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NASA Reports Vast Hydrogen Reserves in Earth's Crust 822

Posted by timothy
from the consumption-of-mass-quantities dept.
Garin writes: "The Vancouver Sun is reporting that NASA scientists have discovered vast quantities of hydrogen stored in the Earth's crust while they were trying to explain the presence of living bacteria. Could this be the beginning of the end for our dependence on oil? I hope so."
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NASA Reports Vast Hydrogen Reserves in Earth's Crust

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  • Hydrogen mining! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kintanon (65528) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:00PM (#3343956) Homepage Journal
    Woohoo! Now we can start strip mining for hydrogen! >:) Hopefully a nice easy, preferably mostly passive, process can be perfected for extracting the hydrogen in usable form. Would be much cool if they could just stick a Hydrogen refinery with a big tube down into the crust and let it chug away, using part of what it brought up to poweritself and pumping the rest to wherever. Mmmm... cleaner energy...

    Kintanon
    • Yeah, and they can market it under the trade name "Vespene."
    • As I understand it, the hydrogen is dispersed pretty evenly in the crust (starting about 2 miles down). This means we'd have to dig up billions of tons of rock and extract hydrogen from it. The invasiveness of oil drilling is laughable in comparison.
    • Re:Hydrogen mining! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cy Guy (56083) on Monday April 15, 2002 @03:56PM (#3345320) Homepage Journal
      What I would like to see, and what could make this more economical, is instituting a plan from the 70's when mag-lev trains were all the rage.

      Dig a tunnel from NY to LA to enclose a near-sonic speed underground maglev train. The idea was dismissed 25 years ago as being too big due to digging the tunnel needed, but with the experience of the Chunnel under our belt, and the prospect of harvesting billions of litres of Hydrogen from the rock mined out of the tunnel, it might now be more economical.

      If you didn't go to this extreme, you have to relize that we already mine millions of tons of rock in precious metal mines and just to produce gravel. If this crushing was done in a machine that captured the hydrogen trapped in the rock, no additional mining might be needed, just new crushing and extraction machines.

  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056.yahoo@com> on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:00PM (#3343959) Homepage Journal
    ...when the people who currently have a monopoly on oil control it.

  • by coyote-san (38515) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:02PM (#3343970)
    Sure, it sounds like a neat idea now.

    But wait until we've been burning hydrogen-powered cars for a thousand years, locking up all of the atmospheric oxygen in water. People will be gasping for air at sea level, and the 'dead zone' on mountains (which the oxygen level is too low to support human life) will include cities like Denver and Mexico City.
    • This is moderated to a 4?????

      Please explain how burning hydrogen is substantially worse than burning hydrocarbons for using up oxygen. You HAVE been thru a high school chemistry course, no?

      Burning Hydrogen:
      H2 + O2 --> H20

      Burning Hydrocarbons:
      CxHy + O2 --> CO2 + H20

      (and no i don't feel like balancing the equations)
    • No, we can easily liberate the Oxygen from Hydrogen again using solar power. By the time this would even possibly become a problem (if it is even possible, something else in nature may already counterbalance it) we should have efficient enough solar arrays/orbital stations to maybe even do away with the need for in ground hydrogen. That or we could at least use that to break them back apart, replenishing oxygen in the air as well as bolstering the supply of ground pumped hydrogen.
    • by kawika (87069) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:37PM (#3344292)
      I thought I might mod this to Funny but decided to post instead because people seem to be taking it seriously. What makes you think that burning oil will consume less oxygen.

