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DOE Soliciting Project on Hydrogen Emissions

The US Department of Energy has issued a solicitation for a project to study the potential environmental effects from increased emissions of hydrogen and criteria pollutant emissions avoided or gained through the expansion of hydrogen use in the transportation and stationary power markets.

The purpose of the study will be to systematically identify and examine possible near- and long-term ecological and environmental effects of the production of hydrogen (based on the DOE hydrogen production strategy) from various energy sources as well as the use of that hydrogen as a transportation fuel and for stationary power.

The researchers awarded the project will need to develop precise systems-based engineering models of the likely hydrogen and criteria pollutant emissions and quantify the potential impacts of the different market penetration scenarios.

All types of entities are eligible to apply, except other Federal agencies, Federally Funded Research and Development Center contractors, and nonprofit organizations that engaged in lobbying activities after December 31, 1995.

The solicitation closes April 18, 2007. Total estimated funding available is $600,000 pending Congressional Appropriations, with an expectation of one selected project of two years duration.




I still think watse streams thru plasma with Algaeculture on the back end for minimal Carbon out is a great idea. Lots of Electricity, and biofuel with Hydrogen as a possible output as well.

Kit P

This study should put a dagger in the heart of hydrogen as a transportation fuel. Someday we will study the environmental impact of doing something before before investing billions in tax dollars. Oh wait a minute, we all ready did and found out a hydrogen fuel cell car was a worse performer even compared to a 70's engine with no emissions control.

Rafael Seidl

Kit P -

unfortunately, nothing ever puts a dagger in the heart of the nuclear lobby. That's because scientists who know how to build nuclear bombs must be kept gainfully employed in a domestic industry if you're no longer building new bombs - lest they look for alternate employers. Besides, now that the nuclear lobby has finally managed to get everyone focussed on global warming they will claim their technology is the clean, safe and cheap solution. Past experience shows it is none of the above (most recent example: leaking rubber seals at Fosmark in Sweden, Vattenfall has shut down the facility indefinitely as a precaution).

When it comes to military spending in the US, there are effectively no limits and no effective budget oversight. Therefore, if hydrogen fuel cells turn out to be a commercial flop, the armed forces will still buy it. Your grandchildrens' tax dollars at work.

Kit P

Hey those are my lobbiests that you are talking about, I give them money they, they send me a newsletter. They communicate my position to my elected leaders better than I can on my own. I really did not think they were that good. Al Gore and Dr. Hansen are shills for the nuclear industry?

I also like when smart scientist work on finding good environment choices instead of building weapons. A very large part of DOE's buget is for environment research and cleanup including destroying nuclear weapons material.

I support research for producing hydrogen without fossil fuel. I also support research for developing fuel cells. However, the physical properties of hydrogen make it a very poor choice for transportation fuel. If you look at the physical properties of biodiesel and the recent improvements using digital control of compression ignition engines, it is a much more promising source of alternate transportation fuel at a much lower cost.

Roger Pham

Kit P,
If you would produce H2 right at the point of dispensing to end-users, you will be able to overcome the inefficiency of H2 transportation and distribution. Do not use the liquid fuel model to base the Hydrogen economy on. Liquid fuel is more difficult to make synthetically and can pollute local soil and water, so must be centrally made and transported long-distance. H2 is so easy to make and harder to transport. Highly-efficient vehicles like the Honda FCX and the next-gen Prius can travel over 300 miles on 4kg of H2, a practical storage limit at 5000psi pressure. Large trucks and buses have plenty of room to store Compressed H2. Carbon-fiber re-enforced H2 tank would not explode like metal tank would. H2 leakage would quickly rise above and would not engulf the occupants like a gasoline fire would in a tank leakage.

Biodiesel will not be present in any significant number (5-10% the most) to power our entire transportation sector on.

HydrogenTruth...please google this, as I can't overcome Comment Spam Guard. Look at page "Villains and Dirty Lies." Guess who pays for most of the negative assessments against Hydrogen? Big Oil, especially Ex_on-M_bil! They are those with the most to lose if a near-term hydrogen economy is to happen.


Too bad they didn't think to exclude private corporations that are (or have been) engaged in lobbying as well as non-profits.


