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Thursday, September 29, 2011

SIMPLE SOLUTION ESSAYS: What About Free Hydrogen? (Part 1)

The following is Part I or four from SIMPLE SOLUTION Essays:

Every so often, I’m compelled to reach outside the box for a solution.  On 2July08 I extemporaneously blurbed at an awards ceremony to make hydrogen free.  Having said so, I now felt responsible to follow up.  In four parts I morphed through various stages of belief and disbelief about this notion.

What About Free Hydrogen? (Part 1)

Over the next couple of Green posts I will discuss the matter of free hydrogen. Yes, just make hydrogen free by, say, 2020, and let industry, with government assistance, develop the infrastructure and systems to handle the Age of Free Hydrogen. At first glance, the concept appears insane. For one, many (mainly government officials, actually) of the responses I received to this suggestion expressed concern that energy use would get out of hand, for then no one would conserve. Well, maybe that might actually be okay, but, clearly, the matter is complex. The details will need to be well thought out. For example, the hydrogen, in this context, must, of course, come from renewable energy. Then, will it be possible to differentiate between cheaper dirty hydrogen and the more expensive clean hydrogen? Also, who will be providing this free energy? As to be discussed, you will, the taxpayer. However, this simple solution should ultimately be able to eliminate the negative repurcussions of Peak Oil and onset of Global Warming. Interestingly enough, over the past year since the book was published, I began to appreciate the value of, possibly, a more logical sustainable pathway, to be revealed in the final post of this series. Anyway, the following is from Chapter 3 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.

On March 21, 2006, at the annual luncheon of the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) Conference in Long Beach, California, I received the Spark Matsunaga Memorial Hydrogen Award, usually given to an elected official. However, as I was the individual who U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga assigned in 1980 to write the first draft of his hydrogen bill, I guess I was considered to be close enough to qualify. 
The second recipient, in 1992, was U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, whose letter of congratulations was read by Jeff Serfass (that's him next to Senator Akaka above) of NHA. Other awardees have included Congressmen and Senators, although Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received this honor in 2004. Walking up to the podium, aside from the assorted obligatory thank you, I wondered what I was going to say. (Pardon me for mentioning all this, but a degree of credibility helps when one leaps beyond the edge of the envelope.)  

It then came to me in a moment of splendid inspiration, bursting forth from a third of a century of deliberation--MAKE HYDROGEN FREE. Deep in my memory might well have been a statement by Jeremy Rifkin in his book on The Hydrogen Economy, where he imagines a future a century away where the cost of producing unlimited amounts of hydrogen should virtually be zero. This sounds too much like atomic power being too cheap to monitor, but let me proceed.

Some say that hydrogen will always be a bit, if not a lot, too expensive. Then, too, this is a chicken or egg problem. The dilemma is in the infrastructure and free market system for what is an artificial commodity. Where do you start?

As great as, say, clean hydrogen sounds to some romantics, you can't force this gas on society just because it seems to them so logically sensible as the universal fuel of choice. If mankind is, indeed, at a decisive juncture, a means must be found to more effectively induce the world to quickly transition from a fossil economy to something better.

We'll come to the how later, but an ideal alternative worthy of discussion would be one powered by clean and sustainable hydrogen. The fuel would be produced everywhere. There would be no OPEC, no nuclear terrorism, and only a vibrant and healthy Planet Earth. World Wars would be minimized because most of the big ones, including the current action in Iraq, were fought over limited resources.

WHY NOT CONTROL THE ISSUE BY MAKING HYDROGEN FREE? What a heck of a simple solution for energy and our environment! If the perfect vision of 2020 is not possible, push the operational date back a bit. If the crisis is upon us, do it now. As opposed to waiting for economies of scale reducing the price to a competitive level in a century, start with zero and keep it there. There will be a transition period for the hardware to become available, but there are ways to administrate this process, and wouldn't it be wonderful if it works? The Free and Clean Hydrogen Age would eliminate our growing climate warming problem, while going a long ways towards preventing world wars forever and enable our civilization to hurdle over the Peak Oil problem.

(To be continued.)

Comments (32):  This article also drew respondents out of the woodwork.  I thought input would be provided after all four parts were posted, but, no, many wanted to comment now.  As a result, some of the feedback was premature or irrational.  A few got the idea right, but let’s see how the series evolves.

The Dow Jones Industrials were up more than 200, then made a steady descent, but recovered to plus 143 at 11,154, while world markets were mixed.  Gold rose $26/toz to $1617 and oil went up slightly, the WTI Cushing Spot at $83/barrel and Dated Brent Spot at $104/barrel.

There are five ocean storms.  In the Atlantic, Ophelia, at 70 MPH, just about to be come a hurricane, and will move towards Newfoundland, then on to Scotland.  Typhoon Nesat in the West Pacific rolled over north Hainan and Typhoon Nalgae will become a Category 3 hurricane before striking the Philippines, looming to follow the same track:

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