Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My debate with Patrick at the National Hydrogen Association

Patrick of the NHA commented yesterday on my last blog

Hey, that's funny Lindsay. The National Hydrogen Association did take physics 101. It's why we know how to make small, efficient planes, vehicles that go over 300mph, fuel cells that can power a building, silently with no emissions and cars that travel over 400 miles on one tank and fill-up in 2-5 minutes. You don't have to slanderize and badmouth other technologies to promote your own. There's room for innovation from everyone. You can disagree all you want, but let's place nice, like gown-ups.

My reply to Patrick

Hey Patrick glad you read the piece. I have no technology that I own or promote. I just promote knowledge and help folks understand in a simplified way the laws of thermo dynamics.

OK so you guys powered a 35 pound drone with 4 pounds of hydrogen and kept it aloft for 23 hours with a 0.75 kw fuel cell. Please tell us how much the US Navy paid for this toy? A fuel cell vehicle like the Honda needs about 0.3 kwh per mile. This means we need 0.5 kwh of hydrogen as the FC is approx 60% efficient. The production of H2 from natural gas is approx 75% efficient so we need 0.67 kwh of natural gas for the vehicle to go a mile. A gallon of gasoline has 33.7 kwh so your Honda fuel cell vehicle gets 50 mpg equivalent. Same as the Prius on Gasoline. The prius is sold (not leased) for $22,000 and the Honda fuel cell vehicle costs Honda over $400,000 to produce.

Patrick you should get real and you should stop playing games nicely. I could have taken the 4 pounds of hyrogen that were burned in keeping the drone aloft and used them in a balloon to displace 28 pounds of air and therefore lifted 24 pounds of balloon plus load. Let's say the balloon weighs 4 pounds so I can lift 20 pounds of payload. The lighter than air blimp will need about 1/3 the fuel to go the same distance as the drone as I do not need thrust for lift and only need thrust for propulsion. Now that you have learned physics 001 please go to Congress for another $3 billion of my tax money so It can be wasted on repulsion instead of propulsion.

Patrick let's continue this debate as I note you are the Vice President, Technology and Communications of the National Hydrogen Association. Readers you can also go to the NHA site at http://www.hydrogenassociation.org/ Patrick after our debate we will poll the greenexplored readers to see if they have been given value for $3 billion of tax payer funding.


  1. Seems to me it's not about Physics 101 OR "playing fair." It's about real data (a' la LL) not top line bluff and bluster (a' la P). When I want the top line pitch that sounds oh so wonderful, I can go to local news stations or venture capitalists. When I want the bottom line reality, I'll take Lindsay every day. ESS

  2. Is there a National Oxygen Association?

  3. Sometimes new technology costs a bunch up front, but the thing that concerns me is the return on energy input vs out put The fact we are still talking about extracting hydrogent from various forms of fossil fuels is ridiculous. How is that of any benefit whatsoever?
    It would be preferable to utilize technology whose primary, secondary and tertiary purpose is not subsidizing the oil companies.

  4. TWS yeah there is the National Oxygen Association they will use oxygen to resuscitate the fuel cell industry after it dies from lack of pork funding by the feds. Pike how about using your legs and walking? Extracting hydrogen from natural gas cost half or even a quarter of extracting it by electrolysis of water. I am sick of folks who want to drive cars yet dream that hydrogen will come for free like the rain from the sky. Even rain is no longer free as we seed clouds. Pike time to get off the turnpike and onto the sidewalk.
    Sharps I wish I was only half as sharp as you. Even then I would be four times as smart as the sharpest memeber on congress

  5. Alright Lindsay. This isn't very friendly, but I'll respond, this once.

    About your balloon. It’s not all about payload, it’s about staying in the air for long periods of time, flying specific routes silently and flying undetected so that it won’t get shot down. Something at which your balloon would fail miserably.

    About the Clarity. If you’d rather use gasoline in a Prius, go right ahead. But the Honda FCX Clarity produces 40% fewer emissions well-to-wheels (even when the hydrogen is made from natural gas), gets 60 miles per gallon equivalent (you can check their website next time--it's more accurate: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/specifications.aspx), and uses zero gasoline. I’m going with the Clarity, leased at $600/mo, including all maintenance, fuel and insurance for collision and damage. (You should know that it’s not for sale yet, and I know you didn’t get the $400,000 price tag from Honda, so let’s just call that a bogus, made up number.)

    For fun, I checked to see what a lease for a new gasoline-electric Prius would cost, and it’s almost $500/mo, not including the maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc. So even though the FCX Clarity is not yet a production vehicle, you can still get one for about the same price today (or cheaper) than you can a Prius. http://www.automotive.com/2009/12/toyota/prius/lease/index.html

  6. Patrick this is going to be a hat trick. Products are measured by their market penetration. The Prius has sold one million and the FCX Clarity has so far leased 10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_FCX_Clarity The Clarity has 100 kw fuel cell and per my information from Ballard a PEM fuel cell still sells for about $7,000 per kw so right there we have $700,000 for the fuel cell. I was being kind saying $400,000. To support my arithmatic I offerin you the following. Ballard is a leading member of your association and they reported their second quarter 2009 results with revenues from fuel cells of just over $9.65 million and that they sold 340 backup fuel cells and 12 material handling fuel cells. Their web site lists the maxiumm kw for material handling as 19.3 kw and the backup as 3.4 kw. Multiplying out the number of fuel cells sold in the quarter we get that they sold a mximum of 1,388 kw of fuel cells for a price of $9.65 million or $6,952 per kw. Maybe Honda knows that Bernie Madoff lost people's money by selling too many item for less than they cost. Honda is doing the FCX for the press and is willing to loose ten of fifteen million dollars for the publicity.

    Getting back to your good friends Ballard their end of 2008 balance sheet show they have retained earnings of minus $1.12 billion. This means they have had cumulative losses of 1.12 billion dollars over the years they have tried to perfect their fuel cell. They are the poster child of the money wasted on this betamax technology. Let's add the losses of some of your other members (Proton Energy Systems, Millenium Fuel Cell, Plug Power, Hydrogenics, FuelCell Energy) to Ballrd and these fool cell folks have lost over $3 billion collectively in their attempt to get this dead end to market. Add the government waste and well as the money invested by the major auto firms and this junk was given over $6 billion to go nowhere. Honda has placed 10 fuel cell FCXs in service. Give me a Break. Actually Give me a Brake and I will regenerate energy in the Prius.

    On the wells to wheels story I was being kind. If the hydrogen is prodcued by electricty that was generated by the average source of electricity in the US grid the FCX GETS 40 MPG equivalent. Patrick please tell me your educational background. Are you an engineer? Have you studied thermodynamics? I wish to continue the debate. Sincerely The Green Machine

  7. This sounds all very good to me. Patrick, how much longer do you think it is going to take until a hydrogen powered car costs the same as a gas powered car? I am in my late 50's, will I still be alive? If not, then I suggest the government spend tax payer’s money on something else and let private entrepreneurs work on the hydrogen car.
    Why do you continue promoting a lost cause?

  8. Good on you Lindsay - far too many of these technologies are given far too much money on flimsy pretexts

  9. Lindsay - well done. Patrick says there is enough room for multiple areas of innovation, sure, but I'd argue that there isn't enough time or funds to explore these dead ends. Imagine where $3 billion would get the US if it were put towards developing renewable energy that actually made thermodynamic sense... it would give large steps toward energy independence too.


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