The Hydrogen Economy Keeps Inching Towards Reality

 

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being developed by Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even General Motors here in the US. Oil and gas companies like Shell– companies with a massive, established infrastructure and deep, deep pockets- are pushing to build a hydrogen economy based on a plentiful, clean-burning element that could be cheaply produced using water and an inexpensive catalyst. Of course, that whole “cheap hydrogen from water-splitting” thing is basically science fiction, right? Hydrogen is too expensive, in practice, to ever be truly useful- that’s according to our sister site, Cleantechnica.

If you agree with that CT article I just linked to (you shouldn’t, by the way- it’s packed with straw men and clearly biased), then you probably haven’t been paying attention to news out of Texas, because researchers the University of Houston have developed a catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen, is composed of easily available, low-cost materials, and operates far more efficiently than the most advanced catalysts of a few years days ago.

 

University of Houston Creates Cheap Hydrogen Catalyst


“Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source we have on earth,” explains Paul C. W. Chu, TLL Temple Chair of Science and founding director and chief scientist of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. “Water could be the most abundant source of hydrogen, if one could separate the hydrogen from its strong bond with oxygen in the water by using a catalyst.”

That’s what Chu and his team at UH seem to have done. Their new catalyst, which is composed of something called a “ferrous metaphosphate” that’s grown on a conductive nickel foam platform, is far not only more efficient than previous catalysts, it’s also cheaper to make and lasts a lot, lot longer- up to twenty times longer!

“Cost-wise, (the ferrous metaphosphate catalyst) is much lower. And, performance-wise, much better,” said Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson professor of physics and lead author on the UH paper. “The catalyst also is durable, operating more than 20 hours and 10,000 cycles in testing. Some catalysts are outstanding but are only stable for one or two hours,” Ren explains. “That’s no use.”

The UH researchers- smart people, by the way- argue that the lack of an inexpensive, water-splitting catalyst has created a “bottleneck” in the push towards a future hydrogen economy. One that’s been seemingly impossible to overcome for decades. Still, they feel that future is worth pursuing due to hydrogen’s many advantages as a fuel. “H2 produced from water splitting by an electrochemical process, called water electrolysis, has been considered to be a clean and sustainable energy resource to replace fossil fuels and meet the rising global energy demand, since water is both the sole starting material and byproduct when clean energy is produced by converting H2 back to water,” the researchers write. Adding that, “unlike solar power, wind power and other ‘clean’ energy, hydrogen can be easily stored.”

Easily stored, and easily distributed by modifying the existing gas station model. That is, if the Hindenburg-less implementation of hydrogen stations in Japan and California over the last few years is to be believed, anyway.

That’s just me, I guess: looking for solutions that could help reduce carbon emissions and our dependency on fossil fuels and economic machinations beyond the understanding of mere mortals like myself. What about you guys? You’re smart. You read this far. Are you excited about the possibility of filling up a zero-emission vehicle with clean-burning H2 on your next thousand mile road trip? Would you feel better about hydrogen if The Bad Guys didn’t seem so interested in seeing it succeed? There’s a comments section at the bottom of the page- put it to good use by letting us know!

 

Source | Images: University of Houston.





About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • Disqusor

    Same old business model the filthy oil industry need to survive, nothing will change.

  • James Rowland

    “Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source we have on earth,” explains Paul C. W. Chu…

    I often wonder how smart, highly educated people say this kind of thing. If there’s one thing that’s abundantly obvious here, it’s that hydrogen is not an energy source when used in this way.

    It’s an energy storage medium, and it’s theoretical limits for a perfected implementation are already outclassed by an existing alternative.

    It’s not even more practical; hydrogen is hard keep in one place, hard to move and limits the materials you have to work with.

    Really, why hydrogen? There are other things you can power a fuel cell with, that can in principle be made carbon neutral with appropriate technology (methane being the most obvious.)

    • You know how it is- physicists and mathematicians and engineers are always making stuff up. I’m sure you’re right and they’re wrong. What university engineering department do you head up, again? 😉

      • James Rowland

        My best guess is this spin is aimed at whoever is writing the grant cheques.

        More efficient electrolysis of water is something well worth learning; there are vital industrial processes requiring hydrogen feedstock that are currently been satisfied by steam reforming of hydrocarbons.

        We should want electrolysis to take a larger market share, so this research would be worthwhile even if the energy storage problem was already satisfied.

        However, if you pretend there’s a much larger addressable market in energy storage, or worse that it’s an energy source (which, I repeat, it isn’t,) then you can make a more superficially appealing case for funding it.

        Hydrogen may have niche energy applications, but it’s never going to make sense when end-to-end efficiency matters.

  • Rick

    Yeah man, let the name calling begin. I have seen the linux vs windows wars, apple vs Microsoft, apple vs samsung, icecream vs hotcakes, well, I’ve seen it all really and let me tell you, the green (EV) guys are the worst. The most aggressive, backwards looking, unscientific, biased, unwilling to learn bunch I’ve ever seen. You would have burnt Galilei alright, but not before torturing him.

    • Joe Viocoe

      See Galileo Gambit.

    • Hey, buddy- back in my day it was called “Apple/IBM” LOL!!

    • James Rowland

      Perhaps the biggest failure of the green movement is its ongoing opposition to what has been, for the last half-century or so, by far the largest source of clean energy (not to mention with one of the lowest rates of deaths per TWh generated.) A side-effect of this resistance has been an almost complete stagnation of the technology; it’s hardly been pushed forward at all since it was invented some seventy years or so ago, despite clear opportunities to make it far better in every way.

      PV, etc. and energy storage may make the point moot in the next decade or three, but the missed opportunity to solve the current crisis decades ago grinds my gears like little else.

      • PeteDisqus321

        Totally agree – in an ideal world, at this point in time we should have completely phased out fossil fuels in favour of nuclear, and we should be starting to phase out nuclear by converting them to operate as peaker plants where possible.

        • James Rowland

          We certainly should phase out LWRs and other old junk – though not while the alternative dispatchable sources are coal and gas, as is currently the case.

          Fission done right wouldn’t need to be phased out, as every drawback we’ve endlessly heard about is the result not of fundamental physics but poor system architecture choices.

          Like ICEs for transportation, bad decisions made early on were locked in, and the incumbents have no interest in forcing change.

          It should give some perspective that the inventor of LWRs was adamantly against their use in civilian power. Their adoption in that role has more to do with the military paying first mover costs (LWRs for naval propulsion) and hopelessly naive early commercial cost estimates than any technical suitability.

          Existing nuclear plants are nowhere near what is physically possible in terms of efficiency, safety, sustainability or waste generation. There’s plenty besides electricity generation that could be done with different technology, too. Unfortunately, there’s been no serious, well-funded attempt to do any of this for ~45 years.

          Actually, the best option was never well funded, and was cut off entirely in the early 70s

  • PeteDisqus321

    Jo, the round trip efficiency of lithium ion batteries currently in mass production is typically >90%. What is the figure for a setup using this experimental catalyst?

    Until you’ve found out that basic piece of information, you’re not really in a position to publish an article, let alone pass judgement on the Cleantechnica article.

    • skierpage

      As I understand it, catalysts do not reduce the overall energy required by the chemical reaction. They reduce the activation energy to initiate the process so it happens faster, but you still have to supply the same energy to split each water molecule’s’ hydrogen bonds.

      • James Rowland

        Catalysts can increase efficiency of a process by preventing unwanted side reactions, and/or allowing the reaction to proceed under more frugal conditions.

        However, the enthalpy change of the reaction is, as you say, a requirement that cannot be avoided. Even a perfected system cannot produce the product with less energy input than this.

    • Round trip efficiency is a completely irrelevant piece of information- sort of like thermal efficiency of an ICE engine. It’s not the efficiency that matters, in other words, to the market. What matters are the benefits of using the thing weighed against the cost- and “efficiency” (cool as it is) isn’t something I imagine John Q. Public really gives a s*** about.

      Even if it was relevant, however, it would appear that you are unfamiliar with how the First Amendment and/or blogs work. I am, in fact, precisely positioned to publish an article. 🙂

      • John Q. Public doesn’t have to care about efficiency because an inefficient process is going to be comparatively more expensive.

        • James Rowland

          Precisely. Whatever your source of energy is, inserting a less efficient path between source and use will multiply the cost for end users.

          There are other costs besides process losses – notably capital costs of the equipment – but a two to one disadvantage (at minimum) is hard to offset.

