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The Forum > Article Comments > Could Hawaii be the worlds' first hydrogen economy? > Comments

Could Hawaii be the worlds' first hydrogen economy? : Comments

By Stewart Taggart, published 1/9/2015

With Barbers Point as the aggregation, storage and distribution center, hydrogen can load-balance intermittent renewable electricity generation on Oahu.

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Hydrogen via water electrolysis has poor energy recovery. On Stuart Island off Washington state the round trip efficiency for PV-electrolysis-hydrogen storage-fuel cells is 7%. Perhaps that can be quadrupled with better design; see the efficiency table here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_to_gas
It's also very expensive in capital cost terms for example the most efficient electrolysers use platinum. I presume fuel cell power stations (as opposed to gas turbines) can be made 'synchronous' with power electronics.

I expect if you do the numbers that battery cars, self drive or otherwise, will work out much cheaper than fuel cell vehicles. It's right that we are thinking ahead now because I suspect the real oil worries are just a few years away.
Posted by Taswegian, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 9:55:53 AM
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There's a lot of pie in the sky tuff here, and an economist?

Who sees ordinary folk serving the stack and rack economy, rather than the other way round!

Hydrogen?

What's wrong with the older method of cracking the water molecule, which is how we used to make hydrogen before we had reticulated electricity. And fits in nicely with electric vehicles and self driven cars; Ordinary conventional engines quite happily purring away on pure hydrogen! and producing pristine H2o evaporate as the exhaust product

I mean Hawaii is surrounded by seawater and I'm almost certain enough reliable sunshine to make a solar thermal (the heat source) operation viable.

And as such able to produce cubic metres of hydrogen, for just a few cents per cubic metre?

Hydrogen or methane, being a good method of storing on demand energy!

And ceramic fuel cells able to convert it once more into electricity without recourse to expensive platinum.

One cubic metre of hydrogen having the same calorific value as a litre of petrol.

I disagree with the premise that a overhead monorail system using the centre space above existing highways, is a bad thing, which eliminates the need to buy more land, the greatest capital cost in any such project!

And could service the transport needs of a small nation; given there is hardly any limit to the length of the supporting poles, able therefore to connect some Islands to the mainland, with a system faster than the current traffic crawl?

However like so many impractical complex rationalists? The Author has adroitly ignored cheaper than coal thorium and biogas, the latter does two things. Aviods wasting wasted waste and putting raw sewage anywhere!
Rhrosty
Posted by Rhrosty, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 10:51:41 AM
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I don't know much about the technology of using hydrogen for energy, but it sounds interesting.
There's a guy at the following link using it to power his home and car and I'm going to look into it more when I have a chance.

http://hydrogenhouseproject.org/

- Not sure if I'm keen on the self driving cars though.
Posted by Armchair Critic, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 2:25:36 PM
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I have a special interest in this posting, being a long-term critical analyst of hydrogen economy proposals and having just returned from a very pleasant stay in beautiful Hawaii, some of which I spent pondering how those isolated islands provide a model for debunking some of the dreamy ideas put forward by certain environmentalists.

Hawaii runs mainly on energy in liquid form. Thatís because liquid hydrocarbons meet the needs of an economy that has to import pretty much all its energy. Itís a windy, sunny place but only about 2% of its energy comes from renewables while 85% comes from petroleum. Of course, in principle they could massively increase their wind and solar generation, manufacture hydrogen with all that electrical energy, and run all their transport using hydrogen (fuel cells or internal combustion engines) or batteries.

The problems, and they are mighty big ones, lie in the arithmetic of such an expansion of renewables, the cost, and the inevitable uproar from environmentalists, who would oppose the takeover of their island by huge areas of energy farms. Moreover there is no reason why feasibility and cost would be any more favourable for Hawaii than for any other location. Its isolation only makes things worse, not better as this article seems to imply.

Hydrogen is a diabolical fuel. Everyone agrees on this. What we really need is a high energy density, zero-carbon fuel, preferably a liquid at ambient conditions, that could be produced from fission energy. Thatís what the environmentalists ought to be dreaming about. Then Iíll start listening.
Posted by Tombee, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 3:09:08 PM
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Tombee as a claimed scientist, you of all people ought to know that passing methane (biogas?) through a simple catalyst produces methanol, a simply superb alternative to petrol and avgas in a safer less volitile liquid form.

And refined coconut oil is a suitable fuel for the occasional diesel!? All you need is a hand press and coconut meat?

I'm sure the folks there in Hawaii all have to take a dump, and with it produce enough recoverable energy to power most of their homes along with endless free hot water?

And indeed, with the implementation of the Aussie invented ceramic fuel cell, produce around a 50% salable surplus?

Even more if biodegradable food scraps are added to the digestors

The surplus to needs methane could then be used to make liquid Methanol as a cheap fuel they can never run out of unless the whole nation suffers from diabolical, very full in the face, constipation for a month or two?

At which time their finely ground biodegradable mortal remains would suffice? And gives a whole new meaning to the term waste not want not!?

Methane being another lighter than air gas, that is mostly hydrogen with a few carbon atoms added on to make the methane molecule! Think outside the square.
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 6:29:41 PM
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