The Hydra Headed Hydrogen Hoax on future "Freedom" cars


Also see:, Our free online encyclopedia put together by many of us.

"Electric vehicles are typically 3 to 4 times as efficient as hydrogen powered vehicles.[22]"

I love any material like hydrogen, but as an engineer, I do not like how so many, have misrepresented and misused hydrogen, especially for its use with cars. So, I decided to be an advocate, for some of the truths about hydrogen.

I do not expect this subject to be rated very high, simply because there are strong feeling by those in the false hydrogen religion.  And there are also strong feelings from those like me that know enough about chemistry and physics.  I can understand why the hydrogen religion only focuses on the clean exhaust and the abundance of hydrogen.  Unfortunately, some are in denial about the other properties of hydrogen that make hydrogen impractical in the long run, without several miracles.  I can understand why multinational corporations like Shell Oil wanted to kill the electric car in California.  Multinational corporations that have their oil in competition with electric power have an incentive to compete unethically with power that comes mainly from coal, hydro, wind, nuclear, and solar as it increases in cost effectiveness.     

Hydrogen cars have been high carbon footprint cars.   They use more natural gas and energy than any natural gas car and or use more coal electricity than any electric car. Plug in electric cars and their hybrids are the most energy efficient cars so far, and are the most likely, to continue to become even more efficient. Even GM is waking up with their Volt electric car. We do not need to go even more in debt, with McCain's borrowed prize money stunt, because a vast market for better batteries is already here, and free market access has not been closed.

Liquid hydrogen is very expensive and most likely to remain expensive. If you want to make a lot of money, just go to the political capitals of DC and Sacramento to fill up your industrial red hydrogen cylinders at the highly subsidized Shell stations. Then go sell your hydrogen to commercial customers, at better rates than any competition. You will be amazed at the fantastic profit potential.  This will quickly expose the “cheap hydrogen” hoax, and make you temporarily rich in the process.  Once their hoax is exposed, your profitable business will be over. 

Our local News Post and most media I have read still continue to publish incomplete hydrogen car articles. Also, misleading hydrogen car stories are still distributed by multinational corporations, like Shell and GM, to big media. Shell and GM are even trying to defraud the United States Post Office by their offers.  They are acting like traitors to our future by using their hydrogen car hoax, to continue fooling us like they fooled our President and Governor Schwarzenegger. How could they knowingly push this energy alternative, that uses up more energy, that leaves them with more market share of what is left? You could choose to patronize corporations like BP, that recently dropped the hydrogen hoax from their ads and boycott those that do not tell you the whole truth.

I bought the movie "Who Killed The Electric Car".  See: The movie tells about the five (5) miracles that would be needed to make the hydrogen car PRACTICAL!  I am an engineer and I knew that they were telling the truth and that back then GM and Shell were playing the shell game, are were not telling the truth.  Find out who else were involved.  It is really a good and fair movie. GM now admits they were mistaken about the electric car and will be wanting to sell you their new electric car.  But our electric power grid is high carbon footprint, so far.  And we would be much better off with biodiesel cars with almost no carbon footprint. 

Some kids for a science fair could show that for the same electricity a battery car would go far further than a hydrogen car that used the same electricity to separate the hydrogen from water and to compress the hydrogen to 10000 psi.  Then they could show that for the same amount of natural gas and same energy to compress it to liquid you can go far further in a Civic GX than you can in a hydrogen car that had to separate out the hydrogen from the same natural gas and then compress the hydrogen to 10000 psi with the same energy that also had to separate the hydrogen.  You would end up with far less energy to run the car.

See: About the Hoax's Impact, On Efficiency and On the Bottom Line from PBS.ORG.

for a place to start to check on the energy efficiencies involved in working with hydrogen.
as a starting place about how hydrogen reacts with metals.

JC wrote on "
Even when the goals of the FreedomCar program are met, hydrogen from renewable energy will still be only 38% efficient at delivering electricity to the motor. The grid and batteries will be over 80%."

