People Get Ready

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NPR’s amateur hydrogen car story

Posted by schroeder915 on November 29, 2005

Letter to NPR commenting on a hydrogen fuel cell car story:

Scott Horsley’s story about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles was cute, but irresponsibly misleading. Without substantiating his statement, Horsley said that “hydrogen is abundant.” Any 5th grader could probably tell you that the atmosphere is comprised of 78 percent Nitrogen, 21 percent Oxygen, 1 percent Argon. Any remaining gases, like hydrogen, are found in tiny trace amounts.
The reality is that hydrogen *is abundant*, but it’s bound up with other atoms in compound molecules, like water. Horsley’s statement is irresponsible — and really quite amateur. Energy companies — and, consequently, the Bush administration — love hydrogen fuel cell technology because they know that the only way to produce hydrogen at present is through a methanol steam process using coal or natural gas as the prime material. The process is very inefficient. We’d be better off just running cars on natural gas. Meanwhile, extracting hydrogen gas from water requires more energy than it creates. Hydrogen cars would be wonderful, if they were realistic. Scott Horsley should do more homework next time, and NPR should make better editorial judgments before it airs stories like this.

Previously in PGR, “Why hydrogen?”

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