Is there no option to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in our transition from oil and gasoline? Quite simply, CNG isn’t needed. There is a far better option that is cheaper and cleaner: Renewable hydrogen (H2) made from water and wind power at night makes CNG unnecessary.
First, making H2 onsite at locations, H2 refueling stations, in places just like the gas stations we currently use, will eliminate the need for the massive, expensive pipeline infrastructure needed for Boone Pickens plan. Next, using the cheap wind at night to power electrolyzers to make the H2 from waste water, salt water, or other water sources, produces H2 at a cost of only $2.50-$3.00 per kilogram (kg). One kg of H2 is equivalent to a gallon of gas for vehicles converted to run on H2. This is where we can use at least one small part of the Pickens plan, to convert vehicles to run on H2. Any car or truck today can run on H2, just as they could run on Pickens CNG (CNG is about 70% H2). With simple changes to the combustion chamber, exhaust system, and storage tank (storing H2 at high pressure requires something like a carbon fiber cylinder), we have vehicles ready to say, “Bye bye, gasoline!”
Switching to H2 instead of CNG will lower fuel costs, stop the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars to countries supplying our oil where many of their people don’t like us, increase our national security, create millions of jobs in this country, reduce GHG emissions, clean up the environment by eliminating oil and gas spills, improve our health and lower healthcare costs, stabilize the economy for fuel costs like we have never seen since the costs of wind and water don’t change much, and actually increase our supply of fresh water since switching to H2 fuel actually reduces the use of water in refining oil into gasoline by 66%!
Electricity production from wind power and CAES is cheaper and cleaner than shale gas/CNG, and the technology already exists to switch to H2. But once again, we are up against an industry that has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in vast oil and gas fields and will fight vigorously against the development of renewable H2 until their oil and gas fields’ profits are exhausted.
There is yet another exciting development in the H2 category. One of the big cost and supply problems for H2 is the need for platinum as a catalyst in H2 fuel cells. Platinum is in short supply and is expensive. Granted, not much platinum is needed in each fuel cell, but it would still be problematic in a massive conversion to H2 fuel cell vehicles (the H2 solution discussed earlier describes regular internal combustion engine vehicles, not the fuel cell powered vehicles discussed now). Researchers believe they have created the cheaper catalyst long sought. It is made of an iron-cobalt combination that costs 1/650th as much as platinum and is almost (within about 5%) as efficient as platinum. This will drive down fuel cell costs and improve reliability. If fuel cell vehicles can travel about 100 miles per kg of H2, and the average driver goes 1,000 miles per month, that would mean 10kg of H2 per month at ~$3/kg = $30/month in fuel costs for the average driver in the USA. That math speaks for itself. All we need is the political will to say “No!” to the oil and gas companies and the congressional representatives who do their bidding. Then, cheaper, cleaner fuel solutions will become a reality.
Shale gas, therefore, isn’t needed for vehicle fuel either. It’s very clear that the message being pounded into us about the need for shale gas is not true. Shale gas is not the answer to our electricity or vehicle fuel needs. With the environmental risks at stake from extracting and burning shale gas we cannot justify fracking. Shale gas isn’t needed because cleaner and cheaper options exist that make it unnecessary.
Americans must demand that the best energy options be made available to the public and all other entities. The risks from shale gas and fracking are too high to tolerate. The alternatives are cheaper and cleaner. Let’s work together to create the better energy and fuel future for America. Start spreading the word!
By Joe Spease