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HYDROGEN AND HYBRIDS
Category: Rant
Thursday, October 13th, 2005 @ 07:39 pm
Posted By Brent

The bulk of this post is about hydrogen, but I figured I'd toss hybrids in here too, just 'cause I'm a dick. I've been reading and hearing a bunch about alternative fuels and hybrid technology lately, but it would seem that no one has taken the time to do a smidge of research and try to digest all of this crap. No one seems to look past the immediate benefit of these technologies to see if the ends outweigh the means, so I thought I would throw together what little I knew about it so people can have some insight into why this shit will never work. Ever.

Ok, well maybe not ever, but definitely not with our current technology and/or infrastructure. Let me take a whack at Hybrids first:

Hybrid. The name just sounds cool. In a nutshell a Hybrid is a car that runs on gas in conjuction with an electric engine that operates on stored energy that is usually lost during breaking. This saves you oodles at the pump, right? These cars usually go for two to five thousand dollars more than a comparable non-hybrid. Now let's do the math: Honda says that its Insight gets 66mpg while its Civic gets 40, so you get roughly 40 percent better gas mileage. The average American burns roughly 465 gallons of gas per year at, to err on the side of caution, roughly three dollars a gallon. That's $1,395 a year in gas, forty percent of which would be $558 per year saved. Given a margin of error for my number rounding, that would place you breaking even on your "gas saving investment" in anywhere from four to nine years. Hardly relief from the current gas prices.

This of course leaves the people who will take the wallet hit just to feel good about burning less gas, and who am I to go and be a dick by raining on their do-gooding parade? Oh yeah, I'm me: you fuckers are stifling the actual alternative power market by adopting dipshit scams that don't do jack to curb our reliance on foreign oil, in addition to stealing mindshare away from people and companies that have truly innovative solutions to these problems.

For my next trick I'll be discussing hydrogen as an alternative energy source and its bright future as the cornerstone for cleaner, better America:

Hydrogen is a fucking sham. First thing that people need to understand is that hydrogen isn't so much a energy source as it is a medium to transport energy. Think of it this way: hydrogen doesn't represent the powerplant supplying electricity to your homes, it's more analogous to the wires carrying that electricity from the powerplant to your home. Is it an alternative fuel? No, burning wood logs in a boiler in your car is an alternative fuel, hydrogen is just a way to move the fossil fuel combustion out of your car and into a hydrogen production plant. Why do I say that? Because the main problem with hydrogen is the inverse of the main benfit of fossil fuels: you can punch a hole in the ground and oil will start pouring out by the tanker load; you have to produce hydrogen.

There is no natural source of hydrogen in the amounts that would come anywhere near meeting the demand for energy. That leaves us with having to extract it from existing molocules that are found naturally occuring in bulk, namely water, and that's where we hit the grand paradox of hydrogen production. From the Wikipedia article on hydrogen:

Despite its ubiquity in the universe, hydrogen is surprisingly hard to produce in large quantities on the Earth. In the laboratory, the element is prepared by the reaction of acids on metals such as zinc. The electrolysis of water is a simple method of producing hydrogen, but is economically inefficient for mass production. Large-scale production is usually achieved by steam reforming natural gas.
So there you have it, you have three main methods.

The first is using a chemical that is more attractive to the oxygen in water than the hydrogen, thus wrenching away the oxygen leaving only pure, lovely, enviromentally friendly hydrogen. Now we just have to figure out what to do with the sludge that the oxygen attached to. And how are we going to transport massive amounts of the original substances and the two separate products? Hydrogen powered cars? You would need to create more hydrogen than you used making it thus, in a round about way, breaking a teeny little principle of physics called The Law of Conservation of Enery. Unless of course we power the entire process with fossil fuels, wouldn't that be convenient? Actually, that's exactly what we do.

The second method is electrolysis of water. Simply put this running a shitload of electricity through water in order to separate the bond between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Now where do you think we'd get that electricy from? More hydrogen? I think not my friend, that's where our good friend the fossil fuel enters back into the equation. We just can't seem to shake him.

The third is some crazy shit called "steam reforming of natural gas." Now I like to imagine that I'm a pretty bright guy, but I have no idea what that is so I defer to a quote about this process from someone who knows what the hell they're talking about (while he reiterates the point I've been making over and over):

At present, most of the world's hydrogen is produced from natural gas by a process called steam reforming. However, producing hydrogen from fossil fuels would rob the hydrogen economy of much of its raison d'ĂȘtre: Steam reforming does not reduce the use of fossil fuels but rather shifts them from end use to an earlier production step; and it still releases carbon to the environment in the form of CO2.

So there, I've blown my hydrogen vitriol load. In closing, I'd like to say that I don't disagree with hydrogen being a clean, renewable energy medium, we just need to find a better way to produce it, and we ain't there yet folks. Well, we're sorta not there yet. We do have nuclear energy we could use to produce the hydrogen, but mention building a nuclear powerplant and you're lucky if you don't get stoned to death.




Comments

NAME: girlygirl
Sunday, October 16th, 2005 @ 09:46 pm
sounds like an episode of south park


NAME: shit
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 08:33 pm
cars are fags.


NAME: dr01d
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 04:29 pm
f hydrogen and f hybrids. they need to take all the money they spend on that crap and pay Alex Chiu for some teleporters.

werd.


NAME: anon
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 11:56 am
i think a better idea would be a car powered by methane. there could be a nozzle built into the driver's seat that would go straight up my ass. then i would drive to where you are and explain how you should searcha little better before writing your posts.


NAME: foo
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 10:04 am
You got StensROWNED


NAME: brent
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 10:03 am
I apologize. I'll be sure to scour every shit hole site on the internet for a third generation forwarded conversation posted to a message board before posting something that could possibly make a parallel point on my own shit hole site in the future.

I am forever in your debt.


NAME: anon
Friday, October 14th, 2005 @ 08:50 am
yeah.. I think I've already read this article.
http://teachers.net/mentors/events/topic175/6.18.04.19.07.30.html


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