      One good thing about burning hydrocarbons is that it produces CO2. Yeah, yeah, global warming etc, but if we increase the CO2 in the atmosphere then it is good for the living things that need CO2 to live--plants. There is already some evidence that higher CO2 levels are causing increased crop yields. Here's one reference [epa.gov] that Google brought up. The plants will produce oxygen in return, and life will be good again. So even if we convert to Hydrogen for cars, maybe we'll keep a few dozen coal and oil power plants in service to produce CO2 for our friends the plants.
      • by wytcld (179112) on Monday April 15, 2002 @08:14PM (#3347054) Homepage
        Further studies showed that atmosphere with extra carbon dioxide only results in increased plant yields if the soil is also enriched beyond the normal soils - the plants in place are already evolved for maximum efficiency of carbon dioxide use given the current fertility of the natural soils. So you can get a boost in plant growth if you fertilize - which requires vast amounts of oil and results in serious downstream pollution; but as far as, say, forests go, you get virtually no gain from extra atmospheric carbon dioxide.
    • by mamba-mamba (445365) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:45PM (#3344374)
      Don't worry about oxygen. As others have pointed out, we have been engaging in "destroying" oxygen for many many years already, and there is still plenty of it. This is true for a reason:

      Plants liberate O2 during photosynthesis. [maricopa.edu]

      In fact, the single biggest and most important biological and geological change in Earth's history was probably when plants first began to spew oxygen which, at the time, must have been HIGHLY TOXIC to most life forms. Prior to that time, almost everything on Earth was in an (electrochemically) reduced state. Over some geological period of time, everything converted to an oxidized state. Most organisms must have become extinct or relegated to marginal environments when this happened.

      However, eventually a new class of organisms arose which was able to take advantage of the new, oxygenated environment with the use of aerobic respiration. The rest, as they say, is history.

      MM
      --
    • It was a joke! (Score:3, Redundant)

      by coyote-san (38515)
      Come on, people, it was a joke. A deliberate attempt to imitate the "there's no silver lining so bright that it doesn't contain a dark cloud" crowd.
  • Professor Freund said that his team had "tantalizing evidence" that as much as 1,000 litres of hydrogen may be trapped in each cubic metre of rock.


    When asked what this could possibly mean, Dr. Freud said that it meant that he secretly wishes to engage in sexual relations with his mother.

  • Thank goodness that they found some Hydrogen in the earth's crust! We were almost running out of dihydrogen monoxide and atmospheric sources!

    (Yes, I know it's more costly to derive [H] from other molecules than to recover from the earth and store for immediate use. It's called "vain attempt at humor.")
  • Unfortunately, I don't think this will reduce dependence on petroleum. If the hydrogen was not bound up in some molecules (like water), then it would be great. But at the moment there is no cheap way of getting hydrogen out common compounds.

    I haven't read the linked article yet, as it appears to be /.-ed. So my comments are made in more than just the usual bit of ignorance.

  • Article text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:05PM (#3343992)
    Posted anonymously because I don't need the karma.

    LONDON -- Scientists have discovered vast quantities of hydrogen gas, widely regarded as the most promising alternative to today's dwindling stocks of fossil fuels, lying beneath the Earth's crust.
    The discovery has stunned energy experts, who believe that it could provide virtually limitless supplies of clean fuel for cars, homes and industry.

    Governments across the world are urgently seeking ways of switching from conventional energy sources such as coal, gas and nuclear power to cleaner, safer alternatives.
    Energy specialists estimate that oil production will start to decline within the next 10 to 15 years, as the economically viable reserves start to run out.

    Hydrogen gas has been hailed as the ultimate clean fuel, as it produces only water when burned. Until now, however, moves to switch to a "hydrogen economy" have been dogged by the cost of making the gas. The two most common ways -- extraction from natural gas and sea water -- are expensive and create environmental problems.
    Now scientists at the American space agency Nasa have found that the Earth's crust is a vast natural reservoir of hydrogen which has become trapped in ancient rocks.

    The team made its discovery while trying to explain how bacteria live many miles below the Earth's surface. Such bugs have no access to sunlight, forcing them to rely on another source of energy for life. Scientists suspected that hydrogen was the source.

    According to Professor Friedemann Freund and colleagues at Nasa's Ames Research Center in California, the gas is produced when water molecules trapped inside molten rock break down to release hydrogen.
    "In the top 20 kilometres of the Earth's crust, the conditions are right to produce a nearly inexhaustible supply of hydrogen," said Professor Freund.

