaking country and are going to make it IMPOSSIBLE for us to switch over. Amazing article nonetheless.

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  4. As the transition from fossil fuels to hydrogen fuel would be gradual in adoption of purchases of new cars, the transition from gas to hydrogen fuel at gas stations would be gradual too.

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  5. This will have to happen sooner or later, we're slowly but surely running out of alternatives.

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  6. Iceland's attitude is pretty cool, i did a little more reading about some of the green experiments they're doing.
    If the transition is cost effective, then there is considerably more reason to try hydrogen fuel. But, it is, as you said, a huge problem to change our country's gasoline infrastructure over.
    Like jamierod said, the change would be gradual as the technology got less and less expensive, and archaic.
    still, it would please me to see our world's dependence on oil abolished sometime in our lifetime. Electric/hybrid cars are a decent step, but they just end up consuming the oil at a power plant rather than in the car.
    I remember in 2008 when there was a campaign to use corn as a source of fuel, and it ended up being a terrible and expensive idea that contributed to the recession, and shook 3rd world economies to their core.
    The switch to hydrogen has been possible for a while, but if there is new cost-effective tech, then let's go for it!

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  7. you hit it on the head ) Iceland also has a unique structure allowing for numerous green sources of energy. Close to the sea, so they use tidal. Geothermal because of all the glaciers. Small, so easy to adjust infrastructure. And I'm not positive on this, but I believe due to it being by the sea it is also very windy for wind power.

    Well, atleast we have Arizona for solar! I'll probably address that in my next post )

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  8. If I'm not mistaken I've already test-driven a hydrogen fueled car a few months ago at a car exposition in Utrecht - Netherlands.

    It's only a matter of time before we run out of oil, this seems like a pretty damn good option to me.

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  9. natural energy will hopefully be used more often. followed!

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  10. I do see your point, but getting everyone to be persuaded by hydrogen is a pain. I believe people will buy electric over Hydrogen.

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  11. I agree, adapting to a new fuel source would be tough, but we have to do it someday.

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  12. love the title of this blog :) nice

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  13. The only reason why we don't have them or renewable energy as our main source is because the oil monkeys like you paying for their expensive gas and whatnot. As soon as i get enough $$, I'm covering my roof in solar panels and giving my electric company the middle finger.

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  14. i am psyched! i hope in my lifetime we see more stuff like this and maybe just maybe teleportation? haha pipe dream i know

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  15. I've always felt like hydrogen as a power source has been ignored simply because oil is more profitable.

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  16. Fuel will forever be a problem.

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  17. People with hybrids feel like the shit..
    maybe that will become a problem

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  18. Haha thats true @strokeheroes.

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  19. Have you ever looked into algae biofuels? That stuff is pretty interesting.

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  20. Good read, keep this up! Followed, great stuff.

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  21. Sadly, we depend on companies, so, solar cars would be better, but it'd affect the economy.

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  22. That's very interesting, the bit about the chicken feathers containing the hydrogen. Fascinating stuff.

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  23. Just wait, the fuel prices are going to be ridiculous. Canada has some hope for lowering prices because of our oilsands, but they still haven't figured out how to properly seperate the oil from the sand.

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  24. Some people are kinda worried about the whole hydrogen+impact=BOOM! Probably not really an issue though. Followed!

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  25. Great post mate, something will have to replace fossil fuel eventually

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  26. Nice article, thanks for the add

    +1'd

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  27. the Schatz lab in my town built the first road legal fuel cell car.

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  28. I was under the impression that the current hydrogen power vehicles don't run on the gas itself but instead a hydrogen power cell. This is similar to a battery but hydrogen based instead of NiCad or Lithium.
    I know there are plans to try and develop "slush" hydrogen for vehicle use which will involve obviously more costly parts however at the rate our scientists are figuring stuff out, we'll probably see some serious advancements on this in the next few years.

    That info about the nano tubes is really interesting. Once we can develop smaller and smaller optical tubes, things will start to get even faster. I'm almost excited

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  29. the test cars running in LA from GM and Honda fuel with hydrogen that must be pressurized a great deal

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  30. It's interesting to think about what the nanotube scientists peer's first thought when he said - Guys, I'm going to heat up some grocery bags..

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  31. hahahaha, yeah I suppose so :)

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