IEEE Oakland/East Bay Life Members Affinity Group Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Doors open at 6:00 PM
Dinner is served at 6:30 PM
The talk begins at 7:00 PM
Place: Willow Tree Restaurant
6513 Regional St
Dublin, CA 94568
Speaker: Prof. Donald Anthrop
Retired, San Jose State University
Title: Fuel Cells, Hydrogen and the California Carbon Mandate
About the talk

For the environmentalists convinced that global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions will destroy the planet, motor vehicles powered by fuel cells operating on hydrogen seemed like a sure way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Prodded by the big environmental organizations, and lacking any knowledge of thermodynamics, in 2004, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his so-called California Hydrogen Highways plan that set a goal of 100 statewide fueling stations by 2010 and a longer tern goal of 250 stations. According to the US Department of Energy, there are currently 23 stations in the state.

The environmental lobby would like us to believe that the only impediment to their brave new world of hydrogen powered vehicles is a lack of refueling stations. To the contrary, the real problem lies in the production of hydrogen.

The actual energy required to produce a kg of hydrogen by electrolysis of water is 56.3 kw-hrs. After subtracting the energy required to compress the gas for use in a motor vehicle, the energy obtained from the reaction of a kg of hydrogen in a fuel cell is only 17.4 kw-hrs. There are about 19.8 million automobiles and 14 million light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles registered in California. If all of the automobiles were small cars like the Chevy Volt, about 260 billion kw-hrs of electrical energy would be required to produce and compress the hydrogen needed to power this fleet of fuel cell vehicles. This electrical energy is equivalent to about one-third of the total annual nuclear generation in the U.S. To produce this hydrogen would require construction of about 35,000 Mw of new nuclear generation, which is equivalent to 17 new Diablo Canyon plants.

Replacing the entire fleet of 19.8 million cars with fuel cell vehicles would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 73 million tons--just 0.2 percent of the world total--provided no fossil fuels were used to produce the hydrogen.

About the speaker

Donald Anthrop received a B.S. in chemistry from Purdue University in 1957 and a Ph.D. in materials engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963. He specialized in high-temperature thermodynamics. He feels fortunate and honored to have studied thermodynamics from two renowned researchers, Professors Alan Searcy and William Giauque. Prof. Giauque was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1949 for experimentally verifying the third law of thermodynamics.

After receiving his Ph.D., he worked in the aerospace industry, Avco Corporation, for several years and then at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In 1968, he accepted a teaching position at Dominguez Hills State College, which at the time was the newest campus in the State University system. In 1971, he joined the faculty at San Jose State University to work in a new program in environmental science. He was only the second faculty member in that program at the time. At SJSU, he taught primarily energy and water courses. He retired from SJSU in 2004, returning occasionally to teach a course. He has over 70 published papers. One of his first papers on energy, "The Environmental Side Effects of Energy Production," was published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1970.

Click here for a copy of the presentation.

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