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What's your favorite alternative fuel?

by wcunning CNET staff / April 24, 2007 10:45 AM PDT

What's your favorite alternative fuel, and why do you think it's the best? Does it offer a possible long-term replacement to gasoline? I've covered some current alternative fuels in my column, Your clean, green car choices.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 24, 2007 10:51 AM PDT

As in electric cars. The infrastructure is already in place but it will be stopped at every turn since it threatens the current trillions of dollars yet to be made from the current fuel economy.

The source of said electrons can be solar, wind, nuclear, etc. So from day zero we can change the energy source without destroying our EV car.

On top of that it is then possible to have solar, wind, other collectors at home.

Go EV.


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Good Answer!!!
by TheRogueRook / April 25, 2007 4:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Electrons.

Using electricity makes way more sense for the immediate and long term future. The grid is already in place, just requires a few changes. One important fact is that liquid alternatives such as biodiesel and ethanol require shipping of the fuel. Electricity can be made practically on site and, if not, costs little to "ship". Another thing is that electricity gives the most flexibility - like the poster said - we can use solar, wind, wave, etc etc forms to produce the electricity.

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Electric only if...
by talkf / December 20, 2007 10:22 PM PST
In reply to: Good Answer!!!

You have solar panels/windmill generated power feeding your home grid that you can plug your car into, otherwise, hydrogen baby, with a water converter in the garage.

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Which again...
by Andy77e / December 20, 2007 10:45 PM PST
In reply to: Electric only if...

How much power are you willing to purchase to make the hydrogen? The cost to charge batteries is lower than the cost to make hydrogen... so why do it. At this rate, you'll go farther on charged batteries than a tank of Hydrogen too.

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Give it a rest with the conspiracy theories already
by bcamp1973 / April 26, 2007 1:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Electrons.

Electric's drawback is that chemical batteries suck and always will (it's the chemistry).

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Even GM is looking to an electric future
by albizzia / April 26, 2007 6:23 AM PDT

Chemistry is what its all about, Baggins. Currently available mass produced standard LiIon batteries can give a 200 to 350 mile range per charge, and there are many improved LiIon batteries under development.

Then there are even more energy dense batteries now under development, such as Zinc Air, Lithium Sulfur, Aluminum Air, and Lithium Air. Lithium Air cells have already reached 3Kwh per Kg in the lab, at that energy density, it rivals gasoline - especially when you consider that electric motors are 4x more efficient than IC engines.

It is IC engines that suck, not batteries.

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recharge time
by gilligan888 / May 2, 2007 1:39 PM PDT

Now how long do these batteries take to recharge. I can still fill my tank up in a matter of minutes as opposed to waiting to charge the batteries. I'm not opposed to electric cars, I just dont think they will take off because of the batteries. I believe that the hydrogen cars have the best chance at this point.

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H2 Hallucination
by Beaters / May 2, 2007 3:31 PM PDT
In reply to: recharge time

Anyone who thinks hydrogen gas is a solution in the near to mid term is either ignorant or just crazy. Hydrogen might become an effective storage medium for energy somewhere down the road but it isn't an energy source. Free hydrogen is a manufactured commodity, that uses up energy as it's liberated.

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Industry Hydrogen comes from coal - not water
by Rx_ / May 3, 2007 2:51 AM PDT
In reply to: H2 Hallucination

Like many, I assumed industry hydrogen came from water.
My son did a science fair, and did the research.
The DOE book "The Hydrogen Economy" describes the government funding and process in detail.

less than 0.1% of hydrogen comes from water. In fact, to use electrolysis it must be salt water. The byproduct chloride gas is just too nasty and the electrolysis is only 40% efficient.

Hydrogen in large volumes is produced by putting Coal in high pressure and high heat. 99% of inustry Hydrogen is made from coal.

So, the H2 "perfect fuel" is much less efficient ecologoly wise than burning coal in huge electrical turbines. About 30% less efficient from an ecology view.
The Tesla Motors car has a great engineering chart with the technologies side-by-side to show the footprint.

