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Inexpensive Nanosheet Catalyst Splits Hydrogen From Water 141

An anonymous reader writes "Traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen are either extremely expensive or release lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed an electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with drastically more affordable materials. Goodbye platinum; hello nickel and ammonia."
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Inexpensive Nanosheet Catalyst Splits Hydrogen From Water

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:30PM (#39974043)

    Because they're converting it all into flammable lifting gas!

    Whatever will we do?

    • by gentryx ( 759438 ) *
      Easy: just put a cup to the exhaust of your hydrogen car, add a bit of Earl Grey and you'll be good.
  • Will it work? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Auroch ( 1403671 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:34PM (#39974077)
    This article is an excellent example of the types of future-energy that we'll need to rely on.

    Unfortunately, many people don't believe that spending money now is in our best interest - they'd rather wait until gas hits $10/gallon to invest in reducing the average price of energy. There are already many semi-viable alternative fuels, but for some reason, a large majority of people are content to continue "as-is", and let the current energy crisis continue.

    Most of those people though, claim "What energy crisis?"
    • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Githaron ( 2462596 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:57PM (#39974245)

      I want to know why we have not gone nuclear across the nation. The latest nuclear fission technologies are a lot safer than most people believe. Renewable energy is a nice thought but it is not going to do it in the short term. Perhaps in the future when it is more advanced but not right now.

      • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:08PM (#39974363)

        The latest nuclear fission technologies are a lot safer than most people believe.

        I think you answered your own question there.

      • want to know why we have not gone nuclear across the nation.

        I know it was a rhetorical question, but it's really simple: fear and ignorance. When a nuclear plant fails it's on the front page of every newspaper in the world for months, and a significant percentage of our population doesn't even climate change is happening.

        • Another portion of society don't even all the words in their sentences.

        • No other power source has the potential for disaster that nuclear does. They were seriously considering evacuating Tokyo until they got Fukushima under some semblance of control. Name anything else that you can't plan for (hydro) that has the potential to force the evacuation of a city 100 miles away.

          Nuclear is radioactive, it is lethal even through walls and miles of distance. We build massive amounts of redundancy in because of this. Yet you claim it isn't more dangerous than other sources?
          • by Anguirel ( 58085 )

            No other power source has the potential for disaster that nuclear does. They were seriously considering evacuating Tokyo until they got Fukushima under some semblance of control. Name anything else that you can't plan for (hydro) that has the potential to force the evacuation of a city 100 miles away.

            No problem: Coal. []
            Previously: Also coal. [] Oil. []
            Future: [insert image of SimCity 2000 Microwave Plant mis-fire here]

            IIRC, Fukushima is an old design that was already running beyond its originally estimated life span. Modern reactor designs are set up such that an emergency situation would cause reactor shut down -- they need a constant controlled feed to maintain the reaction, rather than a needing a constant controlled feed to limit the reaction. Shut down the entire control system in some catastrophic fash

            • Centrailia, PA is about 1 sq mile. And people still live there. Evacuation of a few thousand people perhaps. Not Tokyo sized by any stretch. And it's not 100 miles away from the problem, it's right on top of it.

              Acid rain, again, operational issue that was FIXED not a failure issue. No evacuations of major cities.

              Cuyahoga River - yep, sure glad we had to evacuate Akron and Cleveland...oh wait.

              None of those things are at the scale of nuclear.

              Gulf disaster. Last I checked nobody was starving.
      • The future is in solar power satellites.

        • You want to perpetually beam a highly focused energy beam over long distance aimed at a relatively small target? If the angle is only slightly off, you would are risking running the beam through a town. I trust our nuclear energy technology a lot more than our ability to keep an huge array of satellites perfectly aimed.
          • JAXA is working on a 1GW orbital power plant that sends energy down to a 1km wide rectenna, birds could fly through it without harm. Of course they say it won't be economical until launch costs drop to 1% of their former amount. And hey, look, here's a Star Tram to do just that! :D

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is because "most people" refers to the 1% who have the money necessary to invest in this sort of thing. And of course they don't believe there is an energy crisis they aren't effected by it.

