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Author Topic: hydrogen to run engines  (Read 6185 times)

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Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2014, 09:57:40 pm »
I would think the ultimate answer would be to have solar that produced hydrogen. I know its possible, but no idea if it is scalable.

I imagine it would scale up quite well. Just line up more solar panels and electrolysis units...  Then it's a practical way to store that solar energy, and carry it around in a tank in your car.

Economically practical is the problem  ???
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Offline Delawhere Jack

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2014, 10:21:48 pm »
To really grasp how much energy is contained in liquid fossil fuels, consider this:

One gallon of gasoline will propel a small car 30-35 miles or more. Try pushing that same car that distance by your own strength.

I've read that one gallon of gas run through an internal combustion engine produces the equivalent output to an adult male working continuously 8 hours a day for 30 days.....

Besides uranium, there are no known practical fuels that even come close to the energy density of liquid fossil fuels.

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Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2014, 12:58:36 am »
Well technically Bio-diesel or alcohol, and even hydrogen, are comparable energy density, and aren't "fossil" fuels.

But they are along the same lines chemically, and there is no way to make them for free. The energy has to come from some place, sunshine, nuclear reactor, hydro power etc.

There are also ideas floating around of running a car on Aluminium. The aluminium is part of the battery, and by oxidising it you can produce electricity. But even that's not a free lunch. Eventually all the aluminium becomes Al oxide, and the battery is flat. Then you swap it for another one and send the old one back to the smelter where they use a huge amount of electrical energy to convert it back into metal again. Again getting this to work on a practical scale is the problem, but at least it's not breaking the laws of physics. You can trace the energy through the process.

Ian
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2014, 06:34:06 am »
From what I've found, you can't bring the production costs down on hydrogen to make it competitive.  I've seen figures for natural gas that the hydrogen is triple the cost, when looked at on a $/btu basis.  Using 10 cent electricity ends up being 9 times as expensive as btus from natural gas.  Solar would have to come in at making electricity at 1 cent to make it competitive to natural gas.  These aren't making hydrogen on the fly.  The other thing to look at is the efficiency differential between fuel cell technology and internal combustion technology.

Also, to get electrolysis at low voltage, they have been using metals like platinum and iridium.  Seems like some grad students in Stanford have come up with making hydrogen using iron and nickel as catalysts and using AAAA batteries.  That would make solar a whole lot more feasible.  But, they're still not talking about putting water in your tank and making hydrogen on demand. 
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2014, 10:50:49 am »
Hydrogen has always been considered as the future when we run out of fossil fuels just because it is not economical to make as Ron pointed out. Plus there are enormous technical challenges in producing, storing, and transporting quantities of hydrogen.

Two of the methods of storing hydrogen involve either pressures of 10,000 psi or temperatures of -253 centigrade which is close to absolute zero. NASA has used the 10,000 psi method with composite tanks and fuel cells on the space shuttles to generate electricity simply because weight is more important to them than money.

Unless something changes drastically, solar produced electricity will never be used to produce hydrogen because the electricity is much more valuable because maximum solar energy occurs at exactly the same time as maximum energy demand for air conditioning.

Hydrogen and electricity are considered energy carriers and not as actual energy sources. So without some technological development, it probably will never be economical to produce electricity and then make hydrogen with the electricity. But electricity has storage problems that cannot be solved with any battery technology to use electricity in transportation.

So hydrogen absolutely works in both internal combustion engines and fuel cells, but to use hydrogen in transportation still has a long way to go because of the storage problems and the problems of production.

And then there is the "Ka Boom" problem.  ::)
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Offline OneWithWood

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2014, 01:28:15 pm »

And then there is the "Ka Boom" problem.  ::)

Hmm.  Wasn't that part of the issue with the Hindenburg?
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2014, 03:28:11 pm »
NASA spent a ton of money trying to find a way to store hydrogen. I had a neighbor who was on the research team. The thing that ultimately killed the idea was a process called hydrogen embrittlement. Hydrogen atoms are so small, they will seep through solid metal. In doing so, they make the metal extremely brittle. One experiment filled a cylinder with 2 inch thick aluminum walls with hydrogen under a few thousand psi. Came back later and most of the hydrogen was gone. Someone smacked the cylinder with a hammer and it shattered like glass..NOT IN MY CAR.. ::) The second stage booster of the apollo saturn vehicle used liquid hydrogen stored in insulated tanks at extremely cold temps. It would boil off rapidly, but who cares, gonna burn it all in about 10 minutes anyway. The stuff they stored in high pressure tanks was much smaller, used in a fuel cell to make electricity..