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Hydrogen will eventually become the definitive Fuel.
by alisrelatif / May 3, 2007 6:51 AM PDT

Sorry to disagree with those that think otherwise. The source will be water and the energy needed to produce it will come solar waffers (already available)which will be mass produced to gernerate the dc current to do it with. Solar energy is free. Advantages are great. Abundunce of water, Clean fuel with minima pollutants, when burned (Hydrogen)will produce water instead of the breakdown hydrocarrbons (methane ,ethane, other alkanes, etc.), CO2,SO2, nitrous oxides and so on, associated with the burning (oxidation) of gasoline .... depending on the refinery of crude oil, and other impurities locked into the burning of gasoline. The price for the production of hydrogen will fall with the mass production of the same. Wait till the price of gas reaches $10 -15/gal and you will see many changes. Ethanol maybe temporary, but is not a definitive solution. Remember you heard it from me.

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before you use any electricity to make hydrogen...
by impala / May 3, 2007 7:04 AM PDT

before you use any solar electricity to make hydrogen gas, lets first meet the existing electricity demand growth to prevent new power plant construction.

Next you can eliminate coal fired power plants.

Then you can eliminate oil fired power plants.

Then you can eliminate gas fired power plants.

Then you get a choice to eliminate nuclear power plants or produce hydrogen for transportation.

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It would be a waste- no logical reason to do that
by jdbwar07 / May 3, 2007 10:35 PM PDT

It wouldn't make good economic sense because it's inherently inefficient. A hydrogen fuel cell produces electricity. So first you produce the hydrogen with electrolysis (in your view, from solar panels). This is very inefficient, you lose a lot of energy in the process. Then you'd just use a fuel cell, which like any energy conversion is far from 100% efficient. The problem is you should just use the electricity directly. This link explains it best:

It's amazing how the media hype has inflated this whole "hydrogen economy" idea. I guess people just look at the fuel cell and comment on how neat it is, no emissions but water and more efficient than gasoline. You have to create the hydrogen which takes energy, it's not an energy source like gasoline. Hydrogen of course is very good in specific situations, and can be a good backup power source. However it's ludicrous to think it's a good idea to power all our cars and set up an expensive new infrastructure for this highly flammable substance when electricity is works fine. And electricity can come from any energy source, so whenever we switch no a new power generation scheme whether nuclear, wind, etc. batteries will always work.

I personally think our supposed "hydrogen future" was more made up by politicians than physicists. President Bush for example purported to deal with the energy crisis by setting aside a couple billion dollars for fuel cells, which of course won't even be feasible for a long time (like 2020) Critics have noted it was probably to avoid taking readily available measures which would help out right now , such as increasing CAFE standards and supporting energy conservation--policies which would cost the oil industry money, and at the same time provide a centralized distribution scheme which, if developed, hopefully they could control. Electricity of course doesn't require any of that, if you have enough solar panels you could in theory not have to buy any from the power company (today however it's too costly for most consumers).

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Hydrogen shows promise, if only electricity generation was..
by Steven Dunn / May 6, 2007 1:21 PM PDT, simple, and easy to obtain and maintain, anyone who would, could produce their own fuel.

Now the best solutions to so-called 'green' and alternative energy systems will
come from the most unlikely sources.

If an alternative is cheap, simple, easy to maintain, and every home can have one
(or two or more 'energizers'), why continue to be connected to the 'grid' when you
can generate your own electricity at relative little cost (over say 10 years or more)?

Cheap... learn to build and maintain your own system for (basically) the cost of the
parts, your time, and remember, no fuel is ever required...?!

Simple... do you remember 10 year old Shawnee Baughman from Idaho and her
award winning science project... it was based on this very technology!

And now every home can have one (or two) of these 'energizers'. Imagine, NO
more energy bills. Now that has got to be worth a visit to the following links...

Where's Greenpeace on this?
Where's business on this?
Where's the government on this?

Don't hold your breath. They want you to pay more for energy. Much more.

Do yourself a favour. Get yourself some real 'Freedom'. And build yourself an
energizer or two.

Because you will then be able to generate electricity, and then you will be able
to generate Hydrogen on demand to run modified internal combustion engines...

