TED Conversations

Joseph Tagliente

Pres. and CEO, Lenrock Management Group

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Instead of oil (gas) I would like to run my car on hydrogen. How do we get the world to start doing this?

Hydrogen as a possible alternative fuel should be investigated for the following reasons: 1) 70% of the earth's surface is covered with a substance that is hydrogen rich i.e. water. 2) Extracting hydrogen from water is less environmentally invasive than extracting oil from the ground/ocean. 3) Unlike oil when you burn (oxidize) hydrogen it does not create harmful materials like CO, it creates water.

0
Share:
progress indicator
  • Aug 13 2011: To debate your second point, it takes a great deal of energy (much more than you get out) to extract hydrogen from water through electrolysis.

    In short hydrogen as a fuel source is not cost effective at this point.

    If you want to get the world to switch over, the price of oil would have to be artificially inflated (government regulation and taxation) while the cost to extract and store hydrogen artificially deflated. (subsidized)

    Note: I have to add that the above idea would have many negative side affects and would not "save" the planet.
    • thumb
      Aug 14 2011: OK then. Maybe the right question should be "When will the technology to affordably extract hydrogen from water be available?" or "What technology needs to be developed to make 'cheap hydrogen' a reality?"
    • thumb
      Aug 14 2011: in addition, even if you put high taxes on fossils, hydrogen production still would not kick in, since we have other, more promising alternative fuels.
      • thumb
        Aug 15 2011: like the algea fuel being developed at places like ASU? it wont happen though, as a fuel that replenish itself does not pay well.
  • thumb
    Aug 16 2011: Hi Joseph,

    I think you might be harboring a fundamental misunderstanding of what hydrogen is. It is not an energy *source* but rather an energy transfer and storage medium. Even with a perfectly efficient process for extracting hydrogen from water, it would take as much energy to extract the hydrogen from water as what you would get out of the hydrogen by burning it. The energy "invested" in breaking the bonds holding hydrogen and oxygen together (forming water molecules) is the energy released when hydrogen re-joins with oxygen to form water again. Hydrogen, therefore, serves only as a medium to transfer energy from one source (solar, wind, tidal, nuclear, etc.) into a form usable in an engine.

    The promise of a "hydrogen economy" is that a wide variety of energy sources may be used to generate hydrogen, which then may be stored and used in a wide variety of engines and processes to do useful work, We already have a sort of "common mode" of energy transfer in the form of electricity (multiple energy sources feeding into a common electrical "grid" and then being distributed and used in different ways), but electricity does not lend itself well to storage in large quantities over long times. Hydrogen -- while not exactly an easy substance itself to store -- would be far less troublesome than electricity in this regard.