Building a sustainable hydrogen economy

Dec 08, 2011

The concept of the hydrogen economy (HE), in which hydrogen would replace the carbon-based fossil fuels of the twentieth century was first mooted in the 1970s. Today, HE is seen as a potential solution to the dual global crises of climate change and dwindling oil reserves. A research paper to be published in the International Journal of Sustainable Design suggests that HE is wrong and SHE has the answer in the sustainable hydrogen economy.

John Andrews of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, at RMIT University, in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, explains how rather than there being a straight choice between and battery electric vehicles, it is time to accept that horsepower is a matter of "horses for courses". He adds that can be produced using renewables - water as the material source and wind power or solar as the energy supply for conversion. It thus offers a zero-emissions approach to fuel production for power generation using fuel cells to convert the hydrogen into electricity for all modes of transport as an alternative to . Hydrogen generated by via wind power can also act as an energy-storage medium for times when wind and sun are unable to fulfill power requirements.

Andrews suggests that complementary deployment of both technologies depending on the transport service to be supplied is much more appropriate. Off-road, the concept of SHE can be applied just as well to allow the distribution of bulk hydrogen storages for season-to-season storage on electricity grids, and as a strategic energy reserve. Andrews adds that it is time to carry out detailed energy-economic-environmental modeling in order to evaluate the SHE vision for national and regional contexts with a global view to addressing the dual issues of climate change and oil depletion.

"It is generally accepted that energy efficiency and have a key role to play in this imminent historic technological revolution," says Andrews, "Yet increasing reliance on inherently intermittent and variable renewables will intensify the need for some kind of to ensure continuity of supply."

Andrews, in suggesting that HE pass the energy baton to SHE is opening up the debate by keeping the parameters of his analysis of current technologies and infrastructure as broad and as general as possible at this point. As the threats of catastrophic and oil supply deficits and disruptions intensify, governments and the private sector around the world must support the research and development needed to compare SHE with whatever alternatives exist. "We just cannot let such a potentially attractive solution remain relatively unexplored," concludes Andrews.

Explore further: Imaginative ideas for a 'greenlight district' in Amsterdam

More information: "Designing a sustainable hydrogen energy economy" in Int. J. Sustainable Design, 2011, 1, 361-380

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chip_engineer
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2011
Folks need to understand the enormity of energy production and consumption in the world. For the USA see flowcharts.llnl.gov, 100 Quads/yr is something renewables will never be able to achieve as Solar/Wind are severely land area and capital challenged for the little energy they produce, and highly variable to boot.

So when are these low cost Fuel cells ever going to arrive?

Now 1000 1GW Nuclear power plants could not only supply electricity with ease, but the thermal energy could also supply heat to synthesize many fuels including Hydrogen, DME, Ammonia and others. A switch over from conventional Uranium PWRs over to Thorium LFTRs in the long term should remove most of the fears of the anti nukes who like hydrogen way too much but that probably won't happen either.
PPihkala
1 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
Somebody forgot to open SHE as Sustainable Hydrogen Economy. It might seem like a good goal before LENR is taking over energy production.
chip_engineer
3 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
PPihkala

I wish LENR was for real but really there is no proof certainly not from Rossi or Defkalion, only really bad calorimetry that is easy to fake. Even the good guys Ahern, Patterson and friends haven't produced a working device that produces more than a miserable amount of thermal power. To be useful the COP factor needs to be certifiable 10 or more to turn valuable electricity into low grade heat. Pity the Ahearn paper wasn't given at citi5 yesterday either.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
Sustainable hydrogen economy is the same nonsense like the hydrogen economy, because we have to produce hydrogen with using of external source of energy. During production of hydrogen with water electrolysis 40% of energy is lost. We all already using batteries for the purpose of electricity storage and transport from good reason and the hydrogen provides very low value added.
there is no proof certainly not from Rossi or Defkalion, only really bad calorimetry that is easy to fake
The Rossi and Defkalion technology is based on the twenty years old research of Piantelli and Focardi, which is very well documented and easy to reproduce. If only the mainstream physicists wouldn't support the fossil fuel energetic. The fact, something isn't reproduced doesn't mean, it's not reproducible or even impossible - it just means, it's ignored. No less, no more.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
To be useful the COP factor needs to be certifiable 10 or more to turn valuable electricity into low grade heat.
The electricity can be manufactured from heat in 40% efficiency, so that even the COP > 3 will be good enough. It's a COP of many biofuels, which are promoted heavily, BTW. Of course, the more the better and the cold fusion has a potential of virtually infinite COP. But without investments into research even the bests processors will remain as powerful, as Zylog Z80, dear chip_engineer..
chip_engineer
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
calippo

I await also some results from Piantelli too, but the whole Rossi/Defkalion show looks a lot like BLP, an investor scam in the dark. If it were for real it should have stayed as far away as possible from the Zero point energy guys at PESWiki and the Steorn crowd too. And still the calorimetry was terrible!