    • Re:Will it work? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Delarth799 ( 1839672 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:58PM (#39974267)
      Most people could care less about the future. Thinking ahead seems to scare a lot of people so they concentrate on the here and now until that future they ignored comes and smacks them in the face.
      • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:30PM (#39974551)

        Most people could care less about the future.

        Couldn't care less.

      • by nbsr ( 2343058 )
        That's where speculators come in handy. Hypothetical situation: people don't care about energy, use plenty of fuel for as long as they can (come on, production of gas isn't all that more expensive, is it?), and, suddenly, they wake up with gas prices od $100/gallon. It's hypothetical because there are people who try to predict the future. If they are right - they get plenty of money, if not - they loose (pretty damn good incentive for being right). If many of them expect a hike in prices of oil - the pric
        • I'd like to point out... in the UAE, petrol prices are set by the government. The price is ~$0.45/L or something like that, it costs 120aed to fill my land rover (full service even) from empty so I don't even look at the price. The US, and Canada have about as much oil as the UAE so the only thing I understand is that I don't understand.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:59PM (#39974273) Homepage

      The problem with this particular approach, if it does turn out to work well commercially, is that GW Bush will then have shown to be prescient in his hyping of the Hydrogen economy.

      I, for one, have some very serious issues with this concept. Very serious indeed.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by PaulBu ( 473180 )

      This article is an excellent example of the types of future-energy storage that we'll need to rely on.


      I also hoped that that would be some fancy catalyst to convert sunlight + water into O2 and H2 -- sadly, it's just improvement in electrolysis catalist.

      This is total BS (from the article):
      The electrolysis of water, or splitting water (H2O) into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2), requires external electricity and an efficient catalyst to break chemical bonds while shifting around protons and electrons.


      • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

        You didn't tell us if your toy trains always ran on time in Soviet Russia?

        • by PaulBu ( 473180 )


          Mine was high-end, actually built in Eastern Germany, so it *was* possible for it to run on time -- but when power supply cranked all the way up it was also relatively easy for it to derail, depending on how track was assembled...

          Satisfied your curiosity? ;-)

          Paul B.

      • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Informative)

        by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:57PM (#39974767)

        Your way to do it probably had shitty efficiency. 1-2% of the electrical energy probably ended up used to produce hydrogen. With fancy catalysts and carefully controlled temperature, it's possible to improve that efficiency by a factor of 30 or so, with the best methods now getting efficiencies between 30 and 60%. The problem is that those schemes tend to either rely on very expensive catalysts (like platinum ), or they are chemical processes which produce CO2 as a by-product ( steam reforming, in which hydrocarbons are reacted with water to form hydrogen and CO2 ).

        What the article seems to speak of is that they've found a catalyst that drastically improves the efficiency of electrolysis, without resorting to expensive materials.

    • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

      The only semi-viable fuels are Oil-Algae derived biodiesel, possibly TDP derived diesel, and possibly cellulosic butanol.

      Pretty much everything else ISN'T viable. Not ethanol. Not really CNG. Without subsidies, Ethanol's just another waste of time. CNG's buring just a different "fossil" fuel.

      It's not so much "what energy crisis", as people are already saying enough's enough. As for not wanting spend money now...that's more due to the economy and people seeing the Obama administration (and similar) pour

      • Re:Will it work? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:31PM (#39974569)

        Solyndra did not fail because of any technological fault or even internal corruption.

        They failed because China shattered the price on solar panels, with their own subsidized production, which meant Solyndra couldn't effectively compete.

        People are seeing the wrong lesson from what happened. It's like the flooding in the upper Mississippi. People got all worked up over the dams and reservoirs not working, but they never noticed that the reservoirs were kept full because of their use in fishing. Which made people money. Or like the California power crisis. Everybody swore up and down that the problem was California hadn't built power plants or some such, but they didn't notice that it was Enron's deliberate shut-downs of functional plants in order to create an artificial crisis. So they could make money.

        Perception and reality are often quite different.

    • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:23PM (#39974499) Journal

      Blame Wall Street friend. Myself and many others have said that long term research is essential for the very survival of our race and its pretty obvious to anyone with eyes that wars for resources will replace wars for territory in the future. the problem is on wall street if you don't say "Damn everything but the quarterly earnings!" then your stock is gonna take a big old dump and bye bye buddy.

      Personally i believe in a broad approach, i think we should be building at the very least small scale test reactors for thorium and for reprocessing our nuclear waste into usable fuel, we should be investing in battery tech and fuel cells and every other possibility that has any real chance for success because frankly the one that trips over a viable replacement for gasoline is gonna make Gates and Buffet look poor and whatever country they are in will probably have a new golden age but sadly the USA is just too short sighted thanks to the government sucking the dicks on wall street to do anything that the money men don't approve of.

      I bet the next big breakthrough will probably come from China, they are investing heavily in science and like Japan in the 50s they are learning and improving daily thanks to all the work we have given them. Remember when made in japan meant shit? In a decade i wouldn't doubt if the same change happens in China. Looking at history one has to wonder if this is not inevitable, if once an empire gets to a certain size the wealth becomes too concentrated and apathy and trying to hang onto what those at the top have becomes more important than innovation and stagnation simply can't be avoided.

      • Re:Will it work? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:18PM (#39975299) Journal

        Consider this.

        Apple's cash reserves are $110 billion. Microsoft has $60 billion. Google has $40 billion.

        U.S. is spending $8 billion per year for TSA (and growing).

        Direct spending on Iraq War is over $800 billion. In Afghanistan, over $400 billion.

        According to MIT fusion researchers we've had here on Slashdot the other day, we could have had fusion today if we were willing to spend $80 billion on it in the last 20 years. If true, it means that Apple alone could fund it if they wanted!

        Let's assume that they are overly optimistic, and increase that figure by an order of magnitude - even then it's what was spent with zero benefit on Iraq alone.

        When we fuck up our civilization by over-reliance on a single oh-so-convenient power source, we'll have no-one but ourselves to blame.

        • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:48AM (#39976829) Journal

          But you missed my point friend, in that if say Apple WERE to announce they were gonna fund such a thing to that amount of money wall street would take a massive dump on their stock and then they simply wouldn't have the funds.

          The entire system IMHO has been taken over by leeches, you have corps that literally are doing NANOsecond trades, now how is that in ANY way helpful to innovation? The original intent of trading stock was like what kickstarter is now, you have an idea and need funding, others believe your idea will work and provide funding for a piece of the proceeds. I would argue that the lack of tech actually helped because one had to focus on the long term.

          But now the entire system is completely short sighted because any other view is crucified by wall street, it is the reason why you have companies sitting on piles of money instead of investing it into more plants or better infrastructure, simply because anything that affects the bottom line in any way that isn't immediately positive is shat upon. in my own area neither DSL nor cable has moved a single foot in over a decade, even though the town has grown by over a third, why? Because they are both publicly traded companies and their stock goes down when they spend money on lines but goes up when they buy out some other company, so that is what they do instead.

          Like I said looking at history i have to wonder if this is simply inevitable because in every empire you see the same progression, first growth and innovation followed by wealth concentration then finally stagnation and downfall. Just as once the sun never set on the British empire so too it appears our own day in the sun is setting, most likely to be replaced by China and India. lets just hope they find the answer before we are all out of time.

          • Apple's cash reserves are $110 billion.

            But you missed my point friend, in that if say Apple WERE to announce they were gonna fund such a thing to that amount of money wall street would take a massive dump on their stock and then they simply wouldn't have the funds.

            Cash is cash, it's totally unaffected by the stock price.

          • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

            Apple's stock price has no bearing on funding fusion if they wanted - they have $100 billion in actual cash assets that they could simply withdraw from the bank in quarters (if they wanted to be douches) or dimes (if they were total douches). Well, assuming the bank could raise that sort of money in cash on hand in one place.