Exxon supports the Hydrogen scam for the same reason GM supports it, for the same reason Bush Co. supports it:
As long as people believe this fairy tale there will be no pressure to do anything real about oil consumption.

Roger Pham

Exxon may have supported Hydrogen when Hydrogen showed no promise, but, once the scientists were able to pull the rabbit out of the hat with respect to Hydrogen technologies, Exxon started to sponsor organizations to start bad-mouthing Hydrogen. The near-term adaptation of the Hydrogen economy would be Big Oil's biggest nightmare.
The Hydrogen economy will simultaneously free us from petroleum dependency as well as giving us a chance to reduce global warming, and be on good term with the EU, who are proposing to raise tariff on American exports for not participating in Kyoto treaty. 3 fer 1 is a mighty good deal, and you may wanna throw in "clean air" and "no more oil spills" for even more freebies.

DS, please kindly look into HydrogenTruth's website, (sorry, you'll have to google that one, thanks to Comment Spam guard) . Please do me a favor and do some more fact-searching on Hydrogen, instead of bad-mouthing Hydrogen without adequate conceptual understanding about the latest in Hydrogen Technology.

Kit P

Roger, a worker has been killed already this year dispensing hydrogen and five workers at the plant were taken to the hospital. Hydrogen is a significant safety hazard. Process safety regulations that derived from the Bophal accident prescribe a process to handle such hazards. Yes, hydrogen can be handled safely but ....

Producing hydrogen is very inefficient, at the end use and other wise. There is no point in discussing how efficient a Honda FXC might be since the whole concept is a loser until researchers develop high temperature chemical processes to produce H2. Since we already use lots of H2 for industrial purposes, this research money is well spent.

I did look at the HydrogenTruth web site. Wow, the sun has hydrogen and water has two atoms of hydrogen. That stuff about Exxon, I should have know I was brain washed. It is hard to find a web site that is as misleading as HydrogenTruth. Zero information is provided about the technology to produce hydrogen and how it would reduce the environmental impact of transportation.


Roger Pham:  75 mi/kg means 1.96 MJ (H)/mile, or 0.55 kWh/mile.  At 75% hydrogen production efficiency, you'd have to put in 0.73 kWh/mile.  Compare to a pure EV at 0.20 kWh/mile.

It takes 3-4 times as much electricity to propel a vehicle with hydrogen compared to using batteries.

With what we know about hydrogen, only a fool would continue to promote it.  If that's what you are, so be it.


Yeesh its simple people.

we have 3 ways to power a car in the future.

ev h2 and biofuels.

None of these alone can handle even half the market.

So do I have to tattoo a damn clue on your foreheads as to why all 3 are being run with?


Ive seen more common sense fropm a 2 year old.

You are looking at change for a buck and argueing why we dnt need the times because the uarter or the nickles are better yet amazingly enough even a kid can see you need all the damn coinds to make the bloody buck.

Now here is the real question. Even with ev n2 and biofuels is it enough?

How the hell are we gona fuel transport ships? Is biofuel good for a jet? You sure as hell cant run a power santion on ev;/ Wo is a biofueled power station alot more polluting then the current natural gas ones? Will we be able to make enough biomethane to power them? Will we need hythane or even pure h2 to power them all? Can wind and \wolar and wave and whatever replace that many power plants?

Roger Pham

Kit P,
So one person died from H2 dispensing. And "we already use lots of H2 for industrial purposes," as you've just stated.
Do you know that not too long ago, over 20 people died from an explosion at BP oil refinery somewhere in Texas, and many more were injured. Even Jim Baker, former US Sec of State, spoke up to condemn BP safety practice. Do you know how many gasoline car fire occurs each year? ~somewhere around 5,000 cars. Do we hear anyone trying to scare us that gasoline is unsafe?

Where do you get the data that "producing H2 is very inefficient"? Do you know that producing electricity from fossil fuel is only 35-40% efficient for coal-fired plants, or ~55% from combine-cycle NG plants? Coal (or biomass) gasification to H2 is much more efficient than coal to electricity, and if you can recycle the heat produced in coal gasification for high-temp steam electrolysis using wind electricity at twice the electrical efficiency of normal-temp electrolysis that you referred to as inefficient, and the resultant waste heat further used for Sterling or steam turbine for electrical generation, then you'll get unprecedented energy conversion efficiency.

