Hydrogen from Water as a Power Source

I mused on an old blog years ago that we would probably learn one day that there was more energy locked in the water of our planet’s oceans than anywhere else on Earth. I didn’t think this was some great insight, only that I was picking up on what was already known to the collective unconscious.

The following is from a recent blog post by Joel Salatin. He has engaged my thought processes for some time, and continues to do so.

HYDROGEN

Joel Salatin – The Lunatic Farmer – 13 Nov 2020

In one of my favorite magazines, FARM SHOW, 30 years ago I read an article about a farmer who mounted a windmill on his farm pond to run a generator to power an electrolysis machine that separated hydrogen from the water and filled a tank on the shore.

He monkeyed with his tractors so they’d run on hydrogen; instead of a liquid fuel tank, he used compressed air tanks (like propane or acetylene) and ran all his machinery for free. What comes out of the exhaust pipe? Water. The big drawback was that you can’t put as much energy in a tank of compressed hydrogen as you can in a similar-sized diesel fuel tank. So he had to come back for a fill-up about every 3 hours rather than 8.

Ever since reading that article, I’ve been interested in hydrogen. Although I have no chemistry or engineering background, I always gravitated to this opportunity when petroleum spiked a few years ago and I found myself speaking at sold-out PEAK OIL conferences–remember that? I felt like a turncoat speaking at those things because deep down, I thought that eventually hydrogen would be the breakthrough and we wouldn’t all be going back to the stone age due to petroleum’s demise. My how things change.

So yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried an article with a 3-column picture of windmills off Britain’s shores running electrolysis to make hydrogen. The two companies involved in the project are BP PLC and Orsted AS. “The two companies intend to build a 50-megawatt electrolyzer, powered by wind, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases without generating carbon emissions,” according to the article.

The big issue with solar and wind power is its fluctuation. But hydrogen can be stored in tanks just like fossil fuel. And its exhaust is water. This is why I’ve been bullish on hydrogen for a long time and it’s beyond exciting to finally see a big project develop in this technology space. Usually the breakthroughs trickle down as innovation diffuses through society and the knowledge becomes ubiquitous. Imagine how enigmatic the internal combustion engine was to the average person in 1870.

This doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of electric cars. But it would offer an alternative source of power generation and would create another reason to build ponds. Imagine a power company dispensing with its nuclear reactor, coal, or natural gas pipelines and simply using windmills to electrolyze hydrogen out of an adjacent pond and return the exhaust water to the pond. And the hydrogen could be stored so that the power generation could be customized, like a gas pedal, to real time needs; at any time. Now that’s a breakthrough.

I’m waiting for the day when we have windmills on our farm ponds creating hydrogen to run our tractors. That would usher in a new age of resiliency and opportunity, for sure. Simple storage tanks don’t need the cadmium, nickel and other rare metals like batteries and solar panels. In many ways, this represents a simplified techno-resource paradigm. I’m ready for some simplification, how about you?

Wouldn’t it be cool if a rain barrel and little roof-mounted windmill would power your car and eliminate the gas station?


Occasionally when I mention something to friends about the squelching of this technology they say I am veering off into ‘conspiracy’ land, that if this was really possible we would already be doing it. It is hard for them to believe that some group of men running the planet doesn’t tell them everything.

I include a couple of additional links here. They don’t lead to particularly fancy sites, but they do contain some worthwhile information.

I would like to posit here a final thought. If this technology works at all — which it plainly does — then you can be sure that the powers-that-be not only know about it, but have already highly developed it. The problem, for them, is that if humans had a cheap, ready, and plentiful source of energy then they would be unable to keep their yoke on them. Think about this next time one of these entities tells you that you need to make hard sacrifices for the “good” of the planet. Just maybe what they are telling you is a sham.

– John


Collective unconscious – Wikipedia

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