            • You might want to read the excellent "barbarians at the gate" to see how it really works friend. As the AC above you pointed out when your capital is much less than your assets it can make those that buy up the stock quite a bit of money to simply liquidate the assets. This is exactly what the corporate raiders did in the 80s which is what the above book is based on, specifically the RJR Nabisco takeover.

              So if Apple were to withdraw that much money instantly their assets would be much more value than thei

              • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

                I understand that, but the original comment was that Apple couldn't simply get their hands on 100 billion dollars because when people *say* that's what a company has, or when it buys another business etc, they really mean a combination of assets, capital, stock price etc. My point was nothing more than Apple actually has 100 billion *in just cash* available if it wants it, without having to use stock price or other assets to reach the figure.

                It's unusual, since most companies won't leave that sort of money

                • But since they can't actually USE that 100 billion you are trapped in circular logic in that 1.-They have the money but 2.- If they were to actually use that money they would get a "barbarians at the gate" and no longer exist so 1 doesn't really matter.

                  So you see friend THAT is the problem with wall street in a nutshell, if you use your assets for anything OTHER than VERY short term gains the system will turn on you and destroy you, either through a takeover or by the street shorting your stock and sending

        • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

          This is the biggest annoyance that scientists have at the moment. So much is said about the "wasteful" spending on things like the LHC or fusion research, or various other "big budget" science projects, and people lap it up because they don't get a sense of scale. Sure hundreds of millions of dollars is a lot of money in real terms, but compared to the 8 billion spent on the useless TSA, or the $20 billion spent air conditioning Afghanistan?

          Fusion needs a cash injection that we (as in, humans) could easily

          • short sighted energy companies will shit bricks. but smart energy companies will fund fusion etc. and own it all.

    • The article doesn't say anything at all about future energy. It presents a cheaper way to make a catalyst that performs as well as platinum. It still requires an external source of energy to actually do the H2O splitting. Because the catalyst is efficient the H2 created will store *almost* as much energy as it took to split apart the H2O.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This article is an excellent example of the types of future-energy that we'll need to rely on.

      So, you're thinking that, if we burn enough hydrogen to produce the equivalent amount of energy we consume daily, now, that it will not have an effect on the natural cycle? How much water vapour do you think Mama Nature is capable of enduring?
      I'm not disagreeing with you, burning hydrogen has it's place, but it will be a mix of all sources that gets us through, in the future.
      Personally, I'm digging on Thorium fast breeder reactors, and we eject the spent fuel rods into the sun. But that's just me.

    • Gas IS $10/gallon in many countries. Just not in the USA. Even in those countries where gas actually is $10/gallon, people are still buying it, and no one's selling electric cars. That's should tell you something.
      • by nbsr ( 2343058 )
        This may change overnight (I've seen that in some coutries where, at least at some point in time, majority of cars on the road were using LPG).
        Performance of EVs is no longer a problem - there are batteries, which can take you 300 miles on a single charge. They are just not yet economically viable for lower segments of the market.
        The good news is that there is absolutely no reason for the batteries or other EV components to be more expensive than, say, a gas engine. They are a lot easier to manufacture
      • Yes, it is $10/gallon because it is heavily taxed and used to subsidize the 'socialist' agenda (not a bad thing). You don't NEED a car because they have actual public transportation systems that work and run on time. Even far out suburbs have well running bus systems to get you where you need to go. London's subway system gets you within 3 blocks of your destination anywhere in the city practically. NYC is our best attempt at decent public transit.

        Europe for example, you can tell - to the minute - wh
    • Re:Will it work? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NemoinSpace ( 1118137 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:32PM (#39976089) Journal
      My friend, please compare the energy density (in Mj/L) of gasoline, coal, and hydrogen. - I'll even allow you to use liquid hydrogen.
      There is a reason engineers choose the materials they do.
      Another hint: the price of oil is not based on the amount of it in the ground. We'll burn gas till the last drop. If you think gas is expensive, wait till your plan comes true and see how much you pay then.
      If it makes you feel better, the entire planet receives lots more energy from the sun than we use. Sunlight is free, yet we don't use it. Why? - energy density. Converting this almost limitless source of energy into useful energy is not only inconvenient, but also because it's expensive.
      Most people like you will still claim "the sky is falling." Relax. We are engineers. We will do it for you. When the time comes.
      • Solar energy density is low for sure. But we have LOTS of roof space and deserts. Storage of that energy is the biggest issue holding back solar energy's practicality.