If anyone can show even unquestionable COP on real device of 3 then atleast you have a possible home heater that compares with air or ground source pump. But for electric output it will need to be far higher to be interesting, a COP of 10 then means you have an electric amplifier with gain of 3 or so. There are other energy amplifiers that are far more practical at the large scale mainly in the nuclear space.

The Z80 was a nice chip in it's day, but the comparison between semiconductor investments and exotic energy is a very poor one.
chip_engineer
not rated yet Dec 08, 2011
calippo

Funny story since you brought it up. Back in the 70s a bit before my time, several semiconductor companies routinely announced chips with specs that did not even exist and had not even started in design. It was the old "run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes" ploy practiced by the marketing dept.

So yes perhaps you were right to compare the two after all, marketing guys really are all the same...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
100 Quads/yr is something renewables will never be able to achieve as Solar/Wind are severely land area and capital challenged

Funny how those countries that use renewables are quite well able to produce sizeable amounts of their energy needs (and they are only starting to set up powerplants) - even countries which have MUCH higher population densities i.e. less available space) and MUCH smaller coastlines.

Germany is scheduled to have 18% of total energy from renewables by 2020. (35% of electricity generation from renewables by that time). And here we're talking about a country with 80 million people the size of Texas. (And we don't have any arid/desert areas which are optimal fo solar)

Now 1000 1GW Nuclear power plants

And how long to build those (and where)? Have you any idea what the cost of a nuclear power plant is? How long it takes to build one? How few companies there are worldwide that can do this? Look it up. Then you'll see that nuclear is not an option.
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
I await also some results from Piantelli too
Why do you expect "some results" from Piantelli, when this guy published nearly thirty publications about it together with Focardi in last twenty years? It's like to ignore all Einstein's articles while waiting for confirmation of general relativity. Do you expect, they will be printed in your local newspaper or what?

Your reply just indicates, how deeply the ignorance of cold fusion findings is rooted between people. Why all, even preliminary results of useless findings at CERN are getting the loud publicity, whereas just these important ones are ignored for decades?
chip_engineer
not rated yet Dec 09, 2011
antialias

Germany like most of Europe likely uses about half the energy per person vs vs the US and has done so for a long time, denser population, smaller homes and cars, shorter driving etc. However the percentage of electric vs thermal is likely to be the same ratio as the US. Germany is the EU industrial powerhouse and industry mostly runs on thermal or carbon power doesn't it? Perhaps Germany has an equivalent energy graphic we can talk about.

I have seen on German news only highway sides (free land) and on farmland (definitely not free). I also hear the feed in tariffs is crumbling under the pressure, way past saturation and electricity costs are vastly higher than in the US.

cont..
chip_engineer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
As Germany shuts down its nuclear, it will have to make that up by buying far more gas from dear Putin's Russia and ironically nuclear power from the Czech republic and France.

Since you are so anti nuclear, perhaps you could do your country a great service and help ban Germany from importing a single electron of nuclear power from abroad.

The USA used to be able to build nuclear plants at a rapid clip in the 70s for about $2/W but as more regulations were piled on the costs shot up almost exponentially till it came to a stop. Some of that was good, some was not. France did their nuclear build up almost in a decade. China can still build plants at $2/W using US designs, pity they are mostly not the passive design though. India will follow China with its peculiar Thorium/uranium hybrid.

cont..
chip_engineer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
Costs of nuclear are more complex than gas/coal, the CO2 levels are near zero and the fuel is cheap. The high level waste has be separated 50 years later to fuel future fast breeders. Current PWRs are specified to such high standards that only Japan can build the steel domes. Maybe we shouldn't build PWRs in the first place.

