Saturday, February 17, 2007

How to Build a Better Battery

Battery power cars have been built for the general public but failed to make a big hit. Limited range and long recharge times seem to be reason for the poor sales. Battery powered forklifts were fairly well received in the warehousing industry where the need for pollution free power is much more critical. Still the limited run time and long charging times limited the electric equipment lift equipment growth. Propane powered equipment took over a larger share of the market.

What was needed for the electric powered equipment was a better battery system. Batteries that would extend the operating time, decrease charge time and increase the life span of the batteries. Many different materials and chemical combinations have been tried with limited success. Until a year or so ago.

This new battery system occupies the same foot print as the large lead acid batteries originally design for the forklifts. It triples the runtime over lead acid, reduces recharge time to under four minutes, virtually eliminates hazardous waste storage of lead acid batteries and maintains a constant output voltage over the entire discharge cycle.

Now that the battery manufacturer has proven its performance in warehouse applications, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are ordering the new batteries. This may signal not only the growth of electric warehouse equipment but rebirth of the electric car.

The Hydricity ® power cells use space age technology redesigned to reduce cost and weight. The NASA proven technology is the hydrogen fuel cell. Energy stored for the fuel cell is in the form of hydrogen not electrons. The hydrogen is converted to electricity through the fuel cell providing the equipment with constant power while the cell is fueled. Waste products of the conversion process is water vapor and heat.

The Manufacturer, General Hydrogen announced its first OEM order in May of 2006 from Cat ® Lift Trucks of Houston, Texas. Sales figures for hydrogen fuel cell model lifts were not available at the time of this article.

The Ballard Mark 9 fuel cell, the heart of the new battery replacement system, has yet to meet its goal of 2300 hours of reliable operation. The Mark 9 SSL ™ ratings range from 4.4 KW to 19.3 KW with weights under 35 pounds. The total Hydricity 2 unit weights just over 2000 pounds including capacitors, fuel storage, cooling system, controls and cabinet.

The fuel cell manufacturer predicts that by the second quarter of 2007 they will meet that goal. The company has meet cost goals of less than $65 per KW, 1500W per liter size and cold start performance for its automotive application model 902. After meeting the 2300 hour minimum life the Ballard 902 models will be available for automotive use. The 902 model can be configured for 85KW for light autos to 300KW for heavy vehicles.

Both the Mark 9 and the model 902 are based on the light weight PEM (Polymer Electrolytic Membrane or Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell technology. Using this design, the model 902 weighs in at 212 pounds. The Mark 9 19.3 KW weighs under 35 pounds.

At 65$ per KW the typical compact car power plant would be $5525.00 which is considered competitive for automotive power plants. Note this price is for the fuel cell only and does not included electric drives, fuel storage and other required components. The 2300 hours life translates roughly to 70,000 miles of reliable service before overhaul (mileage estimates vary greatly with use).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2008 Presidential Candidates: Energy Issues

Ideas come from both sides of the aisle, some good and some bad. In this day of sound bites, the real impact of a politician’s idea requires a little research or assumptions. I don’t like to assume. It is early in the race, very early, so this is at best a preliminary review of what some of the candidates or potential candidates are saying about alternate energy policies.

Senator John Kerry made this remark following the 2007 State of the Union address:

“Once again the President only paid lip service to a meaningful energy agenda that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. His record speaks for itself – we’re more dependent on foreign oil than ever before. Tonight the President failed to embrace bold policies to break our oil dependence. The President says the nation should reduce U.S. gas usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, but a goal without a roadmap for getting there is useless. The President should have included more funding for hybrids and battery technology.”

This was taken from Senator Barack Obama’s campaign website:

Senator Obama introduced legislation with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) to require 2 billion gallons of alternative diesels, such as bio-diesel, to be produced domestically by 2015. Obama also sponsored legislation requiring oil companies, that made at least $1 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2006 to invest at least 1 percent of the their total reported first quarter 2006 profits into installing E85 pumps.

Senator Obama worked with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) to introduce the American Fuels Act that would increase the domestic production, distribution, and use of biofuels, including expanded manufacture of flexible fuel vehicles, tax credits for biofuels, and a nationwide distribution infrastructure.

This was taken from Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign website:

Ending our country's dependence on foreign oil will take real leadership. Hillary proposed a simple idea to help end the cycle of dependence: put some of the oil industry's windfall profits into a fund that would help develop practical new sources of renewable energy.

