Crisis and Opportunity’s “Breakthrough technology turns air, sunlight, coal, even water into precious gas”

WP Greet Box icon
Welcome! If you are new to Stock Gumshoe, grab a free membership here and join us to get our free newsletter alerts with new teaser answers and debunkings. Thanks!
Not new? Please log in at top right of this page

[ed note: We got a lot of questions about this pitch after we solved a different DeHaemer teaser yesterday, so we've brought it up for all to see again. The stock spiked up in the Spring, a few months after this article first ran back in January, but has come back down to a bit below the price it was when DeHaemer was first teasing the stock. We have not looked at the stock since or researched what caused the move up and back down, but the ad does not seem to have changed at all. What follows has not been edited or updated since it first appeared on January 28.]

—from 1/28/14—

It sounds, of course, very exciting — the spiel is an ad for DeHaemer’s Crisis and Opportunity newsletter, which is a fairly pricy $500 number that tends to focus on smaller companies and on stocks in war-torn or otherwise scary parts of the world. This one, however, is quite a bit more mundane — it’s a technology company that he says can turn sunlight and water and air into natural gas, solving the world’s energy storage problems.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Or, as he puts it:

“A technology that can convert air, sunlight, coal and even water into gas is the equivalent of a cure for cancer!

“What’s that worth?

Irregulars Quick Take
Paid members get a quick summary of the stocks teased and our thoughts here. Join as a Stock Gumshoe Irregular today (already a member? log in at top right)
“A lot. Maybe the biggest windfall ever.

“…. the company was able to convert air into gas.

“That’s right… the same air you and I breathe.

“This company was able to turn it into gas and transport it through a natural gas pipeline.

“This gas can be used to turn on your lights and heat your home, among countless other things.”

That’s hyperbole, of course, but there’s a bit of truth in there … and plenty of cash out there for the companies who can solve energy problems. What’s the problem DeHaemer is talking about?

Well, I won’t make you sit through the whole presentation, but the basic idea is that this company can solve the problem of energy storage for renewable energy.

Renewable energy is sometimes cost-effective these days, depending on where and how it’s produced, and it’s obviously important to lots of people and is in high demand. Many consumers will pay more for energy they feel better about, and technology improvements should continue to make solar, wind and other renewable energies more efficient in the decades to come.

But storage is an unsolved problem — the wind doesn’t blow all the time, the sun doesn’t shine at night, batteries are expensive and short-lived and many other storage solutions, like pumped hydro (you pump water up hill, then run it back downhill through a turbine when you need to generate electricity), are inefficient and take up a lot of space or just haven’t been economically feasible (like Beacon Power’s flywheels, which are in use in two plants to help regulate the electric grid but weren’t profitable enough to keep Beacon out of bankruptcy — Dehaemer actually teased those folks too, though that was back in 2007 when they were riding a bit higher, and when he was penning a different letter for a different publisher).

So really, what this company is doing is converting wind (“air”) or sunlight into electricity, which happens all the time, but then instead of that electricity just feeding into the electric grid this company uses their technology and that electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen (the process is called electrolysis). That hydrogen is used either as a fuel itself, as in fuel cells, or can be pumped into the natural gas network (and/or turned into synthetic natural gas through methanation).

Here’s a bit more of the hype, in case that basic stuff got a little too boring:

“You see, this company has been working on this breakthrough for many years.

“It has patented (145 patents and patent applications in all) and perfected the technology.

“And when all is said and done, it can supply all of the energy America could possibly want for just $0.02 a kilowatt hour. That’s the equivalent of filling up your car for just $0.57 a gallon.

“It works by converting air, sunlight, coal, and even water into gas.

“It’s clean, cheap, and abundant.

“You can even transport this gas right through existing natural gas pipelines — so there’s no extra infrastructure costs to move it, because the pipelines already exist.

“And get this: Since air, sunlight, coal, and water are essentially limitless in supply, this energy will never run out… ever.”

Then, thankfully, we get a few clues about the actual company that DeHaemer is teasing — I’ll extract a few of those clues for the Thinkolator here:

“Their annual revenue has jumped to $40 million from $19 million in 2009.

“And they have a backlog (sales for this company’s technology that’s already been booked) of over $53 million.

“The most recent customer to adopt their technology was the nation of Germany. Germany is the sixth largest energy consumer in the world. They licensed this company’s technology to build a two-megawatt power plant facility in Falkenhagen. Two megawatts can power more than 2,000 homes.

“The power plant went live this past August. For Germany, this is just the beginning of a major rollout of this company’s power generation technology….

“Enbridge — a $33 billion company that owns and operates the longest oil and gas pipeline systems in the world — invested millions into this company last year. In return for millions invested, they now own 13% of what I think is about to become an energy giant….

“Another ‘big name’ investor in this company is General Motors (GM).

“GM — the second largest automobile manufacturer in the world with annual sales of $152 billion — owns a 5% stake. Like Enbridge, GM knows that the millions of dollars it has invested in this company could return hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in the years to come….

“That’s why the company’s stock is up about 100% in a year.

“However, it still trades for less than $19 a share… and has a total market valuation of less than $250 million!”

So what’s our secret stock? As you can imagine, with that nice pile of steaming clues it didn’t take the Thinkolator long to identify our target — this is Hydrogenics Corp. (HYGS).

Hydrogenics has long been a hydrogen company with a good story, creating hydrogen systems and pushing for fuel cell adoption, but their story turned sour a few years back (coincidentally, that’s about when the last promise of hydrogen fuel cell cars fell out of favor with the first reliable hybrid and electric cars), but they have indeed had a bit of a recovery lately on the strength of both renewed interest in hydrogen fuel cells for transportation and telecommunications, and, more recently, on the pilot projects of their “power to gas” systems like the operational project in Germany that DeHaemer is teasing today.

The stock is slightly above $19 now, right around $21, but the market cap is under $200 million still and they have enough cash to keep going for a while. They are not profitable, but they do envision themselves becoming profitable fairly soon — they don’t think they need a capital infusion ore increase in production capacity to reach profitability. And they have some strong partners in E.on in Germany and Enbridge in North America (and Hyundai and GM).

