Sunday, March 14

Is Hydrogen really a 'fuel'?

Oh dear. Watched Top Gear on BBC2 for the first time in about 2 years this evening and by coincidence they reviewed a Tesla (electric/batteries) and a Honda FCX Clarity (electric/Hydrogen fuel cells). It always amazes me that the BBC actually produces this programme at all.

What did the team of jerks on Top Gear get wrong? Just about everything. They conned the viewer into believing Hydrogen was a miracle 'fuel'. Ironically in the same programme they implied battery powered cars had no future partly because the electricity came from coal guzzling power stations.

The point they (tragically) failed to make is that Hydrogen has the same problem! In fact Hydrogen is an energy carrier like a battery, it is no different at all. They managed to convince the viewer that Hydrogen has to be 'scraped' off other atoms or molecules. Any physicist will tell you that requires energy and the energy has to come from somewhere. It can be produced from a high carbon or low carbon energy source, but that applies to charging batteries as well.

So just how good is Hydrogen? Well as an energy source it is rubbish, it has a net negative energy ratio. That means you put more energy in to produce it than you get out of it afterwards. This is why it is termed an 'energy carrier'. You have the same problem with batteries, you get less out than you put in.

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