Swimming in fuel

Swimming in Fuel

Let’s talk about virtually free energy. Let’s talk about hydrogen. Hydrogen, as you may know, is the most abundant element in the universe – by a very large margin. Contrast hydrogen with uranium, which is one of the most scarce elements in the universe. Uranium is used to fuel all of the world’s nuclear reactors today. It is scarce, expensive, and fraught with tremendous numbers of difficulties when used as directed. Even when used per “the manufacturer’s instructions”, we are confronted with tremendous exposure to radiation hazards, accidents, and ultimately, nuclear waste. Einstein was once quoted as saying “nuclear energy is one hell of a way to boil water”. And so it is.

 

On the other hand, hydrogen burns clean, and leaves no waste products. Burning hydrogen creates pure water. Hydrogen is everywhere. As mentioned above, it is the most abundant element in the universe. And yet, despite the fact that it is arguably the world’s most efficient and abundant source of heat, it is not used as such in the world today. Let’s think about that for a moment…

 

Why isn’t hydrogen the primary source of fuel in the world today? Well, for one thing, it is difficult to store. In order for it to be packaged as a fuel we need to compress it, and then store it in some kind of tank. Carbon fiber or other steel reinforced tanks might be a solution. But in order to compress enough hydrogen into a tank which would easily fit into our trunk is problematic at best. Also, hydrogen stored in a tank presents another set of risks. One of the reasons hydrogen is such a remarkably efficient fuel is that it burns very easily. In fact, it burns so quickly that it becomes important that it be stored apart from oxygen. Because if it is stored/compressed together with oxygen it is becomes tremendously explosive. Yet, paradoxically it needs oxygen in order to burn.

 

By way of example, a few years ago I was experimenting with a friend in Colorado. We were doing hydrolysis research in my garage. At one point we had a noticeable bubble of hydrogen and oxygen floating on top of a soapy mixture of water, sitting in my driveway. It was not a huge bubble – it was roughly the size of a golf ball. My friend looked at that bubble and thought I wonder how big a bang this will make?  

He pulled out his lighter and began to bend toward the bubble. I had a suspicion that the explosion was going to be bigger than he was expecting, and I began backing up. Well, I can tell you that the shockwave of the explosion was not enough to hurt them.  However, the tremendous sound of the bang that erupted when he put the lighter to that bubble knocked him off his feet. I am sure that my neighbors 500 yards away, at the very end of the block, jumped up and asked what the hell was that? We are talking cherry bomb or M80 blast. A single golf ball sized bubble of hydrogen and oxygen produced that kind of a blast.

 

I know that not all of my readers believe in God. Others perhaps believe that God exists but are not convinced that this being is necessarily compassionate, benevolent, or otherwise possessing what we might consider to be a parental heart. However, for the sake of this discussion I would ask people to put aside their skepticism for a moment and just imagine that such a being exists, and created hydrogen as the perfect fuel for humanity.  Such a divine being would consider not only making hydrogen the most abundant element in the universe, but also devise a means of safely compressing hydrogen until it could be compressed no further. He might also have conceived of a way to combine this compressed hydrogen with oxygen in a perfect ratio, so that it would always burn perfectly, cleanly, without any need for any other elements.

 

As we discussed earlier, the problem with this scenario is that if oxygen and hydrogen are combined to a perfect burning combination, it becomes VERY explosive. What if, through some divine miracle, this perfect ratio of compressed hydrogen and oxygen, the ultimate and perfect fuel, were somehow to be made non-explosive? How cool would that be? Well, it turns out that this is exactly what happened.

 

The ultimate fuel, hydrogen and oxygen mixed together in a perfectly stochiometric mix, condensed as far as it can be, so much so that abundant amounts of fuel can be carried easily in very small containers, is…. WATER.

 

Think about that for a moment. Water is the perfect mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. It is compressed hydrogen mixed with compressed oxygen. We are literally swimming in this stuff. The oceans are full of it. And, amazingly, this perfect fuel which should be so explosive that we dare not get too near it, is not explosive. In fact, we use it to put out fires. Further, we drink it several times a day. We excrete it when we urinate. There is no reason, no rational reason, that we cannot use our own urine to heat our homes, to power our cars, and to otherwise energize our lives. Transcontinental boat rides should/can be easily powered by the water beneath the ships.

Now, I know that some will say that this is coincidental, and certainly not evidence that a divine being planned these things as I suggested above. However, there is no question that if such a divine being exists, and if that divine being wanted to create the ultimate fuel, package it safely, and make it widely available to humanity, he could not have done a better job than to package it in a substance such as water.

 

Water is the ultimate fuel. In the rather near future humanity will certainly learn how to freely and easily crack water into a form we can burn at will. How cool is that? The future is bright.

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