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April 28, 2007


Oren Tirosh

Engineer-Poet's criticism of H2CAR:


Kit p

The Purdue report is worth reading.

E-P's position is that any research that does not support PHEVs is a right wing conspiracy My position is that we need to look for multiple sources of energy if our goal is to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used. It would look to me that DOE is funding researchers in many areas.

My favorite is AgStar: http://www.epa.gov/agstar/pdf/2006digest.pdf Figure 1 show that the program has been effective in reducing ghg. It is a small program but we need many small solutions.

I would expect Purdue to approach research from a different perspective than Cornell or UC Berkley. PHEV only value is reducing air pollution in in large cities. Indiana has lots of farms that grow corn and soy beans, so Purdue may be focusing more on biomass to energy.

Disclaimer, my resume includes BSME, Purdue U., 1975.

Michael Cain

E-P's position is that any research that does not support PHEVs is a right wing conspiracy

While I certainly don't need to speak for him, E-P's position is, consistently, that any transportation energy proposal which ends with "then everyone will run the fuel through an ICE with 20% thermal efficiency" is of limited long-term practicality.

I myself find the argument compelling. Most low- or no-carbon sources are best suited to producing electricity; using that electricity to "manufacture" liquid fuel and then burning that fuel in an ICE is hideously inefficient; capital constraints imply that there will be limits on the total amount of energy available in the future so efficiency will count; using the electricity directly for transportation will be necessary.

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan

I think no-carbon sources are more easily adaptable to driving heat-to-fuel processes like the iodine-sulphur one than is electricity to being stored on board vehicles in amounts large enough to provide ~200 driveshaft kWh. A lot easier than making ordinary motorists cease to require this much onboard drive energy, a lot less easy than saying they should just quit that.

Kit p

As a mechanical engineer, I do not find comparing the thermal efficiency of what works to what does not work very compelling. ICE are very efficient. I use 15 gallons of gasoline a month. A more efficient energy conversion system might save a marginal amount of fossil fuel. However, my driving habits would make me a perfect candidate for a PHEV but would result in only a marginal reduction of fossil fuel or imported fuel, it any.

This is true for the foreseeable future up to 2025.


Heh, reason Kit likes this one is that you'd need an amazing ammount of nuclear energy to make all the hydrogen.

And as E-P points out in another post, hydrogen produced from coal is just about as effective as hydrogen produced from renewable electricity.

In short, the H2Car program does not favor Renewables.

Just a thinly veiled way of doing fossil fuels into oil, just like Coal-to-Liquids.

In general, anything based off of Hydrogen tends to be a political distraction.


That said,
When you have electric cars reaching this performance at these price points A Camry sized EV, $29,500, as soon as 2008.

Not much will be able to get in their way.


Uhm Kit P.
Lets start off with.

Merely using the electricity it took to make the hydrogen in the first place.

You'd get 3-4x more range out of an electric car than a hydrogen fuel cell car.

That said, a hydrogen fuel cell car uses hydrogen effeciently.

By taking that hydrogen and turning it into a liquid.

For the sake of arguement lets make assumption you lose 0% of your energy by turning it into a liquid.

And also lose 0% of your energy by transporting it to distribution centers.


A hydrogen fuel cell is able to utilize the original hydrogen at 2x the effeciency of a gasoline ICE.

So at bare minimum, you have a 12x reduction in energy use by using that original electricity as electricity.
Rather than making a liquid fuel out of it.


I'd hardly call twelve hundred percent, a "marginal reduction in fossil fuel".


When folks here are refuting the KitP-troll's lies and diversions before I can even get here, I think the truth-based community is doing a most excellent job.  Kudos to you.

Mark C R UK

I think this needs further study.

Its such a complicated system - from initial inspection I'm trying to figure out the primary energy source and requirements...

I think its because its a "mix and match" of various different areas/technologies....

Mark C R UK

Also - what are they exactly refering to by the term "chemical processing system"....

And just because no CO2 is not released at this stage - doesn't mean that it isn't released at another stage of the overall LIFE-CYCLE.

As I said - I want to read more on this.... and see if it is actually anything new.


It's not new, Mark.  Robert Rapier has worked on something similar to this, and just adding sufficient H2 to a gasifier output stream would allow all the carbon to be converted to fuels via F-T or other synthesis.

The issue is obtaining the H2.  The problem is that all the suggested methods of making sufficient H2 would supply several times the energy required to run the vehicles on electricity (and eliminate all the noise and pollution issues of ICE's).  The only thing which might make H2CAR worthwhile is a cheap system which produces hydrogen directly from e.g. sunlight.  I touched on that issue in Fertilize this!.

