Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hydrogen Car In Your Future? Consider This

Hydrogen powered cars are one of the exciting new oil-free technologies that are being explored right now. Let me say up front that even though I do not consider oil to be evil, it is clear that alternative fuels need to be developed over the coming years. There are billions and billions of barrels of oil still in the ground (more than we've already pulled out is still down there), but eventually it will get too expensive to get to. Clean power will also help our environment considerably.

I know ... those of you who have read this blog for a while may be shocked at those statements, but I truly believe them.

Hydrogen is a gas. It burns clean. It is plentiful, since it is one of the elements that make up water. Many of you will have seen images of cute little cars sporting 'hydrogen powered' decals on them. Like this:

The reality of hydrogen powered vehicles for public use may be more along the lines of this - something big, very well protected, not vulnerable to normal traffic fenderbenders:

Hydrogen is extremely flamable, and very easy to ignite. I have a difficult time seeing a future of small, cute hydrogen powered vehicles filling the highways. They will be involved in collisions. They will be split open, because small cars just don't have much protection around the propulsion system, not matter what the fuel is. What in the world is going to keep the hydrogen fuel cell from cooking off and incinerating everyone within a hundred yards? Drive a huge armored vehicle? That's the only way I'm getting into a hydrogen powered vehicle.

To all you eco-nazis who feel I am being a paranoid tool of big oil, I give you this as a shining example of a hydrogen vehicle's encounter with a spark .... the Hindenburg.


irjsiq said...

H2 and the Hindenburg!

Additional research would yield the fact that liquid Fossil fuels aboard the Hindenburg were the 'flammables' most responsible for loss of life. The Hydrogen was rapidly escaping skyward!
Whereas: Liquid Fossil fuels 'pool'. H2 (being the lightest Atom in the Periodic Table), rapidly escapes into the atmosphere, and flaming 'H2', will be rising rapidly as well; leaving NoFuel to incinerate persons trapped in motor vehicles, as with Gasoline!

i.e. When an H2 containment vessel is 'Breached', Hydrogen goes up! Fast!
When a 'Gasoline' tank is breached, the gasoline pools! And if ignited, can heat the gasoline remaining in the tank, compounding the hazard!

Persons clinging to 'Hindenburg+Hydrogen=Death' mentality, continuing to vilify Hydrogen, would do well to read, study, think . . . Hydrogen is vastly safer than liquid Fossil Fuels!
And, H2 sources are as close as the nearest water; not 3 miles under the Ocean Floor, with the 'wellhead' a mile below the ocean surface!

Roy J Stewart,
Phoenix AZ

67Cougar said...

Roy, thank you for your comment. I do not agree with all of it, however ...

Liquid gasoline does not burn. Gasoline vapors burn.

If hydrogen was so safe, why did all American dirigibles use helium? The only reason Hindenburg and other German dirigibles used hydrogen was because they had no access to safe helium.

If hydrogen was so safe, all dirigibles would have used it, for it was much cheaper to produce than helium.

Liquid flammables caused the Hindenburg to burn? The hydrogen safely escaped upward? I really don't think the photos and film of the event show that to be the case.

You are correct in that hydrogen released from a tank rupture would rise. You are not correct in stating that it would pose no threat. hydrogen leaking fro a ruptured fuel cell could, and probably would come into contact with an ignition source - fire, electrical short, etc. At that point, it is going to ignite, and if there is any significant quantity left in the cell, that is going to explode.

I suggest you go back in aviation history and look at liquid oxygen tanks. Look at the photographic record of accidents involving those tanks being punctured and inginting. The results are catastrophic. Liquid oxygen cell ... liquid hydrogen cell ... same danger, same result.

Roy, I will give your argument some more thought if you will go get a car, put a pressurized container of hydrogen in the front seat, sit next to that container, punch a hole in the side of the container, and light a match next to the hole. Catch it on video, put it on youtube, and let me know the link ....