Search for 'Browns Gas' or Stan Deyo and you will soon get the idea.

May the truth set you 'Free'.

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Ok, no problem.
by Andy77e / December 20, 2007 10:50 PM PST

Buy the book yourself, make the 'free energy device' yourself, sell the darn thing, and when people start buying it, I'll send you a note saying how right you are, and buy one myself.

Otherwise, can the hot air.

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alternative fuel source
by hydrocars / November 13, 2008 12:52 PM PST
In reply to: Ok, no problem.

people are working their way of making alternative fuels, we have bio diesels, hybrid cars and also hydrogen cars, all of those inventions wants to contribute in helping our nature and free us from oil bills, well its up to us if we want to embrace to kinds of inventions and have a better future..

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This is All Well and Good, BUT ...
by plcard / December 22, 2007 8:43 PM PST

Are you taking a common commodity into consideration ... PEOPLE ... and their needs and habits.

It is all well and good to see you debating Hydrogen VS Electric, etc, but I have not yet read where any of you have said a word about how our society has changed over the years.

We are and have been since WWII, a very mobile society. Which energy source is going to take us through the woods to Grandma's house. My understanding is electric is a short lived product and must be charged, measured in time rather than mileage. Are we now going to take three days to make a 300 mile trip, because our electric cars will only last 100 miles before charging?

I watched a news broadcast from a TX TV station showing a man who made a hydrogen engine, that ran his welding shop. There is an ad on the page I was reading right here, that will convert your car to electric and gas, with the use of water. Has anyone considered what is going to happen to the cost of water, and I pay for my water ... dearly ... when cars start using it for fuel? You can bet it wouldn't take Big Oil very long to become Big Water and start charging $5 a gallon for water.

This is all so preliminary, yet GM, Toyota, and a few other companies have these alternative fuel prototypes on websites. It is coming. It just depends how much you are willing to pay initially, and how much you are willing to pay for water. I just do not see the American public giving up the right to travel long distances in their own cars, unless of course Big Brother says they can't.

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Interesting thought...
by Andy77e / December 24, 2007 2:10 AM PST

I saw the same thing. But the idea water is the fuel is still wrong. The fuel is what makes the water into hydrogen. There will never be a car that you put the garden hose into, fill up, and drive off in.

Energy, of some type, must be used to make the water into hydrogen. That energy, is the fuel, not the water. The welding shop guy plugged in his hydrogen water converter into the well... he was using electricity.

Further, if you pay close attention, he says it doesn't make hydrogen fast enough to run a car engine. The car he rigged up used hydrogen to *supplement* gasoline. So it's nothing more than a really expensive way to save 2 to 3 miles per gallon... yippy.

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Hydrogen is NOT the answer
by sdcreacy / May 12, 2007 8:13 AM PDT

Hydrogen will have to be released into the atmosphere as it is produced- just a natural part of manufacturing. Guess which gas is much more efficient at destroying ozone than CFCs? That's right, hydrogen... and it light too. It's the law of unintended consequences. Electric is my choice.

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Fuel cell-- I'm voting for this
by itasara / May 17, 2007 3:43 AM PDT

Yesterday GM launched it's public test of their fuel cell automobile. I am hoping this will be the fuel of the future. I am a little prejudice because my son is an engineer on this project. I don't know what he thinks the future will be for fuel cells, but according do the news, the future projects will include fuel cell refill stations. Supposedly the car went from the GM Plant near Rochester to White plains on one fuel cell fill- up-about 300 miles. I never heard if it actually made it, but I did not hear otherwise, either. It sounds like fuel cell's are good for the environment compared to what we have now--Anything to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

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That's great!
by Andy77e / June 2, 2007 8:53 AM PDT

I'm glad your son is working on this project. However, as it stands, hyrdrogen is made using oil, so this will not help us get away from imported oil.

I am personally against hydrogen in that it makes little sense, and likely won't work in the long run.

BUT... I fully support us learning as much as possible from research on this. Regardless of if you ever seen a hydrogen car, the work your son is doing will likely be useful in the future no matter what. Many of the greatest products and eventions ever made, were spawned by truck loads of research in the past. No doubt the work your son is doing will serve to better future products.

