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Default Hydrogen engines, rather than electric?

July 17th, 2021, 19:44
After the discussion on Steam Machines, talking about hydrogen-powered engines only seemed natural

I found it very instructive. I've never been convinced by the idea of electric vehicles, but rather from a production and network supply point of views. Bamford has a few other very good arguments, and he explains why, after making Diesel then electric engines, they tried fuel cells then finally adapted a combustion engine to hydrogen.

The interview is made by Harry (of Harry's Garage, for those who know the channel), who's more than happy at the idea of a 2nd life for combustion engines.


@Elon Musk: better not to watch that video
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July 17th, 2021, 21:27
I think again, the usual ugly problem is likely to rear its' head again: how well do the batteries function. I mean, we should have had electric cars decades ago, yet the battery technology simply hasn't nearly kept pace. Once someone licks that dilemma, the fossil fuel blokes are in for a real awakening.
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July 17th, 2021, 21:42
Function is not nearly the only problem. Another problem is the battery elements are equally or even more dangerous to produce than fossil fuels. That's another problem.

https://youmatter.world/en/are-elect…ehicles-26440/

Why is this? Because electric cars store energy in large batteries (the larger they are, the bigger their range is) that have high environmental costs. This happens because these batteries are made of rare earth elements (REE) like lithium, nickel, cobalt or graphite that only exist beneath the surface of the Earth and therefore depend on mining activities with very polluting processes. That’s why asking whether electric cars are greener or not does come with an easy answer.

For instance, to produce 1 ton of REE, 75 tons of acid waste (that isn’t always handled in the right way) and 1 tone of radioactive residues are also made, according to the Chinese Society of Rare Earths. In spite of these pollution issues, research tells us not to worry about the availability of these rare earth elements and when it comes to lithium, there is data estimating enough worldwide reserves for the next 185 years, even if the EC market triples, according to the Deutsche Bank. As for cobalt, graphite, and nickel, they also seem to be in a comfortable situation, since the demand for the years to come is expected to stay far away from the reserves Earth has to offer. Although it looks like everything will work out just fine, let’s not forget the negative environmental impact of extracting REEs.

Apart from the weight of the REE, the energy used to produce the batteries themselves is also responsible for nearly half of their environmental impact since most of this energy doesn’t come from low carbon sources. Nevertheless, forecasts show that the electricity generation is improving and there are more renewable sources entering the grid, which would help decrease the ecological footprint of building up these batteries.

On the other hand, developing renewable energy systems has its impact as well, again using energy and REE. In the end, we should be reasonable about this and despite their initial footprint, the impact of lithium-ion batteries, when compared to conventional cars, is offset within 6 to 16 months of average driving (using clean energy) in the US or 2 years in the EU. From this moment on, EC keep being a better eco-alternative to conventional cars until their battery gets to the end of its life cycle. But what happens next? How are lithium-ion batteries being handled when they’re no longer useful for electric cars?

Disclaimer: I work in big oil, as an IT geek, but still…
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July 17th, 2021, 22:16
The electric cars as a solution to "all" our environmental problems is simply not true, what is written above is one of the reasons, we also need to connect that to when we need to stop carbon emission which is now, so if it on average takes 12 months, before the electric car starts to emit less CO2 compared to a combustion engine car, it is kind of already game over.

What we need to do is to have a lot less cars, which are shared between people, and only used when it is absolutely necessary. In all other cases we should use public transports or bicycles. It makes me kind of sick that a lot of people in this world would drive extra 100 miles to get a pair of shoes a bit cheaper, or 20 miles extra because they forgot milk for their coffee.

At the same time a lot of people are dying, especially in Indonesia ( which by the way has among the lowest carbon emission per capita in the world ), but now also quite a few in US and Europe.

I guess now it is not possibly for most people to just ignore this fact, when I ask many people why they are driving their cars in-spite of this, there are usually four different replies.

1. I don't believe in global warming ( fewer and fewer reply this )
2. I don't care ( still a lot of people sadly )
3. It is not me who should change it is the system / politics ( really? always easy to blame everything on something else? )
4. I cannot survivie without the car because I have kids/a job/ what-ever, which in many cases are not true, I ussually point out that I have kids and I don't own any car, and live in the same city they do, after that conversation often ends…..

Would be really interesting to know the opinion from some people here, and which category they belong to I guess.

The unfortunate conclusion of talking to people is sadly always "We are completely screwed", the only hope is when talking to younger people say under 23, they have a whole different understanding of these issues, so they give some hope.
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July 17th, 2021, 22:36
Clean fusion is the future once someone finally figures it out. You could probably make fusion batteries for cars and other electronic gadgets also. It's a pipe dream now.

You could also go the massive solar space battery/station for energy as well. That wouldn't work for cars but power everything else. See ScFi is good for something.

Also I use public transportation by choice because it's cheaper. The problem is the entire car industry and government prioritized cars over public transportation for years.