        • Dries V

          Depends if the source is cheap, the path may or may not be efficient. Depends how expensive that path is.

      • PeteDisqus321

        “Round trip efficiency is a completely irrelevant piece of information- sort of like thermal efficiency of an ICE engine.”

        No offence but his is the most extraordinary claim I have ever read on a website about sustainable transport tech. It also contradicts your claim that the new catalyst

        “..operates far more efficiently than the most advanced catalysts of a few years/days ago.”

        I’m not American, but I’m not sure what the First Amendment has got to do with gathering some basic information before publishing an article, including (at a minimum) some quantitative facts to back up the claim that some kind of breakthrough has been achieved. Otherwise it’s just churnalism.

        Anyway, thanks for your reply, I appreciate your enthusiasm.

        • James Rowland

          You are correct: The First Amendment is concerned with protecting free expression (including that of the press) from the predations of state power. It has nothing to do with the standards of journalistic integrity being violated here.

  • Epicurus

    The existing infrastructure for moving, storing and selling oil and gasoline is not fit for moving, storing and selling hydrogen. Who is going to spend the money for the new infrastructure to handle hydrogen? Not the small business owners who own most of gas stations. State government paid for a few hydrogen stations in CA. I doubt that will happen in many other states.

    • Eco Logical

      I agree, hydrogen is NOT easy to store, move or sell. However, hydrogen can be converted to Methane (CH4), Methanol (CH3OH), Ethanol (C2H5OH) or Gasoline which is a blend of mostly Hexane (C6H14) and Octane (C8H18) with well known processes used in oil refineries e.g. the Fischer-Tropsch, MTG, and other processes that create Synthetic Fuels from Hydrogen i.e. ‘Hydrogenation’.

      LANL published a document called ‘GREEN FREEDOM’ a few years ago that describes how their pilot plant is able to economically synthesize Methanol and Gasoline from CO2 (extracted from air) and H2O.

      Synthetic fuels are equivalent to their fossil fuel counterparts and thus can use existing infrastructure for storing, moving and selling. Even better, they are CARBON NEUTRAL and don’t contain toxic impurities such as Sulphur.

      • Epicurus

        Didn’t know this. Thanks.

        Are these processes economic now? If so, let’s make gasoline this way instead of drilling more wells.

        • Eco Logical

          In addition to LANL’s pilot plant there is a commercial plant in New Zealand and one in Europe (that I know of).

          According to LANL the economics are mostly dependent on the cost of electricity (from their nuclear plant) but they also mention renewable electricity (solar/wind) that can be used. Recently solar and wind have gone below $0.03/kWh which is cheaper than coal or nuclear.

          Epicurus, I’m retired now but the reason I write these articles is to get the word out that there are alternative sources for gasoline (instead of drilling and extraction of fossil fuels). My hope is readers like you will take action and set the wheels in motion to make ‘synthetic’ gasoline instead of from petroleum.

          • Epicurus

            Did you work for an oil company?

            I have to assume that the major oil companies like ExxonMobil, whose managements are composed of engineers, are familiar with this technology and have compared the costs of making gasoline this way to the traditional method and have decided that in most costs the traditional method is cheaper except perhaps in a few circumstances. If anyone can run numbers, it’s ExxonMobil.

          • Eco Logical

            Yes, I worked in the oil industry for 22 years, then switched to renewables 23 years ago when I realized I was contributing to my own demise i.e. asthma and neurological issues.

            ExxonMobil and Imperial Oil (Esso in Canada) invented the MTG and Fischer-Tropsch processes. Conventional oil (drilled wells on land) may still be cheaper but my estimation is that offshore, arctic and tar sands oil are now more expensive. However, if toxic emissions are taken into account, I believe even conventional oil is more expensive. A Carbon Levy is the best way to level the costs and many countries are doing that including Canada. Many oil companies in Alberta are in favor of a Carbon Levy and even Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, is said to be in favor of a Carbon Levy to create a level playing field.

            Note: synthetic fuels that use atmospheric CO2 are carbon neutral and not subject to a Carbon Levy thus making them economically competitive.

