[LMB] OT: hydrogen economy

Ray Drouillard RayLists at quixnet.net
Sat, 14 Dec 2002 22:17:31 -0500

From: "Jean Lamb" <tlambs1138 at charter.net>

> Just curious, and since I'm way behind on e-mail, has anyone mentioned the
> possible use of metallic hydride? It's much safer than other forms. My
> husband once saw a science video where someone shot into a gasoline tank
> (with the usual spectacular fireball--they probably shot bunches of them
> morning till they got a _good_ one, if they were proper firebugs), and
> shot at a lump of hydride, with um...not much. I think they got a puff of
> vapor or some such thing. How do hydrides work in the fuel cell game?

Unfortunately, metal hydride storage tanks require heat to release the
hydrogen.  This isn't a problem if you are using the H2 to fire an internal
combustion engine.  The standard trick is to warm it with the exhaust.

Fuel cells, on the other hand, don't produce a whole lot of heat.

OK, it's actually more accurate to state that they don't produce high
temperatures.  They actually turn about 40% of the hydrogen fed into them
into heat.  The other 60% becomes electric power.  It may sound bad, until
you realize that 60% efficiency is really good compared to a standard
internal combustion engine.

Now, if we ever come up with a viable fusion reactor, or manage to convince
certain parties that fission energy is clean and safe, we will actually be
able to produce hydrogen at a cost that will compete with fossil fuels.
Once that (largest) hurtle is overcome, we will actually have the incentive
to solve the storage issues.

Ray Drouillard