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"H-Prize" Announced 394

Posted by samzenpus
from the homemade-hydrogen dept.
An anonymous reader writes " The House passed legislation to encourage research into hydrogen as an alternative fuel creating the "H-Prize",allowing scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs to vie for a grand prize of $10 million, and smaller prizes. The Department of Energy would put together a private foundation to set up guidelines and requirements for the prizes. Anyone can participate, as long as the research is performed in the United States and the person, if employed by the government or a national lab, does the research on his own time. Best political Quote: "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create." said bill sponsor Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C."
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"H-Prize" Announced

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:21AM (#15307011) Homepage Journal
    Its not everyday the government asks us to do dangerous things outside our work time especially doing things with hydrogen. I wonder if the other departments have been notified of this homework assignment?

    Splitting the atom at work is fun, getting to take work home is just a bonus.

    Now, where's my chisel?
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

      by DaHat (247651) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:30AM (#15307035) Homepage
      My thoughts exactly!

      At last! I have an excuse should I "accidentally" blow something up in the cource of my "research".

      "No officer, I'm not building weapons of mass destruction or meth... I'm simply exploring alternative fuel sources to help this country become less dependant on foreign oil."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That would be a direct violation of the DMCA's provisions on reverse engineering.
    • ...but only $10 million? They spend way more than that on saving owls and stuff.
    • by jaweekes (938376)
      In honour of Ian Dury.

      Taken from "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards"

      Einstein can't be classed as witless.
      He claimed atoms were the littlest.
      When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
      Frighten everybody shitless
  • A good start. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:23AM (#15307015) Homepage Journal
    That's good news - hopefully, it will spur private enterprises in a similar manner to the X-prize.

    However, I really don't think this admistration seems too interested in ending dependance on foreign oil, when they electric and natural gas cars [lta.gov.sg] to the tune of $500+/year.

    Hydrogen would be great & all, but what really needs to be done is to improve America's public transport infrastructure & encourage people to start using it. A gradual raising of gas taxes until pump prices are around $7/gallon, with the money raised being pumped into (free) public transport would achieve precisely that.
    • Re:A good start. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:37AM (#15307046) Homepage Journal
      Oh please. I live in the only capital city in Australia that has decent public transport. It it good for precisely two reasons: it creates local jobs (we build our own buses) and not too many people use it. If it didn't create jobs there wouldn't be nearly as many buses as there are our now, so waiting times would be unacceptable. If more people used it you would have buses filling up real quick and apart from the unpleasant experience that would create in and of itself, you'd also soon have to wait for a bus that wasn't full before you could get on. Quite simply, no one can afford to provide transport for 100% of the population. Either you have a government that puts all its spending into public transport and neglects everything else or you have private individuals who take on cyclic debt to pay for cars. Simply put, driving across a city to go from home to work to the gym to your girlfriend's place is just not sensible. You should move closer to work. Go to a gym that is closer to where you live and ask your girlfriend to move in. But people accept the burden of debt and maintenance for a car for the convience of not doing all these things.
      • Oh please. I live in the only capital city in Australia that has decent public transport. It it good for precisely two reasons: it creates local jobs (we build our own buses) and not too many people use it.

        Hmmmmn, my understanding of Australian cities is that they sprawl in a similar fashion to US West Coast cities. If they'd been planned properly (or at least had development & freeway building curbed a little), public transport could be much better.

        But people accept the burden of debt and maintenance
    • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tx (96709) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:49AM (#15307078) Journal
      I have to disagree about public transport. Here in the UK, we already have massive taxation on fuel. Tony Blair's government came in with grand plans to channel funds into the public transport infrastructure, and vastly increase the number of people using it. The plan was an utter failure, and was abandoned after a several years. (OK, so we're not talking *free* public transport, but affordable, and as far as free goes, I think you need to do some math on that).

      Why did it fail? There are areas where public transport is convenient - intra-urban commuters primarily - but in most such cases the public transport system is already there and utilized almost as heavily as it can be. Meanwhile for everyone else - those commuting between suburbs/outlying areas and cities - in many cases there is just no way public transport can be made attractive. For example at my previous job, I had an easy 30 minute commute by car. Public transport took 90 minutes, and cost three times as much. You couldn't really improve that much, you can only have so many stations, and you can only run your busses and trains so often. Even if you made it free, the extra hour makes it unviable. Not to talk of losing the ability to stop of at a shopping center on the way home, or run errands in my lunch break.