Kit P and Eng-Poet,
I'm afraid that most of us have already been brainwashed by the likes of Ulf Bossel and other eminent organizations, using old knowledge of H2 technology, (or $$$ from Big Oil et al.) into believing that the H2 economy is impractical.

Just modify the likes of the Prius or Honda civic hybrid to run on H2, add a ~$1800 Quantum H2 tank of ~4kg plus filling hardware, and bingo, an H2-capable high-efficiency vehicle with adequate range.

Build a H2 gasifier/dispensing station every 100 square miles of urban area, and bingo, the "trillion-dollar H2 infrastructure problem" solved! (what trillion dollar? NOT, when the same gasifier can produce syngas for F/T synthesis of liquid fuel from coal or biomass, waiting patiently for the fleet of H2-vehicle to build up in number) The cost of building the coal/biomass gasifier will pay for itself that way, such that by the time H2-vehicle will arrive in numbers, the "H2-infrastructure" has already paid for itself.
AT WHAT PRICE WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO PAY FOR PETROLEUM INDEPENDENCE? Coal or biomass gasification is the most proven solution to get us off petroleum dependency in the immediate future.

If you wanna go the PHEV route using a 16kwh battery pack like the Volt, then be ready to shell out ~$10,000-$16,000 for the additional cost of the battery pack. The mass-produced Prius 1.3kwh battery costs $2,000 USD, or $1,500/kwh, and how long will it last? The $1800 Quantum H2 tank will last several life-times of the car. 10 Altairnano 35kwh packs cost $750,000, or ~$2,000/kwh.


Roger Pham

U r 1/2 right! Yes, we will likely see BEV and biofuel in the future for those who are scared of H2, not knowing that H2 is the safer route...while H2 can handle virtually all our energy needs, such as serving as backup fuel for running power stations (solar and wind will be the main source of electricity), powering our jets and space ships and space plane of the future, and running our ships as well. H2 from home pipeline supplied from a local H2 gasifier can heat your house as well, though I would like to see home H2 powering a genset for combined heat and power generation. Place the H2 genset outdoor or in the attic with a H2 sensor warning and autos-shutoff, and the risk of H2 explosion will be eliminated. Like NG, strong odor can also be added to H2 in home pipeline so you can detect a H2 leak.
For ultra-long-distance driving, fill up the H2 tank with NG, and you can travel 3 times as far, great for rural areas. Rural areas can still use NG derived from H2 when the fossil supply of NG will run out.


Roger, if I may ask a few uneducated questions:

What about water vapour emissions as a GHG?
Do you see the hydrogen-ICE as solely a transitionary technology to fuel-cells?
In what scenarios would a BEV still be a better choice?




- usually you produce hydrogen using water a hydrogen source. therefore you have net emissions. urban centres might find a new kind of pollution.
- hydrogen ice have a distinctly lower efficiency than fuel cell engines, though faces lower technical problems.
- bev save energy, in particular when using renewable electricity (wind, water). the hydrogen car loses half of it through the double-conversion from el to h2 and back.

Rafael Seidl

DC, observer -

(a) all combustion processes, both technical and biological, produce water.

(b) water vapor is a greenhouse gas, the surface of the earth would be seriously cold without it.

(c) the amount of water vapor produced directly by human activity, large though it seems, is actually negligible compared to the naturally occurring solar-powered evaporation from the oceans.

(d) the so-called greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbon refrigerants, SF6 etc. drive a positive feedback loop in which high temperatures in the troposphere permit higher absolute water vapor content at the same relative humidity. The only reason we don't have a runaway greenhouse effect is that rising water vapor will eventually condense and form clouds - these reflect much more of the incident sunlight than the ocean surface does, i.e. there is also a negative feedback loop.

The net result of increased greenhouse gas emissions is therefore a new equilibrium for the water vapor in the troposphere, at a higher level. It's the water vapor that is responsible for the bulk of the climate change, such as changing rainfall patterns, storm frequencies etc. Anthropogenic activity is therefore very much the tail wagging the dog, because the impact of our direct emissions is greatly amplified by the effect on the solar-powered water cycle.

