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    Gerry Snyder’s article on hydrogen uses TimberJay 4/23/2021

    ALL OUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET         Gerry Snyder

     April 23rd 2021      Published in the TimberJay, Ely MN

    The New York Times headlines declared, “Auto Industry Bets its Future on Batteries.’ The newspaper could have accurately said, “The Biden Administration Bets its Future on Batteries.” According to recent reports, the Administration’s multi-trillion dollar proposed infrastructure bill has extensive incentives for consumers and manufacturers to market battery-powered forms of transportation. Has the administration given consideration of the danger of having our transport system dependent on a national electricity grid? Has it considered the detrimental impact on our environment? Has it considered the possible increase in unemployment? Has it considered the impact on our military logistics? Has it realistically considered alternative power sources?


    Encouraged by the Administration, manufacturers are taking action to convert their power products from using fossil fuels to plug-in electricity power. This massive transfer of energy requirement will be solely dependent on our national electric grid network. The system will need upgrading and significant additional power plant capacity to supply electricity to the 250 million vehicles (re NYT) in the U.S. plus trucks, buses, trains, equipment for farming, mining, road building and industrial operations.

    The grid system will always be vulnerable to breakdowns in part or in whole due to severe weather conditions, equipment failure, or sabotage which will expose a large number of people to a variety of risks when not if, blackouts occur. When a large area of the country is blacked out for a few days or more, cars, buses, ambulances, fire equipment, delivery trucks, heavy equipment will be helpful only to the extent of what electricity is left from their last battery charge. The half million new charging stations which the legislation proposes (almost four times the present number of U.S. gas stations) will not have electricity to recharge their batteries in those areas of a blackout.

    The United States should not put all of its “eggs” in one basket i.e., transportation, lighting, heating and electric power systems all of which would depend on the grid.


    Hydrogen fuel power is a viable alternative to the overloading of the national electrical grid and appears to get only token funding from the legislation. Its viability is not a theory. It is a reality. California already has 7,500 hydrogen vehicles on the road. Other applications of hydrogen power are in use or in testing stage for school and municipal buses, trucks of all sizes, light and heavy equipment, trains, and ships. The Economist reported that Airbus anticipates new large passenger jets will be powered by hydrogen fuel. Stationary hydrogen fuel power is used for buildings and factories.

    Hydrogen is limitless. It is the most abundant resource in the universe. Hydrogen cells can store immense amounts of energy, far more than today’s batteries can hold and it’s scalable. Proton exchange electrolysis can economically separate water into hydrogen and oxygen and it does not emit harmful emissions, Green hydrogen is developed using renewable power sources such as wind, solar, hydro power and geothermal to produce green hydrogen.

    Saudi Arabia is building a huge green hydrogen plant on the banks of the Red Sea. The plant will be powered solely by wind and solar to make green fuel for export and reduce its country’s dependence on petrodollars. The plant will operate without polluting.


    The raw materials for batteries include components that are mined from the earth and require a smelting process to extract metals. The process uses heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the one and leave the metal. Smelting has serious detrimental effects on the environment, producing wastewater, slag and vapors discharged into the atmosphere. The gases released are from copper, silver, iron, cobalt, selenium and sulfur. The impact of these detrimental emissions is of worldwide concern, not just local. All the venting becomes part of the Earth’s canopy of greenhouse gases.

    The manufacturing of batteries is dependent on minerals primarily mined in China, and consequently, is subject to the vicissitudes of trade uncertainties. Since the electrical energy in batteries continuously deteriorate, it limits the ability to stockpile them which is a critical concern for military preparedness. Moreover, “dead” batteries are not fully recyclable. Charging batteries can take a long time, sometimes longer than an hour depending on the “level of the charging rate and cannot be serviced in gasoline stations due to lack of space. So, the proposed legislation plan is to financially support an estimated half million charging stations. (That is almost four times the present number of gas stations. The country’s total proposed charging stations will require a minimum of one million acres of concrete or asphalt to accommodate cars plus buses, RVs, and trucks many of which will have large batteries requiring increased time in the charging stations to recharge their batteries. Batteries are heavy and can weigh as much as 12,000 to 15,000 pounds for a long-haul Class 8 truck representing a lot of environmental degradation.

    Batteries generally have shorter driving range than hydrogen fuels and performance is affected by extreme temperature changes. Their capacity deteriorates over varying periods of time whether the battery is used or not.


    A fuel cell system running on hydrogen is compact and having no major moving parts or combustion, results in an extremely high reliability and experiences little or no downtime. Hydrogen fuel does not emit harmful pollution, zero, only pure water vapor.

    In addition to supplying power to transportation components, hydrogen facilities can “store” its electricity in a tank, unlike storing wind and solar energy that accommodate peak demands using mega batteries. Battery power degrades over time whether or not the battery is being used. In addition, battery performance is further eroded when subjected to severe weather changes and has a terminal life.


    Bulk hydrogen can be transported by trucks, ships, rail or pipelines, according to The Wall Street Journal (which is important for military usage.) The United States has three million miles of pipelines some of which can be retrofitted to carry hydrogen. With expectation of a decline of fossil fuels, pipeline companies would welcome an alternative. With 128,000 gas retail service stations looking to replace declining gasoline consumption, hydrogen dispensing pumps could be substituted. This hydrogen will have storage tanks to meet their regular service needs and the pumps can be operated by hydrogen in periods of blackouts. The pumps are about the same size as the current gasoline pumps and take the same amount or time to fill a tank as gasoline.


    Hydrogen is contained in liquid form in thick-walled tanks. According to auto manufacturer BMW, “Hydrogen is flammable, but an uncontrolled reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in the operation of a fuel is virtually impossible. Numerous crash tests have confirmed the safety of hydrogen cars. We should not forget hydrogen technology is not new but is tried and tested in a range of fields. Hydrogen pipelines and storage facilities have been in operation for decades.” Other car manufacturers that have hydrogen test cars on the road, not in the lab, are Toyota, Renault, Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai.


    Hydrogen fuel cell cars produce electricity themselves. In essence, they have their efficient power plant and electric motor on board. The fuel cell technology is reverse electrolysis by which the hydrogen from vehicles tanks reacts with oxygen coming from an ambient air intake to create electrical energy. The energy is transferred by electric wire to an electric motor that powers the wheels. The only emission takes the form of pure water vapor. The vehicles can also recapture braking energy which converts into electrical energy.

    The bottom line is that it appears that the Biden Administration is allocating a disproportion of its resources to battery driven transportation to the deterrent of the advantages of hydrogen transportation and does not address the issue of the major increased dependence on the national grid.


    1. The United States should not be entirely dependent on our national electric grid with no alternative form of energy.
    2.  Hydrogen electricity should be developed.
    3. The 128,000 gasoline stations will be deprived of their prime source of revenue, creating unemployment and triggering bankruptcies.
    4. If the national grid is partly or entirely shut down, the lack of electricity after local batteries die may cause civil unrest.
    5. The United States military cannot stockpile batteries because their energy deteriorates over time and the uncertainties of China being the predominate source of raw materials for manufacturing batteries
    6. The mining of raw materials batteries is detrimental to our world’s environment.

    Gerry Snyder
    Ely, MN


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