      Since the USA has more of a car culture than the UK, I'm sure there are improvements to be made, but it is fantasy to believe that public transport is the transportation panacea that some make it out to be. Public transport has it's place, but the convenience and freedom that comes with personal transportation is not something many people want to part with, and nor should they in my opinion.
      • It's been sometime since I visited the UK, and it was only London for a weekend, but IIRC, London's public transport infrastructure is long overdue for a massive upgrade.

        The tube trains are unbelievably slow, they're hot all year round, to the point where there's warnings at the entrances.

        In spite of this, it's still far more convenient then a car (even without factoring in the cogestion charge).

        You don't mention what part of the UK you're from, but a 30 minute commute that's 90 minutes by public transport
        • Re:A good start. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tx (96709)
          The tube trains are unbelievably slow, they're hot all year round, to the point where there's warnings at the entrances.

          In spite of this, it's still far more convenient then a car (even without factoring in the cogestion charge).


          As I said, there are places where public transport is convenient, travelling within central London is one.

          You don't mention what part of the UK you're from, but a 30 minute commute that's 90 minutes by public transport is an indication the PT is broken there too.

          I disagree. As I poi
          • Actually our greenhouse emissions are reducing, just not as fast as they should. In fact the UK is closer to meeting its Kyoto obligations than almost all other EU countries. And our emissions are around a quarter of the per person emissions in the USA.

            Do you believe everything your government tells you?

            While quite a rosy picture [defra.gov.uk] is being painted by defra, it appears they have been forgetting [guardian.co.uk] to include boats and planes in their emmission counts. Oops.

            I agree that the UK is generally better then the US. Bu
            • Re:A good start. (Score:2, Interesting)

              by xoyoyo (949672)
              While quite a rosy picture is being painted by defra, it appears they have been forgetting to include boats and planes in their emmission counts. Oops.

              They're not included because we can't do anything about them. Aviation treaties limit the amount of taxation you can apply to commercial air and boats tend to registered to other countries that don't give a hoot about the environment, or safety or anything much apart from their flag fee.

              Both situations are clearly daft, but until the international commun

          • Re:A good start. (Score:2, Interesting)

            by xoyoyo (949672)
            I disagree. As I pointed out, not everyone can have a train station on their doorstep, or right next to their place of work. Not everyone can have a direct journey on a train or bus. And the trains or busses can only run so frequently. That doesn't make the system "broken", it's just reality.

            Not strictly so. You could, for example, stop out of town office parks that weren't serviced by a rail link. The planning laws are there for a reason, but they're so abused that you end up with exactly the sort of sit

      • Well I live in rural Japan and public transport here is excellent. Cheap, clean, reliable and convienent. Many more people cycle here too, than back in the UK.
      • Re:A good start. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vtolturbo (729585)
        This is linear thinking. Granted, the current public transport system doesn't work well. That's in part due to the cost, but mostly due to the lack of flexibility. When you know the bus will arrive within a 5-10min window at a particular location and carry you to a particular destination, from which you will very likely need to walk or transfer to a different bus or train, it is easy to see why one might not want to sacrifice one's personal transportation. I believe the bus system will always be like th
    • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:51AM (#15307084)

      A gradual raising of gas taxes until pump prices are around $7/gallon, with the money raised being pumped into (free) public transport would achieve precisely that.

      Yeah, that's what we need -- more artificial controls by the government on commodities.

      Your plan won't work for several reasons:

      • $7 a gallon gas will absolutely destroy the economic well-being of the lower and lower-middle class workers in our society, but upper-middle and upper class workers will continue to drive the same as they did before.
      • The US isn't Europe -- we're too spread out for public transportation to be a viable option for a significant portion of the population. Atlanta and LA are perfect examples of this.
      • You're assuming that the government will take the tax revenue from the gas tax and spend all of it on public transportation / alternative energy / whatever it was actually intended for. I guarantee such a new tax fund, much like social security and other well-meaning initiatives before it, will be raided to no end so that very little of our taxes actually end up going to the develpment of public transportation.
      • As much as they'd love the revenue, no elected official in their right mind would ever advocate such a tax. There's no faster way to commit political suicide.

      Nope, this H-Prize approach is the best way, I think -- let our own greed be the catalyst for innovation. I think you'll only see true innovation in alternative energy when a) shortening supplies naturally cause current technology to no longer be a viable option and b) the economic carrot presented by a) becomes more attractive to big energy companies than their current oil business.

      • Re:A good start. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577)
        "Yeah, that's what we need -- more artificial controls by the government on commodities."

        Why not? The govt already controls the prices of everything buy subsidising virtually every industry in the nation. Everything you eat has been subsidized, every piece of paper or scrap of wood, every mineral, everything. There is already a tax on gasoline too.