Good luck to him.

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by simplexveritas / June 27, 2007 5:39 PM PDT
In reply to: That's great!

:). i'll just keep it simple.

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Sigh... not this again
by Andy77e / June 2, 2007 8:47 AM PDT

Do you realize how little power is created per square meter of solor waffers? Do you realize how much power is required to break down water? Do you realize how much less actual power is created when burning hydrogen?

Ugh... physics people. Yes on a superficial level: "solar panels for power, power to make hydrogen from water, burn hydrogen to make the car go" seems reasonible.

Problem is, it takes tons of hydrogen to go the distance of a little gas. It takes more tons of electricity to make a little hydrogen. And it takes thousands of square feet of solar panels to make that much electricity. So unless you want to clear cut half of the US and put up thousands of square miles of solar panels, and build a million electrolysis hydrogen tanks all over each city, it simply isn't going to happen.

Not to mention that it's more difficult to store, whether it is at the fueling station, or in the tank on your car, leakage always occures. Fuel, will sit in your tank in your garage for months. H2 has a tendency to disappear over a short time. Take a three day vacation, come back and your hydrogen car is empty.

There are way too many issue here. Hydrogen will not happen unless gas really does hit $15 a gallon. Of course the only way that will happen is if we let government continue to cause the price to rise by preventing us from getting the oil in our own land, and by raising taxes on it.

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Hydrogen Is Cheaper Than Gas
by randomotion / June 2, 2007 11:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Sigh... not this again

A recent study indicates that the total cost of gas per gallon is close to $30 now. This total cost includes all federal subsidies (exploring, tools, drilling, pumping, shipping, offloading at port, pipeline, refining, and wholesale transit) and a small cost factor for the serious human health problems caused by air and water pollution from oil and gas.

What is not included though, is the global warming costs, prorated Defense costs, Warriors killed in Iraq and associated social costs, and many other secondary costs (terrorists attack us because of our involvement in their oil countries). This would likely make the true cost per gallon significantly higher than $30.

The reality for the average American is this... our Government STILL does not have any alternative for us other than OIL. This strategic fact will eventually result in America being a third rate nation. (Brazil in contrast now produces all its own needed energy by growing sugar cane and producing ethanol from it). For our poorly lead America, gas will continue to go up in price because of growing world demand and tapering resources.

If you truly care about this, research it like I did, then vote for those candidates who sincerly are going to fund renewable energy for America.

Hydrogen can be produced and stored at home using solar PV panels on each roof (using only 2000 square feet of panels meets all our home needs). It can be stored in the new GM storage tanks. It can be used for both home and transit power using the new fuel cells. Hydrogen will set us free and bring America back to economic prosperity. This technology is practical when gas reaches $3 per gallon.

In the past Americans would attack this poor leadership head on ... We must DEMAND changes now. We can create other practical energy sources. We must do it, for the sake of our loved ones and our country.

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Not so.
by Andy77e / June 24, 2007 5:53 AM PDT

Such superficial research is unimportant. All that matters is consumer cost. I filled up for $2.77 today. If a hydrogen car comes out, and hydrogen is $20 per Kilo, which is roughly equal to 3 gallons of gas, that's $20 for the same distance as $8.31 of gas. Do you think I'm buying a hydrogen car? Not a chance. Who will? Not many I would wager.

Don't give me some ambiguous "serious human health problems", that's bull. Prove it or give up on it.

If there is "global warming cost" it's because we're too stupid to understand science. There is no real evidence of (key) *man made* global warming. It's a scam.

This ticks me off big time. It is *NOT* OUR GOVERNMENTS JOB to find alternative choices. Government should have nothing to do with this. This a free market problem.

We do not demand changes now. If you can purchase 2000 square feet of solar panels, do it. I will not. Hydrogen will not set us free, it will put us in economic bondage.

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Hydrogen is Now Much Less Expensive than Gasoline
by randomotion / June 28, 2007 1:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Not so.