The “power to gas” division is not their biggest one, but it’s a very appealing story (which is no doubt why DeHaemer’s publisher is using it, probably successfully, to catch the attention of new customers). The company describes the advantages of their system pretty nicely here:

“One of the unique characteristics of the Power-to-Gas solution is that it leverages the inherent advantages of the natural gas system. It provides the means to both store and transport energy. By storing hydrogen or substitute natural gas in the existing natural gas pipeline network and its associated underground storage facilities, the stored energy is not restricted to the site of generation. In effect the natural gas system serves as a ‘Power by Pipes’ alternative to the transmission grid to alleviate network congestion and transport energy. Separating the storage and discharge of energy results in a higher overall integrated energy system efficiency”

I haven’t seen any information about the efficiency of the system — about how this “gas storage” system for electricity compares to grid storage or batteries or simply to the current system — but it does seem like it could make for a nice and tidy way to turn solar power or wind power into baseload “always on” power if that electricity is turned into natural gas that can be stockpiled and burned in a nat gas turbine. How much it costs versus actually producing the natural gas and burning it, I don’t know. They do have the large project in Germany, which is for 2MW but is apparently scalable and started operations over the Summer, and a second plant in Hamburg is apparently underway … and they also are selling self-contained systems to essentially provide local baseload power from renewable energy in the form of “micro-grid storage,” as with this order they announced just recently.

This is one of those companies where the one-year chart looks like an awesome breakout company, the five-year chart shows us a recovery from a several-year lull, and the ten-year chart shows a completely collapse of a market darling. Consolidation-adjusted, the stock was around $200 not much more than a decade ago, three or four bucks in 2010-2011, and is now back above $20 (there was a 25:1 share consolidation or “reverse split” back in 2010 so they could stay on the Nasdaq — the stock was down in penny range for a while before that). The same is true for most of the hydrogen fuel cell companies that have survived, stocks like Ballard Power (BLDP), FuelCell (FCEL) and Plug Power (PLUG) — I can’t say that I remember a specific catalyst to all of those companies collapsing in the early-to-mid 2000s, but they were all darlings for at least a little while at the same time that the internet bubble was preparing to burst … and they’re all down 80, 90 or whatever percent from their long-ago highs.

But Hydrogen is certainly capturing our fancy again — hydrogen cars are being pushed again by a couple carmakers, with baby steps taken on building up hydrogen fueling stations again, and that has helped the fuel cell companies this year (there’s a good Washington Post piece on hydrogen fuel cars at the DC auto show here), and Hydrogenics has shown some life in building up their backlog of orders a little bit … heck, there’s even one analyst who thinks they’ll be profitable next year (perhaps he’s dating the CEO’s daughter or is just more optimistic than others, I don’t know).

And HYGS is making some progress, it appears — they think that they can keep gross margins stable and become profitable once annual revenue hits $50 million, which might not be more than a year or two away if all goes well, and they have enough cash to at least get through another year like last one without having to sell shares. That’s on the strength of backlog for telecom backup power systems from their partner Commscope, as well as a big order still working its way through for propulsion power cells (for a secret customer) and some hydrogen generation orders (for systems that use electrolysis to produce hydrogen where it’s needed — like in industry, or at hydrogen fueling stations). Here’s how the CEO put it on their last quarterly call:

“… let me just reiterate that Hydrogenics remains on track to attain the goals led out since 2012, the company is now at inflection point with our energy storage and power systems operations coming to represent a much larger share of Hydrogenics’ overall business, we remain on track to become profitable at the 50 million revenue run rate, and at a 30% gross margin and we’re well on way this milestone achievement. We have what it takes to support rapid growth, scale up our operations and diversify our business space but we still anticipate full year revenue to be up over 30% this year versus 2012.”

And … that’s about all I can tell you about HYGS from my few minutes scanning their information. They’re still small, the story is really cool, particularly the energy storage capabilities, and they still think they’ll reach profitability fairly soon … if the hydrogen “story” really takes off again they could certainly be a beneficiary, as they have been with their parade of positive news over the last six months, but keep half an eye on those 2004-2006 charts for the hydrogen companies before you fall too much in love with stories like these, until some kind of sustainable profitability is reached they’re very much at the whims of shifting tides of sentiment.

What do you think? Ready for the next wave of hydrogen companies? Think HYGS is good fuel for your portfolio? Let us know with a comment below.

And those of you who haven't retired yet, check this out as we get to the "planning and forecasting" part of the year...

Print this

Email This Email This

128 Responses to Crisis and Opportunity’s “Breakthrough technology turns air, sunlight, coal, even water into precious gas”


  1. I caught the Hydrogenics connection as well. I’ve been looking for some hard energy conversion numbers, since water electrolysis is not a very efficient way to regenerate hydrogen, and then to burn it again to regenerate heat (or electricity in a fuel cell)? How efficient can that be especially when considering the expensive input (with the already low efficiencies of windmills and solar cells)? Can anyone follow up with the calculation of the $0.04/kw number that was mentioned?

    Like(2)

  2. I’ve read about this pipe dream elsewhere. …” This story might be cool”… but as a retired chemical engineer it is at best two decades away from any production capability.
    Hey folks move on—save your money–invest elsewhere.

    Like(3)

          • Hindenburg burned because of aluminium oxide paint and
            electrostatic discharge ,bit of a trap for beginners that ,
            we tend to forget the millions of safe comfortable ,miles
            flown by them all round the world . also note BMW have
            been using liquefied hydrogen ,and have demonstrated that
            they couldn’t ignite it when they destroyed its containment
            vessel .

            Like(0)

      • Well gee gasoline burns up lots of vehicles pretty totally too if the tank gets ruptured in the crash (and the tank can explode too if the car gets burning first from brakes or tires catching fire.). The idea is to make the tank strong enough to survive most crashes, and for liquid hydrogen the tank has to be pretty darn thick to contain the pressure. So not a scientist but I would guess that the hazards may be similar. But take heart – with the google car you won’t get in many crashes.

        Like(0)

        • If I’m not mistaken Hydrogen doesn’t exist as a liquid at room temp. It must be kept at very low temps. to stay liquid. That’s why they vent it to let it evaporate and keep it verrrry cold. And if they destroyed it’s containment vessel then gaseous hydrogen would have immediately combined with any oxygen around and go Boom. Challenger proved that.