        "Your plan won't work for several reasons:"

        Seven reasons boil down to these two. Nobody is brave enough, nobody is selfless enough.

        That's it.
      • "$7 a gallon gas will absolutely destroy the economic well-being of the lower and lower-middle class workers in our society, but upper-middle and upper class workers will continue to drive the same as they did before."

        As I said a couple of days ago, the price of petrol in the pump in the UK is currently $6.89 / US Gallon. We pay about the same per mile (17c or thereabouts).
    • A gradual raising of gas taxes until pump prices are around $7/gallon, with the money raised being pumped into (free) public transport would achieve precisely that.

      Right. Because the whole state-owned-rail-system-thing has such a glorious history of excellence.

      Listen up, you urban childless wonder: Raise your own damn taxes, and stay away from gasoline. It fuels a whole lot more than those "e-e-e-e-e-vil" SUVs and Hummers, like interstate commerce for example.

      But if we're going to play the game of frivolou
      • Sounds like someone is an angry breeder stuck in the burbs with a minivan.
        • Sounds like someone is an angry breeder stuck in the burbs with a minivan.

          "Breeder?"

          Breeder... breeder... Wait! I know!! That's, like, the meant-to-be-derogatory term gays call straight people when they're really, really so-o-o-o-o annoyed with us, right? RIGHT? I guessed it, didn't I? Tell me what I win! (I'm hoping it's a full tank of gas, but I'll settle for a new wardrobe, manicure, and having my house re-decorated...)

      • Here we go: I propose a $1,000 tax on every Mac puchase. I propose a $2 tax on every latte. I think the state should get a penny-a-ping for every SMS and IM sent. I suggest everyone who pays more than twelve dollars for a haircut should be taxed another eight dollars on that transaction: sort of a luxury/vanity/sin/stupidity tax, all rolled into one.

        The taxes you propose don't actually provide any social benefits - you should word it like:

        I propose a $1,000 tax on every Computer puchase to pay for the cost
    • However, I really don't think this admistration seems too interested in ending dependance on foreign oil, when they electric and natural gas cars to the tune of $500+/year.

      I think you're missing a verb in this sentence. Is it "tax"? If so, why did you link to a site in Singapore!? What does that have to do with the US taxes?

      Hydrogen would be great & all, but what really needs to be done is to improve America's public transport infrastructure & encourage people to start using it. A gradual rai

    • First and foremost is that the United States still enjoys large open areas with low population densities. No "public transportation" can be created that would be an effective use of resources. You would benefit only city populations at the expense of the rest of the country.

      Besides, how can anyone actually suggest jacking taxes when politicians and other whiners bitch and moan about $3 gas prices? Get real, the government already puts more taxes on a gallon of gasoline than gas companies make in profit y
    • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:18AM (#15307177)
      The limitations of the Hydrogen economy simply aren't technological in nature. They're fundemental. There are so many reasons why hydrogen won't work, and only pie in the sky ideas about how great it would be if it did.

      In a nutshell there are two ways to get hydrogen commercially. The first is striping hydrocarbons. They're called hydrocarbons because it diverts your attention from the very obvious problem with this approach. Hydrocarbons are foriegn oil (more accurately natural gas, but it is the same problem.) Remind me again what the problem is that prompted us to look at alternative fuels.

      The second way is electrolysis of water, the only problem is that pesky second law of thermodynamics. Yes, I know that stationary powerplants are more efficient than IC engines, and yes I know that we might be prepared to pay the energy penalty twice in order to get a transportable fuel, but the fact remains you are starting with a losing proposition.

      If the senate is serious about spurring Hydrogen growth they should be approving new nuclear power plants with the express purpose of making hydrogen. That IMO is the only economically way to produce the stuff. (Sure solar is great, but I think that if we manage to improve solar technology to the point that we can mass produce hydrogen we've solved a bigger problem than foriegn oil. In other words solar power is a bigger problem independent from Hydrogen, and if we lick that we will be less concerned with Hyrdogen.)

      So even if we do have hydrogen production plants you still have very serious storage and transporation issues. Not to mention prohibitively expensive fuel cells and batteries. I think the govenment is already dumping more than enough money into these fields as it is. Maybe the H-prize will help along research in storage, but I think the dozens of million dollar plus university grants are a bit more of an incentive than this prize.

      All in all I view this as a public challenge to violate the laws of thermodynamics. Call me cynical, but I don't think it's going to work out.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:30AM (#15307031)
    BMW has been doing research [bmwworld.com] on hydrogen powersince the 1970s, and they even have a nice 7-series sedan [bmwworld.com] ready to drive.