One problem with hydrogen is that the hydrogen atoms love oxygen atoms too much, so it takes a lot of energy to separate them.  Another problem is that when hydrogen atoms are separate, they hate each other, and take a lot of energy to compress them to liquid.  They become very dangerous when imprisoned like that.  In fact, so far they must be vented in 2 days, up to at best so far, 6 days.  Then they race to the top of our atmosphere to cause God knows what.  Letting the compressed energy out by an accident can be a real mess.   Another problem is that hydrogen atoms also love carbon and you lose energy to separate them and lose some of the energy potential in the carbon.
We can discover how to recover:

The Hydra Headed Hydrogen Hoax on future "Freedom" cars

When I first heard President Bush talk about future hydrogen cars in his state of the union address, I knew something was wrong, since I had learned to be a systems engineer at UCLA in 1963.  I just did not know how wrong, President Bush was, in pursuing this alternative for my country.  I did not know that GM and Shell did not want mileage standards and wanted to kill the electric car in California.  But, I began to find those that did the math, and looked at the details of the challenges, of this hydrogen hoax.  There is a good comparison between using biodiesel or hydrogen at that shows how much better biodiesel is than hydrogen for cars.  The University of New Hamshire also had a very good page at to explore the use of algae for biodiesel and more information about hydrogen.

The bottom line is that hydrogen will be just too expensive for cars and waste more energy.  Fuel cells and hydrogen are both very expensive.  Hydrogen in its bright red cylinders is already in mass production, to do things like make hydrogenated vegetable oils that make us fat and clog up our veins.  The price of those bright red cylinders of hydrogen will go up as the price of energy and supplies go up.  I found someone that did the math, using today's technology for hydrogen cylinders.  Liquid hydrogen is even more expensive, and the tanks are heaver, and liquid hydrogen is more dangerous.  

How much would the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline cost?

C Johnson, Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago had results of $84 per gallon of gasoline of August 2008.  6$ per gallon of gasoline or $5 per gallon of biodiesel is looking really good from the hydrogen perspective.  Biodiesel works out far better from a low carbon footprint perspective.  The GM "Evolution" car may have 10,000 psi tanks that will cost much more than $84 per gallon of gas equivalent  to fill.

See: "Hydrogen as a Fuel for Automobiles"

What have some engineers, that could do the math, wrote?

There is a good report on hydrogen:  "Energy and the Hydrogen Economy" by Ulf Bossel, Fuel Cell Consultant, and Baldur Eliasson, ABB Switzerland Ltd., of 8 January 2003, that is available in PDF format on a link at  It said in part:

"...the intent of this compilation is to create an awareness about the weaknesses of a pure hydrogen economy. We are surprised to discover that, apparently, the energy needed to run a hydrogen economy have never been fully assessed before."

Basically this report on hydrogen usage says that using Liquid Natural Gas, makes more sense than converting LNG to hydrogen. You would lose efficiency by the conversion and would throw away the energy of burning the carbon to CO2.  The CO2 would be produced from the conversion anyway.  Hydrogen fuel is much harder to handle, takes more space, and uses much more expensive fuel tanks. Converting from electricity is an even bigger loser and would require nuclear electric plants for mass usage.  I read a newspaper automotive article about using borax for hydrogen storage that cost about 50 times today's gas cost.

Hydrogen fuel is much harder to handle, takes more space, and much more expensive fuel tanks. Its basic problem is that hydrogen is very light and very capable of working through tiny places.  Converting from electricity is an even bigger loser.

On 11/13/2002 wrote in part:

"In January, the Bush administration abandoned a Clinton-era effort to produce highly fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles. In its place, the administration announced a joint effort with automakers to promote hydrogen fuel cell powered cars and trucks,"   Ford had a prototype diesel hybrid and it scared the Japanese, that could do the math, so much, that they are working on their diesel hybrids.  I predicted then that they are likely to beat out the USA again.  We have too many MBA and Lawyers running our corporations and the world has more Engineers.

On 01/04/2003 wrote in part:

"Critics say the Bush administration and auto industry are using fuel cell research as a way to fend off calls for vehicles that get more miles per gallon."

"The whole business about fuel cell vehicles is just political theater," said analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities."

On 03/05/2003 wrote in part:

"One of the biggest issues is how to lower the cost of producing hydrogen-fueled vehicles, whose price tag is $1 million to $2 million now.

One of the biggest cost drivers is the fuel cell itself, which costs about $200,000 each."

A better idea would be to pursue hybrid cars and renewable organic oils.

From: "The Hydrogen Report, Executive Summary, An Examination of the Role of Hydrogen In Achieving U.S. Energy Independence" "The Emperor Hydrogen has no clothes"  Executive Summary and full text

"Conclusions [Comments not in quote]

What then should be our choice of a clean alternate energy strategy? We believe that, with the exception of a few special situations:

Hydrogen is not appropriate as a fuel, notwithstanding its zero carbon content [by itself, but not in its production]- it is simply too energy-intensive, difficult and dangerous to produce and use.

If hydrogen is used, it must not be sourced from either electricity (itself a derived energy carrier) or natural gas (an energy source in short supply with many other priority users).

Coal, rather than oil or natural gas, should be the energy source for any alternate fuel strategy, especially one that is based on derived energy carriers.

Ammonia, despite difficulties in its use, may be the optimum choice of carbon-free energy carriers; however, we do not believe that it is necessary to use carbon-free fuels – reduced carbon fuels are sufficient.

Methanol, methane, synthetic natural gas (SNG), all represent excellent reduced carbon fuels (relative to direct coal, gasoline and other hydrocarbons) that can be derived from coal and used with much greater convenience and efficiency and at a much lower energy cost than hydrogen.

Since all of these low-carbon fuels can be used as direct fuels in alternative designs of fuel cell, we believe that emphasis should be placed on the further development of such cells, with appropriate capability included for additional carbon sequestration – if needed.

Direct methanol fuel cells may be the best choice for transportation use in view of their low temperature of operation, but much more work is required to improve their efficiency.

Hydrogen has been greatly oversold by ‘evangelists” in the USDOE and elsewhere and also by the environmental lobby, including some very persuasive writers who are adept at choosing half truths to fit their preconceived conclusions. In short, upon close and objective examination, we find that The Emperor Hydrogen has no Clothes."

"Though it is not our intention to politicize the issue of the hydrogen economy, we take strong exception to the five principal foundations of the proposed Bush Hydrogen Fuel Plan:

1. Fuel cells are a proven technology

False. Fuel cells are proven to work, but the technology to reduce manufacturing cost by an order of magnitude has not been developed, nor has the reliability or durability of low-cost fuel cells been demonstrated. In addition, we do not support the prevailing view that hydrogen is the best fuel for fuel cells.

2. The (Hydrogen Fuel Plan) initiatives will overcome key technical and cost barriers for fuel cells

False. Even if fuel cell technology advances dramatically, the major cost barriers are associated with the manufacturing and distribution of hydrogen fuel itself. These issues are inexorably linked to the laws of physics and thermodynamics.

3. Hydrogen fuel will help ensure America's energy independence

False. America will consume substantially more non-renewable energy in a hydrogen economy that it consumes today. Unless our huge reserves of coal (or nuclear power) are tapped, we will be increasingly dependent on foreign energy supplies (of oil and natural gas) with each passing year

4. Fuel cells will improve air quality and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions

False. Again, America will consume substantially more fossil energy in a hydrogen economy that it consumes today and therefore create more emissions. The public needs a much more fundamental understanding of these critical issues – as do politicians.

5. Hydrogen is the key to a clean energy future

False. As we have seen, hydrogen is quite a dirty fuel as currently manufactured. In our view, the only viable, clean, and scalable methods for producing enough energy to manufacture the huge quantities of hydrogen required are nuclear and Zero Emissions Coal. Neither of these technologies are the focus of the Bush plan.

We should give serious consideration to dropping the hydrogen mantra and adopt a “transitional fuels” paradigm that allows fuel cell development to continue on a sustainable economic path while the longer-term issues regarding hydrogen are resolved. A natural hydrogen carrier such as natural gas, methane, a liquid hydrocarbon or methanol, represents a viable alternative to pure hydrogen for fuel cells, as they require far less energy to extract the hydrogen at the point of use and can readily be derived from coal.

Our coal reserves are the most attractive fuel source on which to base the production of these transitional fuels. The extensive reserves in North America suggest that a 400-year (or more) supply of feedstocks exist in this form at present consumption rates. The prospects for developing new methods of coal conversion with near zero atmospheric emissions should be aggressively pursued as a national strategic defense priority.

The development of this coal technology could lay the foundation for a new generation of power plants and conversion facilities, which not only produce clean electricity from coal, but also manufacture methane and methanol for commercial heating and transportation.