    Studies by the team of common rock types such as granite and olivine have revealed extraordinarily high levels of trapped hydrogen. Professor Freund said that his team had "tantalizing evidence" that as much as 1,000 litres of hydrogen may be trapped in each cubic metre of rock.

    Although formidable engineering problems remain to be overcome in abstracting the gas, the sheer volume of the Earth's crust means that such a high concentration would solve the world's energy problems.
    "Everyone thinks of gas and oil as the main sources, and it's very difficult to get anyone to take alternatives seriously," said Dr. David Elliott, the professor of technology policy at the Open University in London. "The possibility of vast reserves of hydrogen in the Earth's crust could change that mindset."

    The low yield of energy from burning hydrogen compared to gas, however, means that vast quantities of rock would have to be mined.

    Professor Freund believes that the extraction and crushing of rock to extract the trapped hydrogen is likely to be prohibitively expensive. The reaction which creates the gas takes place at depths far below those involved in oil extraction, which are typically about two miles down.

    The most promising source of the hydrogen may be geological "traps" similar to those now drilled for natural gas. Professor Freund said: "One of these natural hydrogen fields is already known to exist in North America, and extends from Canada to Kansas."
  • stop the oil use? no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:07PM (#3343997) Homepage
    not a chance.. not for a long time at least.
    Forcing huge and multiple industries to completely re-tool for a new fuel source will first cause gigantic resistance. The oil companies will scream no way, the car companies will scream no way, and finally the consumer will scream no-way-in-hell!

    Why the consumer screaming? simple.. GM,Ford,Toyota,etc... will intentionally hike prices even higher due to the "forced changes" making you $17,000 budget sedan cost $36,000 and the stupid SUV's costs soar even higher..

    it wont happen, not in our lifetimes, and possibly not in our grandchildrens lifetimes.
    • 17,000 isn't necessarily a 'budget' vehicle. There are plenty of brand new vehicles at around 10K. If they jumped up to 15-17K to switch to hydrogen, and the SUVs became unaffordable I don't think I would cry one bit. I walk pretty much everywhere, so smaller cars on the road would make my day. It's not as if most people who own an SUV need them anyways...

      Kintanon
      • But it doesnt stop there. the Hydrogen fuel will also soar in price to stratospheric prices. due to the "added processing costs" of "retooling the industry"

        a change to Hydrogen as an automotive fuel will make 6 dollar a gallon gasoline look cheap... and again the consumer will scream no-way.

        A real budget vehicle is $17K. and vehicles that should be bought by most (honda Insight and the other super green cars) cost insane prices ($32K for the insight and more for the GM offering)

        The corperations are not interested at all in any change from diry/nasty/super inefficient oil fuel cars... otherwise they'd make the green cars affordable.. and start switching the entire lines of vehicles to green-er offerings.

        so again...It will never happen.
        • oops forgot. a $10K vehicle is an econo-throwaway box. they are not quality vehicles in any way ..(I own a Kia Sephia... it is a piece of crap in quality... you have to drive it very very carefully to not damage it... My Aztek feels better built and get's the same gas mileage(31.2Mpg on highway.. K&N air filter gave me 1mpg on it's own! ).. and isnt as delicate.)
    • the car companies will scream no way

      Bullshit. The car companies are working on hydrogen powered cars, both with fuel cell technology and internal combustion engines. BMW is pursuing the latter approach.
  • How bout ethanol? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jjv411 (267377) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:08PM (#3343999)
    Why wait for hydrogen to relieve the dependence on foreign oil. In the states there are thousands of farmers who cannot afford to eat. Why haven't ethanol powered automobiles showed themselves? Corn products seem like a great way to help improve the economy by helping out the farmers, providing new jobs, and lowering the dependence on petrol? What gives? Why are there no ethanol cars?
    • by M-G (44998)
      There are ethanol cars. They're all over the roads. And we're being forced by the government to buy gasoline that's 10% ethanol. Do you know why? It's because the farm states have gotten subsidies to produce the stuff and help out the poor farmer. Ethanol is expensive to make, and yields less energy per gallon than gasoline.