Senator Kerry mentions that without a roadmap the 20 in 10 is useless. Well it seems with a roadmap the “Energy Act of 1992” was useless. That act called for gasoline use in the US to be reduced by 10 percent by year 2000 and 30 percent by 2010. So what happened? The American consumer must have had the map upside down.

The FreedomCar initiative set less stringent goals. It basically provided federal funds to develop hydrogen power vehicle technologies. One of the problems with hydrogen is that it is hard to store enough hydrogen to get a comparable vehicle range. A company called Quantum Industries took a matching funds grant from the US and developed a composite material hydrogen fuel tank that significantly increases the range of hydrogen powered vehicles. Ford Motor Company built a prototype hydrogen fuel cell Explorer that uses a 700 bar hydrogen tank storing 10 kilograms of hydrogen and has a range of 350 miles. That would be a SUV getting the equivalent of 35 MPG burning a green alternate fuel. That fuel tank pressure by the way was the target pressure of the Quantum Industries research.

Senator Obama’s thoughts summarized are; tax the oil companies 1 percent to build a e85 infrastructure and use more clean coal.

As E85 availability and E85 rated vehicles on the road increases, the oil companies are going to put in E85 pumps. This is one of those basic supply and demand things. There are also alternate energy tax incentives in place that the big oil companies are already using. One flaw in the recommended bio-diesel mandate would be agricultural commodities costs. Enabling the already growing grass roots bio-fuel movement instead of mandating progress is normally much more effective. Alternate energy tax incentives are an example of enabling.

The use of clean coal also sounds great. A federally funded pilot project called “FutureGen” is developing clean coal use, increasing the efficiency of the coal fired powered plant by producing hydrogen as a by-product and working on methods of carbon sequestering. Coal is still a fossil fuel. Using coal as a step to energy independence is fine, but other methods not using fossil fuel would be better.

Senator Clinton’s statement was the vaguest of the three, but potentially the most profound. She chose a poor wording using the word “take” in the real world (not used on her website) referring to the windfall profits of the oil companies. If she had used a phrase like, “Not taxing up to 15% of windfall profits, provided those profits are directed towards alternate fuel research and infrastructure development” She would have had a major win on her hands.

Her not specifically directing the oil company monies toward any one alternate energy technology was a stroke of brilliance. Alternate energy technologies are emerging and allowing flexibility in investments increases the probability of success.

Many feel that little progress towards energy independence is being made. Slow and steady progress is being made. Slow and steady wins the race some times.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Alternate Energy: Food for Thought

As of 2005, 71 percent of US electrical power generation used fossil fuel sources (per Energy Information Administration). Coal by far lead fossil fuel sources producing 50% of the total 4.05 Gigawatt hours (GW) produced. Relating back to the New Agriculture: Energy Farming article, the 60,000 5 Megawatt hours (MW) wind turbines operating at 25 percent of capacity (wind doesn’t blow all the time) would produce 75,000 MW. Representing much less than one percent of the total US electrical power output.

Clean energy resources, nuclear, hydroelectric and other renewable sources combined to produce 28 percent of the 2005 totals. Wind power was the fastest growing sector of power generation.

2005 motor gasoline usage was approximately 100,000 barrels per day or 31,500,000 gallons per day. To try to keep everything in common units, hourly gasoline use in the United States is approximately 48,000 MW. The percentage of this energy used in automobiles varies between sources as airplanes and boats use a percentage that is difficult to accurately determine. For the purpose of this article I will assume 90% usage by road vehicles. So with that assumption US road vehicles consume 43,200 MW per hour or just over one percent of our nation’s electrical power generation.

By now you are wondering, “Where the hell is he going with this”! To set priorities is my goal. Automotive internal combustion engines are inefficient and despite the huge numbers represent a small but very expensive percentage of our energy budget. Fuel cell vehicles are twice as efficient as internal combustion engines. Making fuel cell vehicles a logical initial goal in our quest for energy independence.

While agriculturally produced bio-fuels are a wonderful start for a green energy economy, the inherent inefficiency of the internal combustion engine is not addressed. With alcohol as fuel the efficiency of the auto engine is even worse. This is not to de-rate the importance of bio-fuels, just to emphasize that some 100 plus year old technologies may not be a part of our future.

Another goal of this article is to illustrate the challenges we face in reducing overall fossil fuel use in the United States. Wind power is the fastest growing alternate energy sector. While there will surely be advances in wind power technology, the current cost per KW is attractive making wind power generation a profitable enterprise.

