Why hydrogen could offer the combustion engine a future in some motorsports

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Under the real threats of drastic, anthropogenic climate change, it can be slightly uncomfortable to be a fan of car racing. Yes, we all know what we love about the sport but while the reek of petrol in a pit lane excites the senses of motor racing fans, it also has an increasingly guilty association, for both championships and the manufacturers involved.

There is an obligation to present a cleaner image. A lot of the time, that points towards electrification – but if there was a way to cleanly use a combustion fuel, surely that would prove irresistible to racing?

That way may be hydrogen. There are issues with the way that hydrogen is generated (primarily from fossil fuels) and there are a lot of questions about whether it could, realistically, be a fuel for mass transit. However, racing series could have the option of using green hydrogen (generated by splitting water with electrolysis) offering the magical combination of a fuel that will run in a roaring engine which could also be burned in a way that generates nothing but water as waste.

The most commonly discussed use of hydrogen for powering cars is through fuel cell technology. Fuel cell vehicles use tanks of hydrogen as an alternative to batteries for energy storage but are otherwise entirely electric. They can use the same motor generator units as battery electric vehicles, but the fuel cell stack delivers the power. Instead of recharging the battery, tanks are refilled with hydrogen.

Toyota’s hydrogen Corolla being refuelled
A limitation on them, as opposed to battery vehicles, is that the tanks need to be very rigidly robust. But in a large enough car to accommodate them, like BMW’s fuel cell-powered X5, the range can be impressive. The X5 has two tanks carrying 6kg of hydrogen that deliver an estimated 311 miles of range – only 69 miles less than BMW’s premium battery car, the iX.

In theory, the refuelling time is then very short – just enough to refill the tanks – and the car emits nothing more harmful than, essentially, clean water. Fuel cell stacks are large, consume rare earth elements and are comparatively low in output relative to batteries but the appeal of being able to ‘fuel’ an electric car from a pump is big enough to have them not eliminated from the conversation around future fuels.

BMW has a long history with hydrogen. From 2005-07 it built the Hydrogen 7 which is the only hydrogen combustion production car ever made. At the time of its demise it looked as though it had been a curious experiment that very few people had enthusiastically seen any benefits to and hydrogen combustion effectively went away for the next decade as a concern at most automakers.

In Japan, bolstered by government funding to promote hydrogen, Toyota has remained extremely devoted to the cause. As well as developing its hydrogen fuel cell cars, including the production Mirai, it has continued to pursue hydrogen combustion as an avenue, including last year adapting a Corolla to burn hydrogen and running it at an endurance race.

Toyota converted the Corolla in just three months, from conception of the project to racing at the 24 Hours of Fuji, which it completed. Although it wasn’t in the running for victory, the fact that the converted system was able to take on the enormous task of running a day-long race – something any Le Mans team can tell you is far from trivial – is impressive alone. Particularly because Toyota said the process was relatively simple, effectively only changing the Corolla’s fuel injection system.

The Corolla reached the chequered flag on hydrogen
Hydrogen combustion has a particular attraction with regards to converting diesel cars. As diesel becomes a less and less acceptable fuel, following almost every automaker being caught in the particulate emissions scandal that started with the Volkswagen Group in 2017, there are more areas in which cars powered by it are effectively banned.

That creates a problem, firstly, for anyone who owns one but also on a broader scale due to rendering running fleets of cars obsolete. Replacing diesel cars is an air quality necessity but the cost of manufacturing replacements also represents significant carbon emissions, beyond the basic financial burden.

Toyota’s chief engineer of hydrogen, Naoyuki Sakamoto, told me after the Corolla’s race debut that the process used on the race car would work effectively for other combustion cars. The Corolla itself, after all, is hardly an extreme racing prototype and so there appears to be genuine hope that this would work as a direct transfer from race to road. Toyota confirmed that it was still chasing performance equivalence from its hydrogen-powered engine (hydrogen burned as a fuel produces considerably less energy than petrol or diesel) but that overall it was happy with the way that the car had performed.

JCB’s hydrogen combustion digger
Where this falls down, however, is that hydrogen engines emit nitrogen oxide particulates (NOx) over a certain temperature. In some applications, such as JCB’s hydrogen combustion diggers, the solution is to simply run the engines at a lower temperature than would create the problem. However, that obviously won’t work with a racing car.

