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Thread: the new age of of fuels

  1. #1

    the new age of of fuels

    I was thinking recently about how H2 is so much cleaner burning than hydrocarbons and how it would be great if a h2 powered engine could be produced. than I realised why can't bubbles of hydrogen be disolved into a hydrocarbon soulition much like carbonation (or in this case hydronation) some of the H2 would react to O2 and release energy reduceing the polition produced in the reaction. **perhaps this could be something done in chem labs if it is feasable**

  2. #2

    Hi there,

    The Ostwald coefficient (volume of gas per volume of oil) for the solubility of hydrogen at 1 atmosphere partial pressure and at 273K, in hydrocarbons is 0.039, so you are not going to get a lot of gas in your fuel, even at pressure. On a direct injection engine your idea would work well though since the gas coming out of solution would help with atomization. Hydrogen is also known to increase the thermal efficiency of engines as it burns hotter.
    The real problem with Hydrogen as a fuel is that, well, it isn't a fuel: there is no real naturally occurring source of Hydrogen Gas so you are spending energy to produce it, and then getting back less energy than you originally put in; it is a massive losing proposition with Electrolysis which is why virtually all Hydrogen on sale today is made by reforming methane gas with steam over a hot platinum catalyst, resulting in, you guessed it; CO2 emissions
    Also, Hydrogen Engines exist. Google "BMW Hydrogen Car".

  3. #3

    but hydrogen can be produced with otherwise unfeasible energy sources lightning solar etc. that wold not have energy densities (either too high or to low) to power a vehicle.
    with lightning all you would have do is only take some of the energy and have the rest directed away as to not cause a explosion or damage to the components.
    and with solar all you would have to do is allow the current to...(??) Electrolyze (??) the water.
    while neither could power a car both could theoretically produce hydrogen.

  4. #4

    Well, first of all lets rule out lightning as a viable energy source. Yes it does contain a lot of energy, but so does an atom bomb exploding and I think we'd both agree no one is going to try harnessing that as a viable way to power anything. Lightning is simply too high a voltage and far too short of an impulse to be converted into anything useful; when it hits water, the energy is dissipated almost entirely via resistive heating; if a lightning bolt really did electrolyze water you would see one hell of a fireball every time lightning hit water Plus, where WOULD you set up your lightning rod to harness power? Even places like the top of the empire state building only see a few strikes per year...
    Now, solar... Lets go with your idea then: we buy a whole bunch of solar panels, and then use the output to produce Hydrogen Gas via electrolysis. A *good* electrolysis cell is about 30% efficient. Now you compress that gas and burn it in an internal combustion engine, which itself is going to be about 30% efficient. You are now utilizing 9% of the original electrical output of your fuel cells, and I haven't even taken into account the substantial amount of energy that is needed to compress the Hydrogen into any kind of energy density that would make it a viable transportation fuel! When you take into account the fact that the photovoltaic panels themselves are about 20% efficient, your vehicle will be powered by about 1% of the original solar output you tried to capture. Now consider the fact that solar panels produce electricity at a cost of about 3 times what you can buy it from the grid, and the fact no one is using them for Hydrogen production starts to make sense...
    Plus any time you consider using electricity to power a car, it is hard to argue against the fact that a simple electric motor/battery setup can be as effiicient as 90% (compared to 30% for internal combustion or 50% for a fuel cell). 90% efficiency for charging a battery and then using it to run an electric motor, or 9% for producing hydrogen, compressing it, storing it, and then burning it in an internal combustion engine to basically achieve the same thing? Now of course there is an advantage to Hydrogen; it has more energy density than any battery chemistry out there. But on a simple cost effectiveness basis it does not make sense...

  5. #5

    I feel like lightning has been too quickly dismissed as an energy source, if one was to try to harness all of the energy as fast as it is dispensed than it would not work but what if one was to direct a strike into a material that would than heat. The heat than would slowly radiate from that material for collectionAs to your atom bomb lightning comparison, atomic reactions are used for energy…we just needed to learn to control the high energies entailed
    I understand my specific examples have problems but my point was that small amounts of energy could be concentrated by using them for H2 production, a small energy could slowly create H2 and latter that could be compressed into fuel a bit like household change jar. Put 10 cents in from multiple sources and eventfully there is a few hundred $$ in there. The h2 would ensure more complete combustion of the fuel as well as combust as well. So the energy it generates would not only be its own combustion but the increase in the gasoline combustion efficiency.
    Then ignoring the idea of H2 dissolved in the fuel for the purpose of decreasing CO2 emissions would it not increase horse power?

  6. #6

    The issue you are handily overlooking is *cost*. I buy power from the grid at 18 cents per kilowatt hour. If it costs me half a million dollars to capture a lightning strike every couple of years and convert 10% of its energy into Hydrogen, I will be long dead before I see any return on that apparatus, and that is making the wildly optimistic assumption that it A: Works, and B: Doesn't break down... You see for an invention to be successful it doesn't just have to work in theory; it has to work in the real world, and it has to make financial sense. I guess you could convert some of a lightning bolt into heat and then use some small portion of that heat to produce work, but you haven't addressed how you are going to ensure a steady supply of lightning bolts, and you haven't taken into account what it will cost and how much power it will generate; it is on that final accessment that virtually all alternative energy sources fail; sure there is energy to be harnessed in wind, tides, waves, sunlight, etc... But the amount of money it takes to build such setups is never returned from the energy generated and that is why you don't see any large scale plants using that technology.
    Regarding the Hydrogen in fuel idea; yes, it could be setup to increase horsepower since it has a very high octane number. It wouldn't be a particularly practical way to do it, but it could be done. It could also be used to reduce emissions too. Again; your idea is technically sound and would work in theory, I just don't see it working in practice when you have competing technologies that are cheaper and easier to implement... I deal with this all the time in the lab; as an engine researcher there is a LOT I can do to make an engine super efficient, but it often results in an engine that is not competitive; so it gets 10% better fuel efficiency, but costs 3 times as much; who is going to buy it? Ultimately the successful product is a compromise between what you can do to make it better, and what the consumer is willing to pay for it.

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