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Thread: Paradigm Shift

  1. #1
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    Paradigm Shift

    I just read a good article about turning ethanol into hydrogen. Being a bit bored, I started to think about the possibilities.

    Here, they have a 2 ft tall device that turns ethanol into hydrogen which gets put into a fuel cell. The fuel cell would then produce pure water and electricity. No emissions from the conversion of ethanol to hydrogen. The hydrogen only produces pure water as a by-product. (The corn that is used to produce the ethanol then becomes a high protein mush that is nutritionally dense and perfect for feeding to farm animals.) We (meaning any country that can produce a surplus harvest of corn or just about any other grain) would then be able to locally produce clean, enviromentally safe fuel without having to drill into the earth, risk polluting the world due to a tanker running aground in Alaska, we wouldn't need to explore into delicate ecosystems to exploit nature, etc. This technology, if brought to market, could potentially create a paradigm shift in world economics.

    No longer would countries have to be solely dependent on OPEC or the coal industry for their fuel. The greenhouse gases could be greatly reduced. The money that goes to some of the less scrupulous oil countries which then gets into terrorist hands would be greatly reduced. Third world countries could then, hopefully, compete on a more even playing field since they would be able to provide more reliable, home-grown energy for their people.

    I think that an interesting possibility is that you would be able to have one or more of these reactors in your home, thus allowing you to create fuel cells in your home. You would merely have to have Company X deliver ethanol to your home (the way they used to deliver oil or coal years ago), put it into the reactor, and voila!...electicity. This could possibly mean that you could limit your dependence on the electric company. You would be able to laugh at your neighbors when the next California rolling blackouts occur and you still have electricity. You could more conveniently refill your vehicle fuel cells and the fuel cells that would power your PDAs, laptops, cell phones, etc. Just think of the possibilities.

    Of course, this new world order would only come to pass if the old-world economic structure was willing to allow it to occur. I am sure that the energy monopolies will do everything they can to either kill this type of technology or to at least severely limit it's adoption. Only time can tell.

    Cheers

  2. #2

    Re:Paradigm Shift

    The oil companies have been sitting on fuel cell technology for years. What happens is they buy the patents && rights to this stuff and then hide it. When oil runs out, they'll still be the ones making all the dough.

  3. #3

    Re:Paradigm Shift

    Stryder,
    Technically, this has been around for years. As most of yall know, I served in submarines for 10 years. Did anyone ever wonder how a closed environment could survive for an extended period of time with 135 people expelling CO2? By generating our own oxygen, thats how. We take water that has been boiled at extreme temps to purify it, add calcium and something else to allow the water to conduct electricity, and then pump about 1K amps thru it. This seperates the H2O molecules and we keep the oxygen and pump the 2 hydrogen atoms overboard. How hard would it be to keep the hydrogen and release the oxygen?
    The downside of this is the volitility of hyrdogen. Not to mention the fact that anytime you split atoms apart you run the risk of releasing large amounts of energy. If you allow the uncontrolled reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to recombine then you run the risk of a HUGE explosion. How big depends on several things that I wont get into. Does anyone remember the Hindenberg?

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    Re:Paradigm Shift

    True, fuel cell-type technologies have been around for decades. Plus, I understand the volatility of hydrogen (I wonder if Creedon was an eye-witness to the Hindenburg explosion? ) and that they will need to address those issues if this technology is ever to make it into the homes of the average person.

    I think that the interesting part is that they have made a reactor that is only two or so feet high. That type of experimentation makes one see the possibilities that are out there. While I don't consider myself to be a tree-hugger type, I would rather that the enviroment didn't deteriorate any more than it already has. I think that this technology has the possibility to stem the tide, environmentally. I would love to see that. If we could get fuel-cell technology into the homes, businesses, and vehicles of the world I think that we would have a much nicer world (not utopian, obviously, but definitely nicer).

    I can't wait until the world wakes up and demands clean, environmentally safe, easily renewable energy systems that diversify the supply and support infrastructure. I would love to see large multinational energy cartels go the way of the Dodo. We don't need megacorporations dictating policy to national leadership (US or otherwise). I see fuel cell technology as an enabling technology that could quite easily move the balance of power to the consumer (just like the OSS does). Sure, it will take decades and yes, the mega corps of the world could easily buy up all the patents and continue with the way things are. I just have hope that that won't be the case.

    I don't know, maybe I should clean my rose-colored glasses?

    Cheers

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    Re:Paradigm Shift

    [quote author=stryder144 link=board=14;threadid=8691;start=0#msg78518 date=1076808202]

    I can't wait until the world wakes up and demands clean, environmentally safe, easily renewable energy systems that diversify the supply and support infrastructure. I would love to see large multinational energy cartels go the way of the Dodo. We don't need megacorporations dictating policy to national leadership (US or otherwise). I see fuel cell technology as an enabling technology that could quite easily move the balance of power to the consumer (just like the OSS does). Sure, it will take decades and yes, the mega corps of the world could easily buy up all the patents and continue with the way things are. I just have hope that that won't be the case.