The problem is that the net warming effect is essentially the difference between two large numbers representing these feedback loops, both of which can only be estimated. Deep ocean circulations and cloud formation processes, for example, are still far from fully understood, especially at local scales. Secondary effects, such as methane outgassing from peat bogs, also throw a spanner in the works. Hence, there is a wide discrepancy about just how large an increase in average temperature we should expect.

More relevant than the increase in global average temperature are changes in regional climate, because these affect real estate values and patterns of human migration. Homo sapiens as a species will eventually adapt, as will many others. The real issue is that very rapid climate change can lead to an increased rate of extinction in the animal and plant world and, more prosaically, a severe devaluation of real estate assets in certain areas. Add to that increased (illegal) migration from the Third World to OECD countries and you have a serious political dilemma on your hands.

Kit P

At the present time and for at least the next 25 years, an H2 economy is very impractical for transportation fuel. This is easy to explain if you have taken college chemistry and thermodynamics. A few years ago, I lead a hazard analysis team at a chemical processing plant that used H2. In this case, there is no practical alternative to H2. I can give many examples of uses of H2 is based on unique chemical and physical properties. The safety issue with H2 is not that it burns but it detonates too. Putting bad smelling stuff is not an option when purity is also a criteria.

Now look at H2 as a fuel. I can convert biogas to electricity using a fuel cell ($18M) or an ICE ($2M). If I can get 9 times the renewable energy capacity, what is the practical choice if your criteria is energy independence?

Now look at H2 as transportation fuel. The H2 molecules is one of the most difficult gases to handle. Methane is much easier to handle. We already have a natural gas pipelines and cars fueled with natural gas. Converting one CH4 molecule to two H2 molecules results in a large net energy loss. Using FT we can link CH4 molecules to make synthetic with a marginal loss (10%). Since we are not importing LNG again, not of this helps energy independence.

Let me repeat again that H2 as transportation fuel is a very bad choice when considering the environment. Furthermore, my prediction for the next 25 years is that solar and wind will become a smaller share of the market. Yes, state governments have established mandates. As California has demonstrated with EVs, government can not make it practical.


Well, Rafael explained classic greenhouse theory, where GHG effect of additional CO2 in atmosphere is multiplied by factor of 3 or 4 by additional water vapor. There are couple of serious uncertainties, which mare prediction models based on it:

1) amount of water vapor multiplication is unclear;
2) current models are too crude (both physically and numerically) to account for troposphere clouds creation;
3) the biggest deficiency of such models is that direct GHG effect is only part of heat exchange in atmosphere. Substantial (some researches claim that the most) part of heat exchange is carried out by convective heat exchange: warm air heated by Earth surface rises in upper atmosphere layers and radiate heat in the space by-passing classic GHG mechanism. Exact share of convective heat exchange is unknown at present time.

Also, there is relatively new (about 10 years old) theory, which explains current and past climate variations with astounding precision. Roughly speaking, solar activity significantly influence Earth magnetic field, which in turn modulate amount of cosmic radiation flux which reach the Earth surface. Traces of ionized air after cosmic particles serve as nuclei for condensation of water vapor and creation of troposphere clouds, which have very substantial cooling effect. Couple of incredible interesting researches on the subject are released just recently. The best description of the process I have read could be found here:



Kit: Your not much of a believer in technological advances are you. EVs have gone from totally impractical to being on the very edge of competitiveness. While batteries remain the biggest stumbling block to EVs, things have changed. It used to be that power,energy density,weight,longevity and price were all problems. Today, the only real obstacle is price. Give it another two years and we'll start to see movement in price. Hydrogen has more hurdles to overcome, but I would hesitate to claim that it's impossible.


As far as biofuels go the main problem for us will be that most of the fuel will be diverted by law to val areas such as ships jets mergency and police and armed forces... trucking.. mass transit.

Its very likely after all those are done taking thier share we will be left with very little and to stretch it out biofueled cars will be ITTY BITTY and very regulated. In short they will suck.

Ev cars will be much better but very limited even 30 years from now unless we get very lucky indeed.