          Like(0)

          • So who says it has to be pure hydrogen?
            When I was a young lad, one evening I made a solution of lye
            and H2O in a pop bottle. I then added some aluminum foil
            to the mix and promptly placed a balloon over the bottle.
            Low and behold it quickly expanded the balloon.
            Tying it off, I secured a thin strip of newspaper to it,
            lit fire to the end of the strip and let the contraption
            quickly ascend into the nocturnal darkness.
            About three hundred feet up…KABOOM!
            Boy, did I arouse the neighborhood attention.

            Like(1)

    • Well then how come soo many auto companies are developing fuel-cell cars ??
      Like they are going to be on the consumer road next year.

      Like(0)

      • @Malotti
        Because they are taking advantage of (= “ripping off”) governments (= taxpayers) with promises they cannot keep.
        See my earlier links. The same promises were made 15 years ago.
        Where are these cars then claimed to be “drive out of show rooms” by 2001 ???

        Like(0)

  3. If you can generate electricity for less than$.001 per kwh it would possibly be
    feasible to produce hydrogen thru electrolysis & then in turn convert it to methane
    (natural gas). the need for that is that it is extremely difficult to store hydrogen.
    Conversion cost of methane from hydrogen is roughly $.70 of product for $1.00 of cost.
    Pencil that out & see if you think that is market ready.

    Like(1)

    • The methanization of hydrogen is really about the Fisher-Tropsch process. Do a search on it and you can study it. Hitler used it in WW2 to turn his coal into diesel and gasoline. You can read about it in a book by Jerome Corsi called The Great Oil Conspiracy (or something like that). It’s pretty mind blowing – BUT the bottom line is that a lot of pressure and high temperature are needed to methanize hydrogen, and that costs a lot of money, which is why no one is doing it now commercially – HOWEVER, that process may be happening naturally deep inside the earth, way below the timeline when dinosaurs, et al, roamed the earth; and where the pressure and high temperature exist constantly. This idea is one of the postulates in Corsi’s book. His thinking is that this “natural” methanization could be the primal source of all the new shale gas/oil being “discovered” now, bubbling up from deeper inside the earth. After all, methane has been discovered on one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. As far as we know, there have never been dinosaurs on Titan. You may want to check out the book.

      Like(5)

  4. I looked at the same information Travis did, but was not convinced initially that this is yet ready for “prime time” perhaps prejudiced by my following Ballard as a Canadian company for many years and it basically went nowhere. I was somewhat startled however when about 2 months ago BLD began appearing on my “Daily Alerts” with some regularity with price increases as high as 9% in a single day and on my Jan. 13th sheet it shows it @ $2.72 being up 92% in the past 3 months and 306% Y/Y pretty impressive gains that certainly caught my attention .Does this mean that the fuel cell market is finally coming into its own? Can’t say for sure, but HYDROGENICS sure makes it interesting to contemplate. By comparison, the same day I posted the BLD statistics HYGS was also up 9% and for the quarter was up110% and 231% y/y so given its price, Ballard would seem to be the better buy, profitable or not, speculation can make nimble traders a lot of money. Not ready to label either company a buy without more research of the sector, but it certainly could stand another look, and a watch list for a good entry point.

    Like(2)

    • As a practising chemical engineer in the fossil energy busineesss for 30 + years I am very skeptical of the economic claims . As stated by others, the energy cost to create hydrogen by electrolysis is very high; this is why nearly all industrial hydrogen is produced by steam methane reforming at a conversion efficiency of roughly 70 per cent. I do not see how how using electricity to make hydrogen to make natural gas would ever make sense in the U.S. especially with low cost gas from cracking. If anybody is interested I can show the conversions and costs tomorrow

      Like(1)

      • SR,
        I am interested. You may be right about America using this technology, but understand we are not the only people in the world. I would greatly appreciate the conversions and costs, if you would spare me your time. I am a retired aerospace engineer and worked only with pyrotechnics and explosives in my career. My college education was BSME and I never worked in that field in my entire career. I used my intuition and foresight to utilize the energy from these chemical reactions to do work. My systems were used to put us on the moon and to save military personels lives. Many things can be put by the wayside as economically unfeasable because some people cannot think outside the box.
        Hoping to here from you SR.
        Respectfully,
        Carl Wright

        Like(0)

  5. A national(or worldwide) push to build out newer style nuclear plants (that are safe and even use existing nuclear waste for fuel, and make no such waste that we don’t know where to store as a result) could bipe out these guys in a heartbeat. It could replace all coal and gas fired plants and turn those giant wind turbines into obsolete junk being not cost efficient enough to even maintain. If we are serious about slowing down climate change from CO2 emissions Nuclear power is indeed the only form of power generation we currently have that can produce the huge amounts of energy we need (which is increasing despite all conservation efforts), is constant, not subject to wind or sun or needing storage, that could actually replace all the coal and gas fired plants world wide within a decade. If we are serious about climate change – nuclear is the answer and the only answer I can fathom that will actually save us from warming. We can built them in a decade all over the world if we as humans see the light and do it. Of course fuel cell cars and trucks may be part of that answer, powered by hydrogen made from nuclear power so there may be something for this company, but energy storage I doubt will be needed if we build out nuclear power as we need to. That of course is a big if because the big money in coal and gas do not want to see that happen, and continue to deny climate change and good lord people on the right wing actually believe them.

    Like(4)

  6. This is a pipe dream, if not deliberately fraudulent.
    1. Water electrolysis cannot compete on cost with steam reformation of methane (i.e., natural gas) as a source of hydrogen. Using expensive electricity from renewable sources makes it worse.
    2. Using electricity to make hydrogen, storing it at high pressure or cryogenic temperature (-423 deg F), then using it to make electricity again is a grotesquely inefficient and expensive way to store electricity.
    3. Existing natural gas pipelines are generally unusable for hydrogen because its low density means that much larger diameters are needed to transfer the same energy.
    4. Hydrogen-powered cars are a dead issue because witricity (google it) will allow electric cars to pick up power directly from the highway. Electrolytic hydrogen is a grotesquely complex and expensive way to transfer energy from the power plant to the wheels of a car.