    Does BMW win anything for its ingenuity?
  • sweet jobs (Score:5, Funny)

    by tehwebguy (860335) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:32AM (#15307037) Homepage
    "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create."

    oh and uh, it might help the environment or something too.
  • by gevmage (213603) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:37AM (#15307044) Homepage
    As far as I can tell so far, the Hydrogen car thing is the political equivalent of "Look, it's the GoodYear Blimp!"

    Do people not realize that Hydrogen is like electricity, it's only an energy delivery mechanism? There are NO free sources of hydrogen around to tap, to the best of my knowledge. You have to generate the hydrogen somehow...from oil, coal, or some other energy source In the amount of time that this idea has been bantered about, I have come to the conclusion that no one understands this point, including the President and the Secretary of Energy.

    The reason that things like solar, wind power, or geothermal and the like have ben discussed as energy SOURCES is that they are just that; ways of extracting energy from processes on the earth. Hydrogen is an energy TRANSFER MECHANISM, not a source.

    • by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:43AM (#15307065) Homepage Journal
      Right on the spot.

      You can't grow hydrogen trees or dig the ground looking for it. Just about all the hydrogen around us (and yes, there is a lot of it) is combined to Oxygen or Carbon. In order to burn it (a fuel-cell is sort of like burning, without flames) we must first apply energy to get it loose (and, probably, release some carbon to the atmosphere in the process).

      Unless they are talking table top (or "under hood") fusion, this is only an act of "look, we are concerned with the environmental"-type misdirection.

      And a remarkably dumb one.
    • You have to generate the hydrogen somehow...from oil, coal ... no one understands this point, including the President and the Secretary of Energy

      Oh, I think they understand it just fine. The Whitehouse administration has been in bed with the oil industry from the beginning. The whole 'hydrogen economy' promotion is just an attempt to make it look like they are taking action towards energy independance and alternative energy source development, as to divert interest/funds for alternative energy research

      • Although it may be true that this is all a ploy by the administration to pretend that they are striving for energy independence, I think that it will ultimately have a positive outcome. I can see two plusses to a "hydrogen economy" that are relevant even if we are presently producing hydrogen by stripping hydrocarbons.

        1. As long as we're not generating carbon dioxide during the stripping process, then we will be generating less greenhouse gas. Consuming hydrogen as a fuel produces water only. If the stri
    • by qbzzt (11136) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:02AM (#15307122)
      A well maintained, large capacity power plant, even if it uses gasoline, can be a lot more efficient than a car's engine which has to be small, light weight, and low maintainance. Hydrogen is a transfer mechanism, but a better transfer mechanism will let us use gasoline for efficiently.
    • Right now we have several efficient green energy sources for massproduction - wind power, solar power, nuclear power. None of these emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions. But we have *no* efficient green energy delivery mechanisms.

      You use wind or nuclear power to generate the hydrogen, simple as that.

      And before anyone starts going off about nuclear waste - who gives a crap. We can bury enough of it to power a generation in any of the current storage facilities. And I am willing to be by that time ion propul
    • The main benefit of hydrogen as a fuel is that it's clean. That alone makes it worthwhile to pursue.

      You can also think of it as a battery of sorts. You can use solar enerygy, geothermal energy, and yes even oil, nuclear, or coal energy and use it to make hydrogen that you can put into a fuel cell and power a car. It's more convenient then an electrib motor and lots of batteries.

      Iceland for example is planning on making use of all their geothermal energy to create a hydrogen economy. Sunny countries can do
    • Look at Iceland. They are running on hydrogen. But they are using their geothermal to generate all of their hydrogen. Our only solution is to build nuclear plants that will provide us with low cost energy to generate hydrogen products. It is the future and someone needs to make it happen!
    • There are NO free sources of hydrogen around to tap, to the best of my knowledge.

      It's so big you've missed the obvious: The sun! A huge ball of hydrogen just sitting there just waiting to be tapped. All we need is a rather lenghty piece of heat resistent pipe and we could just pump all the hydrogen we'll ever need. Brilliant I tell you.
    • This research is not about making cars energy-self-sufficient. It is more about making a better electric car. Once we do that, we can worry about the upstream power generation and having it come from renewable sources (solar, geothermal, tidal, etc). We can use nuclear power generation as a crutch until renewable technologies are available, but our uranium supply is limited just like oil.
  • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:38AM (#15307048) Journal
    Everyone is focused on everything except one. WHY is the government not looking at NON centralized NON corporatist methods of achieving alternative energy sources?

    Hydrogen would require plants, specialized chargers, etc. Keeping control for ourselves are we?

