Bad Government Economics: The Case Of Hydrogen

To foster renewables, the Hydrogen economy needs to be developed. How Government Ought NOT to Act Economically

I am often mean to Obama, all the more as I know that, after all, he is just the president. So he presides over a whole system of oligarchies. Best economic advice? For the “Democratic” establishment, it meant Larry Summers, Bob Rubin, Bill Clinton, Greenspan, etc. Who was he to contradict Summers or Krugman? Those two were within the White House nearly 30 years before Obama got there. They both, and all other very serious economists, told Obama he had to save the banks, no strings attached.

In the matter of energy and science policy, Obama made apparently the best choice: Chu, a Physics Nobel Prize winner who was also the successful manager of the giant Lawrence Berkeley Research Laboratory.

But getting a Nobel in something does not mean one has the best ideas, especially in other fields. It can make one arrogant, stubborn, over-confident in one’s brains.

In the end, the government of the USA intervened erroneous, moving away from fundamental research (both in science and the foundations of technology).

Dr. Chu cancelled all research in fuel cells, while instead diverting money towards… start-ups. He may as well have financed hamburger stands. In particular, Chu decided to finance electric cars. This means, in practice cars made by Elon Musk, an expert on how to get government support.

A French electric car held the world’s speed record, and was first to reach 100km/h. That was in… 1900. So electric cars are not exactly new. Batteries are better than 115 years ago. But still, not good enough.

Battery technology will require a breakthrough: this is why it has been so difficult to make buses, or trucks, using electric batteries. The battery packs tend to be too heavy, the range too limited, the time to refuel, too great.

A number of Asian companies, including Toyota, are leasing Fuel Cell Cars. They work by transforming hydrogen into electricity. The city of Berkeley has been using, for years, Fuel Cells buses. They proudly carry the mention that their waste is pristine water.

Elon Musk called Fuel cell cars, “fool” cars. At best, he does not know how to spell. At worst, he knows no physics (and that’s the case). Fuel cells have enormous efficiency. Musk’s “electric” cars, actually run on COAL electricity for 50% (as the whole USA does). I know Musk talks about the sun to recharge his cars, but that’s not the case. The solar case would have to go through hydrogen!

But of course, this is not about physics, but politics. Musk got billions from the Federal Government, from NASA.

So the fools are those who believe the crafty politician, Elon Musk… without seeing what’s behind.

OK, electric vehicles have their uses, for short commutes. They are great against local pollution. But let’s not run out of lithium? OK? As it is, the Tesla Model S, which gets a $10,000 subsidy per vehicle, is perfect for Californian plutocrats who want to have priority on the roads, while enjoying the money they get from taxpayers for driving in style.

The main problem with renewable energies, right now, is that there is no way to store it efficiently (aside from dams). Cracking water to make hydrogen would be an obvious way. (Another obvious way to store the electricity from  photovoltaics is to evaporate seawater, condensate and store the resulting water. Most cities with access to the sea and a water problem could use that method.)

Liquid Hydrogen has about THREE times the energy of gasoline per mass. As existing fuel cells have twice the efficiency of the hypothetical maximum of a thermal engine (where electric vehicles get their electricity from), one sees that a fuel cell cars, far from being foolish, if the hydrogen were from renewables, would be at least six times more efficient than electric vehicles.

Under Obama, Secretary Chu, in an apparent act of corruption, quit all fundamental research of fuel cells, and diverted money to his friends [1]. But fuel cells allowed Americans to land on the Moon. Now Chu is sitting pretty in Stanford, complete with start-up money, a few miles from Tesla.

Chu in his own words:

http://www.thenewsdaily.org/steven-chu-lives-in-fantasy-world-public-states-the-kickback-scheme-that-got-him-his-stanford-job-as-part-of-his-payoff-was-not-failed/

A Hydrogen Economy is necessary. See:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/terminal-greenhouse-crisis/

This Chu misadventure shows the superiority of Direct Democracy: had Chu’s policies be widely debated over the Internet, and had Obama got a digest of the conclusions, it is highly unlikely that he (and scientifically ignorant, dubiously enriched very wealthy California Senator Feinstein, etc.) would have decided to go along with Chu’s craziness.

Recently Paul Krugman, still uninformed in that respect, was lauding Chu’s policies in the New York Times, and how much money they made (this is not just false, but it shows further misunderstanding of the role of government… Which is not to compete with for-profit companies).