        Gasoline and coal energy densities have built this world, but they now threaten to radically alter it, perhaps even beyond our ability to 'fix' it.
    • How many times have we been offered a magic solution to all our problems if we just stuff all our money in the man's bag... an then trust him to spend it wisely and in our interests... while of course keeping our hands over our eyes and not peaking while it sounds suspiciously like he's running away giggling?

      We're all out of trust. If you've got a magic solution that will fix all our problems not theoretically but ACTUALLY then we'll give you trillions. For your promises hopeful assertions though? They're n

    • This article is an excellent example of the types of future-energy that we'll need to rely on.

      Please people. I love clean renewable sources of energy and argue in favour of them at every opportunity. Hydrogen production is not a source of energy. The primary cost of mass producing hydrogen is not platinum. Hydrogen is merely a very inefficient and unsafe way to store energy. Hydrogen is produced by expending twice as much energy as the thermal energy it contains. This means that even if you can burn it in an engine with 100% thermal efficiency you are roughly on par with a finely tuned engine burnin

      • You do realize i can produce hydrogen using zero energy right? Or at least zero energy I have to put in, the sun gives all the energy we need to make our hydrogen.

        So no it is not as efficient, it is much more efficient because the fuel is quite literally 'free'. You don't 'burn' hydrogen in a fuel cell. Burning anything is by definition inefficient. Hydrogen is your battery and it stores the energy imparted when you split water. That energy can come from the sun as I said and so you have no energy c
    • The price of Gas just has to hit $5 a gallon and people begin to make decisions.

      Fuel Cell Senario: Pour in a liter of Sea Water. Output is Electrical Energy, and what ever is left. It would not be easy to solve, but I am hopeful.
  • Affordable (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:51PM (#39974203) Journal

    Cat pee and pocket change. I can handle that.

  • If you combine this catalyst and gravity? Free energy for the mechanical limits of the device. And all it would use would be gravity.
    • Free energy? "Electrocatalyst", you also need to plug some electric juice to split the water, and the process is "under unity" efficient, that's for sure.
      • by SurfsUp ( 11523 )

        Solar panels perhaps? And use the hydrogen to store the intermittent solar power.

        • Solar panels perhaps? And use the hydrogen to store the intermittent solar power.

          Maybe, once we're generating enough solar power to have an excess of it.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:27PM (#39974531)
    I wouldn't have made this post a few weeks ago, but reading other people's comments about hydrogen fuel made it painfully obvious that many people have a fundamental misunderstanding about how the hydrogen economy works: There is no free energy. You cannot convert water into hydrogen with little energy, then burn the hydrogen with oxygen to get lots of energy.

    The amount of energy you put in to break water into hydrogen and oxygen has to be more than the energy you get out when you burn (or combine via a fuel cell) the hydrogen with oxygen. There is no getting around this; it is simple thermodynamics. This is why many people refer to hydrogen as a battery, not as a fuel. Free hydrogen is exceptionally rare to find, so when you manufacture atomic hydrogen gas you're storing energy in it like in a battery. When you burn the hydrogen, you're extracting that energy like from a battery.

    With electrolysis, typically you're looking at about 50%-70% of the energy you put in ending up in the hydrogen gas. The rest is converted into waste heat. With a non-research grade fuel cell, you're looking at about 50%-70% efficiency there as well (the rest going to waste heat). So for the cycle overall, you're at 25%-50% efficiency. That is, only 25%-50% of the energy you put in to create the hydrogen ends up actually doing useful work, which is absolutely abysmal for a battery.