    Like(0)

  7. I think the hydrogen car will remain a dream, because for one thing, electric cars are much farther ahead, and secondly, Tesla is amazing technology, available now. Using existing pipelines for energy storage and retrieval seems cool, but who owns them, why would they give them to HYGS, and at what price? Patents only go so far. I’ll pass.

    Like(0)

  8. I kick myself.. saw HYGS at 8 and passed on it.. early last year. Seem to remember that they are building several plants in Germany for/ or in competition with Siemens. Utilities grid often gets power at night from windmills for zero cost. This would be a way to store or use this power. Sure at zero cost power.. someone has to be able to make some money.

    Like(0)

  9. Implied in the pitch was that hydrogen could be stored in the natural gas infrastructure. I doubt that this is true. Natural gas (mostly methane) can be liquified by lowering the temperature to about -164 degrees C. Hydrogen can not be kept as a liquid at any feasible temperature or pressure (boiling point – 252 degrees C), so it cannot be stored or transported as a liquid. Hydrogenation of coal to liquid fuels has been around a long time. If it were economical, you can be sure that the big oil or coal companies would be using it already. Does anyone know if HYGS has a “newer, better” coal to liquid process?

    Like(0)

    • So far it sounds like their power projects are either replacing diesel generators, or in Germany where subsidy is likely high for anything like “baseload” solar. But no, I don’t know the chemistry or efficiencies of what they do — or, importantly, whether their version of electrolysis is better or more efficient than others.

      Like(0)

  10. I haven’t seen it mentioned, or perhaps just not clearly, that part of the cost is offset by using electricity that “has no where to go”. The problem with all energy creation methods, particularly Nuclear, is scaleability. Surely we’ve all seen the hundreds of idle windmills. Idle simply because the grid does not need the power, so they are not running. When Steam (coal/gas/Nuke) plants are operating, you can’t just shut down a boiler or immediately crank one up, or scale them to quickly to meet demand. So the units that CAN be scaled back are. Hydro plants often have only 60 or so percent running at any given time. Because they are scaleable, they are scaled. Its been a few years since I’ve looked into it, but I seem Ito recall quite well that our grid, at any given moment, is more than half turned off, and that turned off portion is first the renewables that are the only scaleable models. Scaleable being the only ones that can be simply ‘switched’ on and off easily. Since excess hydro/solar/wind can NOT be easily stored, they are switched off in favor of leaving the steam plants cranked up. I think most feasible hydrogen proponents are banking on letting the hydro/solar/wind plants run at half or better capacity at all times, and use up the excess grid juice to crack hydrogen, and mush it in to NG. Thus storing electricty in Gas Tanks, instead of Battery Banks.

    So is it possible? Perhaps. Certainly it requires a bit of thought. Who wouldn’t rather use the most abundant resource in the Universe, One that when burned, simply turns into water. A process that can be repeated forever with no loss, except the renewable, ecological, solar/wind/hydro electricity?

    IMHO of course.

    Like(2)

    • I spent 7 years running the electric grid in Phoenix and 18 years as manager of the Arizona Power Authority. There are times when there is excess power available but not generally any more from water power as it once was. An example would be Nuclear power. It is base load because of the economics of the system. So other forms of generation would be shut down first if not needed, the most expensive first until the least expensive is last on the line. The cost of everything is included in these calculations, at one time not all the costs were included, such as increased maintenance from running the equipment as opposed to putting it into standby. When we say “immediately crank up” it can have different meanings. Only water power (of the large generators) can move quickly. GasTurbines take time to get up from cold and steam can take many hours to get on line. Steam is the slowest to respond to changes because temperature changes in massive equipment have to happen slowly or it will ruin the equipment. Water power is used intelligently to regulate the system and is very limited as base load, in fact should not be used at all unless needed. Of course if you are Bonneville dam all bets are off because it is run of the river. When the water comes you generate, when it does not you don’t.

      Like(0)

    • The wind on the coasts comes from the temperature differential between the land and the water. When the land is heated in the day, The wind blows from the ocean to the land and at night the land cools faster than the water so it blows eventually from the land to the water.

      Like(0)

  11. The E.on Falkenhagen plant in Germany produces hydrogen from water with the Hydrogenics electrolyzers, nothing really new. Generated hydrogen must be compressed (costly) and fed into the existing natural gas grid, but to a maximum content of only 2% for the mixture. The next step, costly, would be methanization of hydrogen with CO2-addition. The resulting “synthetic” methane can then be used without the limitations for hydrogen.
    This situation does not justify the hype around the German plant, nor the teaser for Hydrogenics. Wait and see, the HYGS quote shall come down to earth again very soon.

    Like(0)

  12. I find many of the comments on energy from hydrogen as an example of why the US is stuck in fossil fuels. Part of it is because of the dominance of fossil fuels on all information and power in the country, but a big part of it is Americans unwillingness to be open to new ideas and to replace outdated or incorrect information with recent info.

    For example, people speak out against how expensive traditional hydrolysis is, without considering that production of hydrogen energy using the PEM (proton/electron membrane) is NOT the same thing. There are other ways of directly generating energy from water, including capturing the energy in wave motion. Occasionally one sees something about this using ocean-going vessels, but it can also be used to directly create energy from wave motion in major rivers. One doesn’t need dams. One doesn’t even need fuel cells. This is not even new technology—it was discovered around a hundred years ago, but the gasoline engine and the fossil fuel industry pushed it aside, and does to this day.
    Generation of hydrogen gas from sewage and other wastes is being done now, and direct
    generation of electricity from water using a similar system is happening in, of all places,
    a town on Long Island. It doesn’t take off because the powers that be don’t want it to take off, not because it is not viable economically or scientifically….

    Like(0)

    • Could you perhaps explain just how hydrogen is generated from sewage & how you have direct generation of electricity from water. I know that static electricity can be generated by water dropping thru a metal ring with suitable air gap but that is useless as
      any commercial application.