Solar is increasing as an energy sector, but the potential of new more efficient solar panels will cause relatively slow growth. It is hard to justify spending big money on equipment in a technology sector that may cost 75% less in just a few years. An investor would be leery of placing billions into large-scale solar power plants. Again, this is not meant to devalue solar energy’s significance. There are applications were solar is cost effective.

Tidal and wave energy sources have yet to make a significant energy impact. Technological advances are making this a much more attractive sector. The potential of tidal/wave energy is greater than that of wind power.

Last but not least, nuclear energy, which provides less than twenty percent of our total electrical energy, is a proven technology. Replacing aging fossil fuel fired power plants with nuclear power is a logical decision. Increased nuclear power plant construction based on proven designs is also logical.

Stimulating interest and discussion on our rapidly changing energy future is important. All our options need to be considered and hopefully most of the readers are realizing that most alternate energy technologies will play a role. Focusing on your one favorite alternate energy is fine, but don’t sight of the goal. Moving to a fossil free future in a logical, orderly manner.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The President's 20 in 10 Inititiative

In his 2007 State of the Union address president Bush announced his 20 in 10 initiative. Meaning that the US will reduce gasoline use by 20% in ten years. The media is underplaying this initiative. An Oxford Analytical article on used such glowing adjectives as mild, modest and slightly. The article also mentioned safety valves in mandated vehicle fuel efficiencies legislation that congress may use if required.

Many in the media seem to forget that a president can only rally the entrepreneurial troops so to speak. Governmental mandates that are not obtainable should have safety valve to be used, but only if required to prevent economic chaos. It is doubtful that any of these safety valves will have to be used.

Economic conditions are near perfect for implementation of the 20 in 10 initiative. Oil price and availability concerns are driving alternate energy technologies and alternate energy vehicle design. Both are poised to fill the energy gaps. Because of the much greater fuel efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cell Detroit should have no problem meeting the average vehicle fuel efficiency standards mandated by the 20 in 10 initiative.

The ball though is in the American people’s court. Will those with adequate financial resources by these vehicles? What is wrong with a huge SUV that gets 35 miles per gallon using clean hydrogen fuel? The American people have to embrace the potential of the initiative rather than question the source. If political gamesmanship attempts to underplay the potential, the game players may suffer.

As the Oxford Analytical article mentioned, bio-fuels are only a part of the energy puzzle. Other options are required and will always be required. The President’s energy policies have generated interest in alternate fuel implementation and will generate more. Before the State of the Union speech Wal-Mart submitted a request for proposals for 100MW solar power systems to be designed for their stores. Perhaps a little more positive reporting could serve to stimulate more interest in our nation becoming energy independent in a much shorter time frame.

There is common ground in the goal to obtain energy independence. While many on the green side may belittle 20 in 10 is too little too late, that is not necessarily the case. Do you want to risk the energy future of this nation by perverting the message to kill the messenger?

The 20 in 10 initiative is intended to inspire entrepreneurs and investors. Focusing on the common goal and working as a determined nation to achieve that goal is the task at hand. Many in the national community need to remove their blinders and look at all the available options. They are there, they are real and with a unified effort they are obtainable. Talk to American farmers that are already branching out to wind power farms.

"Today I am pleased to announce that the United States will sponsor a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions electricity and hydrogen power plant..." President George W. Bush
February 27, 2003

The FutureGen initiative is to build hydrogen production using coal as the hydrogen production energy source. The process being considered in FutureGen includes carbon sequestering using various geological storage sites. Still this process does not free us from fossil fuels. Is this process needed?

The honest answer is yes. Building a hydrogen economy will take time and there is a logical progression required. Building infrastructure is a major consideration. The first true production hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV) will be hitting the market in the next few years. Fueling stations for hydrogen are extremely limited. More sources of inexpensive hydrogen are required to build the hydrogen infrastructure.

Coal and other fossil fuels including natural gas are abundant and easily converted to hydrogen using existing technology. Cleaner, less fossil fuel dependent methods like electrolysis and waste heat driven thermolysis are advancing. Still, the efficiencies of these cleaner hydrogen production technologies require inexpensive energy for cost effective production.

The inexpensive energies for hydrogen production in the high quantities needed are on the way, but not quickly enough. Interim steps like coal source hydrogen and liquid natural gas fuel cells will help to build the hydrogen infrastructure. The key to converting to a hydrogen-based economy is economics. We can’t break the bank. Gasoline prices will still set the standard for growth in alternate fuels. So the transition has to be fiscally responsible.

