Interesting. Any geophysicist, geochemist, geologist or other want to weigh in? Ecology is significant in it as well.
Interesting article, Dale. I had no idea that drilling for hydrogen was to potentially become “a thing”. That could be a very interesting (clean-burning) source of energy indeed.
A friend was asking me just the other day what effects hydrogen-burning would have on the climate, since H2O is, after all, a green house gas. I hadn’t researched enough to give any definite answers back on the subject, but my understanding is that it isn’t as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 is, and that it also isn’t that the world would become any more of a humid place than it already is just because H2O is coming out of the tail pipes of cars, right? After all, the presence of oceanic surface all around the world already means that the atmosphere will already hold whatever moisture it can at an already established equilibrium that will only shift based on temperatures and weather patterns, etc. So the fact that more water vapor is added shouldn’t cause any significant change to that already present equilibrium, right? After all if more water vapor is supplied from source A nearby, then that means less water will naturally evaporate from source B in the same area.
I’m curious to hear if this is all a correct way of thinking about it though.
I’ve never thought of hydrogen as being any kind of energy “free lunch” since it (with such sources as we use now), involves energy to retrieve it. But per the article you shared, if the earth becomes a significant source of it in already usable form, that would potentially address that problem! Not that drilling yet more wells everywhere is a cost free activity, though.
Can anybody also give comment on any potential inaccuracies from this short Guardian article on a potential negative impact hydrogen has on climate change?
For hydrogen power to be a climate solution, leaks must be curbed | Greenhouse gas emissions | The Guardian.
Essentially they’re saying that H2 gas itself is an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, given how … it helps Methane hang around? And that there will be inevitable leakages of H2 gas (just as there now is with Methane) when we start trafficking in it seriously. One question this raises for me though, at least in regard to drilling for H2, is: Wouldn’t that H2 gas have seeped into the atmosphere anyway? According to some of the speculative models for how the earth may be producing it, it sounds like it finds its way up and into our atmosphere. Maybe not as fast as when we drill down for it, but it looks like it eventually gets there all the same.
Yes, lots of questions.
No it isn’t.
Not yet on a large scale, anyway.
Yes it is, on a small scale, however, which you would have seen if you had read down just through the fifth paragraph, which you apparently didn’t.
Within a few months, Brière’s team had installed a Ford engine tuned to burn hydrogen. Its exhaust was water. The engine was hooked up to a 300-kilowatt generator that gave Bourakébougou its first electrical benefits: freezers to make ice, lights for evening prayers at the mosque, and a flat-screen TV so the village chief could watch soccer games. Children’s test scores also improved. “They had the lighting to learn their lessons before going to class in the morning,” Diallo says. He soon gave up on oil, changed the name of his company to Hydroma, and began drilling new wells to ascertain the size of the underground supply.
They’re also saying this is simplistic:
Air was the oxidizer in the reaction, and while not a direct product of hydrogen combustion, nitrogen oxides were also formed due to the heat of combustion, and they are not accounted for in the OP article. So water was not the only exhaust.
Yeah - I figured oxides of Nitrogen will probably be present in pretty much any combustion reaction that takes place in our atmosphere … So this wouldn’t really distinguish H2 combustion from any other. So I think it’s also simplistic if one assumes this kills the advantage of hydrogen. It’s still going to be a whole lot cleaner than any hydrocarbon combustion which would, after all, include all the same nitrous oxides AND the CO2 byproducts. (and water vapor too for that matter.)
Maybe I didn’t scour the articles thoroughly enough to see if or how this has been addressed yet, but one of the big hurdles for a hydrogen economy is still how to store the stuff, right? Nobody wants in or near vehicles with pressurized H2 tanks hurtling down our highways.
(Though I’m sure Hollywood would have a special effects heyday taking car chase scenes and crashes to a whole new level. Would also give a whole new meaning to ‘driving my bomb down the road.’)
Now if geoöxygen were a thing… you could have pure combustion, not to mention fuel cells.
Storing pure oxygen on board doesn’t mitigate the danger any, but makes it worse. We could have asked the unfortunate astronauts who died on the launch pad of Apollo 1. If they had survived.
On the other hand … If we all knew that we were driving explosive H2 tanks around - I bet driving care and courtesy would jump to unprecedented new highs!
[Note for posterity … I’m just going to make a speculative claim that this is the first post in the Biologos forum to use a bomb emoji.]
My beloved (and wise Christian) late father-in-law had a '73 Buick with a 455 engine in it. We used to joke about taking the gas cap off so the gas tank didn’t implode, its fuel consumption was so high. My boys drove it to high school some in the early 90s, and when they were talking cars with friends, some would say “They don’t make car engines that big!” (7.5 liters )
(We are way greener in our outlook, endeavors and practice than that last might suggest – now I measure fuel efficiency in months per tank. ; - )
I would not worry about water as a hydrogen combustion product contributing any measurable greenhouse effect, but I would be happily surprised if there were many commercially viable reserve concentrations. Hydrogen has a smaller molecular size than methane, making natural caps less impervious. Hydrogen is also more reactive than methane. The gas industry is very familiar with hydrogen; unfortunately in the unwelcome form of toxic and corrosive H2S (sour gas).
My own first car was a used 78 Chevy Nova my dad helped me buy. I think it had a 355 in it. Don’t remember bellyachin that much about gas prices though because I didn’t drive it a whole lot. And gas was probably still under a $1/gallon.
[I do have a partial memory of overhearing one old codger sitting somewhere and swearing to another old codger sitting beside him that if gas continued to push its way up and get above $0.50 per gallon, he’d give up driving for good.]
I hadn’t thought of that! I suppose that’s one the very undesirable combustion by-products in certain settings?
I learned to drive in a fairly early VW Bug (36 HP?) that did not have a fuel gauge, so when it started to sputter you took your foot off the gas and reached up with your foot to kick a lever that gave you an additional three gallons. This is a '62 Karmann Ghia apparently, but the Bug was the same (and I also recognize the crook in the floor shift lever ; - ):
For my driver’s license test, I drove our small Chevy II Nova with a little four banger engine (hardly a – there, 2x now ; - ), but it had an automatic transmission, making the test a little easier I suppose, but mostly it was easier for my 6’2 dad to get into and ride in to get there and back.
I remember a gas war when gas was down to 19¢/gallon.
(I spent most of my career commuting on my bicycle when weather was decent, 10.0 miles round trip.)
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