Moreover, we submit that it is neither necessary nor economically desirable to completely eliminate CO2 emissions from vehicles. The reduced CO2 emissions from the new power-generating facilities we propose will substantially offset modest CO2 emissions from vehicles, particularly with the introduction of relatively clean-burning SOFC fuel cells using methanol. While we acknowledge that this migration to new technology will take decades, the dire (and, we submit, for the most part incorrect) global predictions of some environmentalists can be averted with steady progress toward cleaner fuels.

Given pressing timing concerns with regard to remaining oil supplies, we must also give consideration to the path we will take to address and finally solve the tremendously complex technical issues ahead. In the past, science has taken quite a ‘meandering’ path to discovery and development. That approach now may have severe consequences to our civilization. A more pragmatic approach may be called for to solve these issues, so that the required technical and human resources available can be sharply focused on coal, methane, and methanol.

Finally, we must have is a more thoughtful public debate about the merits of the hydrogen economy as proposed by the Administration. The huge investments that are anticipated in this well-intentioned but sadly misdirected proclamation will seriously impair the development of more rational energy alternatives.

-----end ----"

From: “Twenty Hydrogen Myths” by John R. Wilson, Ph.D.

"Our Preamble

In his recent paper “Twenty Hydrogen Myths”, Dr. Amory Lovins, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute addresses some of the important issues regarding the proposed future “hydrogen economy”1. He describes some of the discussion that has occurred as “conflicting, confusing and often ill-informed” and claims that some issues have been raised solely as reasons for not developing a “Hydrogen Economy”.

He is right on both counts but his paper adds to the problem by:

(a) Failing to address adequately several of the key issues that render hydrogen non-viable as a fuel on both economic and technical grounds.

(b) Addressing a lot of his favorite issues, many of which have little to do with the viability of hydrogen and

(c) Providing misleading and “conflicting, confusing and often ill-informed” information on some of the issues that he does address.

To add to the confusion, several of the “myths” that he identifies really are myths – but most are not."

References to check out: "Energy Independence" "One of Our Future Energy Visions" "The Hydrogen Economy - An Idea Whose Time Hasn't Come ... Again" by Don Lancaster with a lot of humor , and he can do the math. "Hydrogen's Dirty Secret"

What to do?

1.  Thank the Apollo Alliance for working for our energy independence, and tell them why they need to drop the hydrogen hoax.

2.  Tell Bush and all our politicians that they have been conned on hydrogen, and see who catches on first.

3.  See: and for the BioDiesel Alternative.

How can we make this challenge simple?

Some people are in this false hydrogen cult that believe that a hydrogen economy is practical.  It is like believing that you will draw four aces and a joker in a just shuffled deck of cards.  The odds against that happening are astronomical because of the laws of thermodynamics, physics and chemistry.  Then, there is the reality of economics.

One way to see how unwise a hydrogen car is, try some experiments on the practicality and feasibility of the hydrogen car, if only in your mind.  

First experiment: Take a small model car with an electric motor and batteries. Use fresh batteries and find out how far it runs.

Then, take the same fresh batteries and use the batteries up to separate hydrogen from water and to compress the maximum amount of hydrogen. Make it so that the hydrogen and the fuel cells fit in the place of the batteries. This helps demonstrate the extent of the losses of energy when electrical energy is used to make hydrogen and to compress the hydrogen. Watch the model car go such a very small fraction of the distance, that the car went with the batteries. The reason that the hydrogen car goes such a very small fraction of the distance is that there is a large energy lost in separating and compressing the hydrogen.

Do the same experiment with a full sized electric battery car using the same amount of energy that charges the batteries, to separate and compress the hydrogen.  The results will be the same, where the charged battery takes the car much further than the hydrogen.  Electric battery cars are not too efficient either, because there is energy lost in charging the battery, and in the transmission lines from the power plant.  And there is the environmental impact in generating the electrical energy in the first place.  That is something that California caught on to, several years after they made car companies, make battery cars.  California gave up on the electrical car pseudo panacea, but their new governor of the Hollywood and Hydrogen cults, has a new pseudo panacea.  Governor Schwarzenegger just does not know is that it makes far more real sense to to have a small biodiesel engine in the car to keep the battery charged and provide additional power.  Governor Schwarzenegger does not know that hydrogen cars are a looser and is off trying to set up hydrogen stations.  Governor Schwarzenegger, in his ignorance, is only making the energy fall of California more likely.