      And if you look at most newer Fords, you'll see an extra badge on the car that signifies a flexible fuel vehicle, which can take up to a 15% ethanol concentration.
    • Re:How bout ethanol? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by awptic (211411)
      Hemp too. In fact, hemp can product 10 times more ethanol [hempcar.org] than corn, and has lots of other uses too (fabric mainly).
      I still don't understand why the government isn't looking into this (and corn) as a means to produce energy, it would be in everyone's best interest, and losing our reliance on middle east countries for oil seems like a pretty good idea now, considering all the crap going on over there lately.
    • by mikeee (137160) on Monday April 15, 2002 @02:01PM (#3344488)
      In the states there are thousands of farmers who cannot afford to eat.

      Huh? Support for this, please? (Farmers having trouble making their loan payments or going bankrupt I might believe...)

      I mean, if they really couldn't eat, they could, I dunno, consume some edible plants. If only there were some way farmers might have access to those...
  • beware! (Score:2, Funny)

    by DickPhallus (472621)
    NASA scientists have discovered vast quantities of hydrogen

    Any extraction of this 'hydrogen' should be persued with caution. Especially if this so called 'hydrogen' is in the dangerous dihydrogen monoxide form!

    Consider some of it's effects and the consider the whole cover-up and conspiracy [dhmo.org] surround dihydrogen monoxide!

    Please, for the children's sake, reconsider!
  • My favorite quote from the article:'The most promising source of the hydrogen may be geological "traps" similar to those now drilled for natural gas. Professor Freund said: "One of these natural hydrogen fields is already known to exist in North America, and extends from Canada to Kansas."'

    So instead of crushing rocks to extract the Hydrogen, we can just pump it up like we do with oil. As an aside, we can pump in CO2 which is much heavier than H2 and solve the worlds CO2 [slashdot.org] problems as well!
  • by qurob (543434) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:12PM (#3344036) Homepage

    We'll just convert the 200 million cars in the country to hydrogen by Friday

    It's like being in a Microsoft-free world, it's possible, it will just take time.
  • This hydrogen is molecularly trapped in Granite! 1 cubic meter releases 1000 liters of gas. Even if it did, the energy required to completely mill one cubic meter of granite is most likely more than the energy value of the gas.

    2nd problem. Isnt 1000 liters exactly equal to the volume of one cubic meter? So where is all the granite?

    I am in Vancouver literally across the street from the Vancouver Sun. Nobody reads it for a reason....

    • There is no such thing as the quantity of a gas (mols) measured in litres. The quantity of a gas is a function of the pressure (Pa), volume (litres) and temperature (Kelvins).

      Advice to Americans: your weight and measurement "system" doesn't make sense with modern physics. You don't know the different between a quantity and a volume, a force and a mass and whatnot. Cost you a martian probe already. When will you finally get this straight ?

  • cars still run on petrol, lorries still use oil derivatives - there'd have to be a *lot* of conversion before hydrogen was used and who'd pay for it all?
  • Right. (Score:5, Funny)

    by cswiii (11061) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:18PM (#3344094)
    Could this be the beginning of the end for our dependence on oil?

    I can think [exxonmobil.com] of many [bpamoco.com] reasons [chevrontexaco.com] why it won't [congress.gov].
  • If the H2 is locked up in some other medium other than gas/liquid, the cost associated with extracting it could outweigh the benefit in using it. There's lots of hydrogen all over the planet, but as has been pointed out before, the electrolysis to release the H2 from the H2O takes more energy then is derived from the H2. I hope someone can tell me why this is not the case....the teat that is oil is doing us no favors.
  • by hpa (7948) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:19PM (#3344109) Homepage
    The article claims that Professor Freund said that his team had "tantalizing evidence" that as much as 1,000 litres of hydrogen may be trapped in each cubic metre of rock.

    This basically means that any particular volume of rock contains its own volume (at atmospheric pressume, presumably) in hydrogen. Unfortunately, that really isn't that much. It takes much more energy than that to extract and presumably, crush 1 m of rock. The article states this, too.

