The problem with hydrogen

Many people, from the President on down, believe that the US must reduce its reliance on oil. But where will we get the energy we need to run our homes, businesses and cars? People have suggested nuclear power, solar, wind, biomass and many other approaches. All have their advantages and disadvantages.

One idea getting a lot of support is hydrogen—as a fuel or in batteries. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and when you consume it, the only waste product is pure, clean water.

But hydrogen has a lot of drawbacks, too. An article in the November issue of Popular Mechanics runs down the challenges in hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use.

Meeting America’s energy needs will probably require a combination of approaches.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

James Aach's picture
James Aach says:

Interesting article. Unfortunately, the general public's understanding of energy issues is very slight, so any source (or storage system in hydrogen's case) can get a great deal of press and make people feel better without their understanding how realistic it is.

My own specialty is electricity generation - and it is difficult to make large amounts of electricity - whether by fossil, nuclear or solar power. [One good reason why conservation and better efficiency should be at the top of any energy plan.] The real world of nuclear energy, in particular, is little understood. I've worked in it over 20 years and have never seen a good profile of the people, the politics and the technology here in the United States. So I wrote one, in the form of the thriller novel "Rad Decision", available online at no cost to readers - who seem to like it, judging from their homepage comments - at RadDecision.blogspot.com.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand, noted enviornmentalist, internet pioneer, and founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog".

Available soon in paperback as well.


posted on Mon, 10/30/2006 - 10:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think one power source they could come up with is man power. Look at power needs and unimployment rates.
if they came up with some kind of human power system then we could have more power, rely less on fossil fuels, and it would be a sound way of getting rid of obesity.

posted on Wed, 11/29/2006 - 3:10pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

This is an interesting idea.

HOWEVER, have you ever tried using a bicycle generator to power something? Lots of science centers have exhibits where you pedal a bike to power a light bulb or a television. And it's HARD. It takes a LOT of work, and you don't produce much power. Or steady power.

Plus...how would we decide who has to do shifts on the bike generators? Would everyone have to do it? Only the unemployed? The less than physically fit? Doesn't seem exactly fair...

It's kind of funny to think about capturing the human power expended in gyms across the country on exercise bikes or eliptical trainers or StairMasters to produce electricity, but it won't ever be a viable source of energy. Our demand FAR exceeds the amount that could be produced in this way.

posted on Wed, 11/29/2006 - 5:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ya but then ur going to have someone on the bike all day and what if ur not home during the week end?

posted on Mon, 02/25/2008 - 2:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

THis is a good story but a little one on the non realistic part. Reason is that i studyed it and it is not true

posted on Sun, 01/14/2007 - 12:28pm

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