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October 12, 2006



- apparently a reaction then liquifaction / compression can result in anything around 10%(LNG)* up to 40-50%(FT-GTL)** loss of energy

*"Liquefied natural gas (LNG) [liquefaction process only]"
**"Gas-to-liquids (GTL) [chemical conversion process, typical ] Fuel and other losses in GTL process, including in form of carbon dioxide"

This was from a presentation by Dr R. Pike (Chief Exec, The Royal Society of Chemistry) I was once in earlier this year.

Now for LNG and the like - thats acceptable since it has an enormous energy density ... due to the higher molecular weights of the species involved...

But for hydrogen? Like GTL, you have to do a chemical process (H2 extraction in this case) - and then liquifaction ... so the figures quoted make sense... considering the low Mw of Hydrogen - therefore low energy density per molecule...

Therefore for hydrogen... I'm not as sure its viable as I once was... not with current technologies...

Indeed my own view - is hydrogen storage technologies are still in research stage let alone development...

So I think you're right in your arguements.

Jeff Becker

I'm glad to see that the "hydrogen economy" is getting the analysis it deserves. It sounds like Joseph Romm may have been reading Dr. Ulf Bossel's analysis: Interview: Hydrogen vs Electron Economy and Report: On the Way to a Sustainable Energy Future

Great blog, by the way. I don't comment often, but I read daily.


Note some commentary on this we've recently had as a result of this post / comments:

"Comparing the “hydrogen economy” to the “electron economy” … but one of the things I think he (ULF BOSSEL) perhaps gets not incorrect but slightly inaccurate is that the energy economy will shift away from the “chemical base to an electrical base” … but (I THINK) “that the chemical base will simply be replaced by better (greener) chemicals”**** … “and will be supplemented/augmented by new electrical technologies”…

Recent reading on the “hydrogen economy” makes me think the concept is fundamentally flawed as a mass energy transporting medium (in agreement with Ulf Bossel) – not that this will affect the fuel cell – it will use alternative feeds to H2… such as biomass**** (BTL, ethanol/biobutanol, biodiesel, HMF derived Biodiesel etc?)
So the fuel cell idea will simply adapt… as it is with some of the new SOFC designs…

– it’s the ENERGY CARRIER that will be different … electrical rather than chemical (although the end user will still use the energy in chemical form)

– q.v. the idea of “plug-in-hybrid automotive vehicles”

– Isn’t the fuel cell an “electrochemical transducer” anyway…? There’s nothing in the name that implicitly suggests H2 need be the feed?

From lifecycle idea – chemicals part will be further down the lifecycle – OR at the very beginning (e.g. biomass -> energy) and at the end (energy -> consumer products -> waste)…

i.e. in the energy sector – they won’t be present throughout the entire cycle…? Like inherent in the hydrogen economy… (The H2 economy myth!)."

G. R. L. Cowan

Here's the hydrogen car timeline. GM projected the Opel Zafira's range on a tankful of liquid hydrogen as 400 km; in a journalist's hands it went only 184 km, IIRC. Now they're saying the Sequel will, next year, publically demonstrate 480 km range. That is to say, no such range has been demonstrated.

However, if you dig into the left side of that hydrogen timeline you can learn of hydrogen combustion cars that were going 300 km 30 years ago. Thus, there is no evidence that fuel cells are any better than internal combustion motors burning the same fuel. Indeed, such evidence as exists is the other way.

This explains, I think, why governments are pushing hydrogen-and-fuel-cells. In a dream world where motorists would eagerly buy hydrogen FCEVs, fossil fuel tax revenues per vehicle-mile would increase. In the real world, at least those researchers will not have done any -- so to speak -- harm.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, former hydrogen fan
Burn boron in pure oxygen for vehicle power


Popular Mechanics also recently covered the challenges of a hydrogen economy - we covered it on Energista.

The article discusses what it calls the 4 hurdles - production, storage, distribution, and use.

kent beuchert

This is a good example of an article that
is written by those ignorant of the GM's
purpose. It's now become obvious that GM has realized for quite some time that the hydrogen economy (which was being heavily pushed by MIT and others years ago) is not going to happenanytime soon, if ever. It's becoming more obvious that we will become an all electric society, which is far more efficient and flexible. MIT seriously failed by making conclusions based simply on the fact that GM was testing their car using fuel cell technology. They didn't comprehend that GM was testing their PLATFORM, not its
electrical power source. So all of MIT's
arguments were, in the end, moot. Perhaps next time MIT will make the effort to actually talk to those whose efforts they are going to judge. Just shows how a prestigious university can do really stupid things.



This is a new strategy that may help reduce prices with fairly immediate results. It's experimental and it needs major participation.

The Plan is to back up the pipeline and alter the supply/demand effect on price. Prices are determined daily by our gas consumption. Use less and the prices DROP, basic economics. Here are the guidelines for the two-month PLAN:

1. Use ONE regular gas station only.

2. NEVER fill up. Fill to a MAX of 3/4.

3. LAST WEEK of the MONTH > Fill 3/4 tank. If you refill again later fill 1/2 tanks ONLY.

4. FIRST WEEK of the MONTH > Fill 1/2 tanks ONLY.

5. As you participate the faster the price will come down.

This raises havoc with the supply tanks and delivery trucks. By reducing our usage the gas station winds up with excess gas that week. The pumps remain overstocked and delivery trucks must return with undeliverable gas. When this is done on the LAST WEEK of the month the price goes down the next month.

When this is repeated in the first week of the following month it wrecks the status quo and prices will drop.


Beverly Hills, CA


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Petroleum Chemicals

Nice information provided here which is very useful to everyone...I am not a huge fan of this side, there do seem to be a lot these days...thanks for posting...Let me know more about this one...

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