While exhaust emissions and engine particulates are by no means the biggest source of CO₂ from racing, it’s unlikely that knowingly running in a way that created particulates would be palatable as a completely “clean” form of racing.

The underside of a hydrogen-fitted BMW X5 after explosives test
The other potential issue is safety. Hydrogen tanks certainly can be made extremely robustly; I got the chance to look at an armoured X5 that had had 24 hand grenades let off underneath it without damage to the tanks when I visited BMW’s Munich home last year. When Pininfarina made a prototype fuel cell GT car it incorporated the huge, highly rigid tanks into the crash structure of the vehicle because they had to be so strong.

That works as a housing solution for the tanks in GT cars and might even in sportscar prototypes. However, it would be extremely challenging to fit them into the rear of a single-seater car. The sheer weight of the tanks – often nearly equal to the fuel they hold – would be prohibitive for any category like Formula 1. Hydrogen has never been seriously discussed as an F1 fuel and isn’t likely to be in the future, as even the relatively minor drop in energy density by increasing the proportion of ethanol in fuel is challenging teams this year.

The additional factor of particulates would also likely be unacceptable for any series with a significant number of street tracks. But for forms of motorsport like endurance racing where races take place distantly and with relatively large vehicles, there may be potential for a hydrogen-burning future.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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56 comments on “Why hydrogen could offer the combustion engine a future in some motorsports”

  1. F1 cars that race on track account for only 0.7% [sic!] of the total F1 carbon footprint.
    So in terms of ecology, there are other things to tacle before the race cars. A user called “S” wrote a brilliant comment about it several weeks ago that I wish I was able to quote. Maybe he shows up again and delivers it one more time :)
    But in terms of preserving roaring combustion engines, I’m happy there is a chance of preserving them.

  2. “Hydrogen power” is bigger waste of energy than the whole oil industry! Just elementary physics…

    1. Agreed, and water vapour is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide….

      1. The water vapor issue will always be swept under the CO2 Carpet, why, because people want to fly to Mexico, Hawaii, Europe and all manner of other places.
        In our hood, West Coast NA, there are local mountains (ski areas). In normal times the temp drop (adiabatic cooling) from sea level to 1,100 M is 6 deg C. During the early days of the pandemic, with little or no air travel, the difference was 10 deg C. CO2 levels did not change but moisture at high altitude did drop. The night sky was darker and during the day a deeper shade of blue.
        Saw exactly the same phenomena in New England during the 9-11 air travel shutdown. Significantly lower night time ground level temperatures and clearer sky’s.
        The Big Lie continues.

  3. Sorry, but after seeing that F1 keeps pushing for more and more races into the calendar on different parts of the world I just dont give two damns about F1’s appeal for lower carbon footprint with their crap engines. Hypocrisy at its finest.

  4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    2nd April 2022, 12:59

    However, racing series could have the option of using green hydrogen (generated by splitting water with electrolysis) offering the magical combination of a fuel that will run in a roaring engine which could also be burned in a way that generates nothing but water as waste.

    At present a huge fossil fuel powered generator is lugged around for FE. Will that be replaced with a big windmill or solar panels for the hydrogen production?

    1. @andyfromsandy where FE has used generators (and it doesn’t always, being in cities there is a pretty decent supply) it used to be Aquafuel (an algae sugar syrup) and is now often something like locally sourced olive oil, as in Rome. the generators are locally supplied.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        2nd April 2022, 14:46

        I think it is the head in sand attitude when it comes to where the electricity comes from particularly with road going EVs.

        “I drive electric therefore I am a good citizen.”

        “Yeah but the electric generator in your town is coal fired!”

        1. @andyfromsandy I’m quite an annoying person to argue with about this because I’ve done it a lot; very, very few grids outside China are coal-fired (Arkansas was the only one I could find in the US a few years ago)

          efficiency with EV motors drawing from a battery is so much higher than combustion that the emissions are much less, in any case. especially once you factor in the oil needing to be extracted, refined and transported globally.

          people are, obviously, allowed to make their own choices; my car is a 1993 Renault Twingo that has get to undergo electric conversion and I dread to think what her cleon-fonte 4-cylinder puts out. but when we’re talking structurally, about the direction that the automotive industry and racing is taking, then there is a clear responsibility to move towards renewable electricity sources, sustainable manufacturing processes and zero emissions vehicles.

