GM in the Classroom: Hydrogen is the Answer!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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gm in the classroom hydrogen is the answer

GM's sales are taking a beating in California, where an entire generation of drivers have grown up without once owning one of the General's vehicles. Few people know that the artist formerly known as the world's largest automaker has been communicating with children aged Kindergarten and up for years. The General's charm offensive comes via their education division, which provides free classroom curricula to civic-minded teachers. And anyone who thinks that GM's dragging its feet on green issues– at least in the PR sense– would do well to examine their latest lesson plan " The Energy Highway: Solutions Ahead." Although the words "global warming" are conspicuous by their absence, they're all about the CO2. Thanks to GM's partnership with The Weekly Reader, millions of kids will trace the domestic carmaker's proposed arc, from internal combustion engines to flex-fuel vehicles to "extended range" electric vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And that's OK because we'll use renewable energy sources to power the electric plants that create the hydrogen for the vehicles. Ta-da!

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • KBW KBW on Oct 17, 2007
    No, it’s because wind is cheaper than nuclear. And yes, there are sbsidies and mandates for renewables in a lot of places, but there are plenty of subsidies for conventional sources and nuclear as well. Ever hear of the Price-Anderson Act? Absolves the utilities of liability in the case of a nuclear accident. There wouldn’t be any nukes in the US without it. It was passed probably in the late ’50s because the utilities weren’t interested in taking on the liability. Also there have been huge research subsidies for nuclear, that dwarf the subsidies for renewables, the way Jupiter dwarfs Pluto. You miss the point, if price were the concern, utilities would just install combustion turbines. In fact, in states without mandates for renewables, combustion turbines are the power source of choice. At 3-4x the price of conventional sources, wind simply isn't very competitive today without subsidies.
  • Cgraham Cgraham on Oct 18, 2007

    Here in Ontario the cost of electricity is based on the MOST EXPENSIVE utility that is currently running. Nuclear bids into the grid at $0/MWH, so it's always on, always sending electricity to the grid. On a really hot summer day when the demand becomes too much for what is currently running, Ontario turns on it's coal plants, which bid in at a very high price. That high price is paid to everyone across the board. Yes nuclear has expencive overhead coming from the construction, but the operating cost is relativly low. As for the large amounts of water that is needed to cool a nuclear reactor, that is true, but it is a closed loop system, meaning that once we have that water, we don't need anymore. Yes we are on a lake and many are on rivers, but the water taken from the lake or the river is then returned. It goes through the system, through the light water side of heat exchangers. It IS possible to have an entirly closed loop nuclear system that does not require outside water, it is just more costly and since the rivers and lakes are abundant enough, we stick to doing it the easier way. I don't want to slam wind energy, i am all for it, but it is not RELIABLE. Windmills have a very narrow margin at which they are effective. If the wind doesn't blow hard enough, they don't spin, if the wind blows too hard, the brakes go on and the windmill doesn't spin, in order to keep the tips of the windmill from reaching supersonic veolcity (which would shatter the blades). They are building wind farms all around where I live and I see how many are down at any given time and know that we cannot live the lifestyls we are accustom to solely on wind.

  • Ryan Knuckles Ryan Knuckles on Oct 18, 2007

    Caffiend: From what I have read, the major issue addressed by that form of producing hydrogen (aluminum and gallium alloy + water) is delivery and storage, which is a major step forward. While, when you combine the efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell powered by the pure hydrogen resulting from this reaction, it could *compete with $3/gallon gasoline. I think the problem is, most of the supporters of this are overlooking the price of gallium, which is between $250 and $500 per kilogram. And I have heard that this method requires 10-20% gallium. That raises the price well beyond the range of feasability, no matter how expensive gas is. I haven't found any hard facts on this though. Tidbits about Al + Ga + H20 Aluminum is $1/lb (US), but has a much lower energy content (2.4 kWh/lb) than gasoline (6 kWh/lb). The hydrogen produce from this method is pure, so it is 75% efficient, vs. the 25% efficiency of your standard ICE. There are several articles written about this, but be careful of the hardcore environmentalist's websites, because they seem to gloss over any downside that might be there.