    Some "we the people" eh?

    I wish some more of us would wake the hell up. The Matrix has you, boys and girls, and you're loving every moment of vying for a few scraps from its table.

    Enjoy yourselves, oh mindless slaves, and keep vying for what they tell you to vie for. After all, you're free to decide for yourselves, not free to think for yourselves.

    ~DaedalusHKX
    • You convinced me. I'm staying the hell away from these "alternative fuels" The Man (tm) wants me to use. More gasoline for me, please!

      I don't mind tinfoil hats, but the melodrama was a bit much.
    • by maillemaker (924053) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:59AM (#15307106)
      >Everyone is focused on everything except one. WHY is the government not looking
      >at NON centralized NON corporatist methods of achieving alternative energy sources?

      I think you hit the nail on the head, and I have long suspected that the fear of losing their deathgrip on the control of scarce energy resources has been driving huge government and business interests to make sure other, less centralized options are kept off the table.

      Energy is a multi-billion dollar industry. What would happen to that industry if anyone could make their own fuel?

      What if anyone could buy a bottle of Iogen's ( http://www.iogen.ca/ [iogen.ca] ) new cellulase enzymes at the grocery store, just like we buy Rid-X enzymes for our septic tanks, throw it in a trashcan in the backyard full of water and lawnmower clippings, and make their own ethanol?

      What if anyone really could easily and rapidly convert water into hydrogen? (spare me the jabs on how easy electrolysis already is, please)

      I'm no tinfoil-hat guy, but there are huge, huge interests that would be massively hurt by such innovations.

      Lately I've been doing a lot of googling on biodiesel ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel [wikipedia.org] ), ethanol ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol [wikipedia.org] ), and even wood gas generators (pyrolysis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrolysis [wikipedia.org] )

      From what I've seen, most of these processes are fairly simple to do, even at home. I don't think these processes would take much more technical innovation to make simple, practical, cheap decentralized fuel production a reality.

      Steve
      • What if anyone really could easily and rapidly convert water into hydrogen? (spare me the jabs on how easy electrolysis already is, please)

        Excuse me? Electrolysis IS easy and quick, it's just energy-intensive. So what you're asking for is a way to extract the hydrogen without paying the price in energy.

        Well, then we'd be living in a different universe. One where you can convert water to hydrogen and oxygen, and then burn the hydrogen in oxygen to make water again, and yet have a net energy output from t

      • Two issues (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:19AM (#15307492) Journal
        One: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The people in politics run with the corporate jet set. Powerful people tend to congregate together - there's noting inherently insideous about that. Those who spend most of their time trying to figure out how to make money (corporate money, that is), look for corporate solutions. You don't expect a carpenter to figure out how to use steel to build a house cheaper, you expect him to figure it out with wood.

        Two: Decentralized generation of fuel sounds like a really good idea, until you realize that most people are too stupid to do this stuff themselves in a safe manner. Half the people who aren't too stupid don't have the spare time. You have, in fact, a relatively small fraction of the population (I'm going to guess less than 2%) that have the time, space, and resources to generate and store reasonable quantites of fuel safely.

        I mean, sure, I can create my own fuel at home, and given advances in technology [slashdot.org], it might even be somewhat safe. But now you're looking at doubling or tripling the volume of flammable materials in a typical residential setting, and you're adding a large amount of fuel, pre-fuel, and potentially dangerous fuel byproducts that are being transferred on a regular basis. Think about how much gas an American family will go through in a week. With three drivers (two adults plus a teen or elderly live-in), it can easily top 20-30 gallons. Now, switch to ethanol - you're up to 32-40 gallons. You'll probably not want to generate every week, so lets say you run your still twice a month, and you'll never want to drop below 20 gallons or so, or you might run out. Now you've got 100 gallons of ethanol sitting in your garage, in addition to that in your autmotive tank. In a medium-to-high density area, I would consider that an apparent danger that most municipalities would tend to discourage.

        While it may become viable for those with space, it remains wholly impractical for everyone else.

        Third (Okay, I'm one issue over...sue me): you won't be able to produce it as cheaply, on a continuing basis, in your back yard. Sure, you can make a bit from your brush clippings, or buy the materials in bulk, but to really be efficient will require the leverage of a large operation. We can all make our own clothes, but we don't. We could all grow our own food, but we don't. It just isn't cost effective. In the end, making fuel at home won't be either.

        Sorry to be a bummer about this, but while the idea works well on an individual scale, it just doesn't scale to the society level.
    • The refinery cartel could have done something about this long ago. Only one oil company, that I am aware of, has retooled their refineries to allow them to switch to generating alternative fuels - Shell.