Coal power plants like FutureGen serve to demonstrate and refine technologies that will be used building and supplying our hydrogen energy future. While you may not agree with FutureGen, it is a valuable step on the road to our energy future.

Our Energy Future: Hydrogen Fishing Boats

As a charter captain and avid fisherman alternate fuels and power plants for the boating industry is a major consideration. Since Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) will probably rule the roads, what about the waterways?

Boats have different power needs that cars. A boat runs at or near maximum horsepower anytime they are running, cars can coast a bit using gearing. Also boats live and work in a far more inhospitable environment than cars. Electricity and salty, high humidity environments don’t play well together.

This makes using electric power propulsion systems in boat a little more complicated but not impractical. So to continue my optimistic green power theme I would like to present my concept boat of the future.

The boat is based on a 26 foot Panga style hull design, as this style hull is very energy efficient. Pangas can be inboard or outboard powered. To simplify design let’s use an outboard configuration.

The power plant for the concept boat is in two parts, the fuel cell and the electric power motor. To equalize weight load distribution, the fuel cell will be mounted forward to offset the aft engine weight.

For the outboard motor a 90-horsepower Mercury midsection and lower unit is used (Mercury just to keep it made in America as much as possible). The internal combustion engine is replaced with a 125KW electric motor weighing just over 100-pounds. So the net weight of the aft portion of the power plant is roughly the same as normal outboard motor. To have the roughly the same performance as a typical gasoline powered Panga twin engines will be installed.

This electric motor was selected for its lightweight, compact size and high efficiency. The motor is water-cooled allowing for complete sealing of the motor for protection against the marine environment. Adaptation to the outboard midsection should be simple and the power head portion would have a much lower profile. (See

The fuel cell adds about 460 pounds to the concept boat. A considerable amount of added weight, but much less than you were probably expecting. The fuel cell selected has maximum continuous output of 210KW (based on estimates using modified stacked Honda V flow fuel cells, weight estimates may be a little low see

Fuel storage will have to be liquid hydrogen to provide acceptable range in a reasonable space. With the increase efficiency of the fuel cell/electric power plant and the higher energy content of hydrogen, the fuel storage space requirement is rough the same as for gasoline.

Allowing for fuel tank insulation and the added weight of the fuel cell, the boat deck height should be raised approximately 2 inches. If not the boat would tend to be wet footed. If you are designing a concept boat may as well make it comfortable.

Now for the good part, performance! With a continuous 210KW output equal to approximately 160 horsepower at the prop, the FCV Panga should cruise at a respectable 24 knots. Fuel efficiency would be on the order of 6 miles per gallon in gasoline equivalent terms. Not bad at all!

With newer fuel cell designs that are increasing efficiency and reducing weight, even better performance can be expected in the not so distant future. Safety considerations using hydrogen are of course a major concern. So I won’t be building this concept boat this weekend. Still the fuel cell powered small fishing boat doesn’t seem as for off in the future as it did just a few years ago.

Our Energy Future: Exciting Options

The dawn of a new age.

Green energy.

These are exciting times. Political, economic and technological conditions have combined to create a true opportunity for advancing our energy choices. Fossil fuels price will fall back some but our vulnerability as a nation to “black” mail will drive continued alternate energy development. The “black” being black gold controlled increasingly undesirable nations.

Everyone has his or her own opinion of the right way to approach changing our energy economy. Being pragmatic, I try to look at all the options. Of all the options we have, each has benefits and each has disadvantages.

Bio-fuels are the greatest example of the conundrum we face. Alcohol fuel is made from renewable resources. It is clean burning and works with our internal combustion engines. Big benefits! Alcohol has only 75% of the energy of gasoline, it takes energy to produce, it is a solvent that reduces engine life and food/feed crops have to be diverted for it to provide a significant portion of our energy needs. Pretty big disadvantages!

The biggest disadvantage of bio-fuels is the last, competition with our food sources. Biomass is non-competitive to a point, but eventually energy producing acreage will compete with food production acreage.

Solar energy has the advantages of being clean and renewable. The disadvantages are less obvious but are there. Solar energy using photovoltaic panels has over thirty-five years of history and is only now reaching 20% efficiency in conversion. Like other electronic technologies, solar cell efficiency and prices will change dramatically. Investing billions into huge solar energy plants will be a hard sell. With a recent record of a PV cell reaching 40.3 percent efficiency, more than twice the efficiency of available mass produced cell it is a harder sell at this time.