      Like(0)

    • Nano-techs have come up with their answer:
      Researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to make clean-burning hydrogen fuel — a fuel that could replace expensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuels. The new technology is a novel catalyst that performs almost as well as cost-prohibitive platinum for so-called electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than less-expensive catalysts investigated to-date.
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140714104100.htm>./www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140714104100.htm

      Like(0)

    • I remember reading about the mulberrys built off the coast of Normandy during WWll. The first storm (it was a duzy) destroyed one completely and temporarily wrecked the other one. Good luck on building something that will stay together. Around NYC they tried some underwater turbines, maybe that would work.

      Like(0)

  13. Is it time perhaps for a little windpower 101? Not to oversimplify but wind is not a
    smooth constant flow. Even prevailing winds are quite variable with eddies,gusts,lulls
    & direction changes. Therefor mills must be designed to operate over a limited range.
    Windspeed too slow =stop, too fast =destruction. That and maintenance are most likely
    reason for idling,not grid too full. To instantly supply power when that happens boilers
    in conventional plants must be kept hot with only sufficient fuel input to allow
    ramp-up on demand. If you start with a false premise your result will be flawed.
    Consensus does not equate to correctness. Carbon dioxide is an essential constituent of
    the environment/ecology, without it we all starve. Fortunately volcanoes are the
    main recycler,not man.

    Like(2)

  14. I appreciate your responses, and agree with you. Perhaps a little Windpower 101 is necessary. However, not so much the technical aspect of swept areas, and watts per m/s, or even the generator themselves, Perhaps what is really necessary is a bit of Power Transmission and Storage 101. It is an absolute that the majority of idle large wind generators, worldwide, is simply due to a grid that can not accept the power and there is no way to store it for later. International and USA papers news are rife with stories of idle ‘farms, government subsidies for idling, and political/business arguments over transmission. Dependent on location it may be a matter of insufficient transmission lines to get it where it could be used, to simple local over capacity. The politics of navigating all the ‘owners’ of the lines should also be included. So please, school us, or at least me, just please leave the politics of volcanoes vs. humans out of the early lesson plan.

    Like(0)

    • Kevin I have no dis-agreement with you & thank you transmission info. I wish there
      was some way to store electricity efficiently but it is going to take someone a lot smarter than I to figure it out. Sorry the carbon comment did not please you but the fact is that the earth is essentially a closed system & the amount of carbon remains the same only
      perhaps in different compound ratios. It grinds me that something so necessary for life as
      we know it to exist requires carbon dioxide so how can we so willingly call it a pollutant. We don’t even know what the optimum amount in the atmosphere might be.

      Like(0)

      • Frank,

        No worries. I suppose I did bait you a little there, though I really don’t mean it that way. It just always bothers me when ‘efficiency’ is used as the argument for everything. In my almost 35 years as an electrical engineer, with the last 25 spent exclusively in field work, and the last 10 working for myself, I’ve traveled extensively worldwide and have seen the inefficient efficiencies firsthand. So, its entirely a variable. Power storage and transmission is the real problem. As to the carbon dioxide, you are preaching to the choir. Though of perhaps a slightly different denomination. While I do not believe humans are wholly responsible, they have done their part. More particularly on local levels, where areas are heavily polluted, greenhoused, and human illness and suffering is the result. There is something especially pleasing about being able to use sunlight/wind, to break water into Hydrogen/Oxygen, then burn that Hydrogen, with the only pollutant being to turn it back into water. Sure we are not there, but what good is humanity with no hope.

        Like(0)

        • I most certainly agree but near where I live there are many windmills in former scenic vistas(remind me of rows of gravestones in war memorial) also problems of large kill of migratory water fowl & eagles which follow.
          I have heard that in desert tortoises are impacted by solar panels & sometimes birds
          fooled by array into thinking lake below & dive to death. I think engineering our desires is not so easy as it seems.

          Like(0)

  15. What about Hydrogen Engine Center, Inc. (HYEG)? There’s some nutty professor type of guy living in the cornfields of Iowa, and periodically he says how his company has come up with yet another world-changing patent. I read his updates when he puts them out (the last one was over 6 months ago), and he is always dangling this or that revolutionary breakthrough — and then you never hear another word. Do any of these guys ever do what they say? Maybe Frank Archambeau (sorry, Frank, but you are just too deep — or loony — for me) can communicate with Professor HYEG in Iowa.

    Like(0)

    • JayBee the problem with using hydrogen as motor fuel.is not the engine but in the
      great difficulty in storing hydrogen. Have you ever seen a welding cylinder that holds hydrogen under above 2000psi pressure. One that would hold about 10 gallons of gasoline would only take half as far as gasoline because of the different energy density. Also hydrogen is an extremely small molecule & will readily escape thru the smallest of pores. Even welding tanks lose contents during long term storage. Until storage and transport issues are solved its too soon to worry about Prof.Hyeg. I’m sorry because the only pollutant that would be emitted is the extremely potent greenhouse gas hydrogen di-oxide (water vapor)

      Like(0)

      • Hello again Frank, just noticed this…
        I believe that fullerenes allow for a very high density of storage of gaseous hydrogen.
        However, battery technology is improving all the time and the magic 500, the range in kms, on one charge of a sensible size/weight battery pack, is almost here.
        That will be the game changer.. Even though a range of about 50 – 100 would be perfectly adequate for most day to day journeys.

        Like(0)

      • PS.. Not sure whether you are being facetious about water vapour, but Yes, it is in fact a significant factor in global warming.

        Like(0)

        • Battery Packs are wonderful and all, but the environmental impact is not inconsequential. The chemicals are horrendous. The additional problem is still one of grid power storage and transmission. he grid is already over-capacity, we are already idling generators by the thousands. What would happen to the grid, say in Los Angeles, which is very weak already, if only 5-10% of the cars were electric? Across the country? No way. Unless the engineering is done to make a right and proper ‘smart grid’ using the cars themselves as storage and balancing nodes, I just don’t see it.

          Like(0)

          • What battery chemicals are you using, that are horrid?
            You can use off peak grid capacity to charge electric cars.
            The grid is only “weak” a small part of the time, over the peak.

            Like(0)

  16. Just commenting on the Baseload power/storage discussion.
    Look up Beyond Zero Emissions for zero carbon electricity generation and CST.