      • bioburner

        I seem to remember one of the German car companies had a plant to produce synthetic diesel fuel from CO2. The process ran on wind generated electricity. If memory serves me correctly the efficiency of the process was a bit low and the resulting lower efficiency of the diesel engine resulted in a low overall “Well to wheels” efficiency.
        the benefit was that it allowed “Drop in replacement” for diesel engines.

      • Great stuff! Thanks for sharing- do you have the link?

      • James Rowland

        Also of note is extraction of carbon (as carbonic acid) from the sea for this purpose; there is a US Navy program looking into this. Synthesising jet fuel at sea instead of sailing tankers across the globe would be highly desirable for them.

        It has the added benefit of directly countering ocean acidification, though we’d have to do a whole lot more of this than the military would to “move the needle”.

        Of course, you need to get abundant electricity and process heat on your boat without burning anything for their plan to work. The only physically plausible solution is of course the other forbidden “n” word. The light water reactors the Navy has experience with aren’t ideal for this work either, due to the relatively low temperature of steam-based Rankine cycles.

      • kevin mccune

        That is a good point .

      • Dries V

        You are forgetting Ammonia (NH3).

        Synthetic fuel needs carbon which is not something you can pick out of the air. Most of the current test setup are using waist carbon from other industrial process. I’m not sure if it really is economical to make it in large quantities.

        • Eco Logical

          Synthetic Ammonia is possible but is very caustic and our existing fueling infrastructure is not conducive to it’s use.

          Carbon is 0.04% or 400 parts per million of air and can be extracted directly from air (just like trees do and virtually all living plants) using well known processes (GREEN FREEDOM, Carbon Engineering, …).

          • Dries V

            Sorry my mistake I thought the carbon needed to be unbound but it’s not needed.

            The ammonia path got a lot of rumour lately especial Australia wants to use this process to transport solar based hydrogen on a global scale. I’m not sure how realistic it is. But the idea is to transfer it back to hydrogen before using it in a car.

          • Eco Logical

            I recently read about Australia’s to store solar based hydrogen by combining it with nitrogen to form ammonia. If you’ve ever been on a farm, either in a feedlot or working with anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), you’ll know that ammonia is not very pleasant and I believe it’s toxic.

    • It probably will be the small business owners- they’ve shouldered the burden for every safety advance in the filling station business up to now.

      • I don’t see many small business gas stations installing the technology voluntarily. They will be facing a declining demand for their product due to competition from EVs, which already greatly outnumber FC vehicles. I don’t see FCEVs taking off in greater numbers than regular BEVs anytime soon. That lack of a customer base will make the rationale behind switching pretty low, especially for someone who isn’t a first mover in the space.

        • Epicurus

          Right. They can’t afford to gamble.

  • Joe Viocoe

    The crux of the hydrogen economy has never been just H2 production. Even if hydrogen was easy and cheap to make like refining gasoline… The economics of compressing, storing, transporting, and distributing… Is a HUGE Challenge! And results in multi million dollar stations, and 6 figure annual O&M costs.

    Focusing on production is the straw man argument.

    • Good point. That is a straw man. So, too, is the lack of standardization in fueling rigs. So, too, is the argument of safety/volatility of H.

      • Joe Viocoe

        Yep, hydrogen advocates were actually using the lack of standardization as an argument for years…. Because it’s something that can quickly be fixed.

        The safety issue is more of Red Herring than Straw Man. On both sides… It’s not going to cause a whole bunch of explosions and fires, that’s FUD. But at the same time… Is not gonna be fool proof. There WILL BE some explosions/fires and DEATHS. Regardless of what you throw at it in the lab. To claim otherwise is naivety.

      • Dries V

        SAE J 2601 is written in 2010. But I’m not sure what you mean with ‘rigs’

      • kvleeuwen

        So, if the sustainable production is a straw man and all the other things too, what is preventing the hydrogen economy from happening?
        To me, it looks like a hydrogen economy would work – at huge costs, compared to the alternatives. And that is because of thermodynamics, not because of lack of imagination of scientists an engineers.
        So why would you want the H2 economy anyway?

  • Leena Kamalaskar-Kulkarni

    Nice article. Hydrogen indeed is a great future source. It’s in it’s nescient stages though.. sure will be replaced by all fuel in future, when no oil remains on Earth. Till then these oil companies may not let take breath to HFC however great they are..

    • James Rowland

      One more time: It’s not a source.

