Power for nothing, tricks for free!

Would be, it still isn’t at the moment. And, either way, it would not be a silver bullet that allows nothing to fundamentally change, even if less and less people are allowed in the car owning club.

Well maybe if you ignore every environmental issue facing the planet.

Yes but this is known and climate change is the issue. Anyway you are missing the point.

Done some research on this so I’ll be a bit of a downer here. This tech improvement won’t really move the needle that much, and hydrogen as a global general-purpose fuel, or a desalinated water source, will never happen.

But, there is a silver lining I’ll get to at the end; these research efforts are not useless.

The reason it’ll never happen is that the issues with hydrogen don’t lie in electrolysis efficiency, but in other areas. Specifically, in compressing or chilling, storing, transporting, transferring between tanks, and using the hydrogen in a reaction to produce electricity. All of these steps have issues that are not engineering problems to be solved by smart inventors, but physics problems which are solved by conversion of stored energy into waste heat.

Hydrogen produced by electrolysis is at atmospheric pressure. Hydrogen at atmospheric pressure contains too little energy to be useful. Your car would drive maybe 100 feet. There’s some research into low-ish pressure hydrogen distribution, for example distributing it to homes in a neighborhood where a 3-inch pipe to each house might be feasible, but that’s probably tenuous too.

So hydrogen needs to be comrpessed or liquified. We know intuitively that this is ineffecient since a home compressor makes a ton of noise and vibration, and compresses air to about 160 PSI. A hydrogen compressor uses the exact same process, but needs multiple compressor stages to get to 5,000 to 10,000 PSI which is the usefulness range. So compressing or liquefying hydrogen, even at industrial-scale efficiency, uses about 40% of the energy in that hydrogen.

Once you have a tank of hydrogen there are lots of issues. Hydrogen is a small molecule, the smallest really, and it permeates into the metal of tanks, and escapes at valves and connector and fittings. These engineering issues can be dealt with, but they’re dealt with by maintenance of the systems, which generates waste (e.g. tank/fitting replacement), and waste heat. Lots of research into all of these topics, for example using glass tanks and pipes but we know intuitively that will be challenging too.

To transfer compressed or liquid hydrogen from one place to another, you attach an empty tank to the full one and open a valve for it to flow in. This causes a problem that the reduction of pressure absorbs heat. While free air-conditionnig sounds nice, it’s actually a real problem because the fittings, for example at the hydrogen refueling stations, when cars are lined up, get colder and colder becoming brittle and dangerous, then requiring heating of the pipes and fittings, more safety gear, more loss.

Then in the car itself. Not the subject of this thread, but we don’t need electricity from hydrogen in our homes and busiesses which are connected to the grid. We need it as a fuel. But burning hydrogen like gasoline is too ineffecient (around 20%), so we need to use fuel cells to extract the energy and convert it into electricity (like 40-60% efficeint). That 60% won’t be raised to 100% through research and innovation, because again, it’s not a magical process but a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen that produces electricity, water and heat.

As a desalinated water source - not really, because the water comes out as vapor, not liquid. So it would need to be cooled to its dew point so that it condenses, then collected. Viable, but why not use the solar power just to boil water, rather than convert it to hydrogen? For that matter, just use the sun to boil water, and not bother with solar power - in other words condense the water out of humid air in coastal areas. This is being done, but competitiveness with other desalination methods is another topic.

After all the above, we realize that the electricity from the solar cells could have been sent straight to a car battery through powerlines at about 95% efficiency. The battery to motor to wheels efficiency is about 90% too.

So what’s the silver lining? Steel production and other high-heat applications, and fertilizer. Hydrogen burns hot potentially replacing coal in steel production and other processes. This is huge because coal is awful. We also need ammonia to feed the world, and hydrogen in ammonia comes from burning fossil fuels, which also sucks. All the research in the world is needed to chip away at the cost of green hydrogen so it becomes competetive, and it’s already quite close. The hydrogen revolution will hopefully happen, it’s just in a couple of industries we won’t notice. Global warming, desalinated water, and energy for all will remain tough problems requiring hard work and lots of money. Progress.

So the potential danger is the attraction/creation of salt vampires?

One you have an infinite supply of salt vampires, you also have an infinite supply of vampire salt. That’s just how math works!

It’s just science, plain and simple.

image

Gotta love capitalism.

Why just put in solar panels, when you can trap consumers in insane loans, and then sell those loans as securities to make even more money? JFC.

These aren’t solar companies, they are 2 bit loan sharks that put solar panels on your house.

Uh oh, you’re going to trigger some people. Prepare to be told how much worse communist solar panels would be!

Lovely, I’m getting my panels this week. At least I paid cash and didn’t use SunRun.

I think the issue is that with capitalism, we have companies that are required (by being publicly traded) to squeeze the most money out of their installations, which has lead to increasingly shady tactics, including selling these solar panels as securities bundled together not unlike the mortgage backed securities in 2008. We just don’t have proper regulations in place and consumer protections to make these practices disappear.

I mean, these people being scammed by rooftop solar installers are winning cases against the companies and being awarded 500k settlements etc, even if they are not getting paid out yet. These companies are breaking the law, and requiring people to win court cases is not how enforcement should be happening, these companies need to be held accountable way before then.

It is just frustrating, because, as the article states, rooftop solar is a very viable way for a lot of homes in particular regions of the country to drastically reduce their power bills, as well as reduce the strain on the power grid.

But, when you have for-profit companies incentivized to lie to you about the benefits of solar on your home, or the terms of the deal you are entering, you are going to have a general distrust of what is a very excellent idea for a lot of people.

Humans only con and exploit each other in a capitalist economic system.

Exactly. While reading the article it occurred to me you could easily swap out solar panels for any sufficiently large purchase that required financing, write the same article… and then find other articles detailing the same fraud and customer abuse in those industries.

Well, capitalism IS a system that rewards exploitation… so… it is kind of baked in.

This is why a CPB needs to exist, and needs to have a massive amount more power to protect people from fraud and exploitation.

One stand out from the article was that in Germany panel installations cost half what they do in the US. That’s a shocking number, basically the financialization is doubling costs to feed the venture capital firms demands.

Weird this hasn’t always been true. How in the world did the economy ever survive before?!

Late stage capitalism man.

We have passed the point of efficiency gains everywhere else, (manufacturing, automation etc) this is the era of seeing how much worse the customer experience can be made without losing money.

In previous years, that year over year growth could be through new materials, outsourcing, reduction in staff etc. We have done all that, so now the squeeze has to go to the customer, other wise line goes down and your company dissolves. This is the enshittification coming to every industry.

I think late stage capitalism is incorrect as a descriptor, it’s about the laws having been bought. Because it’s not like this is a new experience, back in the times of the Gilded Age, it was pretty similar, it’s just that lawmakers eventually decided they had to step in or risk having some of what the Russians had.