    Like(0)

    • Richard I spent a fair amount of time following your suggestion & found nothing
      new or of investment value. What am I missing? If there is some new technology
      perhaps you could point it out to me please? So far I see no compelling reason for investing in HYGS however be warned that my investment success is somewhere
      between dismal & depressing.

      Like(0)

      • Hello Frank, I did not post this as an investment tip but to highlight the fact that contrary to what many might think, there is a perfectly viable technology, tested and available, to allow for baseload power production.

        Like(0)

        • Thanks Richard but I still don,t see where the base load technology
          is. So far alternatives to steam generation seem doomed to no more
          than supplemental load production especially since hydro was
          overbuilt and is already being removed for environmental reasons.
          I fear we will soon face the same problems with wind & solar note
          the inactive installations held up in court disputes. If you have a
          solution I have missed somehow please share.

          Like(0)

          • Hydro was never “over built” just politically incorrect. People would rather take them out than fight.. Your loss. (of less expensive electricity).

            Like(0)

  17. As I understand it the energy density and therefore the range of gasoline and diesel fuel powered vehicles is not matched by any other fuel.
    The hundreds of millions of internal combustion engine powered vehicles in use cannot be replaced INSTANTLY even if electric vehicles become practical tomorrow. Even if the vehicles sold in the future are ALL electric it would take many years to get an all electric fleet.

    Like(0)

  18. bj I am sure you are correct; however i think it likely we will see natural gas used alone
    or as a dual fuel in short range usage i.e. in town commutes buses local truck delivery
    etc. since any gas or diesel engine can be easily modified to also run NG. I doubt if electric
    will ever be practical for long distance trips unless there is a major breakthrough in
    storing electricity. IMHO

    Like(0)

    • Frank,
      You might want to check out the latest research and cloudfunding project underway on
      solar roads, highways, infrastructure. Also there’s no reason why electric wire couldn’t be
      integrated into highway pavement in one lane for cars needing to be charged.

      Like(0)

  19. dear friends it seems that I have offended and for that I apologize. I merely try to show potholes in road to technology investing that cost me, I do not question your beliefs or try to change them but to some extent reveal my thinking. I am sure we all want healthy
    environment but may differ on how to achieve it. I don’t think this is proper forum for that discussion, I am often wrong & appreciate you showing me where. I think investing is more art than science & eagerly welcome your help as I am no artist. The best financial advice
    advice I can give is think what you do. Knowledge and understanding I think are better wealth than money which can rapidly lose all value. I think that some “green” tech
    is too much hype & hoopla. I think there is no virtue in being hoopled. I await your advice on investments.

    Like(1)

  20. I in a way have been asked about water vapour as greenhouse gas perhaps I should not answer but I think it to be primary. I ask you to do do the science ,see how long it takes to raise the temperature of a bathroom with a tub of hot water compared with the time it takes to raise the temperature of a tub of tap water with a hairdryer to body temp. You
    will find that water is the main reservoir of solar radiation/heat. The oceans have been cooling for the past 20 years.(check nasa data) I think that greenhouse gas has less effect
    than ocean water. Please show me where I am wrong.

    Like(0)

  21. The latest thing that I am aware of for useful Hydrogen generation will be the bacterial breakdown of biomass directly into hydrogen. This is a “short path Krebs cycle” that is much more efficient than any other process …it takes about 10lbs of gas pressure to run an engine, and I have seen 80lbs pressure in the lab within a few hours of inoculation…at Anerobe Systems in San Jose CA.
    Dr. Percival Zhang, at Virginia Tech is doing similar work.
    The problem with Hydrogen has always been storage and transport…it takes 4″ thick stainless steel pipe to keep it in, so the only practical way to use it is to produce it at the site or in the vehicle….the day is close when we may be able to dump our food waste and garden clippings into the Mercedes and drive away, so I’m working on that.
    It will require a massive increase of biomass to offset man made CO2, and if we let the Oil Oligarchs frack and dig tar sands, it will be “game over” for the atmosphere…not to mention more airplanes spewing in the stratosphere, and acidification of the seas…We need the Hydrogen Economy now, so lets get the subsidies off oil, corn and cotton, and put that money into research.
    As for electric battery vehicles, they will only be a small factor, as long as we are using Lion batteries. As another comment says, there isn’t sufficient energy density, even if new microstructure designs increase efficiency and charge rate…and it seems that only works for small applications…as the Boeing Dreamliner fires demonstrate…

    Like(0)

  22. RE: “I can’t say that I remember a specific catalyst to all of those [fuel cell and hydrogen] companies collapsing in the early-to-mid 2000s.”

    I’ve kept on eye on the rise (or NOT) of the “Fuel cell and Hydrogen Economy” since about 1998 and the way I’ve always seen it was as:

    1. Early 2000′s – Bush (and Cheney), of course the ultimate Oil Men, played lip-service to fuel cell and hydrogen research by funding, as I recall, a meager $50 million over 5 years. Private industry, as they had since the mid-1990′s, continued to bear basically all research, development, and production costs. The U.S. government’s inaction further weakened them.

    2. Mid-2000′s – The rise and availability of Asian hybrid/fuel-efficient/’green’ vehicles got the U.S. public and government clamoring for U.S. counterparts (Hey, we don’t want to fall behind Asia again like we did with the rise and availability of Asian small cars) which effectively short-circuited all fuel cell and hydrogen research as the U.S. government and auto industry switched to and focused on hybrid/fuel-efficient/’green’ vehicles. (Also think ‘ethanol’)

    3. 2010+ – DOE Secretary Steven Chu dismisses fuel cells and hydrogen as ‘too far in the future.’

    4. Recent – Steven Chu and others do a “180″ (Hey, we don’t want to fall behind Asia AND Europe with the rise and availability of fuel cells and hydrogen like we did with the rise and availability of Asian hybrid/fuel-efficient/’green’ vehicles).

    5. Now – To paraphrase Sherlock, “The game is [again] afoot!”

    Frank, thanks for the nice summary/overview/commentary of “Breakthrough technology turns air, sunlight, coal, even water into precious gas.”

    Like(0)

    • ‘Gaggle of geese’ is more scientific:
      “Consensus of scientists” parallels
      with “consensus of economists” !

      Like(0)

  23. The earth has a natural mechanism for sequestering CO2, if it didn’t the atmosphere would be a lot more saturated with it. Few people are aware that the biggest factor in contributing to CO2 emissions is not burning fossil fuel, it’s the direct byproduct of ecologically destructive ranching/farming/forestry practices, mainly by big corporate operations. Reverting to organic farming and simple changes in herd grazing and forestry practices are cost effective reparative measures that could actually reverse the climate change phenomenon even without doing anything to lower fossil fuel use (except not making any more destructive agricultural chemicals). This was the finding of a recent UN study.

    Apart from that, to think we can just drill and nuke our way out of the surging demand for energy is short sighted. Should we assume that there won’t be anyone to inherit this earth whenever the non-renewables run out? The time to develop means to balance the energy consumption to something sustainable is now, while we can.

    As for the economics of making Hydrogen / Synthetic Nat Gas and putting it into gas pipes, don’t think that the dirt cheap gas in America is the only gas people use. Europe has rather expensive natural gas by comparison, and Europe has to buy a lot of it from not-so-amenable-to-negotiations Russia, which is why the Hydrogenics pilot plant is in Germany. Efforts at fracking in Europe are often either relatively fruitless (Poland) or met with necessary environmental roadblocks. Europe doesn’t have wide open spaces like America where nobody cares about the damage because it doesn’t impact them.

    Like(1)

    • I ask if you know much NG is being harvested from beneath American cities?
      IMHO available data does not support climate change caused by increase in man
      released co2. Primary “climate regulatory” gas is water vapor. Primary basic
      reason for climate change is variable solar radiation & retention. Oceans much larger heat-sink than atmosphere & land combined. Do simple science experiment:
      In cool bathroom fill tub with hot water, check climate change. 2nd in same room fill tub with cool water see how long to heat tub contents with hair-dryer. Then uncap flask
      of soda-water, measure resulting climate change.

      Like(3)

  24. I have done some experimentation with electrolysis HHO generators mounted on cars and it seems that feeding HHO into an engine’s fuel injector or carburetor even at very low levels increases the speed of ignition and burn sufficiently to produce enough extra octane from the HHO/petrol mix to more than make up for the electrical energy required to create HHO from water. Fuel burn is so complete there is almost no odor from unburned gas discharged from the exhaust, and the vehicle gains greater acceleration and power, which translates into greater fuel savings if you don’t keep pumping the gas pedal to feel the power and acceleration. If anyone is interested in exploring this further please let me know.

    Like(0)

  25. fp; Speed of burn increase is caused by lower octane. Are you sure effect you notice is not from water vapour injection which slows rate of burn. Have you ever noticed how engine runs better on a foggy day. Modern computer regulated autos have ignition point constantly being re-adjusted so not much effect from that anymore. On the other hand a small quantity of propane injected does slow burn rate & thus raise effective octane rate of mix. Hydrogen is quite explosive, beware of escaped gas when experimenting with it.

    Like(0)

    • Thank you for your response. It seems that with the change in laws that gives corporations the right to donate to political campaigns as much as they choose, the agribusiness will not be altered to do what needs to be done. Go towards sustainable farming practices. We cannot yet accurately measure the damage being done to the soils and below because of the mass use of chemicals in farming from cattle raising to soybeans. If there was an investment idea to invest in that would help us move in that direction and Travis would find it, I would be in, even if the return was years away….

      Like(1)

      • How about all the mid-west grain that is being sold to the Chinese to raise pigs?
        Doesn’t that contribute to the ruin of the Gulf of Mexico and pollution of the environment by 1.6 billion pigs?

        Like(0)

  26. Id like to thank you all for adequately demonstrating easily we can turn gas into a lot of ‘hot air’. :)

    Seriously, in 1960, my science teacher demonstrated splitting water into Hydrogen and oxygen. It gnawed at me for a long time till I realised that the problem wasnt converting water to hydrogen or burning it to generate electricity…..as Frank (and others) have said, the problem is storing it. Anyone got an investment candidate for overcoming that problem? Still, I think someones got the wrong end of the stick re the cost of conversion by comparison to nuclear, nat gas, coal, oil etc …..how much would a new world cost? Frank may be right about fossil fuels not causing global warming (not even a tiny bit?) …..but what if he’s wrong. Do we just say Opps!

    Like(0)

  27. Run fuel cell cars with a reformer that will convert natural gas to hydrogen. This has been done on prototype cars for years. So you store natural gas rather than gasoline in your fuel tank. I don’t know the economics but I believe it can be competitive with
    gasoline and hybrid cars. Methanol fuel cells may be a future fuel cell alternative.
    I don’t believe you can get an all electric battery powered car that will give you 300 miles between charges and enable you to charge the batteries within 5 minutes which would be something similar to refueling an IC engine.

    Like(0)

  28. Alan; Once again you are correct, burning any fuel contributes to global warming. So does transmitting electricity,the power lost over distance is in the form of heat, just as running any electric appliance, notice how motors get warm? Fermentation of yeast,and sewage,also generate heat. Rain falling from the sky returns all the heat used to generate water vapour forming clouds. Most of the heat that allows life to exist on this planet comes from solar radiation, fossil fuel can be viewed as sunlight stored long ago that is now released. Without the greenhouse effect of atmospheric gases & the huge
    ( perhaps 98% ) effect of water vapour the earth Including the oceans would soon be too cold to allow survival of any living organism through the radiation of heat into the extreme cold of space. By the way has anyone yet determined what the optimum temperature of earth should be ??? And from whose viewpoint?? Carbon dioxide is a fairly constant ratio of four hundred parts per million. To visualise that think of four seats in a ten thousand seat stadium,,,,large effect if you add another seat? Think about it and who stands to gain by a global carbon tax. fa

    Like(5)

  29. Excellent points, Frank. Global warmists refuse to recognize the fact that increases in CO2 always FOLLOW warming; a CO2 increase cannot cause it. Mt. Erebus, the largest active volcano in the Antarctic on the Ross Ice Shelf, spews out tons of CO2 daily, but has not warmed the area at all. In fact, temperatures have been drooping, and ice has been growing massively on the shelf.