Kit p

For those who do not know it, there is already a hydrogen economy. There is even a map showing the locations of hydrogen plants. Most are located near refineries or anhydrous ammonia production facilities. The hydrogen is primarily produced from natural gas (CH4).

In other words, we already use lots of hydrogen from fossil fuel. All Purdue is doing is looking at other sources of hydrogen to input into the existing infrastructure. Renewable energy has been used to produce ammonia. One of the Scandinavian countries has done with excess hydroelectric.

If I recall correctly, 1.44 Tons of CO2 is produced for each ton of ammonia from natural gas. The EPA has a web site listing all the emission right down to the cadmium from tire wear for those who are interested in the finer points of life cycle emissions.

For the record, the ICEs that I use are clean and quite. If you live in a dirty stinky city stop crying about your the choices you have made. Too many people, not enough trees.

Speaking of trees, at least two of my neighbors heat with renewable energy judging by the not so quire ICE chain saws. Personally, I like an electric chain saw.

Paul Dietz

The problem is that all the suggested methods of making sufficient H2 would supply several times the energy required to run the vehicles on electricity [...]. The only thing which might make H2CAR worthwhile [...]

The assumption you have made here is that electricity can be used in all situations. It seems more likely that there will remain a subset of vehicle (and even automotive) applications that require chemical fuels, even if electrical energy takes most of the propulsion energy market.


I make no such assumption.  Electricity can replace perhaps 80% of all liquid motor fuel with PHEV's alone; the remainder doesn't need H2CAR, and the inefficiencies of H2CAR would make it far too expensive anyway.

The whole thing is silly.  The Solix process can turn CO2 back into biomass much more cheaply than H2CAR can make hydrogen to do the same job.  The goal of the exercise should be least cost, including internalized environmental impact.  H2CAR fails there.

kit p

80%??? Try 0.1%!!! First things first. After we figure out how to build sufficient capacity to stop making electricity with imported LNG, then we can decide where and when PHEV make sense. This is a job for children who have not been born yet.

E-P is consistent. First he trashes proven technology assuming that no new improvements will be made. Second he select his pixie dust solution de jour based on reading some press release designed to rip off investors. He then assumes that bench scale testing will translate to real world performance while ignoring economic and environmental impact.

The goal is to research alternate energy supplies. Purdue has not failed in this regard. During the first energy crisis is I did the same thing. I picked a topic that looked like the silver bullet for a dwindling natural gas supply for Indiana farmers. While being a hero would have been nice, it just was not feasible. In hindsight, the solution was finding lots more natural gas and building pipelines.

Reality Czech

If that's true, Mr. Kit, why don't you quote where that was said and provide links to the specifics?

I'll bet your claims can't survive Reality.

Greg woulf

If this was a quick fix, I might think it would be worth it, but we'd still need to build Nuclear plants just to produce the Hydrogen needed.

If we build the nuclear plants, then it seems we'd be better off funding the batteries.

We could easily cut back 50%, even with existing battery technology. Just a push and some incentives and people would be driving electric.

Robert McLeod

I feel the need to repost a link to my post on hydrogen's problems:


It's almost a year old now, and nothing has changed since then. Little will change in the future, since most of the drawbacks of hydrogen are physical, and not technological.

kit p

Greg, I think we should fund batteries and it sure looks like we are. Maybe you do not understand the magnitude. I would estimate your 50% is the equivalent of 50 new 1600 MWe plants.

Both PHEV and H2CAR are long term solutions. We do the research now, children not yet born decide what best.

kit p

Robert, we are not discussing H2 as a fuel, and fuel cells. We are discussing using H2 for making liquid fuels. This is already done using natural gas.


That assumes that the problem with H2CAR is technological.

Instead it's merely a matter of the raw physics.

You can't invent your own laws of physics.

kit P

You mean chemistry, GreyFlcn. We already use hydrogen to produce gasoline using natural gas. All Purdue is doing is looking at different sources of hydrogen is the US has to shift to heavier crude or runs out of natural gas.

Reality Czech

Wow, will you look at that!  kit p DOES NOT have quotes for the words he attributes to others, or the 0.1% claim he made, or anything else.

I guess that means he's lying.

Robert McLeod

"You mean chemistry, GreyFlcn."

What a quaint non sequitur. I can't resist poking a hole in it. You realize of course that chemistry is simply a sub-set of physics? Let's consulate a definition given at Wikipedia:


"According to modern chemistry, the physical properties of materials are generally determined by their structure at the molecular or atomic scale, which is itself defined by interatomic electromagnetic forces (ed: physics), and laws of quantum mechanics (ed: physics) and thermodynamics (ed: physics, derived from statistical mechanics)."


On topic to PHEV's:  Firefly Energy has selected a manufacturer for military production.  The first commercial customer is Husqvarna, delivering product later this year.