Now if PaulH could figure out a way to store wood gas, maybe we would have something  ;D
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Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2014, 03:48:26 pm »
 :P Composition of average Wood Gas.

    Nitrogen N2: 50.9%
    Carbon monoxide CO: 27.0%
    Hydrogen H2: 14.0%
    Carbon dioxide CO2: 4.5%
    Methane CH4: 3.0%
    Oxygen O2: 0.6%.

So a significant part of that is actually Hydrogen. The nitrogen and CO2 do nothing, so it's the CO, H2 and CH4 that are actually the fuel, so it's more like 30% of the fuel is hydrogen.

Ian
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2014, 11:49:51 pm »
Interesting.  Is that composition the same for all biomass or only wood?  Does moisture content change the components?
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2014, 01:14:56 am »
:P Composition of average Wood Gas.

    Nitrogen N2: 50.9%
    Carbon monoxide CO: 27.0%
    Hydrogen H2: 14.0%
    Carbon dioxide CO2: 4.5%
    Methane CH4: 3.0%
    Oxygen O2: 0.6%.

So a significant part of that is actually Hydrogen. The nitrogen and CO2 do nothing, so it's the CO, H2 and CH4 that are actually the fuel, so it's more like 30% of the fuel is hydrogen.

Those percentages are by volume. By weight it looks a little different. (if I remembered how to convert correctly)

    Nitrogen N2: 57.6%
    Carbon monoxide CO: 30.55%
    Hydrogen H2: 1.13%
    Carbon dioxide CO2: 8.0%
    Methane CH4: 1.94%
    Oxygen O2: 0.776%.

So hydrogen and methane are just small players in the wood gas, it really is a fuel made of carbon monoxide. And the carbon monoxide is only present if you starve the wood fire of oxygen.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #30 on: August 30, 2014, 01:48:18 am »
Yes, but H2 has about 14X the chemical energy (by weight) compared to CO. A kg of hydrogen will make a much bigger "pop" than a kilo of almost anything else.

So although it not a major on the mass scale, it still provides a significant part of the "oomph".

Ian
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Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2014, 02:09:05 am »
Interesting.  Is that composition the same for all biomass or only wood?  Does moisture content change the components?

The ratios are variable, I guess it depends on how well the gasification is working. A bit more air going in and more of the methane would oxidise to CO2, CO and H2? Moisture content will probably affect the reaction, and you would get H20 (steam) in the mix. Type of feed stock must have an effect too, but if you are feeding in cellulose, it's chemically similar no matter if it's wood or straw or corn husks.. or...

But it's pretty much always going to be some mix of those gasses coming out.

Ian
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Offline Brucer

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #32 on: August 31, 2014, 01:01:12 am »
NASA spent a ton of money trying to find a way to store hydrogen. I had a neighbor who was on the research team. The thing that ultimately killed the idea was a process called hydrogen embrittlement. Hydrogen atoms are so small, they will seep through solid metal. In doing so, they make the metal extremely brittle....

This is the crux of the storage problem. I worked in an oil refinery 4 decades ago. One of the processes used compressed hydrogen, which was a byproduct of another process. We had a steel tank about the size of a modern SUV to store the hydrogen between the two processes. Every year we had to do non-destructive tests on the tank to measure the extent of the embrittlement.

I happened to be in the maintenance department when we did a test. The hydrogen had penetrated about half way through the walls of the tank and had started delaminating the steel. In effect we started up with a conventional steel vessel, but ended up with a vessel of very brittle steel inside a pressure vessel of ductile steel. We had no choice but to scrap the tank and replace it. Apparently this happened so regularly that they had a spare tank ready to go.
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Offline Brucer

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #33 on: August 31, 2014, 01:37:07 am »
Hydrogen can be made relatively efficiently by electrolysis of water. Which means you need electrical energy to make it. Where does that energy come from. If it's from fuel-fired power plants, than the hydrogen has to cost more than fuel oil.