      It is now the 11th hour, and they are grabbing at straws to keep their bloated profits.

      I wonder how many jobs would really be created if we opened up this so-called 'H' prize to all forms of alternative energy. My guess is it would create even more jobs than are employed at refineries today; of course the
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:38AM (#15307049) Journal
    So initially we used coal to power steam engines. Why? Because there were literally tons of it laying underground. So we strip mined America for a couple centuries.

    It's long been known that oil (petroleum or organic) would fuel fire. And it was discovered that refining it lowered it stability and made it explosive. But where was an abundance of oil? Why, also underneath the ground.

    The fact of the matter is that our energy concerns can't be solved by anything that requires more energy to make (insert corn ethanol reference here) than it produces.

    So now we need to figure out how to use hydrogen and many car companies have done that but the form that hydrogen abounds in is gas--not liquid. And most hydrogen powered cars require refilling a compressed hydrogen tank. But to make this hydrogen requires electricity and this electricity requires some fuel or energy to make in the beginning ...

    I think the real challenge here should be "just hydrogen" as an alternative fuel but instead "anything we got a lot of lying around in a ready form."
  • Good Idea but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neuromancer2701 (875843) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:40AM (#15307056) Homepage
    I think this is a good idea, but in the end the H2 has to come from some where and Nuclear power is the only real answer. I just love to hear about the genuis's that build a town around driving around in Electric Golf cart so they don't have to have cars, but the forget that the whole town gets their power from the Coal plant down the road. If we did not have the 70s/80s scare tactics about Nuclear power, the power grid would be better and we could make a conversion to Hydrogen easier. I really have no true love for Nuclear power but it is the better option to get away from foreign oil. Personally I think getting away from foreign oil, whether it be with ANWAR or alternative energy, is the best for this country. OPEC could destroy this country in one move and that has nothing to do with Oil companies gouging us.
    • When I heard that my university academic advisor had been arrested for protesting at a nuclear power plant, I just had to ask him why? He was, IMHO, a very savvy fellow and I was frankly surprised he would be against nuclear power. When asked, however, he replied: "I have nothing against nuclear power at all ... I have something against the idiots at TVA running a nuclear power plant."

      This was <cough> some years ago. Chernobyl and Three-mile Island have since demonstrated his point.
      • The people running Chernobyl certainly prove his point; there were about 10 places in the chain of events that led to that meltdown where somebody should have stood up and said, "no, this is too dangerous, I won't do it." Of course in Communist Russia (tm) that wouldn't have been a politically wise move.

        But Three Mile Island is actually proof that the system works. Multiple failures, and no radiation released... that's a GOOD thing.
    • OPEC could destroy this country in one move and that has nothing to do with Oil companies gouging us.

      Do you know how much oil we get from OPEC? If you said 24%, you'd be right. That also includes non-Middle Eastern countries in OPEC like Venezuela, who, spat with GWB not included, do not have the hate for tUSA that many Middle Easterners do.

      The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) holds 60 days worth of oil. So, even if all of OPEC shut us off and nobody tried to cheat, we'd still have 240 days until we fel
    • Re:Good Idea but (Score:3, Informative)

      by JeremyALogan (622913)
      I suggest anyone interested in what we SHOULD be doing (nuclear power and hydrogen fuel wise) look in to Pebble Bed Reactors [wikipedia.org]. Not only can they provide fault-tollerant, safe, cheap nuclear power, they can also be designed to produce hydrogen as a byproduct. Why our government isn't already dumping billions in to this is beyond me.

      The Chinese are completely trouncing us on this one.
  • Yay for Socialism! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:41AM (#15307059) Journal
    Now that we have loads of federal money, we can finally create thousands of jobs, we can create new technology that wouldn't be possible without the wisdom of central government, we can be more environment-friendly, and of course we have already chosen the One Good new fuel that deserves to be funded. This is our new three-year-plan.

    For just $10M we get a guaranteed great technology, and if it doesn't work out as well, we can do as with public schools and other government programs: just increase funding incredibly, so the darn thing will get done!
  • So instead of building something like a $1.000.000.000 LHC [web.cern.ch] an $10.000.000 award is offered?