        2. Ignorance is bliss huh?
          Coal grid powered EV’s are still far more efficient than diesel or petrol powered ICE cars and have a lower CO2 footprint, per km & lifetime.

        3. …and each average tyre, be it EV or ICE, requires 31litres of crude oil to make.

  5. Well reasoned article. I think hydrogen will definitely have a place as an alternative fuel source, right now it’s prohibitively expensive to produce, but a lot of work is going into improving that process. The main advantage is it that electicity suffers inherent losses during transport, so if you’re producing at somewhere a long way from major habitation (say a desert or off-sea wind farm), converting on-site to hydrogen becomes more economical. Gas can also be easily stockpiled, so if you’re producing more electricity than you require, storing that as hydrogen is a no-brainer.

    Having said all that, the best use will likely be for heating (gas boilers are already being made hydrogen ready, and the transport network already exists), and haulage, where battery storage is obviously not ideal.

    I suspect the resistance to F1 becoming electric will fade as the majority of cars on the road go that way, in the end you can’t stop progress, and if F1 is to be the pinnacle of technology it can’t continue to use an obsolete fuel source.

    1. There would be infrastructure and pumping costs to transport hydrogen. Electrical power transmission is essentially free once the wires are laid; using high voltage DC reduces transmission losses. From Wikipedia…..

      Depending on voltage level and construction details, HVDC transmission losses are quoted at 3.5% per 1,000 km, about 50% less than AC (6.7%) lines at the same voltage.[24] This is because direct current transfers only active power and thus causes lower losses than alternating current, which transfers both active and reactive power.

    2. Coventry Climax
      2nd April 2022, 14:49

      The transport system already exists? For hydrogen? That’s the smalles element we know of, which permeates through almost anything else, so a simple existent gas pipeline won’t hold it, and certainly not at pressure.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think hydrogen has a future, especially once the solar energy conversion gets more efficient. The sun, after all, is the one and only durable solution there is, and daily provides many, many times more energy than we use globally. Efficiency is (almost) no issue once energy is abundant, free and non-polluting. It is scarcety and pollution that are the (main) issues.

      1. greasemonkey
        2nd April 2022, 15:07

        One aspect of long term hydrogen is at-location production. No transport needed.

        Another aspect is energy storage. Hydrogen generated at a solar or wind farm that would otherwise be turned partially off when the grid cannot take the output is almost “free”, in that if you are just throwing away wind or solar, who cares if the conversion to hydrogen isnt perfect with that throwaway energy.

        Also, hydrogen tanks are MUCH MUCH less expensive to make than batteries, require no rare earths, and don’t wear out.

        For racing though, neutral bio fuel, or carbon extraction based fuel, would maybe more interesting. The whole idea of racing is to push tech. Those fuels don’t have to be anywhere near break even to be justified for racing.

        1. Coventry Climax
          2nd April 2022, 16:51

          Not sure the whole point of racing is pushing tech, but for racing too, even if it’s not at the F1 speeds we were used to, racing on hydrogen is still racing. Heck, we even have truck races! And that is what Hazel talks about in the article: Hydrogen may well have a use in some form in motorsports. And agreed, there’s research value there too.

      2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/21/is-hydrogen-the-solution-to-net-zero-home-heating

        Also working in hydrogen’s favour is that for the past 20 years, the gas industry has been systematically replacing the metal pipes in its “iron mains” network with yellow polyethylene ones. Around 90% of the pipes will have been replaced by 2030. This is good news for hydrogen because the gas reacts with the old metal pipes, making them brittle. But the polyethylene is safe.

        “Effectively we started a programme of hydrogen-proofing our gas network without knowing we were doing it,”

        1. Coventry Climax
          2nd April 2022, 16:57

          OK, didn’t know that. Positive side-effect; there’s not too many of those ;-). It’s not global, I’m sure, but positive nonetheless.

  6. > Under the real threats of drastic, anthropogenic climate change, it can be slightly uncomfortable to be a fan of car racing.

    Why? Racing contributes so little to the problem …

    1. greasemonkey
      2nd April 2022, 15:11

      Racing has an “accelerate technology” side effect, much like war does, but without the killing.

