Thursday, June 08, 2006

Odd Chemistry Links

-A new way to make titanium, promising dramatically cheaper costs. Net result: More fuel efficient jets. I had actually always assumed that titanium was electrolyzed like aluminum, given that they both tend to exist naturally as tightly-bound oxides. Shows what I know.

-Cheap hydrogen, too. I'm not a fuel-cell booster, but any progress on electrolysis is a good thing: As natural gas runs out, our primary source of hydrogen is going to dry up and will need replacing. And not just for cars: the hydrogen from natural gas is used with atmospheric nitrogen to make fertilizer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also for storage it is important to distinguish between "the hydrogen future" and hydrogen. If we ever get inexpensive variable source electricity (such as cheap solar cells would provide) hydrogen WITHOUT fuel cells would be a great way to store it. Currently Electrolyzers are about 500 dollars per KW of capacitity but mass production would bring that down if the demand existed.

If we can get variable electricity for a penny or so a kWh then when it comes to storage efficiency is not as important as capital costs. Generate the hydrogen and burn it in combined cycle turbines - possibly located in large buildings or industrial plants so waste heat could be tapped for combined heat and power. Total electricty cost would be comparable to 2005 natural gas -even with turbine costs and conversion losses during the two steps.

Note that this is the opposite of the "hydrogen future" people advocate. Hydrogen would be produced where it is consumed - taking grid electricy in and putting grid electricity out. The input would be variable (and hence low value) electricty. The output fully dispatchable base and load following power hence high value. Cars would be electric - not hydrogen driven. In the absence of cheap variable electricty there are other ways to accomplish the same thing - not as optimal, but workable

Gar Lipow