Do not let retail pump price for gas fool you. Several studies show that the actual cost to us for one gallon of gas is between $5.50 and $15.14 (assuming retail price is at $1 per gallon). Take a look at this for summary facts:

TODAY there is no hydrogen plan or system, just technology sitting there, except in California, where they are planning a "Hydrogen Highway". Before Bush, the U.S. Department of Energy had an official policy that hydrogen will be our viable way to future energy growth. The Bush team put a stop to this. Again putting the U.S. further behind all other industrial nations who are aggressively pursuing this posture.

OUR FUTURE must find clean, easily created additional sources of energy. Gas will be with us for the forseeable future because we need it, and because we need lubricants, fertilizer, pharaceuticals, bombs and munitions, and synthetics. Make note though, that Hydrogen permits a clean alternative energy transfer agent, compared to oil/gas energy, that is 1)Strategically safe because we create it at home; 2)clean because it is truly a renewable fuel; 3)Cheap because we can create it at home, making its transport costs zero and its application to both transporation and stationary power much more efficient than either the current gas chain or the current central electric generation model. My calculations say hydrogen from water using photovoltaic panels on my roof is at break even on a first cost basis, when gas is at $3 retail. But as we have seen in the above study, the true cost of gas is SIGNIFICANTLY higher to our country. The best thing that could and should happen is this. Those 200 oil families that currently rule America? They should shift their investments over to clean, home grown, renewable fuels.

Yes, creation of hydrogen will require energy, just as (exploring, drilling, pumping, transporting, refining, and marketing of) oil requires energy. But the total cost of using photovoltaic and/or wind to create hydrogen is now LOWER than that for gasoline. Certain political and business interests DO NOT WANT you to KNOW that.

For you information, putting 2000 square feet of photovoltaic panels will provide more than enough energy for the typical American home and additional fuel for the family hydrogen-electric car. General Motors and their vendor have developed a new hydrogen storage tank that provides 400 mile range to their developed electric fuel cell car. This storage technology should be adapted to the new market needs for stationary power too. .... Now, I have to get to work again ....... Hmmmm my roof is 3500 square feet, now let me seee......

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"Hydrogen on Demand"
by gr8leather / June 28, 2007 4:51 AM PDT

There is an inventors club that has a patent pending, right now, that is developed a "Hydrogen on Demand" generator, that is being installed on a pickup truck, right now. I personally have seen the system in operation, and it does work. For further information, please visit their website:

This is not only efficient (150%) it produces much hydrogen in a short period of time. Check it out - at least you'll see that what they have doesn't require the "Bombs under your seat.

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Sorry if I don't buy that.
by Andy77e / December 20, 2007 1:29 PM PST

I have found no evidence coming close to supporting this crazy theory. Further if it were true, a business would have provided it by now. Not a single model of physics I've seen yet supports this strange theory of yours. I'm inclined to not buy it, despite your good sales pitch.

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I love this
by Andy77e / December 24, 2007 4:50 PM PST

Now I get to use basic math to determine if this theory is true. Before we start, let us outline the theory.

Statement "putting 2000 square feet of photovoltaic panels will provide more than enough energy for the typical American home and additional fuel for the family hydrogen-electric car"

To start off with, we need to know how much power the typical American home uses. According to the Department of Energy report from 2001, the average American home uses 10,656 kWh a year. Divide by 365 days, gives us: 29 kWh per day. I would bet this number is low since it is 6 years old, but I will keep it.

Now, we need to know roughly how much power a Hydrogen-Electric Car would require to go roughly 100 miles. We have no exact answers because EV info is sketchy at best given the lack of models on sale. In checking Phoenix Motorcars, and RAV4 EV, and a few other sources, I can wager 35 kWh at least are needed. GMs EV1 and the Phoenix required 6 hours on a 6.6 kWh charger. That's about 40 kWh, so I'm being nice at 35 kWh. Plus, it would require more power than this to make enough hydrogen to make 35 kWh. So this is more than fair. If you have any questions about that, ask and I will explain.

So our required energy each day is
29 kWh (home)
35 kWh (car)
64 kWh Total which is still less than the 605 kWh Al Gore burns through a day.

Now, let's see what kits we can use. You said 2000 square feet of solar panels would be enough, but that you had 3500 square feet on your home. So I'll look up both.