  7. Coventry Climax
    2nd April 2022, 14:31

    Great article again, @hazelsouthwell.
    Obviously (knowing me ;-) ) there’s a couple of things I’d like to comment on: The first is that you -I quote- say that there is an obligation to present a cleaner image. If I may change that to not just change the image (which is just commercial and being done all the time, without any real effect at all) but into an obligation to change all human activity, including the automotive sector, into one that no longer polutes the habitat we and all other species live in: earth. It is an extremely sad given that we have already downplayed what we intend (not must, need, or will!) to achieve to goals that aim to not let it get out of hand too much – and for humans only, hopefully yet questionably.
    And even that we don’t manage. Even with the pandemic, global carbon emissions increased by some 10% (!) over the last year. Just pretty words and an image to present won’t get us anywhere.

    SAE papers (Society of Automotive Engineers) are authoratative, world-wide publications on all sorts of engineering issues. There’s papers on robotics, on heads-up displays in cars and what not and, guess what, on hydrogen. They date back to the 70’s of last century. I do not deny BMW’s history with hydrogen, but they certainly weren’t the first. Actually, BMW has a history of buying patents in order to put them in their archives and protect their current production methods.
    Mainly, the talk of hydrogen has a longtime history to serve to distract from the need to change, prolonging the profitable use of fossil fuels to the point of disaster we’re currently at.

    A Diesel engine, by nature of it’s chosen combustion process, requires high compression in order to reach the temperatures needed to ignite it’s fuel with no sparkplugs. The fuel itself does not evaporate, although components of it do. It requires a high pressure fuel pump to inject some sort of fuel spray. Combine all this with the actual composition of the Diesel fuel, and there you have why a Diesel engine is polluting by nature, with the high temperatures resulting in high NOx values, the remaining soot, sulphur etc and often unburnt or just partially burnt parts of the fuel injected, particularly at acceleration (which is a rather important part of motorsports, by the way). This is almost always denied, using the argument of the Diesel process’ fuel efficiency, but the two are only related through CO2 emissions, and in no other way.
    Hydrogen, which is hard to liquify and store, being a gas of the smallest molecules we know of (first element of the Periodic Table), evaporates very easily and needs very little incentive to combust.
    Hence, using hydrogen as an easy aftermarket conversion technology for Diesels may be both commercially and environmetally attractive, but it’s certainly not the most logical choice having the Diesel process in (newly built) race cars, although I agree that obviously, racing engines are stressed to a higher degree than normal road cars and thus inherently run hotter anyway. (In endurance, the advantages of the Diesel process are omitting the Otto engine’s ignition system as a point of failure and higher gas mileage. But as explained, that has little or nothing to do with it’s degree of pollution.)

    Particulates. Hmm, interesting word. Back in my day we just called them particles. Particulates are composite, I assume, and particles the separate components? But then, why not use ‘parts’? Explanation please?

    We’ll see where it takes us and/or where it ends. I’m not particularly optimistic about mankind’s choices, but you’ve already guessed that, probably.

    1. glad you found it interesting!

      re: particulates, I use the word because it’s the industry standard but it does indeed refer to particles and it’s got a few other names. I don’t honestly know how it ended up as the word for that particular form of emissions but it’s as a distinct separation from, eg: gases.

  8. There is no future in burning Hydrogen in an ICE.

    Those are 1990s’ fever dreams of incredible inefficiency.