One good thing about the new high efficiency PV cell is that solar technology is close. Since 40% is approaching maximum efficiency reducing chances that radically higher efficiencies will be available any time soon. Price reduction of the higher efficiency cells should still be a concern of energy investors.

Wind power has made great leaps in efficiency in the past twenty years. Windmills rated for five Mega Watts (MW) each are in production. These new windmills or wind-turbines if you prefer can produce energy at lower wind speeds extending their useful range. With current power outputs and useful life spans of twenty-five to thirty years they are a good investment. While wind power technology is sure to improve the cost per MW is low enough with current technology to pay for the investment. All great advantages for wind power. The disadvantages are really only two. The not in my back yard (NIMBY) mentality, that limits areas where it can be used and wind power needs wind to work. In conjunction with other power plants wind can provide a large portion of our power needs but not own its own.

Tidal and wave power, the most over looked of the alternate power sources have quietly proven themselves and are poised to be energy players. Tidal has forty years of proven reliable service at the La Rance power station in France. Wave power has less of a track record but has proven reliable in initial smaller scale tests. The advantages of tidal and wave energies is that they are very cost effective. The disadvantages are they can effect the environment and hinder shipping in some applications. Further disadvantages are that acquiring ideal lease for areas are difficult and there is only a limited selection of ideal area to be considered.

Nuclear power technology has improved over the years as well. Nuclear power’s advantages are clean, reliable, stable and cost effective power. The disadvantages are catastrophic disaster (low probability but a big concern), security and waste disposal. Due the first list disadvantage the NIMBY crowd are highly vocal.

Hydrogen, which is not really a source of energy just a medium of storing energy, has the advantages of being clean and versatile. Hydrogen can fuel a large variety of existing engines and heat sources. It is perfectly suited for fuel cells which is a much more efficient method for using this fuel. Disadvantages are it takes energy to produce, is more difficult to store and it is explosive as all hell.

Now is the fun part of this article for me! Expressing my option. Despite its disadvantages hydrogen will be the portable fuel of our future. Hydrogen is a far to efficient and clean a fuel to be ignored. Safe, reliable storage systems for hydrogen are developing rapid because of its potential. Hydrogen also will extend the useful areas for wind and tidal/wave power generation. Areas remote from civilization and electrical grids can be used to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen will also increase the overall efficiency of nuclear power plants and other manufacturing processes with waste heat. Thermolysis, a heat and chemical hydrogen manufacturing process is perfectly suited for using the waste heat of various processes.

Hydrogen stored in plentiful energy times can be used to make energy produced by wind, solar and tidal/wave stand-alone power sources. For example: in a solar home, hydrogen produced in the day will produce electricity at night through fuel cell conversion. Think of hydrogen as the near ultimate battery. While a solid-state battery would be a huge boon to mankind a gaseous/liquid state battery ain’t all that bad!

Our energy future will require various sources and responsible application to maintain a healthy economy and meet our goal of energy independence. These are the most exciting times of our energy lives.


Nuclear Power and Our Energy Future

After Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nuclear power in the United States was nearly taboo. The not in my backyard mentality kicked into high gear with fears of accidental nuclear meltdowns. Having the most robust economy at the time (okay Japan was close), America refocused its attention on cleaner coal fired power plants.

The times are again changing. High oil prices, Global Warming fears and the threat of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) manipulating the oil market have refueled the drive for alternate fuel sources. Nuclear electrical generation plants are starting to slowly find their way back into the green energy community.

Predicting our nuclear power future is a bit difficult. The main difficultly is how much urgency is placed on developing energy independence. If the American people want to free themselves from OPEC quickly, nuclear power has a much larger role.

The typical civilian nuclear power plant is a custom build monstrosity requiring decades from the start of design to the first watt of production. Hiding behind the guise of the open bid process. These designs are often overly expensive.

The United States Navy’s nuclear program is a much more efficient approach. Proven designs are replicated and placed into use. The US Navy’s nuclear safety record is truly admirable and worthy of emulation.

Offshore Power Systems (OPS), a now dead and buried business entity, had the right idea at the wrong time and the wrong location. The not in my backyard mentality gave OPS the idea of using smaller scale proven nuclear technology located offshore in a marine environment to provide electrical power.

OPS had the go ahead from the Nuclear Regulator Commission and all was right with the world until environmental concerns came to bear. Now, with global warming concerns paramount, nuclear is being reconsidered. The OPS idea may need to be reconsidered as well.

This is not to say that nuclear power plants be located all over the ocean. It is to say that replicating proven technology to decrease construction time should be revisited. Smaller Nuclear plants on the order of 500 Mega Watts (MW) can serve a dual role in our future.

