**why hydrogen will not be the fuel of the future**

I know a lot of people a lot smarter than me are convinced it will be the fuel of the future, but every time I look at the numbers, it just doesn't add up.

From what I've seen, there are two viable ways to get hydrogen now. Convert natural gas or use electrolysis.

Here's what my calcs tell me about the viability of converting natural gas:

ASSUMPTIONS

· Hydrogen in the near-term future will be produced by re-forming natural gas (CH4) into H2.

· The conversion process is 80% efficient.

· 1 kg natural gas creates 0.25 kg H2

· Current US gasoline consumption = 8,700,000 barrels/day (per EIA data)

· Through improved vehicle efficiencies and less driving, gas consumption can be cut in half.

· Fuel cell vehicle net efficiency to shaft = 60%. (optimistic!)

· ICE net efficiency = 25%.

· Gasoline heating value = 5,460,000 BTU/barrel

· Natural gas heating value = 1052 BTU/ cubic foot = 54 MJ/kg

· H2 heating value = 143 MJ/kg

· Current US natural consumption = 66 billion cubic feet/day

CALCULATIONS – (convert everything into gasoline bpd equivalent)

· Current net required shaft energy @ 25% ICE efficiency = 8,700,00 bpd * 0.25 = 2,175,000 bpd equivalent

· Post efficiency improvement shaft energy = Current/2 = 1,087,500 bpd equivalent

· Required H2 energy at 60% fuel-cell efficiency = 1,087,500/0.6 = 1,812,500 bpd equivalent.

· To make one bpd equivalent of H2, it will take (54/143)/(0.25*0.8) = 1.89 bpd equivalent of natural gas. (H2 has a much higher energy density per kg, but It takes 4 kg NG to make 1 kg of H2. The conversion efficiency is 80%)

· Required natural gas energy to make H2 for all vehicles = 1,812,500 bpd*1.89 = 3,422,600 bpd equivalent.

· Convert barrels gasoline to cubic feet Natural gas - 1 barrel = 5,460,000/1,052 = 5,190 cubic feet.

· One billion cubic feet natural gas = 1,052 billion BTU’s

· 1,052 billion BTU/5,460,000 BTU/barrel = 192,673 barrels/billion cubic feet

· Required natural gas/day = 3,422,600 bpd/ 192,673 = 17.8 billion cubic feet/day

· % of current US consumption = = 17.8 billion/66 billion = 27%.

CONCLUSION

We would have to increase our natural gas production and consumption by 27% to switch to hydrogen IF we both double our driving efficiency and greatly improve the efficiency of the current hydrogen reforming process.

QUESTION – where will the gas come from, especially if we increase natural gas power generation so we can phase out coal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Please review my numbers and post any gross errors. This is back-of-the-envelope stuff, so I might have mis-carried a decimal.

When I get time next week, I'll see if I can put together part 2 - how much electricity will it take to make H2 by electrolysis?