    1. Coventry Climax
      2nd April 2022, 16:35

      As if the combustion engine was efficient right at it’s conception back in the late 1700’s. Who cared about the environment, fossil fuels and efficiency back then?
      Inefficiency is the keyword used again and again, yet it has no meaning, beyond conveying a sense of ‘oh oh, problem’ by those who use it. Do you live your life efficient? How so, or why not? What does it mean? And efficient in respect to what? People hold snail races. Very efficient at having fun and killing time.
      The challenge (which is a word I much prefer to use) is not using, in the sense of usurping, the earth at all. Efficiency just determines the speed at which we destroy the earth, nothing more, nothing less. We’re currently very efficient at going in the wrong direction. Not very popular, but currently, by lack of alternatives, killing off two thirds of the world’s population would be quite efficient. It would solve the issue of scarcety as well as the scale of pollution.
      The challenge is to use the energy of our only truly clean source, the sun, in a non-polluting way. If/once we can do that, and given the abundance of it, efficiency is just an empty word.
      I think there may very well be a future for hydrogen, I’m not prepared to write it off yet. Even in ICE’s. And that need not be the single solution. It may very well just be part of it. As long as all the other parts address the same issue.
      And as long as something is actually done, obviously, instead of just shouting ‘oh, but that’s inefficient’, at every new idea or technology that comes along.
      At the moment, we’re not really doing anything at all, and talks of efficiency only are efficient at delaying necessary action further and efficiently diminish the time left, leading to the necessity for even more efficient measures with an even bigger opposition and resistance to them.
      We’re on our way to extinction, dragging most other forms of life with us, and at the moment, talks of efficiency just determine whether we arrive there sooner or later.

      1. greasemonkey
        3rd April 2022, 14:48

        Just to put to terse bookend to this concept, a simple thought experiment: what if humanity achieved 100% “green” energy at 100% efficiency, everything else being equal (energy consumption increasing, etc).

        We would still roast ourselves. Basic thermodynamics. The more solar (which almost all “green” comes from, direct or not) we keep and increase entropy on, while the Earth emits the same (or maybe less, given how solar panels work), the more we have to heat up.

        1. It’s quite simple to radiate some heat back into space, just need to choose an appropriate wavelength.
          Or just time the overall planetary increase to match the inevitable expansion of the sun’s coronasphere.

    2. JCB disagree. They can not use batteries to satisfaction because they are so heavy and take too long to charge, and are so expensive to manufacture at the power output required to operate heavy machinery.

      So hydrogen is portable, power dense, can help run a machine 24 hours a day with little break. Cheaper to manufacture. The factories only need minor modifications to change from diesel to hydrogen.

      So JCB certainly think hydrogen is the way to go, and that’s where they are going.

      1. @hare electric construction plant is already in use in the tunnelling and mining sectors, and companies like Komatsu or Volvo either already have battery powered construction plant on sale or are in the process of introducing battery powered construction plant for wider use in the construction industry.

        In fact, JCB have their own battery powered construction plant on sale, as well as providing a fast charging system for that equipment – so, the claim that “they can not use batteries to satisfaction because they are so heavy and take too long to charge, and are so expensive to manufacture at the power output required to operate heavy machinery” seems to be being contradicted by the fact that JCB quite clearly are able to produce commercially viable battery powered construction plant.

        Your claim that “JCB certainly think hydrogen is the way to go, and that’s where they are going” is wrong – they have said that hydrogen is a possible option, but they are splitting their investments between hydrogen and battery powered vehicles.

        1. Just quoting the owner of JCB, not my personal opinion. Saw an interview with him and paraphrased it :)

          If I remember where I saw it I’ll post it here.

      2. Here you go, Harry’s Garage interview:


        1. Has a bit of tour around the JCB engine factory and demonstrations etc.

  9. In terms of output… F1 would do much better to order the calendar in geographical order.

    As for feeling guilty about polluting the air when I drive. I don’t earn enough to worry about that, I just need a car to get to work.

    1. Here in Oz we would have much higher than average electricity generated by coal burning, so any notion by owners that their EV is clean is equine excreta!!!!
      Guessing it will probably be circa 2035 [same mooted time as ban on petrol/diesel cells]. By then synthetic fuels will hopefully be viable to Joe Public.

  10. Very interesting article. Agreed that F1 doesn’t look like a suitable fit for hydrogen, but there’s plenty of avenues for motorsports to explore hydrogen – I’d love if there could be a Le Mans entry with a hydrogen car in the near future.

    There’s surely far more to come from alternative fuels, and it’s essential that motorsports attempts to project a cleaner image, regardless of the ultimate proportion of emissions it actually generates. Hydrogen also sounds much better than electric so I hope it works out!


    Why don’t you young people ever learn……

  12. If your category needs a little more bang, hydrogen is perfect.

  13. The forces at work to improve battery performance are too great for hydrogen to overcome. The automakers are not looking at eV as a stepping stone to another technology, but as the end game.

    Yes F1 could use green hydrogen to reduce their carbon footprint. But sustainability means more than just that. It means that their innovations translate into production cars. Already we see that F1 had to drop the MGU-H to attract engine manufacturers. Imagine trying to convince them to develop hydrogen engines when they will be at best a niche technology in production?

    Finally we have to recognize that should F1 decide against going electric, some other racing series will. And eventually that series will outperform anything built on combustion engines.

  14. Nice article, thanks Hazel :)

  15. F1 shpuld stick to oil burning. It’s one-off entertainment so it shouldn’t matter too much the relatively small amount of emissions from the cars over a race weekend. Doing anything else would be hypocrissy.

    1. IPCC / ITTTC
      It’s the thought that counts.

  16. racing series could have the option of using green hydrogen (generated by splitting water with electrolysis) offering the magical combination of a fuel that will run in a roaring engine which could also be burned in a way that generates nothing but water as waste

    I think there is some confusion here:
    – Hydrogen “colors” come from the evergy source used to generated the gas. The simple fact that the gas comes from electrolysis, does not make it green, if the process is not entirely fueled by renewable energy (wind, solar, i.e.)
    – I wouldnt expect hydrogen powering “roaring engine”. Those H-fueled power unit are eletric powered units and do not “burn” the gas. The power generation, particularly in fuelcells, comes from the recombination of the hydrogen with the oxygen, creating water and an eletric current used in the vehicle motion. And eletric power unit do not usually “roars”.
    – Hydrogen does not properly “burn” on those power units. One can say they oxidised as the hydrogen reacts in the fuel cell with the hydrogen. the reaction that moves a “hydrogen engine” is not similar to a engine fueled by propane or LNG.

    1. This article is literally about burning Hydrogen in ICEs.

      Which is, of course, a completely nuts way of trying to keep ICEs in race cars, apparently for noise generating purposes. 🤷‍♂️

  17. Using electrolysis some of the hydrogen will be lost and escape into space. There will always be less water at the end of the process than at the beginning. Bad for water depletion.

    For combustion it would be easier to use natural gas or propane. Gas combusts without much soot but the air is still getting depleted, burned up and changed into greenhouse gas. That is the fundamental problem with combustion. It’s the Air used.

  18. Maybe F1 could convert the fleet of jumbo jets used to move the circus to hydrogen. Or even better, stop using jets period.

    For trans-continental transport employ a fleet of zero-emission sailing ships. Sure… might cut down the number of races, but that’s a feature not a bug.

  19. This is an example of how the green movement has cleverly swung the whole planet around to thinking past the sale.

    By that I mean the evils of CO2 have yet to be proved to the satisfaction of even a mildly enquiring scientific mind. Pre-empting a childlike response, I do understand the excitation of the CO2 dipole, as I also understand the absorption spectrum across the full wavelengths of solar energy and how it’s dominated by dihydrogen oxide leaving little or no potential for additional CO2 to increase heating of the planet.

    If I were to ask someone who has believed all of this doomsday stuff to elucidate their worst fears what would they be I wonder?

    1. By that I mean the evils of CO2 have yet to be proved to the satisfaction of even a mildly enquiring scientific mind.

      Really? How about we lock you in a room with 60% CO2 concentration, and see how you fare?

      Actual scientific minds, the sort who believe in science rather than social media, are quite aware of the chemical properties of CO2, and can quite accurately model the greenhouse effect of CO2. It traps heat. It is an insulating gas. It’s not hard to predict, or even model, the effect an increase in the concentration of CO2 will have on this planet’s ability to radiate heat.

      Those same scientists also understand your feeble attempt at humor by calling out that mass murdering substance dihydrogen monoxide (fixed that for you), which I prefer to refer to as hydrohydroxic acid (also valid for H2O), and they know the problem isn’t the absorption spectrum– it’s the insulating properties of CO2 and radiated heat escaping from the planet’s atmosphere. If CO2 were absorbing incoming solar radiation, that would be cooling the planet, not warming it.

      Given this basic fundamental fact of the properties of gaseous CO2, would you agree that perhaps, a global effort to lower the overall concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere might actually be beneficial? I’m not suggesting we remove it ALL– but there are 8 billion people on this planet, and we are having a substantial impact on this world– and not necessarily for the better.

