Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Real "One" We've Been Waiting For

Last year around this time I wrote and article for Timothy Birdnow's web site called "The Next Big Thing". The concept I was exploring was that every so often along comes and invention, a discovery or and innovation that literally changes the world. These are civilization altering developments that change our day to day lives. In case you haven't noticed we are in dire need of one of these right about now.

For decades America and the West have been under the thumb of energy despots in one form or another. The list begins and ends with the U.S. Congress, but includes, of course, OPEC, Exxon Mobil, Hugo Chavez and more recently Vlad Putin as well as the Global Warming cabal. As a culture we've known since the 1970's that our energy woes and the consequences therein were only going to get worse unless a viable, clean solution presented itself. Well that day may be coming soon.

HEADLINE: Israeli Scientists Make a Major Hydrogen Fuel Breakthrough
Developing a way to create hydrogen fuel from water is a "Holy Grail" of alternate fuel development. Many consider Hydrogen fuel cells the perfect pollution-free alternative to fuel automobiles. In these cells Hydrogen is consumed by a pollution-free chemical reaction, not combustion. So the fuel cell simply combines hydrogen and oxygen chemically to produce electricity, water, and waste heat. Nothing else. hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe... (source)

The new approach that the Weizmann team has recently devised is divided into a sequence of reactions, which leads to the liberation of hydrogen and oxygen in consecutive thermal- and light-driven steps, mediated by a unique ingredient – a special metal complex that Milstein’s team designed in previous studies. Moreover, the one that they designed – a metal complex of the element ruthenium – is a “smart” complex in which the metal center and the organic part attached to it cooperate in the cleavage of the water molecule.

The team found that upon mixing this complex with water the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms break, with one hydrogen atom ending up binding to its organic part, while the remaining hydrogen and oxygen atoms (OH group) bind to its metal center.
This modified version of the complex provides the basis for the next stage of the process: the “heat stage.” When the water solution is then boiled, hydrogen gas is released from the complex – a potential source of clean fuel – and another OH group is added to the metal center.

“But the most interesting part is the third ‘light stage,’” says Milstein. “When we exposed this third complex to light at room temperature, not only was oxygen gas produced, but the metal complex also reverted back to its original state, which could be recycled for use in further reactions.”

The thought of "getting off oil" as our primary fuel for transportation is tantalizing. Our interest in the dysfunctional backward looking thugs in the Middle East would wane. Dictators in Russia and Venezuela would fall further behind with no customers for their oil. There would be some job displacement in the energy industries in the West, but the new hydrogen based infrastructure will require plenty of skilled labor - it would be "creative destruction" at its best.

The wild card in all of this will be the Global Warming, or rather Climate Change apologists. They have staked their claim on the fact that CO2 is a pollutant and a dangerous greenhouse gas. They chose CO2 because civilization as it currently operates is dependent on the emission of vast quantities of CO2. In a hydrogen based system the emission of CO2 decreases (ironically to be replaced by the mother of all greenhouse gases - water vapor) and with the abdication of CO2 so goes the basis for their entire argument.

I submit that this remarkable development, if it pans out, fulfilling its promise, would not be welcomed by the Climate Change avengers. While one would think this would be the answer to their prayers - think again. It is - and always has been - the society that consumes the most energy in all its forms is the society that rises to the top. That society for the last 100 years has been the United States. Hydrogen as a inexhaustible energy source in the hands of a motivated, productive and unshackled populace would make the U. S. unstoppable. This would be a disaster for the Climate Change grifters (and America haters). The truth is it's not global warming or climate change they really want to stop, it's America. The destruction of American capitalism has always been their goal.

I for one am very, very excited by the prospect of seeing the end of the oil age for so many reasons, but the sweetness of seeing the Climate Change hucksters contort themselves in an effort to turn this paradigm shift on its head is too much to hope for.