    [/quote]

    Man, do I agree with you. And it is doable. Hydrogen cells are a part of an overall solution. Wind power is another.

    As we saw last summer, the US power grid is in need of serious work and upgrading. It would be the perfect time to build a distribution system that could work well with a decentralized power system. Doing so will be expensive, though not as expensive as our debacle in Iraq.

    The US should become a leader in developing clean, renewable energy. But as long as we let oil barons make the energy policies for our country in secret meetings, we are going to get more of the same old policies of pollution and dependancy.

  6. #6

    Re:Paradigm Shift

    [quote author=stryder144 link=board=14;threadid=8691;start=0#msg78518 date=1076808202]

    I don't know, maybe I should clean my rose-colored glasses?

    Cheers
    [/quote]

    never

  7. #7
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    Re:Paradigm Shift

    Hydrogen fuel cells have looked promising for a long time now, countries like Island have a great potential in producing dirty cheap, clean hydrogen - which we could use for powering our societies.

    Of course it's my understanding that the volitaile nature of hydrogen makes these kinda of devices prone to going boom.

    But to quote my hero Homer Simpson

    "To alcohol, the cause and solution to all mankinds problems"

  8. #8
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    Re:Paradigm Shift

    [quote author=Lovechild link=board=14;threadid=8691;start=0#msg78554 date=1076865302]
    Hydrogen fuel cells have looked promising for a long time now, countries like Island have a great potential in producing dirty cheap, clean hydrogen - which we could use for powering our societies.

    Of course it's my understanding that the volitaile nature of hydrogen makes these kinda of devices prone to going boom.

    But to quote my hero Homer Simpson

    "To alcohol, the cause and solution to all mankinds problems"

    [/quote]

    Actually, fuel cells are quite safe- far safer than gasoline engines. Granted that storing large amounts of hydrogen will require some good engineering, but again, I think it will prove to be less problematic than hydrocarbon based fuels.


  9. #9

    Re:Paradigm Shift

    Its very easy to say that all it will require is some good engineering, but you have to look at all of the angles. First of all, let me state that I am a big proponent of getting away from fossil fuels. I grew up in WV and Understand better than most about the harm done to the environment and to people. MM and I are the first to really get away from coal mining.
    Now, to play devils advocate. The first thing that you have to look at is cost versus gain. While the environmental costs will be almost immediate, you must look at the cost of converting cars to run H. After that, you must look at creating "gas stations" or converting them. That will be a huge economical undertaking by itself. Also, you must look at the engineering aspect as stated by cga. The cost of the fuel cells or storage tanks will be inversley proportionate to the amount of people who purchase them. Now if the gov would subsidise (sp ?) it could be doable. And as I stated earlier, H goes boom. You really wouldnt need a small nuke or anything along those lines, you would only have to place a small charge over a storage tank. Or you could puncture the tank and allow several minutes for dispersal and then ignite, ala Fuel air explosive. Which is banned by the geneva convention or the UN whichever.
    Now, as for alternatives, the hybrid cars that they are producing now are a step in the right direction. They arent the end all be all, but it is something.


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    Re:Paradigm Shift

    [quote author=10Dedfish link=board=14;threadid=8691;start=0#msg78577 date=1076894127]
    Its very easy to say that all it will require is some good engineering, but you have to look at all of the angles. First of all, let me state that I am a big proponent of getting away from fossil fuels. I grew up in WV and Understand better than most about the harm done to the environment and to people. MM and I are the first to really get away from coal mining.
    Now, to play devils advocate. The first thing that you have to look at is cost versus gain. While the environmental costs will be almost immediate, you must look at the cost of converting cars to run H. After that, you must look at creating "gas stations" or converting them. That will be a huge economical undertaking by itself. Also, you must look at the engineering aspect as stated by cga. The cost of the fuel cells or storage tanks will be inversley proportionate to the amount of people who purchase them. Now if the gov would subsidise (sp ?) it could be doable. And as I stated earlier, H goes boom. You really wouldnt need a small nuke or anything along those lines, you would only have to place a small charge over a storage tank. Or you could puncture the tank and allow several minutes for dispersal and then ignite, ala Fuel air explosive. Which is banned by the geneva convention or the UN whichever.
    Now, as for alternatives, the hybrid cars that they are producing now are a step in the right direction. They arent the end all be all, but it is something.


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    [/quote]

    Sure, the cost of converting is large in the short term. What is it in the long term?

    Second, the possibility of air-mix explosion is something that can be greatly limited. The storage tank on a car would be small, and the fuel-air mix equation is very biased against explosion even in a punture situation. To get an explosion with hydrogen requires a very favorable mix ration that is unlikely in such a situation. In large storage systems, well, we already have many such systems today, and they are very stable. There are far more gasoline explosions than hydrogen explosions.

    My work involves trying to clean up messes from hydrocarbon fuels and believe me they are wide spread and hard to deal with, not mention expensive. Getting away from these things is going to be good in the long run.


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