Thursday, May 26, 2005

An Ignorant Government Investing in Hydrogen

Below is a news article stating South Africa's intended energy policy. Fuel cells and hydrogen are not fuel sources. That's like saying a battery is a fuel source. A fuel source contains energy in and of itself. Sunlight, food, and oil (stored sunlight) are some examples. Gravity is also an energy, which we utilise as hydro-electricpower water falls through a turbine). Hydrogen can be used as a energy, but hydrogen is almost never found in its gaseous state on Earth.
It has to be synthesised, and one of the ays to do this is by passing an electric current through water. Another way is to superheat water, and this can be achieve using natural gas (an already dwindling resource especially in North America). Using an electronic current Hydgrogen bubbles then form along one of the electrodes.
The bottom line is these processes all result in a net energy loss because the synthesis costs so much energy.

The storage of hydrogen, and an extremely volatile and corrosive gas, also presents problems. Furthermore, if you transported hydrogen in trucks, for the same amount of energy as you get from oil, you;d need a lot more trucks:

A midsize fuelling station on the average freeway commonly sells 25 tons of fuel every day. This fuel can be delivered by one 40 ton gasoline truck.You would need 21 hydrogen trucks to deliver the same amount of energy to the station. Today 1 in 100 trucks is a fuel carrier. If one switched to hydrogen, there would be 120 trrucks on the road, 20 of which would be hydrogen fuel carriers. One in six accidents involving trucks would involve hydrogen trucks. Cars also, would have to have very reinforced fuel tanks (far more soi than our gas guzzling tanks because a gas, especially hydrogen, is very flammable)to prevent vehicles from becoming mobile incinerators.

The more you look at the realities of hydrogen, the more laughable it becomes. People are engaged in a collective 'wishful thinking' fantasy. We put men on the moon, we think we can easily solve the end of oil. It's not easy, and it's going to be cheap or simple. The best answer we have is Nuclear, and we need to be building a lot of stations immediately. And we all know, you can't pour nuclear material into a car and expect it to go forward.

Hydrogen 'the way forward'
25/05/2005 14:17 - (SA)

Pretoria - The future of South Africa's energy lies not in oil or gas but in hydrogen and fuel cells, Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena said on Tuesday.

Addressing local and international guests at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Pretoria he said hydrogen and fuel cells were globally believed to be the energy solution for the 21st century by enabling clean, efficient production of power and heat.

"Today is the opening of possibilities of the future hydrogen economy for South Africa," he said. "We realise that this journey will not be easy because as a country we are faced with overwhelming socio-economic challenges."

Mangena, speaking at the Hydrogen Economy and Fuel Cells Indaba, said global competitiveness of a country was closely linked to research, development and innovation.

"My department has identified the hydrogen economy and related fuel cells technologies to potentially change the innovation course of the country's natural resources, and yield multiple social and economic benefits," he said.

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions

"The transition to hydrogen is expected to greatly reduce dependency on oil and gas, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, especially when used in efficient fuel cells."

Mangena said platinum played a crucial role in converting hydrogen to electricity and creating fuel cells and that local researchers had started investigating the technologies.

The challenge facing the country, Mangena said, was a lack of transformation of research into commercial products, services and the creation of new industries.

"The global energy industry is the biggest business in the world, with an annual turnover of over 1.7 trillion US dollars," he said.

"But only two thirds of South Africans have access to electricity, and only about 10% of Sub-Saharan Africans have access to clean reliable energy sources.

"Let us work hard to make our journey a success," he said. "This will not only add value to our economy, but will also benefit our people in the long term."

No comments: