Swimming in Fuel

Let’s talk about virtually free energy. Let’s talk about hydrogen. Hydrogen, as you may know, is the most abundant element in the universe – by a very large margin. Contrast hydrogen with uranium, which is one of the most scarce elements in the universe. Uranium is used to fuel all of the world’s nuclear reactors today. It is scarce, expensive, and fraught with tremendous numbers of difficulties when used as directed. Even when used per “the manufacturer’s instructions”, we are confronted with tremendous exposure to radiation hazards, accidents, and ultimately, nuclear waste. Einstein was once quoted as saying “nuclear energy is one hell of a way to boil water”. And so it is.

 

On the other hand, hydrogen burns clean, and leaves no waste products. Burning hydrogen creates pure water. Hydrogen is everywhere. As mentioned above, it is the most abundant element in the universe. And yet, despite the fact that it is arguably the world’s most efficient and abundant source of heat, it is not used as such in the world today. Let’s think about that for a moment…

 

Why isn’t hydrogen the primary source of fuel in the world today? Well, for one thing, it is difficult to store. In order for it to be packaged as a fuel we need to compress it, and then store it in some kind of tank. Carbon fiber or other steel reinforced tanks might be a solution. But in order to compress enough hydrogen into a tank which would easily fit into our trunk is problematic at best. Also, hydrogen stored in a tank presents another set of risks. One of the reasons hydrogen is such a remarkably efficient fuel is that it burns very easily. In fact, it burns so quickly that it becomes important that it be stored apart from oxygen. Because if it is stored/compressed together with oxygen it is becomes tremendously explosive. Yet, paradoxically it needs oxygen in order to burn.

 

By way of example, a few years ago I was experimenting with a friend in Colorado. We were doing hydrolysis research in my garage. At one point we had a noticeable bubble of hydrogen and oxygen floating on top of a soapy mixture of water, sitting in my driveway. It was not a huge bubble – it was roughly the size of a golf ball. My friend looked at that bubble and thought I wonder how big a bang this will make?  

He pulled out his lighter and began to bend toward the bubble. I had a suspicion that the explosion was going to be bigger than he was expecting, and I began backing up. Well, I can tell you that the shockwave of the explosion was not enough to hurt them.  However, the tremendous sound of the bang that erupted when he put the lighter to that bubble knocked him off his feet. I am sure that my neighbors 500 yards away, at the very end of the block, jumped up and asked what the hell was that? We are talking cherry bomb or M80 blast. A single golf ball sized bubble of hydrogen and oxygen produced that kind of a blast.

 

I know that not all of my readers believe in God. Others perhaps believe that God exists but are not convinced that this being is necessarily compassionate, benevolent, or otherwise possessing what we might consider to be a parental heart. However, for the sake of this discussion I would ask people to put aside their skepticism for a moment and just imagine that such a being exists, and created hydrogen as the perfect fuel for humanity.  Such a divine being would consider not only making hydrogen the most abundant element in the universe, but also devise a means of safely compressing hydrogen until it could be compressed no further. He might also have conceived of a way to combine this compressed hydrogen with oxygen in a perfect ratio, so that it would always burn perfectly, cleanly, without any need for any other elements.

 

As we discussed earlier, the problem with this scenario is that if oxygen and hydrogen are combined to a perfect burning combination, it becomes VERY explosive. What if, through some divine miracle, this perfect ratio of compressed hydrogen and oxygen, the ultimate and perfect fuel, were somehow to be made non-explosive? How cool would that be? Well, it turns out that this is exactly what happened.

 

The ultimate fuel, hydrogen and oxygen mixed together in a perfectly stochiometric mix, condensed as far as it can be, so much so that abundant amounts of fuel can be carried easily in very small containers, is…. WATER.

 

Think about that for a moment. Water is the perfect mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. It is compressed hydrogen mixed with compressed oxygen. We are literally swimming in this stuff. The oceans are full of it. And, amazingly, this perfect fuel which should be so explosive that we dare not get too near it, is not explosive. In fact, we use it to put out fires. Further, we drink it several times a day. We excrete it when we urinate. There is no reason, no rational reason, that we cannot use our own urine to heat our homes, to power our cars, and to otherwise energize our lives. Transcontinental boat rides should/can be easily powered by the water beneath the ships.

Now, I know that some will say that this is coincidental, and certainly not evidence that a divine being planned these things as I suggested above. However, there is no question that if such a divine being exists, and if that divine being wanted to create the ultimate fuel, package it safely, and make it widely available to humanity, he could not have done a better job than to package it in a substance such as water.

 

Water is the ultimate fuel. In the rather near future humanity will certainly learn how to freely and easily crack water into a form we can burn at will. How cool is that? The future is bright.

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2 responses

  1. I am still rather young and at school but as far as I know, if you were to be able to split the water molecules at 100% efficencey (this is impossible at the moment) and then burn the HHO and extract all the “energy” from this you would be left with nothing, because you have used the same amount of energy to split it as to what you are left over with. If you were to use solar energy or some thing along those lines you could power a electrolysis device and be left with HHO gas. Unfortunately you are then just using the water as a energy storage device instead of a power supply. Not that there is any thing wrong with that but as you said storage is a big problem. I was almost kicked out of my bording house at school for blowing a hole through the roof with a really small amount. I would hate to see a tank of the stuff sitting behind you going off in a car accident.

  2. hi Richard, you almost blew a hole through the roof? It is amazing how much energy is stored in a small amount of hydrogen gas isn’t it ? the substance of your question is whether or not it takes exactly the same amount of energy to get hydrogen out of water as one gets when burning it. That point of view was developed by a man named Faraday, a very very long time ago. But he was working with instrumentation that would seem crude to even elementary school science project today. Rusty nails and weak batteries. He knew nothing of rare earth metals,high-speed diodes, transistors or capacitors.
    My supposition is that it is possible to split water almost at will – we simply need to know how . Mind you, I am not saying that I know how to do it. In fact, I don’t. I am simply suggesting to you that there was a time when it seemed impossible for airplanes to fly. It seemed impossible to float hundreds of tons of steel in the middle of the ocean. But then, we learned how to make airplanes. We learned how to make battleships. Likewise, we will soon learn how to crack water with ease.
    In the meantime, keep studying. Maybe you will be the one who unlocks this riddle. It will be someone; it may as well be you!

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