Our world runs on oil. Almost everything that moves uses it at some level not to mention the millions of by-products it’s essential for. It’s a juggernaut for the moment, but time will inevitably slow this seemingly unstoppable force simply because the resource is unsustainable. We will eventually run out. In the meantime we continue to pollute our homes and the environment through constant overwhelming use. We look the other way because oil is readily available and everything we do and own depends on it.
Without transportation a vast number of us would be thrown into a primitive and threatening lifestyle. As we would inevitably step backwards from this convenience I’m sure crime rates would skyrocket, health problems would escalate, famine would sweep the planet, and so on. Oil is the first domino in the planet’s economy. Once pushed every other “domino” would fall. If we are to avert this coming crisis we must turn towards new (and less destructive) forms of energy. In my opinion the future belongs to hydrogen. As it stands now it costs more to capture and store the gas than it does to use it. In other words, more energy goes into creating it than utilizing it, at least for the moment.
I just MIGHT have an answer to this hurdle. It will take a lot of cooperation from a lot of parties, but in the long run it should provide an answer where once was only questions.
Producing hydrogen from water is a relatively simple process. No need to go into too many details here other than to say a water source and an electric current is necessary along with a way to capture and store it.
I few years ago I did some work at NREL here in Golden, Colorado. For those who have not heard of this facility NREL stands for National Renewable Energy Laboratory. I was working on a simple project, it was nothing fancy and I’m sure I can’t say anything more about my duties. During my work I stopped one of the scientists and asked a few questions about my idea. This is what I pitched.
“Is it feasible to hook an electrically run hydrogen conversion and storage set-up to the grey water (sewage waste without solids) of a given structure so the gas can then be used in the vehicles associated with the same building? I don’t see why the necessary power for the mechanics can’t be provided by a combination solar/wind set-up on the roof. The vehicles would be designed to simply pull into a designated space and re-fueled automatically from below.” I had even drawn up some sketches to explain my point a bit easier. “In my opinion we should go to the current power companies and ask them to build and maintain the systems for a monthly fee so they would not have their assets threatened by another form of energy. I don’t think it should be free, that’s for sure, so why not urge those with both the capital and incentive to begin with to try this?”
He seemed genuinely intrigued by the idea. Hydrogen, I was told, is quite caustic and storage can be tricky. The tanks need changing from time to time because of it. I suggested lining them with a strip of something that would deteriorate faster than what it’s constructed of. This could let the home or business owner know it’s time to swap out for a new one. We discussed a few more kinks and he went about his way. The one thing I have no idea about is just how much hydrogen must be pumped into a vehicle to make it worthwhile. I’m sure it can be compressed (not necessarily to a liquid form) so it can hold more than normal atmospheric conditions would, but I have no idea if it could go two hundred feet or two hundred miles. My guess is a range of at least one-hundred and fifty miles would be demanded by the consumer.
I’m well aware where water (and wind or sunshine) is scarce this is a bad idea. What we use now is cleaned at our sewage treatment systems and eventually released back into the environment; usually a river. A drop in the outgoing volume might mean disaster for those downstream who rely on it. Perhaps we could pay for water to supply the fuel? In turn this money could be used to run desalination plants and cover the cost of replenishing what’s being used. There are no doubt many obstacles to overcome as well as an expected amount of opposition from naysayers, but I’m sure the essence of the idea is sound.
I’m also well aware the same idea can be used to power electric cars. Set up the wind/solar system to feed current power grids and then use the household A/C to “fuel” the car. I would even go so far as to suggest creating the same parking set-up where the owner simply pulls into a modified space and is automatically charged. My argument is the power and torque electrical vehicles currently deliver do not (yet) equal what an internal combustion engine can.
Even if this entire idea is illogical to those who have a higher understanding of mechanics, there is another part of the bigger picture that might make sense to people.
Please read on……..
This might be a bit of a pipe dream, but I feel the very best place on planet Earth to develop and cultivate new green technologies is……..Detroit. Just because the automotive industry is no longer the giant it once was doesn’t mean someone or something can’t step in and make use of the vast unused utility networks left behind from those who abandoned them. It sprang into existence because it’s a port city. easily connected to both the nation it sits in and the rest of the world. I see no reason to not at least entertain the idea. Surely there are silent factories and unused tracts of land just waiting for such an opportunity, and there’s little doubt the native population would cheer and embrace the revitalization of a once powerful metropolis. Just a thought.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood