Posted by: graemebird | November 25, 2009

Hydrogen Economy? All It Takes Is A Conceptual Shift.


“Beyond 25 years the real betting is hydrogen engines from which the only emission is a little water out of the exhaust.”


Where are you getting your hydrogen?

FDB would be in trouble if we ran out of the formula for ice.

Cambria your man has the wrong business model for his car. He’s putting on a brave face if he thinks he can make hydrogen safe and cost-effective to be produced centrally and tanked. There is just no need for that since hydrogen is wonderfully easy to produce.

Not only is hydrogen a wonderfully easy thing to produce it can be produced intermittently with solar and wind power or anything else. You see solar and wind aren’t really suited for adding to the grid. You can do it but its a big fat hassle and an expense.

And compressing hydrogen to a great degree to make it suitable for mass distribution is in itself a waste of energy. The best deal is to make the hydrogen at home yourself. Just make it at home. Anyone with a suburban house at least can do it. And if I invested in a solar and wind system to make hydrogen at my house I could one day bring it in as part of the leasing contract.

BMW has the right idea for building the car. It ought to be a diesel hydrogen hybrid. And with nuclear electricity everyone can make just enough hydrogen at home to get to work and back. Since that level of compression will be safe and cheap and no waste of energy at all.

For blokes who are renting, or who live in the smaller apartments, there ought to be one fellow at the corner shop who will produce hydrogen and have a self-service pay and swap situation at the front of his shop. The idea is just to swap your little hydrogen tank and enough compressed hydrogen to get to and from work for one quarter the price of the diesel. Its when you try and go for strong compression and carrying the hydrogen long distances. Thats when the costs add up.

If you were in Anatarctica you ought to be able to produce the hydrogen for out and back fishing trips with diesel backup. You ought to be able to do this continually with wind power.

Its in this limited way that hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Always for the out and back trip only. And for the hydrogen to be manufactured locally. I mean HYPER-LOCALLY. If not in your house, then at least on your street. Its simply not suitable for centralised manufacture. Hydrogen is not suitable for tankers of hydrogen distributing it to the service station. And it is in precisely this way also that wind and solar power can play a part. Not for the grid, except where desert heliostats are concerned. Desert heliostats work in with peak demand electricity. But normal solar is feeble in this regard and can become so much more effective for intermittent production of hydrogen just for commuting. Wind promoters say that wind is fine with the grid but this is bullshit. It requires too much investment in “spinning” power. Like gas stations that can be cranked up quickly. This sort of extra gear. Apart from heliostats, wind and solar are a hassle for the grid. Wind power is usually in remote farm areas. But this is grand stuff for the intermittent production of ammonia and for the production of as much low-compression hydrogen as can be used locally. But not transported far and wide.

Another magnificent by-product is all the pure oxygen produced which will be incredibly helpful in aquaculture. As we all should know by now (he says sternly) overfishing is a real problem, and one which can and must be solved by taking aquaculture out of the tax system and by getting our homesteading of small ocean properties right. If we can get people producing hydrogen domestically or semi-domestically they could be selling tanks of pure oxygen also. The rapid expansion of aquaculture and the provision of all this pure oxygen, is a precurser also for accessing the holy grail of all hydro-carbons. That is the oceans methyl-clathrates. We have a potentially grand future and vision of the end of poverty and lush nature existing with and surrounding great bejewelled cities of incredible opulence and opportunity for all. But we have to take it. We must have the WILL and the leadership for such a future.

All it takes is this conceptual shift and we can have most of our consumer transport, in practice, running on hydrogen. We still need the big diesel trucks. We still need the big diesel ships. And we still need the nuclear energy and liquified coal. But getting most commuting on hydrogen. Well surely thats a good thing right?

One bloke on your street may be able to pipe hydrogen around at low pressure, for on the spot water and house heating and for the blokes who did not have the home production for their care. And that would work too. But always with hydrogen the concept must be hyper-local production. And low levels of compression.



  1. “As I am sure you have heard, one of the major concerns is loss of water supply to much of China and India. It might be all well and good that Scotland and Greenland are nicer places to live in 100 years time, but it’s a bit of a stretch to ship a billion Asians there.”

    Are you fuckwits going to ask this lunatic Steve for evidence or not? If we don’t get our shit together all of us are going to have fresh water difficulties. Not from warming but from cooling.

    He’s absorbed bullshit within bullshit within bullshit. Can none of you ask him or yourselves for evidence?

    Bear in mind that nuclear power is by its nature the great desalinater.

    I wonder if you can pull hydrogen from salt water locally. I suppose I would have to doubt it since the salt water may conduct electricity too well. Does anyone know the answer to this? If it were possible then thats desalination right there. More moisture added to the local environment, in the context of taking this water from the endless supply of salt water. Certainly if we get in trouble the hydrolysis can be performed with grey water.

    Still the last half of this post is speculative. And I don’t want it to undermine the non-speculative conceptual change message of my thread more generally.

  2. The blog insulting Ken will be taken off air for now and I will look for signs of reform real or imaginary.

  3. From John Quiggin:

    “I’m one of a group of more than 20 academic and business economists who have put together a statement criticising the Queensland government’s case for asset sales and arguing that we need a proper public debate. The group includes some of Australia’s leading economists, including Joshua Gans, Stephen King, Warwick McKibbin and Adrian Pagan, as well as ten professors of economics from UQ, and more from other Queensland universities. But maybe the most surprising, and heartening, signature is that of Henry Ergas who has been one of my sparring partners on many occasions, most recently a debate on whether government should be the ultimate risk manager, held by the UQ Alumni Association (Henry won, by popular vote). Although Henry has been a strong supporter of privatisation in many instances where I have opposed it, we agree that these issues should be decided on the basis of costs and benefits, and not by spurious claims that privatisation provides governments with money they can invest in schools and hospitals.”


    And good on John for giving Henry a plug. He’s not an Austrian or a Austrian/Classical school synthesist like Reisman or Jackson. But he’s quality nonetheless. And his firm sorely treated by the taxeaters, most likely BECAUSE OF and not just despite the quality work his outfit appears to have been putting out.

    One case I do know about is his outfits discovery that the big retailers had gotten an anti-market advantage via their influence on local city and council planning. This was a revelation and it solved a bit of an annoying mystery that had been bugging me for awhile.

    Lets hope that we have a change in the State Government at least and the new guys see fit to get the straight talk from Henry, and not just employ idiots that tell the man what he wants to hear.

  4. Mr Bird

    It appears that some leftists like Professor Quiggin are well intentioned though duped souls unlike the consciously malevolent Cambrias.

  5. Mr Bird

    Big retailers and crony capitalism go together for obvious reasons. Looks at some of their names.

    For example Coles Myers.

    MYERS Mr Bird.

    Those of the Hebraic persuasion rarely play fair

  6. A Jewish guy can lose temper and kick some bloke so hard in the thigh he gets a Haema toma (not a team of homos a haema toma)


  7. A Jewish guy can lose temper and kick some bloke so hard in the thigh he gets a Haema toma (not a team of homos a haema toma)


  8. Take it easy. I’m just enjoying the Graeme Bird Variety Hour.

  9. I can proudly show that Professor Quiggin has given me an even break:

    I SEZ:

    Good on you John. And good show for giving Henry some credit here. A good man having a bad day. I know you aren’t publishing this. But I’m not any sort of avowed enemy of yours anymore. I’ve learnt that an observant lefty, who puts his cards on the table, isn’t the real enemy of human freedom. The worst of them are these narrow-minded alleged rightists in the economics game, that I can simply not reason with.


    Given such a polite (and favorable!) comment, I’m going to lift the ban. You are still on automoderation, and the ban will be reimposed in the event of any use of coarse language or personal attacks. But if you feel like discussing policy issues constructively, you are welcome

  10. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Mutualisation is theft. You cannot “gift” what you yourself don’t own. If the taxpayer built something it is pretty appalling in his eyes to see it given away to friends of government. Why not just set the stage to get the new stuff built? In this frenzy to sell off the old stuff it seems to have been totally forgotten that we wanted was to get new stuff built. If we don’t call a halt to it now there will simply be no reassessment as to our method of privatisation.
    Most of all privatisation, with the motive of getting a good price up front, is inherently destructive. For by striving for all that loot, one cannot help but ruin the prospect for a competitive market, after the sale has been made and the loot has been spent. This follows directly from the idea that crony-town will buy into the assets at a high price, only if they don’t face being wiped out by competition down the track.
    With privatisation we seem to have retrogressed to a pre- Adam Smith sort of economics. Where we are granting royal charters. If we want to make a competitive market, lets do that instead. Then the publicly owned stuff will reduce in importance as time goes by.
    And what is this attraction with selling shares in things? Is the idea simply to have our gear re-nationalised by foreign, if not communist, sovereign wealth funds? If that is the solution we may as well have our own beloved politicians owning these things.
    Consider this Frankenstein notion of privatisation taken back in time. Instead of little guys staking claims in the Klondike, the whole thing would be auctioned and bought by some consortium run by Carnegie, Rockerfeller and Morgan. Twenty years earlier the English Channel would have been auctioned to bigshoteria, then subsequently, what with them being in hock, they would have sold a controlling interest in the Channel to Otto Von Bismark. And the end of England would be at hand then rather than now.
    This is madness and its got to be stopped. There is this astonishing hubris on the part of consultants that they can craft a competitive industry by creating Frankenstein corporations themselves. Only neoclassical consultants could have created the tangled mess that is Telstra. Now telstra has to be eternally arm-twisted into letting her competitors sub-let her network under reasonable arrangements.
    Big business ought not be derived out of the dreams of consultants, but from small business success. Big business must come out of small business success no exceptions. But neoclassical economists craft these Frankenstein corporations out of the spare parts of creatures they did not build, and they wonder why they won’t compete. “Go Franky go” they say. But Franky just sits there, bleeding into his bandages, and pouring gold over himself, because competition isn’t part of his makeup.

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    We don’t have the legal framework yet for privatisation of infrastructural goods. Infrastructural goods my be defined as trans-spatial goods. By their nature they tend to overlap other properties. Contrast that to freehold, where you fence off some area and you say its freehold. You have the legal titles for it. And there is not too many controversies that you can have with it. Or at least there would not be if there were buffer zones between freehold as I think any just God would have wanted it. Its clear to me that the enclosure movement went too far. And that acquiring property the way we did was unjust and crowded out the hunter-gatherers. We need property at sea but we don’t want to repeat this same mistake.
    Infrastructural goods are different than freehold land in that they overlap and crossover freehold properties. To have the benefits of the free market in these goods we first need to stipulate the rights attendant upon these goods for the purpose of building these goods, investing in them, and buying and selling them. Third world countries are countries that don’t have clear freehold property titles. See Hernando De Soto as your reference here. But we are a third world country in terms of trans-spatial goods. Since we don’t know where we stand in advance with these goods. This state of affairs must as of necessity lead to either socialism in infrastructure, or “private wealth and public squalor.”
    Under what conditions can I hold up traffic digging up the road to lay some pipes or optical cables? If I don’t know this in advance then I cannot have proper title over those pipes.
    Under what conditions can I tunnel under your house to build an underground freeway? If I don’t know this in advance and if any schmoozing with any layer of government is needed at all then this is cronyism, and not capitalism, and cannot be condoned until such time as we are serious about getting the rules and titles right.
    “This attitude of “lets just privatise the harbour bridge, the Opera House, the ABC and every public asset we have just gets my hackles right up Mark……. ”
    Indeed. Trans-spatial property titles can never be at freehold. This is something I’ve not successfully been able to explain to a neo-classical economists. But you imagine the roads are sold off. Immediately we are all enslaved. We walk out our door and our slave-master who stands before us can have us for trespass. And no use going out to the ocean to stare in the distance. Since that will be all owned too. Not just small territories for highly intensive aquaculture. But the whole thing where-ever we look. And 51% owned by communists in Peking.
    These pro-privatisation neo-classicals are so unhinged they want to sell fisheries to cronytown, thus forever freezing us into hunter-gatherer mode when it comes to fishing. These are not the most holistic thinkers the world has yet seen.

  12. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    The weight of evidence tells us that privatisation has been an outrageous failure. When contrasted to what could have been if we had simply reformed the market to enable new trans-spatial properties to be built from the sole trader level up. The correct comparison is not between the status quo ante and the sell/splurge/spend scuttling that we got. The correct comparison was sell or build? Do we sell old stuff. Or do we sort it out that individuals can go about building new stuff.
    From this more correct point of view privatisation has been an appalling and anger-provoking failure. Since the new stuff hasn’t been built, and still cannot be built, independent of political schmoozing (ie cronyism.)
    The road to the building of private infrastructure is via congestion charging and peak usage profiteering by government. Congestion charging gives us the basis for a rules-based environment for the construction of these trans-spatial properties. Peak usage profiteering by government will bring forth the private building. Nowhere is there the need to sell stuff off.

  13. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    All irrelevant to this discussion Andrew. We could have gotten the new stuff built without selling off the old stuff. And Telstra would have either shaped up or faded away. As it is we aren’t seeing the investment in underground cables that we ought to have seen. And thats fatal. Since a coronal flare can be expected to destroy our satellites and short out our electricity at any time.

  14. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    “I think you’re being flippant about Sol running away with cash ……..”
    I disagree. I rather think that it is you Mark, who is showing flippancy, towards Sol running away with mountains of cash. I think it is more than obvious that you have this matter back to front.
    Infrastructure does not “suffer”. What you are saying is that our infrastructure is not being improved upon or built up. Or otherwise that this is not happening to a satisfying degree. And why would it be? If your crowd is going to continue emphasizing flogging off old infrastructure, as opposed to building and improving new infrastructure properties, well then….. Well then we can expect no end to this “suffering infrastructure”- your terminology not my own.
    Zen Mark. Zen thought control Mark. Perhaps the lotus position for half an hour could help. You are just going to have to make that mental shift to where you can conceive that the problem isn’t to do with flogging the old stuff. The problem is to do with building the new stuff.
    This is the mental shift that the neoclassical economists have to make. After at least two years of trying, there appears to be no evidence whatsoever, which could give us hope that this mental shift can be made. For example Mark and myself have been over this matter many times before. No indication has ever been gained that he even so much as comprehends what I am saying.

  15. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    “Who amongst us here thinks Telstra operates one iota better than Telecom Australia? I don’t ……”
    Here you got too far I think. Its pretty clear that we needed change. But we needed better change then what we wound up with and we didn’t need to sell stuff to get that better change.
    Economists brought up on “opportunity cost” doctrine, have the bad mental habit of thinking in terms of two alternatives. In this case they are fixated on the choice “sell or don’t sell”. But there is never only two choices. And not recognising the multi-choice nature of all decisions, locks us into unproductive arguments.
    Historically we missed the point with this privatisation. Instead of making it easier for private individuals to build new stuff, all we did was flog the old stuff off. And here two decades later, we are locked in the same mental trap.
    Once you let these guys frame the argument into the “two choices” dichotomy, that the poorer economists are comfortable with, thats an argument that you are going to lose. You don’t want to fall into this trap of theirs Alice. This is one argument we cannot afford to lose. Australian Telecom was really hopeless. It was ’smashing phone-handle bad.’ Thats how bad it was.

  16. “The weight of evidence tells us that privatisation has been an outrageous failure”

    Indeed, Mr Bird, and as a New Zealander you would be well placed to know this.

    Good to see you adding value to Mr Quiggin’s blog.

  17. Thanks Sal. But so far those comments are yet to be approved.

    The stupidity never ends at Catallaxy though.

    “Boy oh boy, is birdie a goose. So the pyramids are built with stone blocks because of the wild swings in sea level during the last glaciation. If the pyramids are above sea level now, what were they when the glaciers and ice sheets covered much more of the earth?”

    What on earth is that stupid lawyer talking about? If you had a high-tech coastal civilisation during the ice age you would need the big blocks. You couldn’t protect from an ocean with small bricks or anything short of the big blocks. Not if your ocean can rise 5 metres in a single northern summer. What the dumb lawyer doesn’t realise is that the glacial period is a whole different can of worms from the interglacial. The weather is much more variable. With massive waves that would smash up against anything you’ve got there on the coast with brutal force. A good time for surfing no doubt. But pretty hazardous for a high-tech civilisation dependent above all on sea trade and coastal living.

    That dummy Neilsen has earned his thread being made public again. What a big dope.

  18. I guess what shits me about the Catallaxians are that they are really full on proud of their stupidity. You go to Catallaxy now. They are talking about my explanation as to why the big blocks were used. You can wait for three years. You will never find Cambria, Pedro or Edney displaying an understanding of the thesis. I cannot imagine how they can be so proud of maintaining this eternal idiocy. Understanding a thesis is not the same as agreeing with it. Yet you’ve got this insular club of brain dead types, intent on not understanding anything. Dumb and proud of it. Maybe Cambria has that motto stuck to his fridge door with magnets or something.