    That sounds like an excellent idea, to save budget atleast.
  • Did anyone else instantly think this was some sort of prize for creating outstanding Hentai? =/
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:48AM (#15307075)
    Hydrogen is not a solution unto itself, as it is an energy storage medium, much as a battery is an energy storage medium. Hydrogen still has to be procured from: 1. Natural gas 2. Bio-mass 3. Electrolysis of water 4. Ethanol, etc. Hydrogen then has to be stored or transported & then stored: 1. At high pressure inside of highly stressed tanks (many thousands of psi) or 2. In tanks with metal hydride structures or similar at lower pressures Hydrogen then has to be transported in a system we don't currently have in place: 1. In underground moderate pressure pipes 2. In higher pressure tank trucks in some areas The cost and time necessary to implement the whole building project to store and deliver the Hydrogen system above is immense, as none of it is in place NOW. The cost of delivering equivalent amounts of energy to EVERY CITY in the U.S. right now is already in place. It is called the electric grid. Power Plants (regardless of the type of basic fuel or energy source, coal, hydro, nuclear) are not only large but thermally VERY efficient (about 3 times as efficent at "burning" fuel as an internal combustion engine). Thus in the end there are lots of tradeoffs, and these have been endlessly analyzed in the private & public and university sectors. Hydrogen does not seem like a cost effective method when the infrastructure costs and times are looked at realistically, otherwise a company would have started doing it to make money already. Politically it looks interesting for votes. Super efficient, cost effective batteries may be the only reasonable way to tap into the power of the national electric grid and provide effectively delivered "power" to automobiles of the future. That may be why there are so many dozens of labs in the U.S. alone attempting to perfect more efficient more cost effective batteries. Politics rarely leads the pack in inventive matters.
    • Politics rarely leads the pack in inventive matters.

      Well duh, politicians aren't scientists. The best politics can do is create a need for technology through legislation. One great way of doing this is to start wars, that has given us lots of technological enhancements, though it is a bit messy.

      In this case politcians can pass legislation to cut polution. They don't have to have the answers, but at least they can set emission targets and stick to them. That will get industry into action in coming up with

  • I seem to recall the hydrogen burning engine has already been proven. The real prize should go to the that can get refueling stations put in every city of your country without the oil mafia breaking everyone's legs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Best political Quote: "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create." said bill sponsor Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C.

    Well Republican Bob, you seem to know that the patent system is so corrupted that it will no longer drive innovative research, elsewise why the prize? How about fixing that little problem for us instead of hamming it up for the press with stupid quotes about job creation (which by the way has been the slowest under this administration than anytime in the last 70 years.)

  • "allowing scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs to vie for a grand prize of $10 million, and smaller prizes."

    Considering this is Congress, does anybody believe they'll actually be able to give this "prize" money to somebody that isn't Ford or GM? I wouldn't be surprised if the rules were tailor made for Detroit.
  • by Twillerror (536681) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:03AM (#15307124) Homepage Journal
    I think the answer to our energy issues is to have as many distributed forms of energy production as we can. Right now we are very depedent on one. If we have supply problems it causes issues. As well it causes a type of monopoly. There are many oil companies, but they all kind of work in concert given that they sell the exact same thing.

    We need electrical cars, fuel cell cars, hyrodgen cars, ethanol cars, and a whole slew of others so that the open market can thrive. Cars themselves should run off different sources as well. Charge themselves with solar when available. If they sit outside have some small wind turbines. I'm sure there is a way to convert the energy of falling rain drops if we think about it hard enough.

    The first argument is always that we have to retro fit all our gas stations. I don't understand why this is such a big deal. I think we have gotten so used to the centralized controlled gas industry that we have lost touch. If a new stick of gum comes out the stores put it on the shelf. I'm hoping alternate energies will start up a grass root movement of new gas stations that off all sorts of fuel alternatives. A little push from the goverment wouldn't help either.

    What we end up with is like the coke\pepsi model. Coke produces the recipe, and then individual bottlers make it throughout the country. When you buy a coke it was probably made pretty close to you.

    Lastly we need to think about ways to generate things like ethanol by using renweable sources like solar panels. They can collect solor energy slowing, but then use it to produce more explosive energy sources. Fuel cells can run off natural gas which is plentiful and then use that electricity to create the ethenol. For instance there are self running sewage plants that extract the methane gas and run it through fuel cells to power the plant.

    Products just lying around are really easy to work with sure, but they are rarely clean and renewable.
    If we team up different energy sources and create a more diverse "energy ecosystem" then we'll be better off.

  • "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create."

    Imagine what it'd do for the economy if they reinvented the wheel!

  • According to these guys http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_Quantum_Mec hanics [wikipedia.org], it's in the bag. All they require is a couple more years and just a bit more money, then you will all have hydrino generating plants in your basement. Electricity too cheap to meter; Doc Brown cars for everyone. Got your checkbook on you?
  • by gsfprez (27403) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:27AM (#15307204)
    I'm not that old, but i just don't understand when morality became part of the equation when it comes to using energy? Is someone in Botswana that lives in a hut a better person than a bloke in Surrey who mows a lawn with an electric lawn mower? If so, i don't seem to understand it.