Hugo Chavez and the Saudi princes should be quaking in their boots.  This is the end for them.

Paul Dietz

I make no such assumption. Electricity can replace perhaps 80% of all liquid motor fuel with PHEV's alone; the remainder doesn't need H2CAR

I disagree with the last conclusion. Demand for vehicle fuel, globally, will be much higher in the future. Perhaps the current US demand doesn't need H2CAR. What about the demand of a 9 billion person world with per capita gross product ten times the current value?


The improvement of batteries should have shrunk the need for liquid fuel even further by then.

Solar Wind Motors

Hi there!
Better take a look at Solar Wind Motors.


I dunno about you, but a web page which has a big picture of a promotor and nothing about the technology it's supposedly trying to push just doesn't do it for me.

Harvey D.

Michael Cain & Kit p.:

Don't you think that, sooner or latter, we will have to do more with less fossil fuel energy.

We can't keep on drilling more and more wells, transforming more coal into fuel and producing more and more alternative fuels to feed more bigger and bigger ICE gas guzzlers.

The time has come to increase mpg fivefold +, from under 20 to over 100, if we want to reach a sustainable energy situation. This cannot be done with improved transmission, direct injection ICE, diesel and similar mechanical improvements.

A mix of updated Hybrids + PHEVs + BEVs (and e-bikes + e-scooters) may be the best way to get from here to there. This is not a question of driving less or driving slower etc. We need more efficent machines using existing infrastructures. That's where the PHEVs fit in with their 100 to 200 mpg potential.

First generation PHEVs, with smaller, cheaper batteries may not offer more than 60 to 80 mpg but that will be improved to 100+ mpg within 3 or 5 years when larger-cheaper battery packs become available.

Transportation (most types) have to switch from coal-oil-alternative fuels to clean Electricity. Our homes HVAC have to evolve from wood-coal-oil-gaz to clean, highly efficent, electric systems.

It is a question of common sense and normal evolution.

The days of horses and buggies and ICE gas guzzlers are over.

kit p

No Harvey, I think ICE are a much better environmental choice. This is based on the current facts and projections for the next 15 years.


re: Kit P.
--No Harvey, I think ICE are a much better environmental choice. This is based on the current facts and projections for the next 15 years.--

Who's "facts and projections" ?

You make those facts up all by yourself?


For daily updated news on bioenergy, ethanol and climate, please visit:



Potential to Save £400.00 out of £1000.00 spent on Diesel.
It is no secret that Fuel Cells can make a huge difference to the costings.
Because of the escalating cost of fossil fuels used in Trucks, Busses, boats, cars static engines and heating the use of HHO gas Fuel Cells in Britain is a growing phenomena. A number of industry insiders and now the biggest investment banks confirm the cost of fuel could escalate by as high as £2.00 a litre by end of this year. This is clearly an urgent situation not only for the hauliers but the whole nation.
Without cost effective, no polluting alternatives (HHO gas reverts to water after combustion) the transport the distribution systems will become far to expensive to compete with their continental counterparts who obtain their fuel at a discount.
Those that have heard of the concept of fuel cells and who do a high mileage are keen to use the system. Taxis doing a high mileage with a corresponding big fuel spend can benefit hugely from an installation. The potential is to save up to 40% on fuel costs. I would like to emphasise that a TurboFuelCell is NOT a high pressure system holding huge volumes of volatile gas as is the case of LPG or even petrol. Further the storage medium is only water. The HHO gas is converted on demand using very small (similar to two double AA batteries) amperage of electricity directly from water in the cell. The HHO gas is supplied on demand only when the ignition is turned on. There is never any more than an egg cup of HHO gas in the system at any time as the engine vacuums the gas when it is produced immediately and burns it with the diesel.
Further there is a one way valve between the engine's carburetion system and the Fuel cell. This system is completely safe. Unlike LPG Gas or petrol fuel cells does not store large quantity of combustive or explosive fuel because water is the storage medium. As a matter of fact the only liquid held within the Cells in any quantity is water.
After combustion the HHO gas reverts to water and thus reduces pollution dramatically. As a matter of fact in the America equivalent of our MOT test in the faulty, clogged Catalytic Converter was remover prior to the test. The result was the HHO Fuel Cell produced dramatically lower pollution results. The testers had no idea the catalytic converter had been removed. Such cells included on diesel engines will dramatically reduce pollution.

Prabhat Lakhera

Dear sir,
My self Prabhat Lakhera from IIT BOMBAY (INDIA)
I m highly impressed with your thought when i have seen this internet page on this site.
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sir my question is some people are saying that energy sector is originally sustainable (that means when futute will come we will be able to drive the demand of the energy beacause of technology adavancement? so how you will react to this statement or what are your views on this?


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