UPDATE: I thought Ellis Jakubowski’s comment (below) warranted a response. This post wasn’t really about whether hydrogen powered cars are a good idea; however, Mr. Jakubowski writes:
Because pure hydrogen does not occur naturally, it takes energy to manufacture it.
Okay, just a couple of quick thoughts here:
1. Pure hydrogen is hard to come by on earth (because it’s always mixing with oxygen and other elements), but it is in fact the most abundant substance in the universe. About 3/4s of the universe is hydrogen*. In fact, all of the energy we access on earth, whether it comes from fossil fuels, wind power, nuclear energy, whatever — ultimately derives from that big, bright fusion reactor you may see hanging in the sky on a sunny day. And guess what that reactor (which we affectionately call “the sun”) runs on?
2. You don’t really manufacture hydrogen so much as you extract it, seeing as (once again) it tends to get bound up with other elements here on earth.
And then, yes, you run into this issue of whether you’re getting a good deal out of the energy you expend to extract the hydrogen. In the long term, hydrogen fuel cells may have a role to play as a storage mechanism for solar energy. That is, we can “store” solar power in the form of extracted hydrogen, which can be burned even when the sun isn’t shining.
That may or may not ever work. But there’s one thing I think we can be fairly certain of. If someone does make a big breakthrough in hydrogen fuel cell technology, they will almost certainly have internalized the valuable lesson that Hyundai learned (below). And thus on to the actual subject at hand — stupid advertising.
* Not counting dark matter, obviously.
The new Hyundai IX35 is claimed to produce “100% water emissions” via its hydrogen fuel cell technology. Awesome. So what better way to highlight this technological breakthrough than an ad showing a man trying to kill himself?
Get it? There’s no carbon monoxide! So now he’ll be forced to –last season of Mad Men spoilers ahead — go to the office and hang himself! Ah, the shenanigans that will ensue when his co-workers find him dangling there. Almost as hilarious as it would have been if his nine-year-old son had found him asphyxiated in the garage! That kind of thing is really funny.
Anyhow, it sure makes me want to get one of these…