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Old 12-08-2010, 01:19 PM   #1
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Hawaii becomes General Motor's hydrogen paradise

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It's starting to look like Hawaii could become a lot more famous than just for great surf, rain forests and buff fictitious police detectives. It's on the cusp of being known for hydrogen-powered cars.

General Motor is convinced that Hawaii is the place where it can make a stand for hydrogen power. It's announcing today that 10 companies, agencies and universities are joining together to try to make hydrogen cars an everyday method of transportation in five years.

They are being helped along by the islands' big utility, the Gas Co., which says it can easily create the equivalent of 7,000 gallon of gasoline a day. "This the most exciting thing that has happened in my career," says the Gas Co's CEO, Jeff Kissel.The difference: Hawaii makes synthetic natural gas from oil, and it's just as easy to make hydrogen too.

GM hopes to see a few dozen hydrogen cars coming to Oahu, but thinks down the line there could be many more. There will be an incentive for companies to bring them the islands if 20 or so fueling stations can serve the island. GM thinks it can produce fuel-cell powered cars in larger quantities by 2015, says Charlie Freese, GM's director of global fuel-cell activities.
I really would like to know more on how this company produces it's hydrogen. They claim to be able to make it from oil, I wonder if that is as a by-product of a different process or ? Or how many 'equivalent' gallons of gas they are able to make from a barrel of oil. Very interesting either way, looking forward to finding out what GM has in store for this tech

http://content.usatoday.com/communit...gen-paradise/1
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:10 PM   #2
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I don't know about making hydrogen from oil but I've been told that they are already testing hydrogen powered vehicles in Hawaii using photovoltaic electrolysis to produce it. I imagine it's similar to Honda's initiative http://www.edmontonjournal.com/cars/...624/story.html
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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I don't know about making hydrogen from oil but I've been told that they are already testing hydrogen powered vehicles in Hawaii using photovoltaic electrolysis to produce it. I imagine it's similar to Honda's initiative http://www.edmontonjournal.com/cars/...624/story.html
Oo, see that approach makes a lot more sense from a 'getting away from oil/fossil fuels' stand point. Wonder what the end cost to the consumer would be using that method, hopefully fairly cheap...
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:35 PM   #4
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all oil is hydrocarbon. hydrogen burns at lower temps and has more btu's. seperating the two is a matter of heat. hydrogen contains 3 times the btu's of gasoline. 3 times the fuel economy.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:38 PM   #5
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all oil is hydrocarbon. hydrogen burns at lower temps and has more btu's. seperating the two is a matter of heat. hydrogen contains 3 times the btu's of gasoline. 3 times the fuel economy.
Ah, i see. But in this case they'll be using it for fuel cells, not internal combustion. And since the fuel cells will be powering an electric engine, the efficiency should be pretty outstanding.
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Old 12-08-2010, 04:35 PM   #6
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Hawii, or any other large island, is a good place to test out ideas for hydrogen cars and the associated infrastructure. They're self contained, so you don't run into the problem of wanting to take your hydrogen car from LA to Vegas, then realize there are no hydrogen stations in Nevada (for example). If you can drive your car anywhere on the island and still be reasonably close to a H2 station, it makes a pretty good test bed to develop the technology.


Synthetic Natural Gas is typcially made from coal (though there is no reason why oil couldn't be used, probably works a bit better with oil). Its called 'gasification' and uses steam and oxygen at high temperatures to react with the fuel (in this case, oil) and creates hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and a number of other light hyrocarbons. The hydrocarbons byproducts (methane, ethane, propane, etc) can be further refined into hydrogen gas using a very similar method.

Using electrolysis won't work to produce a hydorgen fuel. It will make hydrogen gas, sure. But the energy that you put into it is greater than the energy you get out. Meanwhile, it is possible to get more energy out of hydrogen when making it from methane than you put in. One proposed method is to use next generation nuclear reactors as the heat (and steam) source for producing hydrogen from methane.
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Old 12-08-2010, 04:41 PM   #7
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Hawii, or any other large island, is a good place to test out ideas for hydrogen cars and the associated infrastructure. They're self contained, so you don't run into the problem of wanting to take your hydrogen car from LA to Vegas, then realize there are no hydrogen stations in Nevada (for example). If you can drive your car anywhere on the island and still be reasonably close to a H2 station, it makes a pretty good test bed to develop the technology.


Synthetic Natural Gas is typcially made from coal (though there is no reason why oil couldn't be used, probably works a bit better with oil). Its called 'gasification' and uses steam and oxygen at high temperatures to react with the fuel (in this case, oil) and creates hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and a number of other light hyrocarbons. The hydrocarbons byproducts (methane, ethane, propane, etc) can be further refined into hydrogen gas using a very similar method.

Using electrolysis won't work to produce a hydorgen fuel. It will make hydrogen gas, sure. But the energy that you put into it is greater than the energy you get out. Meanwhile, it is possible to get more energy out of hydrogen when making it from methane than you put in. One proposed method is to use next generation nuclear reactors as the heat (and steam) source for producing hydrogen from methane.
Good info I remember that electrolysis was very energy intensive, wondering if the use of solar power to produce the required electricity would keep costs low (while obviously not being very efficient)? Guess it would depend how expensive the solar cells are and such...
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:41 PM   #8
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Good info I remember that electrolysis was very energy intensive, wondering if the use of solar power to produce the required electricity would keep costs low (while obviously not being very efficient)? Guess it would depend how expensive the solar cells are and such...
Solar electricity is generally a bad idea. It doesn't scale up all that well.