Now the reality is most of the PT network is outdated and underfunded.
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July 18th, 2021, 00:28
I think it's likely that hydrogen will be part of the future mix, but I think it's important to remember that hydrogen, like batteries, is an energy carrier, not an energy source - we don't have lakes of hydrogen lying around. Its advantage is its energy density, and the disadvantage is the difficulty of making it safe and practical.

With regard to environmental costs, everything we do as human civilisation has an environmental impact, especially at our current scale. That's why there's that joke that if you want to fully offset your carbon footprint, eat one other person - if you really want to make a difference, eat an airline pilot. But of course it's all about trying to balance costs and benefits, and I think there is pragmatic acceptance that dealing with climate change is going to involve incurring other types of environmental impact, hopefully less devastating.

Fusion energy could be an exciting part of the future, but it's waaaaay further off than you might think. Also, I doubt it'll ever be a Back to the Future job - as part of the car. A fusion reactor contains plasma heated to the temperatures of the sun, contained in an extreme magnetic field, irradiating the material around it. I doubt we'll be driving around with one of those in the boot! But if they can be made viable, they could definitely be creating comparatively clean energy for charging other energy carriers.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:09
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
Fusion energy could be an exciting part of the future, but it's waaaaay further off than you might think. Also, I doubt it'll ever be a Back to the Future job - as part of the car. A fusion reactor contains plasma heated to the temperatures of the sun, contained in an extreme magnetic field, irradiating the material around it. I doubt we'll be driving around with one of those in the boot! But if they can be made viable, they could definitely be creating comparatively clean energy for charging other energy carriers.
I use to live in Illinois were one of the fusion/anti-mater projects was hosted. The college and government wasted billions to just see the project shut down in the end.

Like I said ScFi novels predict what can happen we just don't understand the concept, or have the knowledge to build it yet. The person who does will make make history.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:13
Yeah, the big problem is comparatively how little we invest in that kind of research. I think it was about 10 years ago now, but one of our scientists pointed out that in that year, more had been spent globally on ringtones than on fusion research. I don't think it's hugely better now.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:18
Another tech that probably wont be around for a while is to create some type of air purifier or weather control. Though like I said that's probably 100's of years away.

For now a push for more solar, wind and water plants is the only option.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:24
The other option, which is unpopular but seen by some as as necessary in the medium term, is nuclear fission. There are many who think it will have to be done. I think it's in Finland that they're developing a mega nuclear waste storage facility by drilling bore holes in a giant cave complex. Again, almost certainly nobody's first choice, but it may be something we have to deal with to solve the bigger problem.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:25
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July 18th, 2021, 01:26
Lol. Yeah, that's the tricky bit.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:47
Time for the world to step up with colonizing mars and our moon. Seems we need to invest trillions and get that spirit of space exploration back we had in the 60's and 70's.

Then again we'd probably blow our moon to pieces like in the time machine movie.
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July 18th, 2021, 01:52
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
The other option, which is unpopular but seen by some as as necessary in the medium term, is nuclear fission. There are many who think it will have to be done. I think it's in Finland that they're developing a mega nuclear waste storage facility by drilling bore holes in a giant cave complex. Again, almost certainly nobody's first choice, but it may be something we have to deal with to solve the bigger problem.
Yeah that's another option.

Clean fission or cold fusion if they ever perfect the theory.
Cold fusion is a hypothesized type of nuclear reaction that would occur at, or near, room temperature. It would contrast starkly with the "hot" fusion that is known to take place naturally within stars and artificially in hydrogen bombs and prototype fusion reactors under immense pressure and at temperatures of millions of degrees, and be distinguished from muon-catalyzed fusion. There is currently no accepted theoretical model that would allow cold fusion to occur.
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July 18th, 2021, 02:06
Yeah, as they say, as far as we can tell cold fusion isn't very likely. The people who pushed it in the past turned out to be grifters. But the hot fusion reactor is coming along - they've just put the magnet in (which could lift an aircraft carrier.)

If it works when they switch it on in a few years, it will prove that we can get more energy out of a fusion reactor than we put in to run it, which will be a huge step. But, it will likely be decades more before a plant is economical to build, and produce enough energy to be worth it. Then we can work on miniaturising that magnet for your DeLorean!
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July 18th, 2021, 03:18
No, let's keep the bloody humans confined to Terra, please. I think we've established that we'd only squander another planet, best if we simply keep to the one we have already spoiled.

At least until we've changed our ways. Put Terra on the path to mending, and I'd revisit the topic.
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July 18th, 2021, 10:40
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
This happens because these batteries are made of rare earth elements (REE) like lithium, nickel, cobalt or graphite that only exist beneath the surface of the Earth and therefore depend on mining activities with very polluting processes.
That's one big issue they mention in the video, the price is high and can only go higher. So even if we find a solution to those difficult environment problems (at a cost), it won't make this an easy solution.

Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
I think it's likely that hydrogen will be part of the future mix, but I think it's important to remember that hydrogen, like batteries, is an energy carrier, not an energy source - we don't have lakes of hydrogen lying around. Its advantage is its energy density, and the disadvantage is the difficulty of making it safe and practical.
Exactly, H2 is produced by electrolysis from water, which may have its own challenges: access to water, wind turbines that produce more than their fabrication & maintenance cost - or energy from fusion, solar energy, … But I think it's easier to transport than electricity, and the cost & environmental impact are much lower.

The fact most of the existing technology and know-how can be kept is a big advantage too.

As you say, it's probably a piece of the puzzle but we need other pieces to make it work.

Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
That's why there's that joke that if you want to fully offset your carbon footprint, eat one other person - if you really want to make a difference, eat an airline pilot.
That depends, from regional to medium-long ranges the consumption per passenger is lower than cars, only trains can beat them but they're slow. I'm not sure about boats but they're hardly appropriate for passenger transport (except leisure) and have a very restricted access.

Maybe eating the person that decides their team must take a plane for a meeting that could be organized remotely is the right thing to do I've had a lot of those, and the old argument that it's not the same being face-to-face is probably slightly true, but it's just a matter of getting used to it. It's also a huge waste of time.
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July 18th, 2021, 11:05
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
I guess now it is not possibly for most people to just ignore this fact, when I ask many people why they are driving their cars in-spite of this, there are usually four different replies.

1. I don't believe in global warming ( fewer and fewer reply this )
2. I don't care ( still a lot of people sadly )
3. It is not me who should change it is the system / politics ( really? always easy to blame everything on something else? )
4. I cannot survivie without the car because I have kids/a job/ what-ever, which in many cases are not true, I ussually point out that I have kids and I don't own any car, and live in the same city they do, after that conversation often ends..
Other answers I often hear are
a) the impact of car is negligible to the impact of industries (including the vehicles they use)
b) (instead of 1.) humans are not the cause of global warming

b) is indeed a very complex problem, it's hard for someone who's not a researcher in that topic to have any informed opinion on the subject. Why people answer this (by yes or no) is mostly political, they've been convinced either way. Global warming is a fact, but I can't tell whether we're a significant cause of it.

I'm pretty sure it can't hurt to make an effort though; warming put aside, we're just too many of us for the available resources.
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July 18th, 2021, 15:00
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
b) is indeed a very complex problem, it's hard for someone who's not a researcher in that topic to have any informed opinion on the subject. Why people answer this (by yes or no) is mostly political, they've been convinced either way. Global warming is a fact, but I can't tell whether we're a significant cause of it.
I think when it comes to scientific understanding, we all exist on a spectrum. Some things we might know to a pretty high standard, and others where we might have a useful conceptual understanding, but that sometimes there are real experts that understand the true intricacies, where we should shut up and listen.

But I'm kind of surprised to hear you say that the idea that climate change is driven by human activity is a political matter. I think the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is real (really no longer a debate), and that human activity is a significant or primary contributor. Where we often see skeptics making hay, it's around the idea of the modelling of climate change going forward, where there's less consensus. But that's to be expected - trying to develop models for how a planetary climate system will develop into the future is obviously fiendishly difficult, and you'd expect to see some different answers.

In the end though, it seems to me that even if one believes that climate change is occurring due to some other factors, we still need to try to minimize the impact - and job one is almost certainly to stop pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. I'd say there's very strong scientific consensus on that.
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July 18th, 2021, 18:07
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
But I'm kind of surprised to hear you say that the idea that climate change is driven by human activity is a political matter. I think the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is real (really no longer a debate), and that human activity is a significant or primary contributor. Where we often see skeptics making hay, it's around the idea of the modelling of climate change going forward, where there's less consensus. But that's to be expected - trying to develop models for how a planetary climate system will develop into the future is obviously fiendishly difficult, and you'd expect to see some different answers.
I was initially convinced that human activities were playing a major role. But I've heard arguments by scientists on both camps, and I've seen political games in which people believing humans were the cause avoided a debate with people believing humans' influence was negligible. Actually, they had enough power to stop them from talking, banning them from universities. If the evidence was so strong, they wouldn't have to act like that.

I have little doubt that there are political influences from both sides, decisions on those issues have huge impacts.

The climate is a very complex system, I don't believe we currently have any model that allows us to decide either way. I'm still of the opinion we have a significant impact, but it's more a personal belief than certainty based on any proof. Even though as an engineer I had lessons in thermodynamics and basic meteorology, I would be unable to verify most of the claims. It's a very interesting science, however

Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
In the end though, it seems to me that even if one believes that climate change is occurring due to some other factors, we still need to try to minimize the impact - and job one is almost certainly to stop pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. I'd say there's very strong scientific consensus on that.
That's basically my conclusion. Either way, it makes sense to make an effort in that direction, if for nothing else, at least from the resource and pollution points of view.
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