Smaller nuclear plants can be located in areas were they will have the greatest impact on optimizing the nation’s electrical grid. They would then not only provide needed power, but extend the useful life of the power grid.

The proven technology in a small footprint can enhance safety and security. Safety is enhanced due to the secure construction sites where the reactors are built. The entire reactor is built in a secure location in a factory setting where high levels of security and quality control can be maintained more efficiently.

Security of the deployed plant can be improved by constructing the reactor in a manner to make it extremely difficult to access the radioactive fuel. And redundant mechanical fail-safes to prevent meltdown of course have to be included.

One extremely valuable aspect of nuclear power is waste heat and electrical energy produced during periods of low demand can be used to produce hydrogen fuel. Maximizing the efficiency of our energy production potential.

Nuclear power is a very frightening technology for many Americans. It is not a technology to be taken lightly by anyone. It is a proven technology that can and should be utilized in a responsible manner. Smaller proven reactor designs have a prominent place in our energy future.

The New Agriculture: Energy Farming

Farmers are producing more that just crops. They are producing energy. Not only bio-fuels but energy in other forms.

Diverting food and feed crops to produce bio-fuels will have a dramatic effect on our economy. Corn prices have soared over the last year with only a fraction of the crops diverted for energy production. Realizing that bio-fuels can easily price themselves out of the energy market, farmers are looking into other energy options.

More farmers are installing wind turbines to produce electricity on their acreage. The wind turbines occupy a small percentage of the productive acreage allowing agriculture to continue while power, the second crop is generated.

The not in my backyard mentality is appropriate for wind energy farms. The huge wind turbines can become an eyesore. Remote farm and ranch lands are much more appropriate for wind energy farm sites.

Where the farms are located close to a major electrical grid, the costs of installation is much less expensive. Many farms are so remote that wind farms are unsuitable for electrical grid connection. These areas have other recourses to pursue in the energy farming industry. One being considered is wind powered hydrogen farms.

Wind power electricity is a clean, low cost energy source for generating hydrogen fuel. Remote farmlands can easily produce a large percentage of our fuel needs. With the improved the efficiency of producing hydrogen via electrolysis, this use of wind power grows in importance every day.

The efficiency of the windmills has grown by huge leaps in the past thirty years. With turbines capable of producing 5 mega watts (MW) each, wind power technology is much more viable. With this improved efficiency in wind turbines and hydrogen electrolysis, hydrogen farming is rapidly becoming a reality.

A single wind turbine producing 2 MW hours of electricity can produce a roughly equivalent 1 MW of hydrogen energy in an hour. The equivalent energy of one gallon of gasoline is roughly 2 kilowatts. So each hour at the 2 MW output, roughly the equivalent of 500 gallons of gasoline can be replaced by hydrogen. This assumes approximately 45 to 50 percent efficiency in the electrolysis process (high temp electrolysis).

Assuming that the wind turbine is operating at this power level only 25 percent of the time, each windmill would produce over 1,000,000 gasoline gallon equivalents in hydrogen in a year. With the US consuming roughly 150 billion of gallons of gasoline per year, it would take150, 000 windmills at 2 MW each to produce the equivalent in hydrogen. With new wind turbines producing 5 MW it would take 6000 wind farms with 10 5MW turbines each to produce our annual gasoline needs.

This is not likely to happen, as much of the output of wind farms will be needed for electrical demands. I feel this does illustrate that a sizable percentage of our energy needs can be produced with hydrogen wind farms.

Scientists and engineers will notice that there is a missing conversion factor in computing the equivalent energy of a gallon of gasoline to hydrogen. If the hydrogen were to be used to power internal combustion engines this would be a large error. If the hydrogen were used to power fuel cell vehicles the error is less significant. I am of the opinion that fuel cell technology will prevail in a hydrogen economy. The inefficient internal combustion engine will fade from the scene.

Wind power, which is not constantly available, is well suited for hydrogen production. When sufficient wind is available the huge windmills produce megawatts of electricity for the conversion of water to hydrogen and oxygen. During calm conditions the hydrogen farm waits patiently for the next weather front.

The purpose of this series of articles is to stimulate conversation and create awareness of our energy options. If you feel there is a glaring error(s) exercise your right to free speech and leave a comment. This is one statement you should find it hard to argue with though. The American farmer is taking the lead in reducing our dependence on imported oil. The nation and the world should take more notice of their efforts.