  19. “Maybe Cambria has that motto stuck to his fridge door with magnets or something.”

    Yes, little pyramid ones from his gypo holiday!

    Two million blocks to build 3, 4 or 5 rooms. Yep, I am struggling to get my head around that theory. Especially as the wild waves were way lower down during the last major glaciation.

  20. You sure are struggling. Maybe its just beyond you, you fucking blockhead.

    Find out what I’m talking about you fucking moron. Don’t you ever get sick of making a complete fool of yourself? Or is that the cool thing about Catallaxy? Where complete fucking morons can club together with a feeling of smugness?

    This cannot be healthy. Having a club for dummies. People turning; lack of understanding, ignorance and bigotry into a sort of IN-CROWD feature. Or attempting too. If you ask me stupidity can never be the latest fashion. Which is why you blokes aren’t attracting many sheilas to Catallaxy.

  21. “Which is why you blokes aren’t attracting many sheilas to Catallaxy”

    It is a bit of a Sausage Fest, isn’t it Mr B. A bit of a circumcised sausage Fest, I might add.

  22. See here is a case in point. The anonymous pedro just isn’t very smart. Supposing he was honest about it? Supposing he says to himself I Pedro am not real bright. Then there is the basis to work on his mental weakness. To learn new stuff. Why would this incredible fuckwit for one minute think that I was claiming the pyramids were meant to protect against waves? Unbelievable. But because he hasn’t owned up to his own failings he’s going to push his idiocy up onto me.

    The blocks were clearly used to protect against the sea. No doubt about that. But obviously not as pyramids. Rather they would have to be there as the walls that protected the city from the sea. Since if you need to have access to the sea and the sea is highly variable and incredibly rough, you can only square that circle with big blocks down at the sea.

    The big blocks were used for the ocean levee. There would be no other reason to make the big blocks. And nothing but the big blocks would be sufficient for an ocean levee during a glacial period. Given the awesome forces that are in play during that glacial period.

    The thesis, for this reason is pretty much unassailable. It could not have been any other way.

  23. You are into that invert business aren’t you Mr Hanson?

    Mr Bird I am pretty sure mr Hanson is an impostor.

  24. Right. He’s Tillman. But he’s more offensive when he’s being Tillman. He does better work as his alter ego. Although I suppose I better wipe the grubbier stuff now and again.

  25. Birdie, I miss you already. I miss your cold hard logic and always being evidence based.

  26. Right. But you are lying Cambria. There is nothing you hate more than evidence. Which is why you can never go for my big blocks levee theory.

  27. Lets run through the evidence again.

    1. There is virtually no evidence that the Pyramids were built by Pharoanic Egypt. Besides perhaps some tiny amount of Pharoanic propaganda to that effect.

    2. The Pharoahs could not have built them. This is physical impossibility. No-one who had the ability to build the pyramids would have built them out of stones, IF THEY HAD TO MAKE THE STONES FROM SCATCH.

    3. We already know the Sphinx is many thousands of years older than the quakademia reckons the pyramids are supposed to be.

    4. Whoever built the pyramids was higher tech than us. So why did they use the impractical big stones. And as well even bigger ones for various temples and still larger ones for the stones at Baalbeck?

    5. Technology is imbedded in capital accumulation and capital update. The economy progresses via the lengthening of the structure of production wherein the GDR grows disproportionate to GDP.

    6. That being the case we would hit up against a constraint where energy usage was becoming ridiculous disproportionate to GDP.

    7. Squaring that circle would find that society becoming built up on the coast. Since shipping is so powerfully effective for heavy transport.

    8. But to be built up along the coast with your factories with ready access to the sea you would need the big stone blocks and in fact nothing else would do. your output ought to be sent straight onto the water.

    9. But in fact the sea level during the glacial period is highly variable. And the seas astonishingly rough. Hence the high-tech society, far more high-tech then our own would have an almost insatiable need for these really big blocks.

    10. But the Quarternary extinction even would have destroyed all their cities and put the big blocks underwater. The few survivors would have had immense capital goods and all these big blocks to retrieve underwater.


    Seriously. It simply could not have happened any other way. There is no close competing paradigm.

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