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On Hydrogen "Power" -- And Jack Nicholson

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Just a quick note today:

Yesterday, watchful Huffington Post Green video intern Sean found and posted a video that we loved of Jack Nicholson pimping hydrogen-powered cars in the late 1970s. What did we love about it? Kind of everything -- Jack, the incredible commentators, the footage, the moment where he "demonstrates" that the mists/fumes aren't harmful by putting his face near the grill of the car (as though carbon monoxide would be the most dangerous thing that's ever been near his face), and of course his criticism of an oil addiction.

A few commenters, however, were skeptical of the specific technology he was flouting. Totally fair. In truth, we posted it for the above reasons, and not so much for the hydrogen angle. Oddly enough, though, today's New York Times has some slightly fresher news on the hydrogen "power" front:

The advances apply to the process of converting electricity into hydrogen for storage and then converting the hydrogen back to electricity when needed. The first half is done in an electrolyzer, which splits a water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen, and the second half in a fuel cell, which puts them back together.

Such a process would make a power system based on sources like sun and wind more reliable because it could be counted on regardless of weather or hour.

Splitting a water molecule is an experiment familiar to generations of high school chemistry students. In common industrial practice, it involves a container with water at a very high pH and a base like lye. The container is sealed to keep out contaminants like carbon dioxide, which is present in the atmosphere. But in one paper scheduled for publication in the journal Science on Friday, two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describe a technique that works at ambient temperatures and pressures in ordinary water.

As the story mentions (and as our readers astutely pointed out), it's not a way to generate power, but to store it. But that's important, too. Check out the full story here or watch Jack do what Jack does -- he makes me want to be a better man.

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