      The only place around here where hydrogen is acting as a source of energy is the Sun, where its nuclei are being fused.

      When you make hydrogen, you’re using some other energy source to do so. Hydrogen is a means of storing energy, and should be evaluated as such.

      • Dries V

        Well purist then the nuclei of hydrogen is also no source of energy. Because the energy is there and it’s not created at the moment of fusion. The fusion process just releases the energy of the atom.

        But in general consensus a fuel is considered a source of energy. And hydrogen is fuel

        • kvleeuwen

          It’s a source only if it naturally occurs as fuel – like oil does.
          The energy content of gasoline does not come from the refinery.
          If you need to put in the energy yourself to make the fuel, it’s just a medium and you have not progressed in energy independence – you just traded it for another dependency.
          Hydrogen would be an energy source if you mined it from the sun.
          Good luck with that.

          • Dries V

            So it’s a source if it used sunlight thousand of years ago. If we use the sunlight of today it’s no source? Synthetic diesel is no fuel source then? Your criteria is really confusing.

          • James Rowland

            It’s perfectly simple: If the energy returned is more than the energy invested to get it, it’s a source. If it’s less, it’s storage.

            No, you don’t count the energy sequestered by nature in the past; that’s just happenstance. It has no bearing on the viability of an economic process today.

          • Dries V

            If that’s your definition then there is no energy source. Because you will never get more energy out something then you put in it. This is physical impossible if you would crack this you should not waist your time posting in these forums but start commercialising your unlimited energy device. Actually they made a good movie about that it’s called ‘Arq’ or better ‘Southland Tales’

          • James Rowland

            By that definition, there are many energy sources. For example, coal, gas, oil and uranium can all be acquired with (far) less energy expended than is obtained from their use as fuels.

            You apparently haven’t understood the definition of ERoEI. For your own sake, do some learning before you dig your hole any deeper.

          • Dries V

            ha acquired you mean mined and not produced that’s very sustainable of course.

            The roi of something you steal will always be better than something you produce. There is no argument about that.

          • James Rowland

            No, I mean acquired. Solar panels don’t do a whole lot of mining or drilling, yet they easily return more energy than invested making them. That’s why they are a source of energy.

            Splitting and recombining water does not return more energy than invested. That’s why hydrogen from electrolysis is not a source of energy.

          • kvleeuwen

            Hydrogen is a fuel, that’s not the discussion.
            On a global scale, in the context of switching from fossil fuels, it isn’t an energy source, just as electricity, synthetic biofuel and pumped hydro isn’t. We need to put more energy in than we get as result.
            For uranium, sunlight, rain, geothermal heat, we don’t have to put significant energy in to get significant work out of it. The rain will fall regardless of our dams, the oil and uranium is already there. Those are sources
            Tar sands are debatable, for example.
            Generation of hydrogen in the context of this article will go through an intermediate electricity step which adds no value over using the electricity as-is.

            But as a storage and transportation medium, it might have have its uses. So far, it looks like other solutions are better suited.

          • Dries V

            Of course you always put more energy in it then you get out. That’s called Entropy. The fact that some fuel sources are here from the time before humans doesn’t make them different.

          • kvleeuwen

            … that makes *all* the difference. The energy needed for extraction/generating/reforming/enriching needs to come from somewhere.
            If the energy invested is higher than the energy returned, the resulting product better be more useful than the input.
            With electricity generating hydrogen, this is (IMO) not the case.
            The (limited!) grant money and brain power is better spent on things that are proven to be better – in practice and by theoretic maximum.

        • James Rowland

          Let me spell it out again: Practically all the hydrogen on Earth is in compounds with other elements. You have to put energy in to break those bonds before you can get (some of) that energy back.

          If molecular hydrogen were available on Earth ready to use and not bound up in other things, it would be a source of energy. It isn’t, though.

          • Dries V

            Isn’t this the case with every fuel.

            But again the general consensus is that hydrogen is the fuel source for a fuel cell stack. Like the sun is the source for a solar panel. Wind is the source for a windmill. NG is the source for you heating installation. Etc…

          • James Rowland

            No, it is not the case with every fuel. Not even close.

            Coal and gas are used essentially as they are found. Oil deposits contain the actual compounds burned in ICEs, and the energy cost of extraction and separation is far less than obtained from burning them. The margin on nuclear fuels is even larger.

