Closing the hydrogen economic loop

Jul 21, 2008

The inventor of the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) technology used for building batteries for countless portable electronic gadgets and now hybrid gas-electric cars believes the hydrogen economy is already upon us.

In a paper published in the current issue of the International Journal of Nuclear Hydrogen Production and Applications, Stanford Ovshinsky, Chairman and CEO of Ovshinsky Innovation LLC, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, explains that we already have the means for making the hydrogen economy realistic.

Hydrogen is considered the "ultimate" fuel alternative to fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. As such, research is focusing on how to produce hydrogen from renewable resources in a sustainable way and finding ways to store it effectively and safely so that it can be released on demand for powering vehicles and producing electricity.

The global economy is based upon energy but society needs now, more than ever, a non-polluting fuel that requires no strategic military defense unlike oil. "The transition from fossil fuels to hydrogen is of revolutionary import not only for its societal impact but also for the new materials science that it absolutely requires in all of its aspects," explains Ovshinsky, "New science and new technologies build much needed new industries, which provide not only jobs but also feedback into the educational system."

According to Ovshinsky, the hydrogen economy, which will emerge from such technology, was kick-started with the introduction of the Ovonic nickel metal hydride battery used in hybrid vehicles. Reversible storage of hydrogen in a solid hydride permits the entire loop of hydrogen generation, storage and use, to be carried out now, rather than at some distant point in the future. Ovshinsky suggests that that despite the observations of some critics of the notion of a hydrogen economy, the creation of a fuel economy based on hydrogen, is not only practical and realistic but is available to our global society in the near-term.

He points out that by storing hydrogen reversibly in disordered solids, this solves the problems of storage, kinetics (speed of uptake and release) and cycle life. To this end, Ovshinsky and his colleagues have created a family of hydride compounds capable of real-world applications. Underpinning this is the vast catalytic surface area found in these materials, which means that when fabricated into thin film, continuous web, multi-junction devices, they can use the entire spectrum of sunlight to break up water to generate hydrogen, which is stored within the material ready for later use.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

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enantiomer2000
1.3 / 5 (3) Jul 21, 2008
I think this guy will be surprised that there probably won't be a hydrogen economy is the future. At least not one that drives all of our power needs.
CWFlink
1.3 / 5 (4) Jul 22, 2008
The paper talks about storing hydrogen, not producing it. The problem is where does the hydrogen we intend to burn come from? If we produce it from water, we need electricity which either means more nuclear power plants or worse, more fossil fuel burning power plants.

Presumably those calling for a hydrogen cycle can answer this? ...I think they are just using the hydrogen cycle to justify more nuclear power plants.

Can someone tell me of a environmentally safe way to produce large quantities of hydrogen without requiring nuclear power plants?
jeffsaunders
5 / 5 (4) Jul 22, 2008
The article argues that these batteries already store and use hydrogen therefore they have to be able to get the hydrogen in order to store and use it.

There is no great unsolvable problem in getting hydrogen it is present in many molecules already.

That is what the article is about. Of course what it doesn't mention is the cost in producing these batteries. However that is not what the article is about and besides the article infers that production costs will drop as more ways of using similar types of compounds produces natural evolutionary improvements in production and recycling.
Sepp
5 / 5 (2) Jul 22, 2008
"Ovshinsky and his colleagues have created a family of hydride compounds capable of real-world applications. Underpinning this is the vast catalytic surface area found in these materials, which means that when fabricated into thin film, continuous web, multi-junction devices, they can use the entire spectrum of sunlight to break up water to generate hydrogen, which is stored within the material ready for later use."

Look at this last sentence of the article. Apparently the guy has figured out a way to combine production and storage, something similar to a re-chargeable battery. The hydrogen store gets 're-charged' by unfolding the elements of the battery and exposing them to sunlight and water...

Could have potential.
Plurk
3 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2008
Can someone tell me of a environmentally safe way to produce large quantities of hydrogen without requiring nuclear power plants?


Hydrogen can for example be biologically produced in an algea bioreactor or via electrolysis of water by hydro-, tidal -, geothermal-, wind-, solar-energy.
lowbatteries
4 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2008
Do you mean an environmentally friendly way BESIDES nuclear power plants? Why we still dig up dead dinosaurs and burn them when we have discovered nuclear energy is beyond me.

If nobody had ever used the atomic bomb, nuclear energy would be everywhere and nobody would think twice, because it's the most environmentally friendly way we've got to replace oil (at the moment). But I'm still rooting for solar/wind/water energy.
Cyril
not rated yet Aug 02, 2008
Closing the hydrogen economic loop requires closing the laws of entropy.

Good luck with that.

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