Second experiment: Take a full sized compressed natural gas [CNG] car.  See how far it runs on its full compressed natural gas tanks.  

Then, start over to compare the CNG car to a hydrogen car. Take the same amount of CNG in the CNG car.  Take most of the natural gas for energy to run the reforming of natural gas process, to make hydrogen.  Take the remainder of the natural gas to compress the hydrogen back into the natural gas tanks.  You will not need new tanks, since you will not get much hydrogen into them.  Of course you take the risks of hydrogen embrittling the tanks and fuel system and getting out, due to its nature, but the hydrogen will not be there long.  This experiment helps demonstrate the extent of the losses of energy when natural gas is used to make hydrogen. Watch the hydrogen car go such a very small fraction of the distance that the car went with the CNG.  The reason that the hydrogen car goes such a very small fraction of the distance is that there is a large energy lost in separating and in compressing the hydrogen.  Using CNG itself is already far more efficient and cost effective than hydrogen anyway.  Would it not make more sense to just use the CNG?  Not that it matters a lot, since we are heading for peak natural gas.

Third experiment: Take an existing diesel car with a 15 gallon tank and use biodiesel instead.  Biodiesel and diesel will get you about 30% more range than gasoline.  So, instead of 25 miles per gallon you could get 32.5 miles per gallon or a range of 487.5 miles.  You could pay about $3 per gallon for biodiesel, that is only in limited production, for a total fill up cost of $45. As diesel increases in price after peak oil [even when made out of coal], biodiesel would go down in price in mass production.

Then, use the same car, refitted with the bright red hydrogen fuel cylinders and fuel cells.  Hydrogen is already in full production for use in things like hydrogenation of oils to clog up your bodies and make them fatter.  The equivalent of 15 gallons of diesel in hydrogen would be about 78 bright red hydrogen fuel cylinders that would weigh about 7800 pounds.  You would have to put most of those bright red cylinders of compressed hydrogen in a trailer behind your hydrogen car and this would reduce your range some more.  It would cost you about $820 to fill up and also cost $195 for tank rental per month.  That works out somewhere in the range of $60 per gallon for hydrogen equivalent to a gallon of biodiesel.  You could  I sure would rather pay $6 than $60 for an equivalent gallon in the future.  Remember, using biodiesel will recycle most of the CO2.  In other words, hydrogen car = a loser.

The cost of hydrogen will go up as their main source, natural gas, goes up.  Electrolysis at power plants costs even more now and maintaining that cost will be a major challenge.  A shift to windmill electrical energy would only help maintain today's cost for only a part of our electrical energy.  Solar electrical energy is even less cost and energy effective than windmills, so far.

I am comparing equivalent apples to apples here.  I did so, because there is a large lack of making fair comparisons, in the hydrogen cult.  I am hoping that we can help the hydrogen cult out of their irrational thinking and back to practical rational thinking, to use hydrogen where it really makes sense.  I am hoping that more people will see some light, and not get caught up in the hydrogen cult.  We need to get on with more practical cost effective things, like biodiesel production and windmills on our hills. Believe it or not, windmills are cost effective.

(c) 2004 Michael Foster,

I personally would drop any stock in any company pushing hydrogen, especially any of the large energy or car companies that are.  I know that Shell, GM and Bush and ignorant environmentalist are pushing hydrogen.  Shell has a hydrogen station in DC to fool our leaders.  Governor Schwarzenegger is putting one in California.  President Bush and the hydrogen cult are either ignorant or unethical.  I personally would not want any stock in an ignorant or unethical company.  When I did have a stake, I would want a change to a rational CEO.  I believe that Enron was a warning to the wise on ethics and ignorance.

Good Reference:  The Hype About Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate.  []

Another good article:  "The Hydrogen Economy Savior of Humanity or an Economic Black Hole?" at   It turns out to be an economic black hole.

Also see: the free online encyclopedia put together by us.

This all does not mean that we will never use hydrogen for energy, because we might use it for energy in homes or stationary places where we do not need to compress or contain it.  But, even in stationary places, the rules of energy efficiency thermodynamics, will rule.


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