The truth is that, the fundamental research breakthroughs are not coming up at the rate they would be, if the opposite of what Chu did had been, instead, implemented (that is massive more fundamental research).

It’s not just a question of the advancement of civilization, but of national defense.

Hydrogen liquefied or compressed, or chemically transformed in a more amenable fluid form, and then used as storage from energy of photovoltaics and wind, is the best way to make sense of renewables.
…That’s why it was not developed, as our Great Leaders are sold to big oil and its banks.

Patrice Ayme’

[November 2014…]

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[1] What else than corruption? Assuredly, Chu is not that dumb. Assuredly, he knew the US made it to the Moon thanks to hydrogen fuel cells making electricity (hence the explosion of Apollo 13…)… because fuel cells are highly efficient, etc.

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10 Responses to “Bad Government Economics: The Case Of Hydrogen”

  1. gmax Says:

    Obama was as a bleating lamb. When he learns his job, he will be out of it. The whole plan?

    Like

  2. Lovell Says:

    Speaking of bad government, the EU is turning out to be one.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Well, nothing wrong with France running a 5% deficit in the next three years (that is basically what the French government announced). Right now, investors are ready to lend to France at 1% over the next ten years. With unemployment at 11%, no choice.

      Everybody can see the German austerity thing has not worked: Germany had a total growth of 2% in 6 years. That’s about .3% of GDP per year. Merkel herself is switching to unemployment first: the German Federal government will employ 10,000 workers, to start with, among the long term unemployed.

      What has been catastrophic is all the austerity. Even the Pope Francis made such a case in Strasbourg a few days ago, and that was well received (including by Atheists!). His predecessor, Jean-Paul, in front of the same prestigious assembly, had been booed.

      Like

  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Salon. Hartmann article.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/11/12/thom_hartmann_libertarians_are_pushing_us_over_a_cliff/ ]

    1.Plutocracy can rule for centuries. There is no 80 year rule.
    2.A lot of good things in the article, but nothing really new
    3.Things will change when people realize they are being had. More, tons more, on Patrice Ayme (Google, and hunt for “plutocracy” essays)

    Like

  4. Ian Miller Says:

    ianmillerblog
    on August 18, 2019 at 9:54 pm said:
    There is little doubt that big oil knows of the problem, and equally it cannot be bothered doing anything about it.

    I must confess I am skeptical about hydrogen. Anyone who has worked with hydrogen will tell you that it leaks with the slightest provocation, and it explodes with the widest range of air mixtures of any flammable gas, so I am afraid of leaving it in the hands of all and sundry. If you watch the care that NASA works with liquid hydrogen you will maybe see my point.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Patrice Ayme
      on August 19, 2019 at 10:20 am said:
      H can be stored inside metal. H can be compressed. Explosivity studies have shown, supposedly, that it’s not as bad as gasoline, when under liquid or highly compressed form. Anyway, that H would be for storage.
      To my knowledge, neither NASA nor Arianespace had a H explosion problem (the only problem was to IGNITE it, actually! NASA refused to tell the French how to do it…)

      The basic drift is that one has to convert renewables under compressed or liquid form. This is what the proposed Pilbara project in NW Australia proposes to do (equivalent to a dozen nuclear reactors) proposes to do: cables, but also “GREEN HYDROGEN”:
      https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/05/15/public-consultation-opens-for-11-gw-renewables-hub-in-australia/

      Like

  5. Ian Miller Says:

    ianmillerblog on August 19, 2019 at 8:55 pm said:
    Patrice, my dislike of hydrogen is the explosive possibilities of hydrogen after it leaks. I assure you it is not difficult to ignite – but it may be in a controlled fashion. Absorbing it in metals is a possibility (or in borohydrides) but controlled release seems to be holding up progress. If you want it in liquid form, make hydrazine. Interestingly, if you read “The Martian” by Andy Weir, you have this rather remarkable approach to making water – catalytically decompose hydrazine from a rocket tank then burn the hydrogen, from which an explosion occurred. Why not just burn the hydrazine – it was, after all, a rocket fuel from the fuel tank. In terms of energy, it is true that compared with H2 you have to break two N-H bonds compared with one H-H bond, so there will be a small loss of energy there – a little under 300 kJ/mol, which may not seem small, but there is an immediate gain of over 800 kJ/mol from forming the N2 bond, so you get strong energy release, which, perforce, is why hydrazine is used as a rocket fuel.

    Like

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