H2.. will be for everything the others miss.. recreational vehicles from plane to boat to car. Syv sports car touring car racing cars

And even after all that its very likely a sizable fraction of the population will be ;eft out.

Roger Pham

Thanks for the most erudition of explanation of GHG effect of water vapor. I don't think I can do as good a job to put an end to the concern regarding water vapor emission of vehicles.

H2-ICE-HEV can co-exist with FC-HEV, as the efficiency of both will be quite comparable. We haven't seen the ultimate in H2-ICE efficiency yet. I predict in the range of 45-50% thermal efficiency, which is comparable with FC. BEV would be great if and when the cost, energy density, durability, and charging time of battery can match that of ICE-HEV. I have nothing against BEV, and I still am a hopeful observer of Battery technology.

Kit P,
You've stated that we're using H2 a lot in industry right now. So, the H2 technology is quite mature, but we haven't seen the ultimate in H2 production efficiency, storage or distribution as yet. Keep an open mind!

The excitement is to watch for the real-world trial of a fleet of 100 of Honda next-gen FCV, or of GM Equinox etc. The current Honda FCX are doing quite well and most operators are happy with it, except that its range is a bit below par, which will be corrected by the next gen Honda FCX. Time will tell, my friends! World-wide developments in H2-vehicle are quite active, for example, in Scandinavia, Germany, GB, Japan, Korea, China, India, etc...You wouldn't think that all these scientists and engineers are fools, would you?


1000000$ FCX not even as efficient as a 25000$ Prius CNG.
Go to Air Resources Board of California. That starts with www period arb period ca period gov.
Do a search for
energy and greenhouse gases considerations for various zev alternatives
On page 23 - the million dollar fuel cell prototype is less efficient then the $25000 CNG Prius in energy consumption.

The FCX's hydrogen fuel is burned NG which causes the same amount of pollution as burning the gas in the Prius.

The paper also shows that EVs are much more efficient then FCV.


Notice how Roger Pham dismisses hard proof that his scheme is impractical — nay, a road to ruin — and blithely blathers on.  Here it is, in detail, using slightly different numbers (going straight to the same conclusion):

Heat of combustion of hydrogen:  141.9 MJ/kg.
Energy consumption of a hydrogen vehicle @ 75 mi/kg:  1.89 MJ/mi = 0.53 kWh/mi
Energy required to produce the hydrogen at 75% efficiency:  0.70 kWh/mi
Typical energy required by a BEV:  0.20 kWh/mi

So if you want a "hydrogen economy" based on renewable energy, you not only get to spend a trillion dollars to build new a new fueling infrastructure, you get to build 3.5 times as much renewable generation capacity to feed it.  This was true when I wrote Why hydrogen is no route to renewables, and it'll stay true until someone changes the laws of physics and chemistry.

This proves one thing:  Facts are irrelevant to Roger's hydrogen advocacy.  So are truth and reason.  And so long as our oil-dominated government is throwing research money away on this boondoggle, he should be regarded as a tool, witting or not, of Exxon-Mobil.


Roger is nothing if not persistent. Oh well, we all have our own advocacies, mine is light duty BEVs. Even those will require technological improvement (cheaper batteries). Hydrogen is a valid energy carrier, it just requires a number of breakthroughs. (creation, transportation, infrastructure and Fuel cell costs). If big oil wants to continue to fund the research, that's fine with me. They will need hydrogen if they want to maintain their position as suppliers of transportation fuels for LDVs. (And bio-fuels for heavy transport). I do wish that governments would be a bit more even-handed with their research funding.


The people in charge simply wlooked at where we are going and what tools we have and need. H2 is not an orgasim its not a mint chip icecream its not a work of art and its not a pop band. Its a tool.

Why did they spend so much on this tool? Because THEY intend to use it.

They invested enough money into battery tech for thier tool. They invest enough tech into fuel cells for thier tool. All they care about is thier tool.

And to be blunt you cant assume thier tool is earmarked to be sold to you. Thus it doesnt matter what you think.

All that matters is when they sell the tool will thier matrget people buy it and can they profit from it.

Concidering thier target the answer is YES.

And that is the only "fact" that counts.

As all true capitalists know it doesnt matter what you make it just matters who the heck would want it.

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