Hydrogen can also be made by breaking down natural gas. So hydrogen made this way will always cost more than natural gas.

Internal combustion engines (and external combustion engines for that matter) are relatively inefficient. The maximum theoretical efficiency is about 75% -- in practice they are nowhere close to that.

So if you are going to use electricity to produce hydrogen to burn in an engine, you are better off to use the electricity to directly charge a battery and use it to power an electric motor. Keep in mind that the hydrogen storage tanks will probably weigh as much as the batteries, and will probably have the same life.

If you're going to use natural gas to produce hydrogen to burn in an engine, why not just burn the natural gas. Skip a conversion step and eliminate one inefficiency. Natural gas is also easier to store than hydrogen.


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Offline sharp edge

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2014, 09:03:48 am »
I think there will be some form of (H) in the future of the earth. We had lots of problems with the nuclear stuff too and over came lots of them..   Just stay away from the H-bomb.

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Offline r.man

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2014, 08:09:07 am »
One of the advantages I see in a conversion that produces a clean fuel with an unclean fuel, say coal to electricity, is the ability to control the pollution at the source. Burn coal in a clean plant that is designed to minimize pollution and then use the electricity to power electric cars in cities without the pollution. From the perspective of this forum you could run a gas or diesel generator to power your sawmill, processor or splitter. Doesn't make much sense until you consider the fact that you can now stay away from the pollution of the motor involved by using a long cord to the machine.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2014, 09:24:14 am »
But, the pollution does eventually come down.  Just not in your backyard.  Acid rain in the NW PA had a pH value of lemon juice.  The source was from coal fired plants in the Midwest.  Scrubbers takes care of that, but the damage was done and it had to be drawn out in courts and Legislatures to correct the problem.

Electric cars would make more sense if they had a better battery solution and if they could power with cleanly generated electricity.  If using coal fired plants, all you're doing is driving with coal instead of oil.
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Offline Cornishman

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2014, 12:36:07 pm »
I would think the ultimate answer would be to have solar that produced hydrogen. I know its possible, but no idea if it is scalable.
I am sure it could be. We have PV panels on our roof and down the road is 5 MWs worth.
I thought the main problem with hydrogen was safety.

Offline Ianab

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #38 on: October 01, 2014, 05:28:21 pm »
There are safety issues with hydrogen as a fuel. If can attack metal and has to be stored under high pressure.

But then there are issues with petrol and propane as well, and we live with those.

One plus that hydrogen has, if it does leak, it rises and soon disperses. Propane and petrol vapour are heavier than air, so tend to gather in any hollow around the leak. That's why they set up such a large safety cordon around a crashed LPG tanker. If it leaks it "pools" and spreads over the ground, and the whole cloud could be ignited by a distant ignition source.

That's why many people escaped the Hindenburg disaster. The burning gas rose away from them as they escaped. Very spectacular but the people running on the ground below it where able to escape.
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Offline Alligator

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Re: hydrogen to run engines
« Reply #39 on: October 19, 2014, 11:49:03 am »
This has been quite fun to read. I have always been curious about hydrogen as a fuel, and seen all the different claims that it can be a viable energy source. I am not a strong chemistry person. I did the experiments in high school to separate the 2 hydrogen from the 1 oxygen atom. The simple takeaway was that it takes "x" amount of energy plus H2O to produce "y" quantity hydrogen. "y" quantity of hydrogen yields "z" BTUs. Knowing "x" and determining "y" this gives $ per BTU that I can insert into my machine and make it go or do whatever it does.

Man kind spends trillions of dollars scouring the earths surface to find, drill, transport, refine, and deliver petroleum which takes energy. This is fairly evident that this is a profitable venture, looking at the fortunes that have been amassed from it.

 It takes "x" amount of energy to produce "y" quantity of petroleum. "y" quantity of petroleum yields "z" BTUs. Gasoline yields roughly 114,000 BTUs per gallon. Today 10/19/14 gas is hovering at $3.00 per gallon / 114,000 BTUs.

x$$=BTUs & BTUs = x$$  Petroleum has a low BTU in to high BTU out ratio. Hydrogen at present not so much.

We have found H2O! When someone devises a method of producing hydrogen that will yield a $ per BTU ratio that is lucrative to the producer, there will be a hydrogen station on every corner.
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