    Like(1)

  30. Are we to assume that hydrogen can be safely stored and transported using natural gas infrastructure? Doesn’t hydrogen like to go boom when you least expect it? Last time I checked (Zeppelin?), gaseous hydrogen is no fun to carry around.

    Like(0)

  31. WELL I’VE READ MOST ALL OF IT – CONCLUSION – EVERYTHING HAS ITS TIME – IT “WILL” HAPPEN – THOSE WHO WATCH AND WAIT WILL WIN – IF YOU HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS A MYSTIC HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO TELL YOU
    JIM

    Like(0)

  32. Save your money, the real deal is coming, Obama and the DOE hate it because it will kill all his crying liberal green energy over night that does not work anyway, im talking wind solar and stupid bio-fuel that’s another reason why it will be a winner, Electro Mag generator, nothing like you have seen, very simple
    Scalable, put one in the spare wheel well, will never need a a plug in or lithium battery to sizes that will outrun a nuke plant. Thats all I can say for now so don’t ask, Top Secret, remember loose lips sink ships.

    Like(0)

  33. Need I remind that every time one form of energy is converted to another there is a measurable loss? Why would you want to ,,say,, burn coal to generate electricity to split water into hydrogen & oxygen & in turn combine Hydrogen with CO2 to form methane,,,which is natural gas. We have developed ways to recover NG in great quantities so why not just burn it? In liquified form you can store a much greater quantity of energy in a given tank size than hydrogen with less leak hazard. Existing engines can be easily modified to use it & in some projects people can take city gas from the mains & home,, liquify it at night during low electric use time for their next days driving. In time refueling stations are likely to be built if a demand is there.
    Earlier someone mentioned Hindenburg fire was likely caused by static electricity
    from frame to aluminized coating of hull. Very possible, but however it happened once the gas bags were breached a huge quantity of hydrogen was released. Our atmosphere is roughly four fifths nitrogen & one fifth oxygen ( with several other minor gases) so ignition immediately took place. The combining of hydrogen & oxygen results in superheated water vapor which you may know as steam. Steam has one of the greatest expansionary properties known & resulted in explosion & fire ball observed. Any time
    you release a large quantity of hydrogen into the open air you are likely to get an explosion as the hydrogen rushing from confinement will generate the static spark to ignite itself. Nuff said? Questions class?

    Like(1)

    • Terrorists set a bomb on it according to the secret government report. (no joke, that really happened) .

      Like(0)

  34. The experts in this technology are Sasol and Fluor. Fluor built Sasol II and Sasol II was built because South Africa had coal and was under an embargo.

    Hydrogen would require a huge infrastucture buildout, however Bloom Energy has installed many electric generators that work like fuel cells but use natural gas.

    Methanization has a place as the natural gas distribution system exists.

    Like(0)

    • I really cannot see that methanization is economically feasible unless you have huge quantities of surplus electric power. Even then the only really practical way is using coal
      as your carbon source , to combine with hydrogen since methane is HCO not HCO2.

      Like(0)

  35. Has anyone figured out who Dan Ferris, purveyor of Extreme Value, is touting as “the best resource opportunity of my career” regarding the “next great royalty company”? Please advise…. Thanks, Dave605

    Like(0)

  36. So… not to sound like an idiot, but I don’t have the time to read this entire article :-/
    Could someone please tell me if this is real (or relatable to an average persons life), and how do we “”make money”” on this (yeah, quote unquote).

    Like(0)

  37. Years ago I had the idea to look for new efficient way’s to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. I still think it could be done with the help of high frequency resonating the water
    molecule. But I dumped the idea after I realized that there really is no cheap source of pure, unpolluted water. So how could hydrogen be ever produced from “water”
    without a costly waste problem?

    Like(0)

  38. I can speak from experiance; Three of us started a company that used nquart fruit jars with ordinary tap water with an and a rubber hose with a chemical which received electric from the vehicle battery an electric probe into the water along with a chemicle that together produced hydrogen bubbles which thru these rubber hoses sucked into the intake manifold. These mixed with the gas providing an increase in mileage on a Ford f150 of about 5+ more miles /gal . The problem we run into is we couldn’t solve the problem of the water freezing in the winter or overheating in the summer. Sadly we run out of capital If anyone is reading this I can tell you for sure IT WORKS! GOOD LUCK

    Like(0)

  39. Diss it all you want from old information. Producing hydrogen from water is inefficient but when the sunlight needed to produce the electricity is used in solar cells and wind energy is used then the cost from raw material is free. Germany has already built one, and owners of solar farms and wind farms are beginning to use this technology. They hydrogen gas can be stored in the NG pipelines, i.e. sold as natural gas blend. Because it was free, it can compete with nat. gas prices. And it can be converted to methane and stored. As for storing it for use in a car, Germany has developed an absorbent to store the hydrogen at low pressures in automobiles. As for HYGS they have developed a membrane that makes the electrolysis more efficient. Looking at the fundamentals, they are about to break even in the earnings catagory, have plenty of cash, and have been producing and selling hydrogen generators for a while now. Guidance is positive and it certainly seems that Hydrogen is back in the news. Technicals are very much positive now and I will make a buy today as soon as the market opens. IMHO very low risk and high probability of significant gain. Use your own dd and give it a look.
    What say you Travis? Wishing all gumshoers well and God bless this site and Travis

    Like(0)

  40. And by the way you cannot use pure water in electrolysis. It’s resistance is too high, effectively an insulator. The ions in the water act as electron carriers. And there is plenty of water with low enough impurities that would work very well in electrolysis.

    Like(0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

What These Icons Mean

  • The user who posted this comment is a Stock Gumshoe Premium Member (also known as an "IRREGULAR").
  • This user regularly writes articles for Stock Gumshoe. They may or may not be the author of the current article.
  • This user's comments have been "liked” by at least a few members of the Stock Gumshoe community.
  • This user has commented widely, with input that has been liked enough to earn a two-thumbs-up rating from other readers.
  • This is the highest rating a user can get. They are among the most respected commentors of our community.