I wasn’t sure if I should post this under “Technology” or “Taiwan Politics,” but in order to (probably futilely) avoid a flame war, I thought I’d post it here. Anyway, people on this part of the forum hopefully have an actual interest in technology and real science, as opposed to politicized science.
What got me started on this topic was a news item I saw on TV about 10 days ago, where Tsai Ing-wen went to a “hydrogen energy” conference in Kaohsiung. Here is the English version of that news clip: Tsai Ing wen talks about developing hydrogen energy
The video clip gives the impression that “hydrogen energy” can be used to reduce our reliance on nuclear energy.
I’m going to go easy on Tsai and assume she doesn’t know anything about technology. To be fair, most politicians don’t, regardless of what party they belong to. But I’m going to be harsh on one of her beaming idiotic advisers, who unfortunately isn’t shown in this clip - he was gushing on TV that “hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, so we’ll never run out of it!” Of course, he’s right: Jupiter is 90% hydrogen, the sun is 72% hydrogen, and so on. Big fuck’in deal.
Here on planet Earth, all hydrogen is tightly locked up in chemical compounds, and freeing it takes energy. A lot of energy. So the first thing that needs to be understood is that hydrogen is not a source of energy. Rather, it can be separated and stored (for use with a fuel cell), which can be thought of as a type of storage battery. And if there is any hope of actually using hydrogen for, let’s say, powering fuel cell cars, the demand for electricity will rise considerably, making it more (rather than less) likely that we’ll need nuclear power plants. OK, some will argue that we can use solar and wind for generating electricity, rather than nukes or fossil fuels. In this thread, I’m not even going to argue that point. What I want to discuss is if it’s practical or even possible to run cars off of hydrogen fuel cells.
I would argue that it is not. And note that I’m not opposed to electric cars. In fact, I’m growing more enthusiastic about battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs for short). I don’t yet have an electric scooter, but I might very well get one. They have come way down in price, though I keep hoping the batteries will get better (thus improving the range, which is still kind of limited). The Tesla is a pretty neat car, though still pricey, but it has potential.
Fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) fail in just about every way. Yes, there are a few experimental ones on the road, very heavily subsidized. I think they exist mainly because lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry want to divert everyone’s attention away from BEVs. The logic seems to be to keep the public from actually purchasing a BEV for as long as possible because everyone “knows” that soon they’ll be made obsolete by FCVs. The excellent documentary movie Who Killed the Electric Car? made that very point 10 years ago.
I could spend the rest of my day (or week) writing up why FCVs are such a failure, but I don’t have to. I found a link to someone who is a real engineer who took the time to build an actual FCV and do all the analysis - he spells it out the problems clearer than I possibly could. I’ll give you the link. It’s a 3-part link, and a long read, but if you’re a technology geek with any interest in hydrogen fuel cells, you owe it to yourself to read this. I’d rather not hear from anybody who says “I haven’t read the article, but you’re wrong because…” I like technology, but don’t spare much time for emotional knee-jerkism.
OK, so without further ado… Why fuel cell cars don’t work - part 1
I hope to hear some informed and intelligent responses, even if you don’t agree with me.