    And honestly, I don't understand - well maybe i do - why it is that people get all flummoxed at the idea of removing human transport devices from the global warming equation. Yes, yes, for now, it is just pushing the problem up the chain, but is that the job of the car makers?

    If a car is fairly efficient, and it is no longer spewing out global warming gasses - what the hell else do you expect car makers to do? Not everyone - some could - but not everyone could survive driving a euro golf cart around because it wouldn't hold kids or baggage, etc.

    If the car manufacturers are going to make devices that can run 100% clean and are saleable to the public meeting demand, then if you ask me, its high time we start coming up with energy solutions that are not dependent upon unstable thocracies and kingdoms in the middle east, hockey playing blue-nosers in north america, or corrupt countires like Mexico and the rest of central America. The car makers hold up their end, its someone else's responsibility to hold up the other end.

    And honestly, we see that China is - amazingly enough - going to lead the way with pebble-bed reactors... 1 for each city or more. It is utterly remarkable to me that a communist county has the stones to get this problem figured out while a country like the US is handcuffed by granola munching tree huggers... except for the founder of the Sierra Club... he gets it.
  • ...well, being human of course they are to some extent. But research is a game in which slow and steady wins the race. The big breakthroughs are made by people just sort of worrying at some research area over a long time, like a big tangled ball of string, pulling at it a bit here and a bit there.

    And like everyone else they need food, clothing, shelter, and, of course, health insurance.

    A scientist can't go to a bank and say "I have a good chance of winning a ten million dollar prize ten years from now. Coul
  • WAY TOO SMALL. A JOKE.

    This just goes to show how Congress is out of touch. Just what do they think a company is going to be able to do with 10 Million? No way that would cover the development costs. This is a joke, too bad the members probably don't know how rediculously low this is for the kind of manpower that is needed. A 500 Million prize might have a shot. 1 Billion and I could bring on the right people for long enough, and equip them - and I'm not talking thousands of staff. Hundreds, yes.

    /me shak

  • by lordsid (629982)
    I might be inclined to belive that if the government wasn't actively trying to block the research and developement of Hydrogen based cars as witnessed here [switch2hydrogen.com].

    This is complete and udder fud.
  • "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create in China."
  • "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create." said bill sponsor Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C."

    Who's this "we" he's talking about? Politicians never actually do anything except take credit for others' work while taxing and inflating them to the poorhouse in the process.

    (But, hey, at least after being taxed/inflated into the poorhouse you'll have a whole plethora of welfare programs [usagold.com] to choose from.)
  • Because no government-funded device labelled with an "H-" prefix could ever turn out badly.. oh, wait.
  • for solar energy solutions. One approach could be in efficiency improvements like this: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/ 25/2050253&from=rss [slashdot.org], but only if they are commercially viable. An other approach could complement the H-Prize, which is to use solar to directly create hydrogen. A solution would be a complete package: hydrogen from solar for energy storage and a complementary fuel cell.
  • Something it seems no one has mentioned is that the President's focus on hydrogen is a bit strong. Why should that be? Well, to package the fuel cells, you need use energy. The energy can come from anywhere. Solar, wind, water, or .. gas/oil. In all likelihood, at least in the short run, what will happen is that big oil companies would produce hydrogen fuel cells 'magically' charging more than they did previously for gas. It's new technology, and besides you have a choice -- you could always just have a gas
  • Mythbusters Did It (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:50AM (#15307754) Homepage Journal
    Last night's episode they dumped hydrogen straight down the carb of a old caddy, completely unmodified and it started right up. Since they weren't doing it very safely, just holding a hydrogen hose from a tank over the carb, Jaime also almost blew himself up the second time they tried it. Hooking the output of their home-made electrolisis device did not do the trick though as it didn't generate hydrogen fast enough.

    They also demonstrated that an unmodified diesel engine will run quite nicely on filtered used French fry oil.

    The problem is that although this is feasible right now, it's not really possible for widespread use and hydrogen will probably cost more and get less mileage than a gallon of gas right now. Unless we nuke Iran and gas shoots up to $8 a gallon, anyway. The french fry oil does have potential and we're pretty close to the right price point for various nifty diesel fuels to be competitive with gasoline.

    They're talking about repealing the tax on gasoline, but I'd suggest taxing the bejesus out of gasoline and dumping the proceeds into alternate energy research. Especially solar and fusion.

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