BioFuels vs. Hydrogen economy

Which is the fuel of the future

  • Hydogen

    Votes: 20 48.8%
  • Biofuels

    Votes: 21 51.2%

  • Total voters
Not open for further replies.
Mmm, interesting. Looks like DEFC is still below 25% efficiency, but DMFC have risen to 40% efficiency. Maybe it won't be moonshine at the pump after all; maybe it will be wood alcohol.
Just some idle thoughts.

BioFuels may be clean but they are far from friendly to the environment. We already put large pressures on the environment to provided food for the masses. To have a completely BioFuel based economy will expand land usage greatly. Land that is already under pressure may be pushed to far. Farm land needs fertilizers, pesticides and leads to soil degradation and salinity. Great forest are being cut down to produce meat for fast food chains, and now add 5 litters of BioFuel to the trip to get a burger and those forests will be gone before you can blink.

Hydrogen is the best option, but it depends on the energy source. Unlike bio fuels hydrogen can be produced from total renewable sources (Wind, Hydroelectric, tidal, and solar energy). Yet to base your economy on hydrogen generated via renewable sources is still a little impractical. The only option at the moment is Hydrogen produced from nuclear power. I believe that is the way the USA wants to move. And with luck fusion reactors will come online some time this century and with the Hydrogen economy in place, it will become the cleanest economy.

Ethanol based fuels don’t last long. They tend to absorb water from the atmosphere, which can cause damage to current engines. Especially 2 stroke engines. You should not use an Ethanol mixed fuel after its 6months old. I go out of my way to ensure I don’t have an ethanol mixed fuel for my engines (lawn mower, chain saw, edge cutter, whipper snipper, blower vac). I want these machines to last a lifetime.
No it won't expand on land usage at all! If we make all are biofuels from farming waste, then the farms do not need to produce more crops, the farmer gets paid for his crops and for his left over plant matter. Biofuels are a free source of energy that goes to waste every day.

I and many others use methanol for are model airplane 2 stork engines and it works fine and last long! Methanol has an even higher affinity for water then ethanol.

Tell me how to you store hydrogen effectively? Hydrogen can not even burn effectively in a ICE, it would have to be burned lean cutting engine power, produce more wear and producing huge amounts of Nox pollution! Hydrogen does not store easily and leaks often (read the report on one of the post above about how hydrogen would cause Ozone damage)

Do you realized how much we would have to increase are electric infostructures to produce the needed hydrogen for all the cars, trains, trucks, oil electric plants?
No it won't expand on land usage at all!

Yes it will and already does.
In Australia some sugar farmers are using their entire crop to produce Bio Fuels and I’m sure its not isolated to Australian farmers. Also Good farmers know that there is no such thing as waste, waste is mulched and composted and then returned to the soil. Taking that cycle away will lead to improvised soils and a need to find nutrients from other sources.

Hydrogen storage technologies are improving, Porous tanks that are heated and cooled to release and take up hydrogen. ICE designs are improving as well but ultimately will give way to Fuel cells.

As for the Ozone hole. The last paragraph in the article said it all
If it takes more than 50 years for hydrogen to become widely used as a fuel, CFCs will have largely disappeared and ozone depletion will no longer be a problem. By then, hydrogen transport and production might also be less leaky.
Would the electric infrastructures not be down graded? Instead of wires, we get pipes. No more unsightly power lines of electric trains and trams. Trains will carry the fuel onboard. Matter of fact localized electricity production from hydrogen will greatly improve efficacy ( no more 70% loss in power lines). No more trucks moving fuel around. Isolated communities who may be able to produce their own hydrogen locally via solar, wind, tidal or whatever source.
I not talking about the us of sugars crop to make ethanol. I’m talking about the recent revolutionary breakthroughs in cellulose to ethanol processing in which any plant matter say corn stalks, rice stalks, wood pulp (cardboard, paper, wood chips), even grass clippings can make ethanol in large quantities and in energy positive production. The by-product of which is also fertilizer so there is nothing remove from the farm permanently.

Piping hydrogen around will leak even more! Hydrogen goes through metals with easy. Hydrogen will be inefficient from escaping gas and fuel cell inefficiency; even the most efficient fuel cells (SOFC) only achieve 55% or 75% when a turbine is attached. Hydrogen has it uses as a battery, but it is not a good fuel, storage in cryogenic, borax, Carbon nanotubes or graphic, metal hydrides, of ultra high pressure tanks are complex and energy consuming. Making compact storage tanks or mediums will be very expensive or at lest much more expensive then storing a liquid like ethanol in a plastic or lined metal tank. Fuel cells will always cost more to make then ICE.
Mmm good points. You starting to make me change sides..

Yet.. If our power comes from agriculture would we not be at the mercy of climate. In Australia we have just had a very severe drought, it caused food prices to jump, effecting overall economic growth. To have our energy tied into it as well, could have crippled our economy to the extent that we could not fully recover before the next one. Especially smaller counties.

Some countries are heavily reliant on hydroponics agriculture, with artificial lighting and other energy usages would make Bio Fuel pointless.

Hydrogen production is not the problem. Storage and distribution are the problem.
How about liquid hydride technologies, could be just around the corner?