    The cost of materials like platinum is also a bit misleading. The platinum is not consumed during the electrolysis process. While the high cost of platinum does affect the cost of the device used to generate hydrogen, it has no effect on the cost of the hydrogen gas itself. Almost the entirety of the cost of hydrogen gas is the energy used to create it by cracking water.
    • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:45PM (#39974667)
      Yes but the cost of Platinum has been holding back the wide adoption of fuel cell technology. At one point only NASA could aford to use them. Most of the cost of a fuel cell is in the platinum. Say you want or need to live off the grid, this process can make afordable equipment possible for producing hydrogen at home. You can use it to store energy for lean days or refuel the car. Not caustic and expensive batteries and the fuel cells can be recycled. Hydrogen was never a solution. Bush only pushed it after it was pointed out to him that most hydrogen in use now is produced from fossil fuel. How about this for crazy, install one on an offshore wind farm and run a pipe back to shore and have a wind farm producing not electricity but hydrogen gas! No line loss and you can have a car hydrogen fueling station on shore. Hydrogen does escape mostly at fitting and valves since it's so small it's nearly impossible to completely contain hydrogen but in a closed line there would be less loss than the bleed that happens in power lines which could offset some of the energy lost in producing the hydrogen.
      • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:02PM (#39974789)

        Say you want or need to live off the grid

        If you need to live off the grid you're already such an edge case that we don't need to be optimizing for you. Living off the grid is expensive. And if you just want to live off the grid, then you're obviously not optimizing for 1) low cost or 2) efficient use of resources, so why should I care about your problem?

        How about this for crazy, install one on an offshore wind farm and run a pipe back to shore and have a wind farm producing not electricity but hydrogen gas!

        Yes, it's crazy alright, but what good is that? The electricity->H2->electricity round trip efficiency is something like 25%, and that's not counting the massive amounts of energy required to compress the H2. 25% sucks bad enough that you can't change things with handwaving as you scale that efficiency to the transportation sector.

        Put the energy directly into the battery (we already have better batteries than H2 fuel cells) and drive several times as far. There's a reason electric cars are here today, but fuel cell cars are not.

    • Unlike the batteries however, it can be stored indefinitely without degrading, and be "charged" (tank filled) in a matter of seconds. Also it doesn't wear down (to anywhere near the same degree, anyway) when recharged.
      • by QQBoss ( 2527196 )

        Ummm, yeah, sure. Tell you what, you go get a container made out of the material of your choice (not including unobtanium, that would just be cheating) able to hold a meaningful level of PSI (or the metric of your choice) of hydrogen. Hermetically seal the container (I won't even expect you to have a hole in the container via which you can connect it to whatever you plan to generate work with).
        Come back in a day, a week, a month, a year....

        Then realize your concept of "stored indefinitely without degradin

        • by nbsr ( 2343058 )

          One thing he is right about, though, is that battery cells developed for portable applications aren't particularly well suited to EVs.

          Don't get me wrong - it is fantastic we have them, and have them manufactured at a mass scale. This way we can piggy-back on decades of intensive R&D that went into them. Without that there wouldn't be mass manufactured electric cars on the road now. Portable batteries have even proven pretty good in that application, but it doesn't mean we can't improve on that.

          In a

        • According to Graham's law, it would appear that the solution is to make the molecules bigger. However hydrogen doesn't seem keen to associate into groups larger than pairs.

          Some have suggested that attaching the hydrogen atoms to chains of carbon atoms (say, six to ten of them) might do the trick, but I reckon that's crazy talk.

      • But, look at all the waste products produced by use of hydrogen fuel -- where are you going to dispose of all the H20???
    • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:53PM (#39974749)

      Almost the entirety of the cost of hydrogen gas is the energy used to create it by cracking water.

      Don't forget that you have to compress the H2 before you can use it, too, and that takes a huge amount of (usually electrical) energy. Enough energy that you could put it into a battery electric car instead and drive a significant fraction of the distance the fuel cell would take you without the stupid fuel cell.

