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Scientists develop new hydrogen reactor

Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol.
see the original here:  http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/02/13/hydrogen.reactors.ap/index.html

Scientists develop new hydrogen reactor
Friday, February 13, 2004 Posted: 12:19 PM EST (1719 GMT)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars.

The development could help open the way for cleaner-burning technology at home and on the road.

Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.

The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.

"This points to a way to make renewable hydrogen that may be economical and available," said Lanny Schmidt, a chemical engineer who led the study. The work was outlined in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Hydrogen power itself is hardly a new idea. Hydrogen fuel cells already propel experimental vehicles and supply power for some buildings. NASA has used them on spacecraft for decades.

But hydrogen is expensive to make and uses fossil fuels. The researchers say their reactor will produce hydrogen exclusively from ethanol and do it cheaply enough so people can buy hydrogen fuel cells for personal use.

They also believe their technology could be used to convert ethanol to hydrogen at fuel stations when cars that run solely on hydrogen enter the mass market.

Hydrogen does not emit any pollution or greenhouse gases. But unlike oil or coal, hydrogen must be produced -- there are no natural stores of it waiting to be pumped or dug out of the ground.

The new technology holds economic potential for Midwest farmers, who are leaders in the production of corn-based ethanol.

George Sverdrup, a technology manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said he was encouraged by the research.

"When hydrogen takes a foothold and penetrates the marketplace, it will probably come from a variety of sources and be produced by a variety of techniques," he said. "So this particular advance and technology that Minnesota is reporting on would be one component in a big system."

The Minnesota researchers envision people buying ethanol to power the small fuel cell in their basements. The cell could produce 1 kilowatt of power, nearly enough for an average home.
My take on this 13.Feb.2004 11:02


I worked under Jimmy Carter's alternative fuel program developed in the aftermath of the oil embargo.
There were many technologies that were promising but economics were the limiting factor. As soon as oil and gas became as expensive as the alternative fuels it became economically feasible to develop them. This acted as a deterent to monopolistic control over energy prices.
Well, history shows how the monied elite felt about Carter's threat to their monoply. Carter also proposed a special tax on the profiteers from this oil embargo by calling for a "Windfall Profit Tax". What was their response to this audacious threat on their authority to plunder and steal from the people? Why another Bush came to the rescue of the oil men. Bush senior was involved in the manipulation of the Iranian hostage crisis. Rather than negotiate the release of Americans and bring them home as safely and quickly as possible, Bush negiotiated covertly with the orchestraters of this crisis to hold them longer in order to publicly humiliate and weaken Carter's re-election bid. What we have gotten from that criminal cabal since that hostage crisis?
More oil dependence, higher prices, wars and price manipulation.
This present oil crisis demanding imperialism to acquire oil and fearmongering about Peak oil is just that a propaganda program I for one will not succumb to.
Alternative fuels, conservation and lifestyle changes can accomplish much more than wars and propaganda ever will.

Lefty has the right information! 13.Feb.2004 14:19

Bird dog

But how do we as Americans stop the corporate control of resources for profit for the rich and start down a new road for the people.

Of the people.
By the people.
For the people.

Could we pass some laws to control our government.
What was done in the mid-20th century to start this downfall.

unnamed spokesman for Gigantic Petroleum Consortuim... 13.Feb.2004 16:30

this thing here

"As much as we would like to celibrate, the fact remains that any, ANY alternative to petroleum is perfectly hopeless, now and forever.

Americans need not get their hopes up at all about this news. Yes, they must understand that there is no other choice for their energy needs, today, tommorrow, and 100 years from now, than oil and coal.

You see, the term "American Ingenuity" had it's time and place. But that time has passed. The technology and ingenuity that could successfully allow man to fly for the first time, and could send men to the moon, is useless in today's modern world. That's why Americans must keep using petroleum, inside the same old combustion engines based on hundred year old technology, for decades and centuries more.

In light if this, Gigantic Petroleum Consortium is funding a new program called, "Repress American Ingenuity, and the People who are Actively Working and Researching Alternative Ways of Creating Energy." With this program, we hope to quickly nip in the bud any new ideas, any new research, any new plans for alternative energy. You see, we feel that bright engineering, physics and chemistry students around the U.S., as well as alternative energy start ups and research foundations, are our enemies, and they need to be sternly guided not to stray from what we call the Petroleum Path.

The program works very simply:

Upon any news of some new way to create hydrogen, or a more efficient and cheaper solar cell, we will quickly and automatically respond in a whining voice with - 'It won't work.' or 'It will never work.' or 'You're insane for even trying that.' or 'Nothing could ever work except oil/coal.' or 'So what. Maybe gas does cost $10 a gallon at the moment. But it will go down soon.' or 'It's impossible, give up.'

With these kinds of uplifting phrases, repreated often enough by enough people throuout the U.S., we hope to guide America down the Petroleum Path for a long time to come."

Energy inputs to produce ethanol? 13.Feb.2004 18:04

George Bender

If you consider the energy inputs needed to produce ethanol -- petroleum needed to produce fertilizer, run farm tractors, distribute the ethanol, etc. -- would producing hydrogen from ethanol still be energy efficient? I like the idea of local energy production -- like in your basement -- but we have to look at the costs of the whole process.

Another energy input 13.Feb.2004 20:49

Mulberry Sellers

Making ethanol from biomass like corn implies a step that every moonshiner is familiar with. Once your yeast has converted the sugars in the corn to ethanol, you've got to get the stuff out of the mash by distillation (actually, fractional distillation, but hey). That step requires an energy input to heat the fermented source material to the boiling point of ethanol.

That doesn't mean that this process is a net energy-loser, but I'd wait for some numbers comparing the total energy cost to the energy available from the output before drawing a conclusion about its worth.

The fastest, most effective solution is free 13.Feb.2004 21:44


Our lives could be less energy wasteful.

Just growing our crops differently would save a lot of energy, and we would never notice the difference.