      Just as we no longer pour our excrement into the gutters in major cities, or our chemical waste into the nearest body of water, perhaps we should consider an infrastructure where we no longer spew unnecessary pollutants into the air? Consider fertilizer– applied to crops, it’s a good thing. Washed down from our fields into our water, it promotes algae, and plant growth to the point where we’re choking our rivers, lakes and springs– similarly, some CO2 in the atmosphere is good (plants would be unhappy without it), but too much causes an imbalance. And it’s within our ability to address that imbalance, so why wouldn’t we, if it’s going to make our world a better place for ourselves and our children?

      As for my “worst fears”, I have none. I am not a ‘save the earth’ type of person– The earth will survive humanity, as long as we don’t blow it in half with massive fusion bombs. Whether humanity survives however, is entirely up to humanity. If your attitude prevails, we’re doomed, and justifiably so. If saner heads, with less self-interest prevail, this might continue to be a very nice place to live.

      1. How about we lock you in a room with 60% CO2 concentration, and see how you fare

        That’s a strawman that you’ve created for the purposes of demonstrating what exactly? At the current level of approx 400ppm there isn’t enough combustible material on the planet to reach 60%, or indeed anywhere near it.

        Climate computer models have failed to come even close to forecasting actual temperature rise. They lack any skill in prediction, this probably isn’t a surprise given that most have been created on the premise that the ECS and TCS of CO2 is way higher than it actually is. As for how the greenhouse effect works you show you do not understand it. Energy is absorbed from the sun’s rays during the daytime by exciting the dipoles in CO2 and H2O, CH4 etc. This is continuously radiated in all directions from the molecules during daylight, and continues to radiate at night time, a large proportion of which travels down to the planet’s surface preventing the atmosphere from dropping to, from memory about -33C. Non condensing greenhouse gasses like CO2 are the secret to our planet not becoming snowball Earth and all life slowing to a crawl.

        Your concerns about gratuitous pollution I share, but it’s just a ‘look squirrel’ comment. CO2 is not a problem, except to those whose agenda is to de-industrialise and have us return to some supposed utopia presumably a false image created by many cosy period dramas.

        So I ask once again, what are the harmful consequences of a bit more CO2?

        1. @frasier when you say “those whose agenda is to de-industrialise and have us return to some supposed utopia” – you do realise that includes, for example, the oil company ExxonMobil.

          Not only do they believe in that link between human activities and CO2, when you argue that “Climate computer models have failed to come even close to forecasting actual temperature rise.”, ExxonMobil have actually produced remarkably accurate predictions of the variation in global temperatures with CO2 levels, predicting the temperature increases with Co2 levels to within a few hundredths of a degree over multiple decades.

          Of course, the downside was that those predictions were part of internal strategy sessions (which were eventually leaked to the press) about how to develop the most effective tactics to target individuals like yourself to block measures to reduce emissions that would hit ExxonMobil, one of the heaviest polluters in the world, especially hard.

          1. Well, I understand that most companies, including those in the fossil fuel business see the benefit of a bit of greenwashing to keep the green protests away from their front door.

            You assert “ExxonMobil have actually produced remarkably accurate predictions of the variation in global temperatures with CO2 levels, predicting the temperature increases with Co2 levels to within a few hundredths of a degree over multiple decades.”. No they haven’t.

            My question ‘what are you afraid will happen’ has not been answered, but I’m ever hopeful of getting the wider masses to think about what they are being told. I say it’s scaremongering, refuted by the data, which stubbornly refuses to co-operate with the alarmist rhetoric.

          2. @frasier yes, they did – having run models that predicted climate change over a 40 year period, their final result was 0.06ºC off at the end of that period.

            You are, however, getting the reason why nobody wants to bother giving you an answer – because any time anybody says anything, you just say “no, you’re scaremongering and I refuse to accept anything you say that doesn’t conform to my existing position”.

            I have pointed out that the report was nothing to do with ExxonMobil attempting any sort of “greenwashing campaign” – the report was explicitly intended for internal use, and the purpose of the report was for the polar opposite purpose of developing strategies that would prevent the introduction of measures that were designed to push for more efficient use of oil products, such as how best to counteract legislation that imposed stricter measures on air quality and fuel efficiency measures for vehicles.

