This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Friday, May 22, 2009

The End of the Hydrogen Economy?

Most of you probably missed it, but about two weeks ago, the Obama administration announced the cutting off of funds for research into the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power the next generation of cars and trucks. The reasoning? The technology was not expected to be viable within the next 10-20 years and the administration wanted to spend its (our) money on projects with a quicker payoff. The difficulties with using PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells in cars and trucks are many. Problems with on-board hydrogen storage, the need to use high purity hydrogen (ppm levels of CO poison PEM fuel cells), low power densities, and the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure (e.g. filling stations) all have to be solved first. Basically, this is an admission that we’re still a long way off from the much touted hydrogen economy.

And it doesn't help that hydrogen may not be as "green" a fuel as first thought.

Note: Fortunately, this has no effect on my work on SOFCs (solid oxide fuel cells). SOFCs can utilize both H2 and CO as fuels, both of which are produced by on-board reforming of gasoline or diesel fuel. SOFCs have their own set of difficulties, but they’re much closer to being solved.

3 comments:

luisbr said...

The Hydrogen Economy
Savior of Humanity or an Economic Black Hole?
by Alice Friedemann
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-03-12#feature

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Bluezy said...

Do you think that there is any veracity to the concept that putting hydrogen combustion under the thumb is some conspiracy that benefits the big business of world oil?

The Alice Friedemann article, although very informative is targeting hydrogen dispensed as a whole.

What do you think about the hydrogen conversion kits that are out now?

And biodiesel?

The google searches are endless. I would like a scholarly opinion within my grasp, please.