Powering a calculator? Thats fine. Keeping a boat battery charged? Not a problem. Powering your house? If you have to, but 999 times out of 1000 there are better choices. Actually, that may be too generous to solar cells, but you get the idea. Powering a hydrogen gas production facility? I suppose its better than putting people on generator-bikes ... but not by much.

The other problem is that there isn't any benefit to co-locating a solar cell power plant and a hydrogen electrolysis plant. Same goes for hydro-electric and wind. A heat based solar plant, where you convert light into heat, then heat into electricity would fit better with a gasification plant, but typically, they don't generate much of an excess of energy. They use all they can for power generation.

Co-locating a fossil fuel power plant would work for the gasification method of hydrogen production, since gasification requires a fossil fuel source. And they also generate steam and heat, which are needed for gasification. Unfortunately, they also produce CO2, which is the main thing we want to avoid by using hydrogen in cars instead of gasoline. Thats also why nuclear is so attractive for hydrogen production. They could produce all the heat and steam you'd want for gasification, but with no emissions of their own.

Also, another problem with using solar to generate hydrogen is that the plant could only run during the day, which is also when electricity demands are the highest. But coal or nuclear could run 24/7, and possibly power some electrolysis machines at night when electrical demand is low, in addition to the gasification process.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:27 PM   #9
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DG's got this.


All I can add is that I think this is a great idea from GM. Hawaii is small, local, and isolated. The perfect place to seriously ramp up a "model" of a hydrogen economy.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:58 PM   #10
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With Hawaii's geo-thermal potential, either hydrogen from methane or from electrolysis is feasable. I believe Iceland is the first country to do this in a major way. Iceland uses their abundance of electricity from geo electric plants to make hydrogen from water.
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:00 PM   #11
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With Hawaii's geo-thermal potential, either hydrogen from methane or from electrolysis is feasable. I believe Iceland is the first country to do this in a major way. Iceland uses their abundance of electricity from geo electric plants to make hydrogen from water.
If it wasn't so unstable...Hawaii could be a geothermal powerhouse. Generate all or most of our hydrogen there, and ship it over the ocean in a ship powered by hydrogen produced "for free" from the islands....

But then you get those pesky eruptions.
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:38 PM   #12
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Yeah, it would kind of suck to show someone your new geo-thermal plant..." Yep, it's right over there, under all of that cooling lava."
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:46 PM   #13
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If it wasn't so unstable...Hawaii could be a geothermal powerhouse. Generate all or most of our hydrogen there, and ship it over the ocean in a ship powered by hydrogen produced "for free" from the islands....

But then you get those pesky eruptions.
Hawaii is stable, or at the very least, predictable. Explosive eruptions are few and far between, and its mostly just a constant oozing of lava. And not all the islands have active volcanoes, but I bet they'd still be able to produce a ton of geothermal energy.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:36 PM   #14
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Solar electricity is generally a bad idea. It doesn't scale up all that well.

Also, another problem with using solar to generate hydrogen is that the plant could only run during the day, which is also when electricity demands are the highest. But coal or nuclear could run 24/7, and possibly power some electrolysis machines at night when electrical demand is low, in addition to the gasification process.
Gotcha, that makes sense. So really the nuclear powered idea is sounding like the best option to me so far.

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DG's got this.


All I can add is that I think this is a great idea from GM. Hawaii is small, local, and isolated. The perfect place to seriously ramp up a "model" of a hydrogen economy.
Agreed, eager to see the results of these trials

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Yeah, it would kind of suck to show someone your new geo-thermal plant..." Yep, it's right over there, under all of that cooling lava."
Woops!
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:04 PM   #15
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Hawaii is stable, or at the very least, predictable. Explosive eruptions are few and far between, and its mostly just a constant oozing of lava. And not all the islands have active volcanoes, but I bet they'd still be able to produce a ton of geothermal energy.
That's a good point....the neat thing about Hawaii is that it's over a hot spot. For many thousands of years, it'll always be over an active vent.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:40 PM   #16
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I know Hawaii already has at least one working biological hydrogen production facility. The facility uses green algae, aka pond scum, to produce hydrogen. When deprived of sulfur, algae will produce hydrogen rather than oxygen.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:43 PM   #17
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I know Hawaii already has at least one working biological hydrogen production facility. The facility uses green algae, aka pond scum, to produce hydrogen. When deprived of sulfur, algae will produce hydrogen rather than oxygen.
Well, isn't Algae just the miracle plant?
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:06 PM   #18
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I know Hawaii already has at least one working biological hydrogen production facility. The facility uses green algae, aka pond scum, to produce hydrogen. When deprived of sulfur, algae will produce hydrogen rather than oxygen.
I see another potential co-production application. Create both hydrogen and bio-fuel with algae. Of course, each technology would have to be somewhat established first before a successful dual-fuel plant could work, but conceptually I don't know of any major problems. Feed and grow the algae and let them produce hydrogen. Harvest the algae and produce liquid fuel. Repeat.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:08 PM   #19
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I see another potential co-production application. Create both hydrogen and bio-fuel with algae. Of course, each technology would have to be somewhat established first before a successful dual-fuel plant could work, but conceptually I don't know of any major problems. Feed and grow the algae and let them produce hydrogen. Harvest the algae and produce liquid fuel. Repeat.
....you know all that 'multiple' fuel types GM keeps talking about?

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