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Friday, September 09, 2005

Future in Funding

From Bob Park's What's New:
Even as gas approaches the price of bottled water, Katrina has cut oil production in the Gulf and shut down key ports. Drilling in the ANWAR faces a key vote, and the President has ordered oil released from the strategic reserve. So where is the free-energy industry? Right on schedule. The San Francisco Chronicle had a rather skeptical article in the business section this week about a "clean, inexhaustible energy source." However, we don't do perpetual- motion in the 21st Century. Nowadays we tap zero-point energy, and Magnetic Power Inc says it's "on the verge" of it. "We are still having trouble making it repeatable," the CEO said. "All we know is that we're seeing more energy output than input, what else could it be?" Is this sounding vaguely familiar? The Air Force sank $600,000 in the company. Last year, the AF was investing in teleportation . Any time now we can expect to hear new claims for cold fusion.

Well, not exactly. The prospect of a hydrogen economy hinges on the ability to produce hydrogen economically. Thirty years ago, an inventor named Sam Leach claimed to have invented a car that ran on water. He said it used a secret catalyst to dissociate water. That would be thermodynamically impossible. But a brief report in Scientific American last week implied a new rhenium catalyst might dissociate water. It was based on an article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, but the title of the story in SA was misleading. The hydrogen was from catalytic oxidation of organosilanes. Cars still won't run on water.
Agreed, organosilanes don't come cheap (and doesn't come out of the ground). The semiconductor industry has long used this stuff to grow epitaxial silicon via chemical vapor deposition. You might as well make solar cells out of it than waste it on a dubious claim of something that would likely yield a low or perhaps negative EROIE. (cue SW)


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