For nuclear I favor a rapid switch from PWR to the much safer Thorium LFTR design which needs no pressure dome and runs on a far cheaper more plentiful fuel that is passive by design. It burns Th almost completely up with 10000 time less Pu in the waste stream plus you get valuable radiological isotopes in the mix.

The waste is at background levels in 300yr vs conventional Uranium waste needs many generations of 20k years to lose the Pu. Also Thorium LFTRs can burn up the current Ur,PU high level waste so LFTRs can solve most of the problems of regular Uranium reactors.

If you study up on Thorium LFTR you might learn that Solar and Wind is not an option either.
chip_engineer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
rawa

Most of the old school cold fusion people seem to believe the coulomb barrier somehow gets busted with new physics to allow fusion to occur at room temp. This is getting smacked down, see Krivits link to the Ethan Siegel and Peter Thieberger paper. This is why the ITER and other hard nuclear physics types reject the cold fusion papers.

I think many on the LENR side also reject that idea and are following the Widom Larson theory that uses no new low energy standard physics to explain neutron capture. It seems far more plausible to me as an observer, even Bob Parks appears to concur.

As for Piantelli his work predates WL theory so if he has excess heat today on a demonstrable device he will have to adopt WD or find a better theory so I am not interested in old papers, just working devices and an acceptable theory that can stand the heat.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
As Germany shuts down its nuclear, it will have to make that up by buying far more gas from dear Putin's Russia and ironically nuclear power from the Czech republic and France.

Some numbers for germany:
Last powerplant will go offline in 2022
Currently nuclear supplies 22% of electricity
Current amount of electricity from renewables: 19%
projected for 2020: 35%
(if we extrapolate a linear increase we get 38.5% by 2022. The curve actually looks better than linear to date but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt)

So by 2022 we'll have lost 22% nuclear and gained 19.5% renewables. With those numbers we'll still be a net energy exporter.

nuclear power from the Czech republic and France.

This bit of misinformation gets bandied about a lot. Seasonally we've always bought energy from them and they from us. It's a european grid.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
The high level waste has be separated 50 years later to fuel future fast breeders.

Yeah. like that is ever going to happen. No country is going that way in the foreseeable future to any great extent.

and help ban Germany from importing a single electron of nuclear power from abroad.

Don't you think showing that you can produce way cheaper power with alternative sources will do that on its own? Subsidies for nuclear to date in germany: close to 200bn euros.
Subsidies for alternatives close to 30bn euros.
Effect: nuclear 22% - alternative sources 19%

Future costs for nuclear (disposal of wastes, dismantling of old reactors): inestimable (but certainly tens of billions of euros)
Future costs of alternative power plants: none
chip_engineer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
antialias

Just curious, have you ever even looked into the case for Thorium LFTR since it pretty much removes the need to go to conventional breeders or the need to mess with Pu. Are you aware of the big difference between the waste stream of Liquid Thorium vs solid Uranium designs and the life times 300 vs n*20k years and that we are talking about molten salts vs solid, intrinsically passive vs active (might just fail). The list of differences is quite long and all in favor of Thorium LFTR.

As for future costs of alternative solar or wind, looks like their lives are measured 20-30 years, will need to be replaced at twice the rate of most nuclear plants.

I can do the math for solar very easily, it always comes out to be far higher than the solar crowd would have us believe, they take every chance to mention best case $4/W and completely ignore the /COP part which makes it another 7* more expensive for the North East. Anyway we will see how Germany fares without.
chip_engineer
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
antialias

The historical trading of energy between EU countries is obvious, but as France/Czech turn more nuclear and Germany turns less, won't it be ironic that Germans will be still be using nuclear power or will German greens try to coerce them to go off atoms too!

Its funny though that nuclear opponents talk of subsidies while German nuclear power companies have to subsidize the solar power.

The ideal would be for all power sources to go completely without subsidies of any kind, no feed in tariffs, no robbing Paul to pay Peter etc, separate accounting. Whatever costs nuclear needs to cover its clean up should be born by the long life of cheap energy before. Thorium LFTR should be able to easily clean its own ass by selling of the new isotopes.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2011
The historical trading of energy between EU countries is obvious, but as France/Czech turn more nuclear and Germany turns less, won't it be ironic that Germans will be still be using nuclear power or will German greens try to coerce them to go off atoms too!
Germans are clever - they don't want to invest into both development of grid, both into building of nuclear plants, when the cold fusion is in the game.