Bunker on Hydrogen

Bunker Mulligan has an excellent post today about the realities of switching to a Hydrogen Economy.

He makes a very good point on how switching to hydrogen as a fuel now would not really solve the problems of emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

The overarching problem for modern industry and humanity is to find a source of energy that is as cheap and easy to use, produce and store as fossil fuels. Hydrogen may be it, but we still would need to “produce” hydrogen… the most “renewable” way would be to get it from our waste water. Imagine a “treatment” plant that not only cleans up our waste water before it is released back into the environment, but also grabs a portion of that water and converts it to Hydrogen for use as a fuel.

The challenge may seem insurmountable, but in some cases it is our own perceptions and biases that keep us from adopting cleaner technologies.

Nuclear Power is the obvious example. Here is a technology that could conceivably power the globe, yet due to security and disposal concerns it has never taken off. The reality is that todays nuclear power stations have an incredibly good safety record and the disposal issue is slowly being worked out (i have links that I need to dig up, I’ll get them in a bit).

Aside from nuclear there is of course the possibility of using Solar and Wind energy to drive mechanisms to produce hydrogen.

We need to work on finding these processes and developing them as well as educating ourselves to the realities of todays technologies so that we have as many options as we can to ween ourselves from the Oil economy.

7 thoughts on “Bunker on Hydrogen”

  1. Another issue to consider about hydrogen-powered cars–What would all that steam do to our vehicles in traffic?! Could we still see to drive?

  2. I’m not sure it’s bias that keeps us from adopting (more) nuclear. For starters, any industry which can’t afford insurance (liability for a nuclear accident was assumed by the government to make nuclear power financially feasible) isn’t one I would really like to support.

    Nuclear power plants have a fine safety record until they don’t. Sort of like we haven’t had a major earthquake on the West Coast for quite a while now (knock on wood). That’s the nature of low probability – high impact events.

    Anticipating a future world in which more and more high powered equipment and weaponry will be developed and will be available to small groups of crazy people, leaving such potentially catastrophic targets around the landscape doesn’t appeal to me.

    The best bet is still hydro (with wind coming along but never likely to meet all our needs). Plus, geothermal, solar and tidal are all inching forward.

  3. Actually, a failure at a nuclear power plant is a far more minor failure than one at an oil-fired plant. Events in Texas City today highlight that. Nuke plants have five and six levels of protection which would all have to fail at the same time to reach a level that Chernobyl did. And a failure isn’t a blast, but a meltdown.

  4. “Actually, a failure at a nuclear power plant is a far more minor failure than one at an oil-fired plant”

    Depends on the level of the failure. I don’t know too many entire areas that are still uninhabitable due to an oil plant accident 20 years ago. Still your point that oil has significant dangers as well is certainly valid.

    I appreciate that nuclear power plants have a lot of protection. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have a massive accident. Especially if there is malicious intent involved.

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