2015: Start Of The Hydrogen Age?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

We are picking up more and more signs of an impending revival of assumed dead fuel cell technology.

Here is another one: The Nikkei [sub] says that the Japanese government is supporting an initiative to draw a hydrogen from a surprising source: Oil refining. And they need to be ready by 2015.

One of the many uses of hydrogen is in oil refining. In this case, to remove sulfur from oil. The hydrogen used in this process doesn’t have to be high quality, 90 percent pure suffices.

Fuel cells expect 99.9 percent pure hydrogen. The sponsored project aims to produce high purity hydrogen, based on the “industrial” hydrogen technology, “with an eye toward creating a new source of income,” as The Nikkei says.

The Japanese government will bear half the cots of a cheap project. It is estimated to cost 500 million yen ($ 6.15 million) over a three-year period. It wants to be ready in time before 2015. Why 2015?

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expects a “wide adoption of fuel cell vehicles by fiscal 2015” and “seeks to secure a steady supply of high-purity hydrogen.” Again: Why 2015?

It just so happens that Toyota is dead set on selling its first mass produced fuel cell car by 2015. In Korea, Byung Ki Ahn, general manager of Hyundai-Kia’s Fuel Cell Group, said recently: “There are already agreements between car makers such as ourselves and legislators in Europe, North America and Japan to build up to the mass production of fuel cell cars by 2015.” Indeed, if you go through the many files produced in Brussels, you find that also in Europe “car manufacturers are getting ready for the commercial production of hydrogen vehicles by 2015.” In those many files was the EU master plan, as shown above.

What is this, a hydrogen conspiracy?

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • James Yarger James Yarger on Jan 04, 2011

    I'm ever amazed at the narcissistic views of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, and yes as a lifting gas. it's a tragedy for tomorrow child. but I am not surprised. The retooling cost for converting or adding a hydrogen gas & oxygen pump at your local filling station is similar to the cost new gas pumps. The biggest cost for a complete conversion would the hazmat clean of the existing sites. Hydrogen doesn't need to be transported it can be made at the point of purchase. Transport problem solved. Storage longer than 24 months is not necessary, it's a filling station that should be making money selling whaaat? Fuel. So Carbon fiber rapped steel storage cylinders are fine as it would be unnecessary to keep large about stored for long. Aluminum will do dropping the price of fore mentioned platinum, and adds an element of planned obsolescence. The process of creating hydrogen gas from water only takes a light electrical current, and also creates oxygen as a bonus. Separated and then put on-board a fuel cell vehicle solves the "crappy air" problem and again with pure hydrogen and oxygen pushed back through fuel cell, you don't need platinum plating. This process can be achieved by using solar or wind power or hydro energy production to create the electricity, and solve the storage problem of solar and wind generated energy. As for the energy efficiency of hydrogen gas or liquid compared with gasoline, it's not a good comparison unless we are talking about an internal combustion hydrogen engine vs. gas. Add in the fact the an internal combustion engine using hydrogen gas would not suffer from carbon build up, it starts looking better. So now what to ya got? The problem that all you suffer from is "Hydrogen Blindness" As mentioned above May 6, 1937, started 73 years of you, your parents, teachers and professors, being blinded to the possibilities of hydrogen as an energy source. Public perception is problem number one. You can't mention hydrogen without bringing up the Hindenburg. In the 73 years since the Hindenburg mishap (and I say mishap because 73 passengers and crew survived, what would be considered a miracle by today's excepted life risk of commercial aviation), we have made a lot of great advices that seem everyday to you and me that would have seemed like science fiction 73 years ago, like radar! Given the hard science behind what we are doing to tomorrow child's world every time we turn over that engine, coupled with the rarity of fossil fuels, warrants giving every alternative attention. But you don't have to take my word for it. Check this link to the National Hydrogen Association; http://www.hydrogenassociation.org/about/members.asp?sort=2 Check the FAQ page. I wanna cry partly from humor and partly from being sad to see how blind people are about hydrogen. Can you believe that some people worry that a hydrogen fuel cell might be used as a "hydrogen bomb"? Oy Vey! Here is link to my blog: http://airshipadmiral.blogspot.com/ I have a post on there called "My Sustainability Manifesto" I cover a lot of the questions the previous post raise. Here's to hoping 2011 is the year of the fuel cell, and hydrogen. But most of all Airships!! Cheers! James

  • Aqua225 Aqua225 on Jun 03, 2011

    I think the hydrogen argument is mute, unless we truly embrace nuclear power. If we have enormous excesses of electrical energy, but no good way to store it, hydrogen would make a decent battery. You can burn it in heat engines, fuel cells, and even heating systems. There is also the possibility of using solar or nuclear to crack hydrocarbons (natural gas has a free- hydrogen constituent, I am not counting this), remove the carbon (you could make bricks of carbon), and ship the hydrogen. Honestly, if the green zealots insist on removing carbon from our automobiles, without providing us good batteries to replace gasoline/diesel, then I'd rather go the hydrogen route. Or I guess we can all drive Leafs up until the collapse of the world economy, which will occur if we can't have a fuel with near the energy density of oil on tap. I'm all for electric vehicles. But I am absolutely against losing access to ridiculous amounts of excess horsepower or towing capacity. I have a feeling there are plenty of smart people of the same opinion, and I shall not be left wanting.

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.
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