Wind Turbines and Hydrogen cars, the match made in heaven and the most deceptive and manipulative picture in the New York Times. It is one of a series of hydrogen vehicles ogled in the the paper today. What is really fascinating is the editorial bias shown by the print editors, who chose not to run two very well written articles, available online, that point out the problems with hydrogen. Jim Motavalli writes a Q and A that explains where hydrogen now comes from (Natural Gas) and how it is shipped (with great difficulty) and how ultimately the only way to make it efficiently is with nuclear power, which Amory Lovins describes as "aspirational." ::New York Times
Far more devastating is Don Sherman's " At Milepost 1 on the Hydrogen Highway"
Honda FCX, (Mikes earlier coverage here)
Covering much of the same ground as Jim Motavalli but in greater detail:
"Hydrogen proponents promise a future of placid (and carbon-free) travel punctuated by occasional stops to replenish our tanks as conveniently as we fill them today. They champion an America laced by a hydrogen highway, dotted with service stations that offer safe, affordable refueling. Perhaps clean restrooms will be part of that future, too."
However there are a couple of small problems. Of the fifty million tons of hydrogen produced annually, fully a quarter of it is used to refine oil, and as the quality of crude oil deteriorates, it needs more hydrogen.
95% of the hydrogen made in the United States is created from natural gas, through a process called steam reforming, which creates 350 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Hydrogen does not travel or store well because its small molecule can leak out of the smallest fissure, and special pipes are needed- "While it is possible to deliver hydrogen in pipes used for natural gas, a well-known risk is hydrogen embrittlement — the tendency of hydrogen atoms to infiltrate the surface of welded or heat-treated steel, which can result in cracks and leaks."
The Bush Administration's goal of replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen will require 90 million tons of it a year. "Electricity from solar cells and wind turbines can also be used to electrolyze water to hydrogen and oxygen without undesirable byproducts, though it would be a considerable undertaking. The Energy Department estimates that meeting the country’s needs would require more than 160,000 two-megawatt wind turbines."
Leaving nuclear power the only option. "The Energy Department is promoting a Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative aimed at demonstrating the commercial feasibility of new nuclear plants that produce hydrogen using high-temperature-electrolysis processes. Such methods are under study in national laboratories. The Energy Department expects that the most promising approaches will be ready for commercial-scale demonstrations by 2020."
Don Sherman tries to end on a positive note- "Americans can take solace in this: The journey to a clean, secure and possibly more efficient future has begun." but it doesn't ring true. His article clearly demonstrates that hydrogen is really nothing more than an expensive nuclear "energy carrier."
We "environmentalists" go gaga over every shiny new car, and the New York "All the news that's fit to print" Times deems two articles that lay out the problems not fit to print on paper. Times readers deserve better. ::New York Times