    The article somewhat confusingly states The low yield of energy from burning hydrogen compared to gas, however, means that vast quantities of rock would have to be mined. Hydrogen is in fact the most energy-rich chemical fuel, per unit weight, in existence, the problem is that at the concentrations they're talking about, this won't be solving any problems any time soon, unless they find these things trapped. Not that unlike drilling for natural gas.

    What might be a lot more promising is that some scientists have been working on bioengineering algae to produce hydrogen when deprived of sunlight. This basically amounts to a very cheap form of solar energy: grow algae in ponds, then pump them into a bioreactor where they produce hydrogen. Leave them in for a few days, then before they start to die off pump them back out. A lot cheaper than refined silicon covering all that area...
  • by skwang (174902) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:19PM (#3344113)

    the beginning of the end for our dependence on oil

    I guess I'll bite.

    The problem with the dependence of oil isn't an alternative means. Someone has pointed/will point out that we have many alternative energy sources. Instead oil as a means of energy is dominant because it is cheap.

    The world's energy infrastructure is based on using crude oil. There are oil power plants, oil refineries, gasoline engines, etc. Oil is simply cheaper to use. Companies spend billions of dollars researching new drill sites, lobbying Congress, etc. to maintain oil production because it is cheaper than investing in alternative energy sources; i.e. solar, nuclear.

    Now what if this limitless source of Hydrogen comes on-line? What if we start using it instead of drilling for crude oil? At some point, the demand for oil begins to decline. Seeing as there is still a supply of oil (a diminishing supply, but still a supply) the price of oil will go down. Eventually, oil will be cheaper to use, and begin to rise in demand. A happy medium will be reached where crude oil drilling and this new hydrogen production will co-exist.

    Admitidly, at this point there will no longer be a complete depedence on oil, but I would argue that we (the globe) are not as dependent as the media makes us out to seem. Alternative energies exist, but simply cost more. If we are willing to bear higher costs, we can reduce our oil dependence today.

    As I see it the world's dependence on oil will not diminish with new energy sources. At least not until that source is so incredably inexpensive that it will replace all other energy supplies. Or all crude oil supplies run dry. Perhaps the correct question is not: will hydrogen reduce our oil dependence? But will this new hydrogen supply produce limitless inexpensive energy, so inexpensive that all other means of energy are outpriced?


  • You knew there had to be one.

    Down in the article...


    Although formidable engineering problems remain to be overcome in abstracting the gas...

    At least the hydrogen is only trapped physically and not chemically. For a while I was afraid they were going to say you could get all the hydrogen you wanted if you were willing to chemically decompose water.

    If you have to pulverize a cubic meter of rock in a vacuum to get 1000 liters of hydrogen at STP, then you still have a ways to go to compete with conventional processes that rely on getting it from natural gas.

    I don't know if in-situ pulverization would even help enough in terms of the economics.

  • by GodsMadClown (180543) <wfindl1&yahoo,com> on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:21PM (#3344129)
    The original article says:

    "The low yield of energy from burning hydrogen compared to gas, however, means that vast quantities of rock would have to be mined."

    Any petroleum geologist would tell you that there is oodles of available oil in the ground, but it is unprofitable to recover it. That is, it cost more to get it than it would be worth on the market. Obviously, the same economies would apply to recovering the hydrogen trapped in the rock. The profits have to be available to make the business work

    Also, the article says:

    "Energy specialists estimate that oil production will start to decline within the next 10 to 15 years, as the economically viable reserves start to run out."

    The key word here is "economically viable". Think for a moment, what would happen if oil supplies started running low because of a lack of profitable reserves? Demand for oil is pretty inelastic (not dependant on price), so the price would almost assuredly go up, just as when supplies are cut short for other reasons, like an OPEC quota. As the price of oil goes up, reserves that cost more to extract will now be profitable. We'll still have oil, but it will just be more expensive.