            As for some of the consequences – well, for example, you have the research published in The Lancet in 2019 that showed that the continued rise in CO2 levels has a direct negative impact on the nutritional quality of the most common cereal crops (maize, wheat and rice), with the concentration of iron, zinc, proteins and vitamins reducing in those crops. Studies in 2017 also indicated that livestock production is also being impacted, with evidence from the US cattle industry indicating that elevated CO2 levels would result in declining yields per head of cattle.

            If you want it to be more personal, your cognitive abilities are slowly getting worse as CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere. Already, you have suffered a permanent loss of around 5% of your cognitive ability due to the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere – take CO2 levels to the concentrations of around 695ppm that were initially anticipated at the end of the century, and you can take another 10 – 16% off the cognitive ability of the average person thanks to that increased CO2 concentration.

  20. Every time I hear someone complain about how dangerous Hydrogen is, I want to scream.

    If you have a substance which is dense enough, portable enough, and still manages to hold enough energy to propel 750kg of race car at 200 MPH, it is, by very definition, dangerous.

    Doesn’t matter if it’s petrol, diesel, lithium-ion, hydrogen, plutonium, spinning discs, or some unobtainium material not yet dreamt of within our philosophy, that much energy is potentially lethal, full stop. If you’re going to talk about the dangers of the energy store, then racing needs to be abolished. You don’t get that energy for free. Trying to reduce the ecological impact of that energy is fantastic. Trying to pretend there is no cost, and that the energy doesn’t have to come from somewhere, is delusional.

    Ask Romain Grosjean how safe F1 fuel is.

    1. The escalation of fires from lithium batteries exploding in cars, whether stored or on the road, is frightening. Has sunk at least 2 car carrier ships, to date, as crews were unable to contain the fires.

      1. Indeed. Why they’re being transported at any more than the absolute minimum “survival” charge for an Li-Ion cell, I don’t know.

  21. Martin Elliott
    4th April 2022, 7:22

    The first thing about any alternative fuel is whether it is ‘holistically’ efficient/practical. It depends on the metrics used. Liquid Hydrogen has been used as both rocket fuel and fuel cells since 60s, but cost wasn’t really important.

    I tried to get Planning Permission to install compressed hydrogen storage in a UK petrol station two decades ago with an outright refusal. I’d bet the politics have now changed.

    On safety, the big risk is not the storage, whether metal or composite, but the fillings and pipework. Leaks self ignite and flames are invisible unless they strike something! Like the BEV, marshal/specialist procedures are needed, and include time. I had a delivery vehicle tip over on a motorway and closed motorway for 3 days it took to carefully ‘blow off’ the load before recovery!!

  22. This posting is about Hydrogen as a fuel. Sorry, it isn’t a fuel. It is an energy storage medium.
    To make Hydrogen from any of a number of means, takes energy. You put energy in and you always get less out in the end. Flubber excepted.
    Electrolysis in particular, you put electrical energy in (about 50% efficiency), expend 5% to clean, de-oxydize and dehydrate the gas, another 5 to 10% to compress it and then run it through a fuel cell or combustion engine at around a net 50% efficiency and expect the overall process to be economic.? Not likely.
    I queried a fellow who was promoting investment in Hydrogen systems for a variety of equipment energy sources. If batteries get to be 40% lighter, can be charged 25% faster, have 50% more capacity, where will hydrogen be.? His response, “it will be dead”.
    Battery developments, at the rate they are currently going (Moore’s Law equivalent assumed at 8% a year) will achieve this in under 5 years.
    The only thing keeping Hydrogen in the news and under development, is government funding.
    Yep, thar’s money to be made in this business.

  23. That photo of Fuji on Fuji is stunning!!!!

    Here in Oz, trade publications are eluding to to marked ramp-up of truck makers partnering with large transport fleet operators eg. Linfox, Toll, in trialing hydrogen powered trucks to replace diesel. It appears these are currently for metropolitan delivery size vehicles. In Oz, a b-i-g country with large distances between major cities, replacement of diesel in long-haul rigs will be a separate proposition.

    Can not recall the exact interview, but was a long interview with Adrian Newey. During the closing remarks the interviewer mentioned ‘hydrogen’ as a future fuel, to which AN had a noticeable smirk on his face and uttered “interesting“.

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