      • by jmerlin ( 1010641 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:13PM (#39974879)
        Gasses can be condensed using temperature as well, imagine this process happening in space, where an absence of heat is abundant. Gaseous hydrogen will gladly float beyond our atmosphere, at which point it can be easily compressed and then gravity will bring it back down to earth. I don't think this problem has to require an enormous amount of energy to solve. And that process of moving hydrogen to space can also generate electricity...
        • wtf man?

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:38PM (#39975039)

      The platinum is not consumed during the electrolysis process. While the high cost of platinum does affect the cost of the device used to generate hydrogen, it has no effect on the cost of the hydrogen gas itself. Almost the entirety of the cost of hydrogen gas is the energy used to create it by cracking water.

      You think so? I reckon you're missing the "thermodynamics of capital". If you have to borrow $10k to start your electrolysis company, then the prices you charge will have to cover the $1k/year repayment on that loan. But if you only borrow $1k to start your electrolysis company, then the prices you charge will only have to cover $0.1k/year repayments.

    • While the high cost of platinum does affect the cost of the device used to generate hydrogen, it has no effect on the cost of the hydrogen gas itself.

      That kind of attitude will leave the hydrogen industry, that will replace the oil industry in the future, unable to arbitrarily raise price at the pumps when some Platinum manufacturing country starts a civil war... you cut that out. Now.

  • Most people do not understand that Hydrogen, due to it's inherent instability and desire to chemically change in a volatile manner, is simply an anergy storing devices. Hydrogen is not very energy dense. Understanding it's role is important to determining whether or not to us it as it essentially acts as a battery. If you have X units of energy (electricity), the key question is how many units will you get back out of the hydrogen. So far most the most advanced systems have show that Energy in (Ei) has
  • by asm2750 ( 1124425 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:48PM (#39975111)
    Seriously I am tired of all these researchers saying they found a way to break bonds in water to make hydrogen a feasible long term energy source or a new photovoltaic technology that has 40% efficiency and then say down the road "oh the commercial version is 5 to 10 years out". Its always 5 to 10 years out, heres a suggestion how about announce your results or accomplishments when you ACTUALLY have a working commercial product that is in production. Maybe then I'll give a fuck.
    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      You're blaming the wrong people. Scientists do this work and publish it, knowing full well it;s not commercial yet and needs a lot of work, or is 5% efficient etc. However, that's not sexy enough for the media, or likely to generate many ad impressions, so they draw ridiculous conclusions that are a long way away from being reality.

      Scientists may say that *in the future* a mature process might provide a viable way to produce hydrogen from water (low energy catalytic splitting of water to make hydrogen/proto

    • Once again, hydrogen is NOT an energy SOURCE, it is an energy storage medium!
  • Time will tell how well this process works for both small and large scale production. I live in a condo with 160 apartments. We have huge spans of roof space including the roofs over our covered parking. It is perfect for solar power or even solar water heaters and we have enough wind that a windmill would also be productive. But most of the residents are retired or view their ownership as temporary so getting people to vote on that kind of upgrade simply will not occur until they get their f
    • by QQBoss ( 2527196 )

      While I am completely with you on the solar water heating (especially for a community pool to make it useful at least 8 months a year instead of the 3-4 that most of them are good for where I live), and possibly even solar power if the demonstrated efficiency year round proves it to be viable, the fact that you are suggesting people put windmills on the roof to generate electricity suggests to me that you have never stood anywhere close to windmills that actually generate meaningful amounts of power. No ma

    • "The best hope for all of us is to reverse population growth."
      You know, good folks like those people at Al Qaeda are working on that already, but the US government seems to be doing everything they can think of to stop them!
  • Intellects love to proselytize against Hydrogen's long checklist of negatives. The ONE advantage it holds is ' Single Point Capture'.

    The manufacture of Hydrogen in vast quantities at a fixed plant location enables economies of scale to be leveraged upon a single point to capture, control, clean and manage pollution at the source. A hydrogen powered economy promises to replace the millions of pollution sources in the Oil powered economy providing a structured ecosystem that enables the replacement and elim

    • Just bear in mind that hydrogen is not an energy source, it is an energy storage medium. It doesn't replace fossil fuels, it replaces batteries (or perhaps ethanol).

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.