    This is why the estimates for the amount of recoverable petroleum reserve are SO varied. When you hear doomsday predictions of running out of oil supply, remember these effects of supply and demand on price and profitability.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't like the rising CO2 levels at all, and I don't think fossil fuels are a sustainable energy source. I just think that clear-eyed skepticism is more productive than knee-jerk idealism.
  • Energy specialists estimate that oil production will start to decline within the next 10 to 15 years, as the economically viable reserves start to run out.

    Not a well written paragraph from an Economics point of view. What will happen is once the easier to tap reserves run out, production will shift to the harder to tap reserves. More likely than not, that'll lead to technology that'll make those reserves just as economically viable as the current ones now. Therefore, at worst, we may see a price rise, but I would be surprised to see a decline in production.

  • News Flash (Score:3, Funny)

    by indole (177514) <fluxist@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:24PM (#3344162) Homepage
    Scientist report vast quanitities of hydrogen in Earths oceans.
  • Representatives from Exxon, Mobile, and other major oil companies warned consumers to expect hydrogen prices to increase over the summer months as demand skyrockets.
  • So now can we go to war over where to mine hydrogen as opposed to where to drill for oil?

    Moreover to you think Dick and W. will lets us mine hydrogen? I doubt they have any money invested in the resource ;)
  • by No_Weak_Heart (444982) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:26PM (#3344184)

    As noted in this press release [nasa.gov], similar hydrogen-consuming microbes may some day be discovered on Mars.

    And if we ever did figure out a way of "mining" this trapped hydrogen, there would be a way to fill up your tank if you went planet hopping :)

  • Sure, I know that the sulfide (ite/ate/whatever) imputities found in most petroleum products are bad mojo for the atmosphere, but isn't burning hydrocarbons just effectively re-releasing lost carbon back into the biosphere? Global warming issues, etc aside, isn't the industrial age simply reverting the environment back to an era before plants more or less depleted the atmosphere of C02? I just wanted to know if anyone else has looked at environmental issues in this way before.


  • Call me crazy, but, isn't 3/4ths of the Earth's surface covered with stuff that can be easilly converted to clean-burning hydrogen and oxygen? ;)

    I definitely think the big H is the way to go. Petroleum is a stinky industrial-age relic that costs too much money to purify into something useful. To make matters worse, its non-renewable, and synthetic replacements are too expensive to produce.

    Solar --> Electical --> Decomposition of seawater --> Hydrogen. Whats so hard about it?

    Cheers,
  • 1000 litres per M3? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by C A S S I E L (16009)
    Professor Freund said that his team had "tantalizing evidence" that as much as 1,000 litres of hydrogen may be trapped in each cubic metre of rock.

    That doesn't leave much room for the rock...

  • Why would vast reserves of H alleviate our dependencies on other nations? I'm sure someone will claim the H, just as the arab nations own all of the oil they sit on. Of course, if it all lies under the US of A, then we have nothing to worry about, but if it is all under Iraq, we'll, we're still boned.

    Greed will eventually settle in. I'm sure lots of legislation would be passed by our corporate controlled government to make sure that the WTO and Free-Trade agreements put us in full control.

  • Wells on fire (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elflet (570757)
    If you thought oil well fires were spectacular, I wonder what a hydrogen well fire would look like.

    Just to assuage public opinion, they'll have to drill far away from public places. That runs up the cost of packaging and transporting the hydrogen, making it tough to do this as "economically" as oil drilling today. (OK, nobody counts all the costs of oil drilling, e.g. smog control in all those cars, higher healthcare costs, etc.)

    Another possibility would be to put electrical generation next to the H2 mines and take advantage of the electrical distribution grid.

    Maybe we'll see H2 fuel when the oil supplies have dwindled far enough to force a look at alternative sources. Maybe.

  • I think electolysis of seawater is a far cheaper source of hydrogen than mining from deep within the earth's crust. And this also gives off oxygen.

    It's not the inavailability of H2 that has lead to our oil dependence.