            Oil cracking is an under-unity process, but it is economically worthwhile as it converts more of the crude (which you have anyway) into saleable products.

            With hydrogen from electrolysis, you put energy in to obtain it and get less energy out. The source of that energy was whatever you powered the electrolysis with.

          • Dries V

            Not very sustainable. I wonder how we can make more oil if the fields get empty. Anyway keep on driving your ICE car.

          • James Rowland

            Yes, not sustainable, which is why other energy sources must be considered.

            That is why it is very relevant to our survival that we understand that hydrogen from electrolysis is not an energy source.

            P.S. I drive a plug-in.

  • kevin mccune

    I want to get away from the filthy hose at the filling station. A future where I have to pull into a convenience store to refuel , isn’t what I want .

  • Chris

    “unlike solar power, wind power and other ‘clean’ energy, hydrogen can be easily stored.”

    ?!?!? Hydrogen IS NOT ENERGY!! It’s a storage mechanism. It’s a really, really inefficient battery.

    • Dries V

      Hydrogen is a fuel! like any other fuel it oxidizes, like any other fuel it can be stored, like any other fuel it has conversion loses (heat).

      Fuels are considered as a source of energy.

      Hydrogen can be stored in different types of storage mechanisms but on itself it is not a storage mechanism. Like a battery can stores lithium (or any other compound), hydrogen doesn’t store something.

      • Chris

        Ok… where can I get me some hydrogen ‘fuel’ on earth? Answer you split water… that’s not a fuel. It’s as much a ‘fuel’ as lithium ions are….

        Solar and Wind are actually sources of energy… hydrogen is not.

        • Dries V

          Why are solar and wind a source and hydrogen not? Both use the power of the sun. To produce hydrogen you can also use the power of the sun. The sun create this radiation by releasing the strong bonds of hydrogen atoms. But where did this strong bond come.

          Btw there is a natural occurring hydrogen well in Mali.

          • Chris

            …. ok… then I guess lithium ion batteries are a source of energy too and there’s no such thing as a battery…

          • Dries V

            Yes batteries are a source of energy. And you can keep calling them batteries.

          • Chris

            LOL…. then I guess I don’t need my solar panels… I have a Tesla! And I never needed to work… I have a bank account…

          • Dries V

            You always put energy in it to get energy out. How are your solar panels making energy out of nothing or are they using the energy of the sun…

          • Chris

            Hard to tell if you’re actually confused by this or if you’re trolling… you’re not putting energy in… you’re getting energy from the SUN. You’re converting solar energy to electrical energy. With storage like hydrogen and batteries YOU are putting electricity in to get less electricity out.

          • Dries V

            I’m confused are you comparing hydrogen with solar panels now?

            Anyway what about what Hypersolar is doing
            Sun => Solar Panels => Hydrogen? Is it a source? Because it comes from the sun directly? Or is it storage because hydrogen is the output and well you are biased about hydrogen…

          • Chris

            Ok… what’s the difference?

            Sun => Solar Panels => Battery
            VS
            Sun => Solar Panels => Hydrogen

            The only difference is efficiency. Hydrogen is just a really, really inefficient battery. It’s a storage mechanism. Not a source of energy. I’m biased against inefficiency. If you use a battery for every 10kWh of energy in you get ~9kWh out. If you use Hydrogen you get ~6kWh at most. 4 or 5 is more typical.

            If you could get the round-trip efficiency of Hydrogen (Electricity=>H2=>Electricity) to ~90% like it is with lithium batteries I’d be a huge fan… but ~60% is the max due to thermodynamic losses. H2 is simply a really really inefficient battery.

      • James Rowland

        Please, cease this obscurantist nonsense and bring ERoEI into your discussion.

        Any fuel that releases less energy than you used getting it isn’t the source of that energy.

        Sure, transforming energy with an under-unity process is sometimes worthwhile if there are other benefits, but the case for hydrogen doesn’t seem particularly strong there either.

        If you know better, let’s hear about it. If all you have is to go on denying the obvious, please stop.

        • Dries V

          The term source is in relation to the process. If you work with a fuel cell stack then the source can be hydrogen.