The Evergreen Solar 115 Watt Solar Panel is 134 sq/ft, limiting you to 14 panels with 2000 sq/ft available. The best package I could find was a 12 panel setup.

With more space, I spec'd out a Sharp 175 Watt panel, requires 168 sq/ft.
At 3500 sq/ft you could fit 20. The nearest package was in fact 20 panels.

The 12 panel setup is rated at 1380 Watts.
The 20 Panel setup is rated at 3500 Watts.

Now if you didn't know, solar panels never get how much power they are rated at. That rating is under ideal conditions that exist in the factory, which never happens in the real world. For more information, read

For now, we'll assume 75% efficiency, that your in sunny Las Vegas NV, that your roof is a perfect 36 degrees tilt, and facing straight south. If any of these are not true, you will get less power from your panels.

The 12 panel 1380 watt system will net you... 2,296 kWh a year!
That is 6.29 kWh a day...
The 20 panel 3500 watt system will net you... 5,822 kWh a year!
That is 15.95 kWh a day...

Recap... we need 64 kWh a day...
We are getting 6 or 16 kWh a day...
By the way... the 3500 watt system is $23,169, and the 1380 watt system is only $10,704.

Bottom line, not only will 2000 sq/ft of solar panels not work, but 3500 sq/ft of panels will barely cover *half* of only your homes daily power usage, without a car that requires power to run.

And while I'm at it... according to I would need a 12,667 watt system to cover the power requirements. That is sixty one, 200 watt panels. 61 panels at 210 sq/ft per unit, would need 12,810 sq/ft... How much roof space do you have? FYI, it would cost you $58,225 for the panels alone, no kit, and wire it up yourself.

Side note: Oil is a source of energy. Hydrogen is not. Example, you can use oil to power the pump to draw out the oil. You can use oil to run the refinery. You can use oil to explore for more oil. The amount of oil used to run all this, is a fraction of what is gained from it. This is because oil, in and of itself, is a source of energy. Is hydrogen? If we found pure sources of hydrogen, yes. But do you see any hydrogen wells or mines? No. Because hydrogen must be created. You would need a source of energy, like oil, to run the machine making the hydrogen. Even once the hydrogen is made, you can't use it to make more. Well you can, but you would end up with less hydrogen than you used to make it.

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Electricity is much less expensive than H2
by albizzia / December 29, 2007 12:17 PM PST

I find the claim that H2 fuel is somehow cheaper than gasoline dubious, when the current mass produced H2 price is around $8 per Kg.

Claims that gasoline is really more expensive due to hidden costs doesn't count for much, as most of those "hidden costs" will remain even after we switch to another fuel.

Currently, the per mile cost of driving electric is about 1/5 the per mile cost of H2 fuel. H2 fuel cell cars are far too expensive for the general public, and due to costly materials required for construction will always be too expensive.

As for making H2 with solar electricity and electrolyzer, you should realize the high price of solar panels and the huge energy loss using H2. The combination of electrolyzer/compressor/fuel cell loses 75% of the power put in. Compare that with only 15% loss for charger and batteries - it is clearly more efficient to use batteries for storage, and batteries are cheaper than fuel cells OR high pressure H2 tanks! Going the expensive H2 route would require 3x as many solar panels and would require H2 vehicles 5x more expensive.

Personally, I prefer the cheaper cleaner more efficient option.

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Hydrogen CAN BE much cheaper than gas
by gr8leather / June 29, 2007 12:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Not so.

While everyone does the "Engineer Like" calculations about all the things it takes to produce fuels - wouldn't it be nice to just see the simplicities, when their possible.

There are solutions - not sure of why none of them are being considered, seriously, but I am convinced that the future is going to be "Hydrogen", but doubt seriously the "Super Infrastructure" that everyone's talking about. Hydrogen can be made as you need it, and eliminates most of the problems with the issue.

There is a local inventors club that has a "Hydrogen on Demand" generator, working, right now. The prototype is being installed in a pickup, right now. Unlike most bits of information, I have seen this in operation. Check it out:

It will be worth your while.

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