Retired Apollo Engineer Adrian F has a unique vision of the future that involves ships out on the ocean using nuclear power to generate hydrogen from sea water. These ships could be miles out and away from the danger zone, coming to shore only to refuel and deposit the hydrogen.
According to an email from Adrian F, “My background has included developing and testing the hydrogen fuel cell electrical power systems for the challenging Apollo program. Now, over 30 years later, GM and other car manufactures around the world spent millions and have developed hydrogen automobiles with refined hydrogen fuel cell power plants. The only waste byproducts from these “green” cars are water.
“The giant challenge to this no carbon emission automobile is we need massive amounts of hydrogen to run them at a reasonable cost of no co2 byproduct production and distribution. My vision is for our government to build an ‘energy fleet’ consisting of nuclear power plants on ships (Russia has it) that would travel the world producing and selling hydrogen. We would be selling energy and hydrogen cars to foreign markets instead of buying them like we do now. (Germany now has wind power on board ships to produce hydrogen.)
“In my vision, the hydrogen is produced from sea water using state of the art high temperature nuclear reactors (like China is now building) cooled by sea water. On board production is done far out to sea away from population centers and sensitive eco systems. The government has large stock piles of nuclear material from the end of the cold war that can be converted to hydrogen. Nuclear waste can be recycled and or deposited in the safe depths of the Arctic Ocean where Russia has been safely doing so for years. With cheap clean nuclear power the hydrogen can be liquefied for efficient storage and distribution.
“This relatively newly developed nuclear technology can produce energy to run our cars with the cost efficiency close to that of oil.( $1.50 / kg) This newer method described above could bring costs for production and distribution under $3 a gallon equivalent. Even factoring in the cost of uranium and enrichment.
“Think of all the people we could put to work building this energy fleet of ships and the hydrogen powered automobiles. And put this investment back into our treasury from the proceeds coming from foreign trade. Selling stock in the government, i.e. Treasury Bonds, War Bonds, Energy Bonds, etc like we did so well during the Second World War, could help fund this program.
“Remember the Liberty ships? The US built over 2700 ships in four years to support the war effort. Imagine a fleet of over 2000 nuclear powered power plants (US Energy Fleet) cruising the world.
“But now we have a greater war to win, not save our liberty, but to save our planet and our economy. Even with all the projects Roosevelt started to bring us out of depression, it took the Second World War effort to bring prosperity back to our country. This is the kind of all out effort we need now. Short of saving and replanting the rain forest, can we think of a greater effort that can make a real difference to save the planet.”
Now, there are those who will not want to see nuclear power succeed at any cost. For them, ships out to sea may want to use wind or solar power to create hydrogen instead of nuclear energy. But, the point is to give some thought to have large ships upon the ocean not only creating hydrogen but then delivering it to where it needs to go. It’s this kind of outside-the-box thinking that we need to consider if hydrogen cars and the H2 economy are to move forward.