Re: Hydrogen cars, et al. A re-evaluation from several different perspectives. [Re: QUOTE: Bey on e

Michael M. Butler ()
Sun, 16 Nov 1997 20:26:41 -0800

I absolutely agree with most of what you say. In particular, I agree I
could be wrong. I would search my mind for the last time I've seen a
post where you admitted the same regarding yourself, but I seem to have
promised unilateral non-aggression. Bother.

I stand by my belief that hydrocarbon reformation at point of use
(including *inside* the fuel cell) is the only practical "hydrogen" use
for the foreseeable future* for most personal-use vehicles. See below:
such use does not contradict the notion that cars may have fuel cells in
them. *(Of course governments impose all sorts of impractical things on
people; and the foreseeable future is only about five years).

Re: pollution: Yes, and sort of, and no. Depends on what you mean by
pollution. Less airborne nitrox compounds, sure. But the carbon and
trace elements in the fuel have to go somewhere. And catalyst bed
contamination remains a serious problem. Further, as I mentioned before,
many "hydrogen economy" plans just move the pollution around, while
_increasing_ the sum. Examples: farmed-methanol, central-site
electrolysis with hydride storage, etc.

Now, hypothetical complex-organic fuel cell catalysts (verging on
enzymes in complexity) *might* solve these problems. I devoutly wish
for them. But evidence of their actual commercial-quantity appearance
remains sketchy at the present time--even though I built a
bacteria-powered fuel cell twenty years ago. IMHO, bulk nano is the most
likely way to produce such--by which time _everything else changes too_.

AFAIK, all published fuel cell chemistries that use hydrocarbons
function in exactly the way I describe, by reforming the fuel at point
of use: the fuel cell. Methanol is expensive for reasons mentioned
previously. The issue isn't purely one of how efficent the _fuel cell_
is; it's a _systems_ concern.
And I am extremely interested in the carbon-fiber/carbon-tubule H2
storage systems. Nonetheless, I still think gas stations will pump gas
(or something very like it) for a while. The energy desnity (per gram
_or_ per cc) of 87-octane regular gasoline is hard to beat.

It is perfectly possible that that fuel will run a fuel cell. I never
said otherwise.

As for the international impact of any (even a *tiny*) shift in energy
use by the USA, G7, Pac Tigers, etc... well, that's a straw man if I
ever heard one. Clearly people are prepared to fight over this stuff.
People are prepared to fight over lots of things.


Abraham Moses Genen wrote:

> Apparently, most new fuel cell technologies use hydrocarbon fuels
> somewhat more efficiently than internal combustion engines and polute
> substantially less or not at all.

I absolutely agree; _and_ they have a huge capital cost and Weltpolitik
impact as long as the primary catalyst is platinum. {Platimum trades at
around $380 an ounce. The US is not a big world supplier. Connect the


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