  • Many environmentalists are pushing for renewable energy sources, not merely alternative ones. There's an inherent (albeit longer-term) problem with using a finite non-renewing source indefinitely.
  • Nitpicking details (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday April 15, 2002 @01:48PM (#3344390) Homepage Journal
    Detail #1:Getting it out for less energy than it will yield will be tough.


    There's probably hundreds of times the earth's mass of methane in Jupiter, but that doesn't make it a viable energy source.


    Detail #2: Water is a potent greenhouse gas.


    Any New Englander knows that it's usually a good twenty degrees warmer in the winter when you have a good cloud cover. Of course, burning gasoline generates water too, so it's a win as a gasoline replacement. However, it is not an energy source that is limitless in the sense it can be used in any amount with no consequences.

  • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Monday April 15, 2002 @03:01PM (#3344911) Homepage
    There's lots of problems with hydrogen:

    a) its energy density is pitiful (about 1/14 IRC of gasoline, so you'd have to have a tank 14x bigger)

    b) its best stored in liquified form for maximum energy density (liquid hydrogen needs incredibly high insulation values, and tends to freeze things solid, or condenses oxygen- trust me, either is very bad, and its density still sucks- check out the Space Shuttle main tank, its enormous!)

    c) alternatively you store it in a pressurised tank. Pressurised tanks are heavy as heck. Or you can use a rare earth catalyst to store it in. However, the overall weight is about the same if you do so, TOO HIGH. So big deal.

    d) Hydrogen can go bang (in an enclosed space the explosion can be awesome). Sure, gasoline does that too. However hydogen leaks out much more easily.

    e) Hydrogen embrittles many kinds of metals, once that has occured the metal fails catastrophically.

    f) Hydrogen escapes from just about any container; the molecule is just too small to keep in in most cases; still you can control it in most cases, but it's awkward.

    All in all, hydrogen is at best a waste of space and at worst a waste of time. Yeah, so it doesn't make any CO2. So what? We've got this handy recycling system called plants. Please go out and grow some, so I can carry on burning my hydrocarbons ;-)
  • by loosenut (116184) on Monday April 15, 2002 @03:05PM (#3344942) Homepage Journal
    Another posted mentioned that alternative energy sources will not replace oil, because oil is so cheap. The poster also said that another reason for oil to be replaced is if we run out, or if supplies dwindle enough that we can no longer provide enough oil for everybody (which ties into the rising cost argument).

    According to Oilcrisis.com [oilcrisis.com], when we hit the point (within the first quarter of this century) that we need to switch over to an alternative energy source, it will be too late. Our infrastructure depends on oil, and switching every motor vehicle, truck, airplane, cargo ship, and train to an alternative energy source will be a massive endeavor. Perhaps impossible to perform without the support of the infrastructure itself.

    I would like to encourage everyone to support alternative energy before this point. We can't afford to wait until it is cheap.
  • Once again... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BelDion (109503) on Monday April 15, 2002 @05:02PM (#3345844) Homepage Journal
    Every time any sort of alternative fuel/transportation or whatnot comes around people ask if it will be the end of the use of oil.

    It wont.

    As long as there is oil left in the ground the large multinational corporations and every single oil mogul will not let this happen. There are plenty of good and efficient ways to replace the use of oil right now. Not gonna happen; the billionaires will never ease up on selling oil until there isn't an extractable drop left anywhere. Even then, they'll probably synthesize it themselves, strongarm the energy concerns, and sell it at incredibly high prices.

    But hey, I'll be long dead before then. Until that day, screw em, I'm walking.
  • by dbretton (242493) on Monday April 15, 2002 @06:47PM (#3346597) Homepage
    Paraphrasing:

    As much as 1000 liters of Hydrogen gas may be stored in each cubic meter of rock!

    Wow!

    Let me see now... 1ml = 1cc
    100^3 cc = 1m^3
    10^6 cc = 1m^3

    1L = 1000ml = 1000cc = 10^3cc

    (10^6 cc/m^3)*(1L/10^3cc) = 10^3L/m^3

    = 1000L/m^3

    Gee, either that's some REALLY HEAVY hydrogen or som REALLY LIGHT rock!

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