          Entropy is always present so no fuel will release exactly the same energy as you put in. When you find your ultimate energy source please let me know.

          • James Rowland

            The energy output of a hydrogen fuel cell is zero if you don’t have H2 to run it on, and since there isn’t any naturally occurring H2 on Earth, you don’t have H2 if you aren’t making it.

            As I have already explained to you, obtaining hydrogen by electrolysis costs us more energy than we can get back using it in a fuel cell. (This should come as no surprise; you’d have a perpetual motion machine if it cost less energy.)

            Net negative energy means it’s not a source. The source would be whatever you used to obtain the energy required to make hydrogen.

            This talk about “ultimate” energy sources is a red herring; that has nothing to do with investment versus return of energy.

          • Dries V

            This was about hydrogen being a fuel source. Which by all definition is. But by your definition the only fuel sources are the ones that are readily available under the ground. Good luck with that.

          • James Rowland

            No. Are you even trying to follow this?

            Hydrogen is a fuel, because if you have it you can get energy from it. It is not an energy source, because we must use more energy getting it than is returned using it as fuel.

            This should not be hard to understand.

            As for your bizarre assertion that only mineral resources satisfy this definition of an energy source (i.e. more energy returned than invested), consider solar panels: they return more energy over their service life than was used to create them, therefore they are an energy source.

            Again, this isn’t difficult. Why are you having so much trouble?

          • Dries V

            Of course I follow you, you are just confusing primary energy sources with secondary energy sources. And you take some weird reasoning to try to make a difference between them. On earth there is only one primary energy source and that is the sun. (Some will add fossil fuels or uranium to the list but they are not endless.)

            A solar panel is no energy source its a device to transform the power of the sun into electricity or hydrogen. Electricity can then be used as an energy source to power your laptop. Hydrogen as an energy source can be used to make fertilizer. Fertilizer is an energy source for plants. etc…

            Like you said it’s not difficult energy is all around us. There is no real source. But when people are talking about an energy source it is in relation to the device that needs it. For example a full battery is an energy source for the BEV. But an empty battery needs the energy from the grid to get charged. And then the energy source is the grid.

            If you don’t understand this that’s fine by me.

          • James Rowland

            You can make that kind of reasoning all the way back to the Big Bang. It’s irrelevant, because that doesn’t alter the fact that that processes with less than unity ERoEI are not sources of energy for the purposes of running any kind of economy, let alone a hydrogen one.

            Here, I’ll make it even simpler for you: You have an electrolyser, a hydrogen fuel cell and some water. What do you need to do to get energy out of this system?

          • Dries V

            This is the definition of an energy source. If you don’t like it use a different word.

          • James Rowland

            No (because you’re wrong again,) and how about you answer that problem I posed for you?

            The (correct) answer will tell you what you’ve been getting wrong for two days straight.

          • Dries V

            Whatever but you will end up frustrated when everybody talks about an energy source.

          • James Rowland

            I see we still have to go down a few grades to reach you. How about some pictures?

            In the simplified energy flow diagram below, identify the energy source in this proposed system.

            (Hint: The Sun already exists; it is not part of the proposal.)

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f0fd3fa17c275d62f50e30f7f02e3faaefa51f33b51bb69a50b02f7d91005cd3.png

            Now, I know you have some unusually bad form on this topic, but try your best, okay? This does actually matter.

          • James Rowland

            I see we still have to go down a few grades to reach you. How about some pictures?

            In the simplified energy flow diagram below, identify the energy source in this proposed system.

            (Hint: The Sun already exists; it is not part of the proposal.)
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/32a1609614a08e201f585dc1060453f8d87f38f4c533c3ad9325a5e6413e3df5.png

            Now, I know you have some unusually bad form on this topic, but try your best, okay? This does actually matter.

          • Dries V

            Why? The article confirms that hydrogen is an energy source. The general consensus is that hydrogen is an energy source. You are the one that can’t accept it and get more and more frustrated.

            But the diagram is nice … it defines the energy source that goes into with every steps and the energy that goes comes out.

          • James Rowland

            There is one part of the system that acts as an energy source for the rest, and it isn’t the hydrogen.

            While I’m impressed at your endurance at buffoonish obfuscation, the returns in entertainment are diminishing. Are you actually going to start playing chess, or would you rather remain the pigeon?