Lastly.. Bio fuels will give monopolies of power to the agricultural powers, they will be pushed to expand there agricultural production for profit (including the USA).

Hydrogen can give greater balances of power around the world. I think that's a good thing.
Well yes but if we over produce and have reserves we should be fine, if grass grows it can be used to make fuel.

In hydrogen storage borax would probably be the best solution, it’s a liquid: NaBH4 + 2H2O = NaBO2 + 4H2. This comes to 10% its weight in hydrogen about the point were car fuel cell range is equal to a ICE, but Borax needs to be diluted to remain liquidly and at best can only store 7.7%. Borax also needs to be recycled. It would have to be ship back to a recycling plant to charge it with hydrogen again.

Giving power to the farmer is not so bad they have none now and land being farm or natural prairie land (can be “mined” for ethanol by making hay) is being replaced by urban sprawl. Ethanol will provide the power to protect farms, woods, and prairies, hosing would have to grow up not out, providing a more fuel efficient urban structure.

Hydrogen production and storage will always be expensive, for 3rd world countries is a horrible option, ethanol is far less complicated and cheaper to produce, Brazil for examples runs on ethanol mix gasoline.
I don't think you understand the extent of the drought in Australia. We had water rations, No watering the lawn or gardens, grass did not grow. Even the most basic of animal feeds were scarce and expensive. Vast areas of dust. Hay cost twice the normal price, hay taken from land that needed the dead grass just to keep its top soil, which is now lost. Hay stripped land to support stock that in the end was killed due to lack of feed.

America uses 20 million barrels of oil a day, you just can't stock pile energy reserves of the size required to maintain such demand, especially if it is organic. Most nations run on about 5 to 7 day stock piles, any longer and strict rationing results.

Hydrogen may not represent the most effective solution at current levels of Tech, but ultimately to have an energy rich economy we need something that is not reliant on the natural life processes of the earth.

Leave the suns power to nature.. We can use the elementary power of nuclear reactors to produce all the power we need. Fostering the hydrogen economy is the best thing we can do..

Bio fuel is ultimately tied to the earths energy cycle, which is finite. Every percentage growth in demand takes away from the natural environment.

Human growth must be maintained. (I have a ( metaphoric ) gun.)

Still say Hydrogen.
Ya your try to get over the stigma of the “evil nuclear” common the public will never go for it, maybe fusion (do not put the world nuclear in front of that or people won’t go for it either) most hydrogen would have to be made from natural gas or coal power plants and electrolysis, oil is not going to last us long with the most radical predictions that world will not be able to match its demand for oil by 2006+-2, we need a fuel system we can implant quick and on the go, ethanol requires little to no changes to are current infrastructure. No changes and we can run on 10% ethanol, minor changes in lined gas tanks and fuel pipes and we can run on 85% ethanol.

America with modern agriculture has never had a nation wide drought that has threaten is food production, and power crops are far cheaper and less water and nutrient demanding then edible crops. They are also interchangeable in which normal agriculture makes food and fuel from the same crop with out harming the production of either. If the human population grows to the point it can't make biofuel it, then it most certainly can’t make food enough to feed everyone!
Last edited:
Yes.. And not trying, but expressing reality. Maybe fusion.. One hopes and prays, conventional reactors have finite fuel supplies, if you count 100's of years.

The evil nuclear stigma is moving to GM products (not that theres anything wrong with that).. Bio fuel will have to deal with this very soon..

The nuclear evil is dissipating. (Marvel comics made spider man from a radioactive spider, modern representation denote him as a product of genetic engineering). There is hope that even nations like Australia will take up nuclear power..

The sun is for nature. Radioactive poisons are in the realm of Humans, We are intelligent, lets use it to our advantage.
There is still fear of the atom its just now (yes that true) the new thing everyone know so little about (and thus fears it) is genetic engineering. Corn, Wheat, grass, hemp, ect well any plant does not need to be engineered by modern techniques to make fuel, heck any living organic matter will do. Biofuel can be claimed to run on the same setup as a beer distillery, though this is lie in that very heavily engineered Cellulose to ethanol fermenting bacteria are used, to the public (the stupid people) it can be pulled off.
Don't be part of the "stupid people". The atom is no where as dangerous as the heavy metals released by modern industry. Its hard to find fish in the oceans that don't exceed national (US) (heavy metal)levels.. US doctors recommend that pregnant (human) females don't eat excessive amount of fish due to heavy metal contamination.

We have to find a new direction.
I’m not, a coal power plant annually release more radioactive material into the atmosphere and water supply then all the world nuclear power plants… ever!
I make hydrogen from photovoltaic cells for free at my own home. I use regular electricity to also make hydrogen when the sun isn't out. Can Bio fuels do that?
Biodiesel is probably the next real choice for americans because, unlike ethanol or methanol, it can be used directly, with NO modifications needed, in diesel vehicles.

bio diesel does not smell bad (i.e. like organic waste) and it does not smell like petroleum diesel. Its smell has been described as french fries cooking and donuts.

It burns extremely clean, and actually will maintain a healthy engine due to its high lubricant properties with no grit. In fact, biodiesel can repair engine damage caused by petroleum diesel fuel.
Kelp. I can't remember who on here it was, but he suggested aquculture to produce the biomass to make alcohol.
Not open for further replies.