The Crestone Eagle, January 2008:
Roy McAlister of the American Hydrogen Association speaks at the SEED Park meeting
by Nicholas Chambers
Roy McAlister is a gentle giant of the future. His vision is clear, his purpose true, and his case strong. The future of energy is the future of our global economy. Since we exist because of the sun, and that which makes up three quarters of all matter in the universe is hydrogen, McAlister ardently suggests we better become a Solar Hydrogen Civilization if we expect to stimulate prosperity. To Mr. McAlister, burning one million years’ worth of fossil accumulations as oil every year is downright embarrassing to the many other positive outcomes of the industrial era. He would rather see that 100 gallons of fossil petroleum be turned into $3,500 of durable goods that can be long lasting and recyclable.
McAlister is an engineer, educator, inventor, and author. His books are The Solar Hydrogen Civilization, a children’s coloring booklet called The Star of Life, and, autobiographically, The Philosopher Mechanic, with a new one coming out on renewable energy engines. He has been the President of the non-profit and volunteer-run American Hydrogen Association since its inception in 1989 and holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy, and Materials Science.
What McAlister calls for is not just a change of flavor of the fuel that we run our cars on, but the global establishment of a Renewable Resources Institute as well as numerous Renewable Energy Parks. From this, humanity could launch the new ventures that will enable the components, goods, and services to accomplish the Solar Hydrogen Civilization. This all inclusive revolution will use solar energy and its derivatives of falling water, wind, wave, and biomass to generate electricity and hydrogen. “I am a firm believer in nuclear fusion,” says McAlister, “at 93 million miles away!”
His recipe for how we start this Revolution is the grass roots conversion of internal combustion (IC) engines to run on hydrogen that not only exhaust pure water as the only emission, but also actually clean the air that enters the engine! Humanity doesn’t need to wait for Toyota or BP to solve our energy crisis. We already have 800 million internal combustion engines on the earth and they can all be Renewable Energy Vehicles with Minus Emissions (REV-ME). The impacts for places like Mexico City and China could be enormous, not to mention Denver and all the other smog-laden cities around the globe. In fact, the American Hydrogen Association already has a branch in Mexico City where they are training people to convert engines that clean the air.
The effect of transforming huge portions of the IC engine fleet is that it will start to create the market pull for assembly-line production of hydrogen generation, storage, and distribution systems and components. There are many arguments against hydrogen (usually for storage challenges), but as McAlister laments, “If we put the same amount of money and development into solar hydrogen systems as we do into 500 billion dollar Iraq wars, things would change fast.” The fossil era is already costing us more than we think because “the price of gasoline today, with the hidden costs factored in, is between $6 to $15 per gallon.” Mass produced components together with the diffusion of efficient solar hydrogen generation technologies are kept at bay by vested interests from the fossil industries.
As hydrogen does not exist naturally in the universe, conventional approaches to hydrogen usually use electricity to split water to create hydrogen and oxygen gases. McAlister is looking more toward creating hydrogen from low to negative-cost waste products such as municipal solid waste, municipal wastewater, and agricultural residues and manures. These materials can be anaerobically digested to yield methane, CH4, which has one of the highest concentrations of hydrogen.
Further solar disassociation can break this methane into pure carbon and pure hydrogen. The carbon goes into manufacturing processes to build components that are lighter than aluminum, stronger than steel, and more conductive than copper. These new, far-superior products further enable the Renewable Resources Revolution as wind turbines, wave machines, and storage tanks. “You pay your bills with the carbon,” says McAlister, “and the hydrogen is leftover to be priced at whatever you choose.”
McAlister gave a presentation the Friday before the SEED (Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development) Park meeting that both astounded hydrogen aficionados and confounded skeptics. He also spoke briefly at the Saturday meeting where his presence definitely helped put hydrogen fuel development and retrofits on the final business list. Having Mr. Roy McAlister here in the San Luis Valley was an indicator that we are developing the resources and contacts for building a cutting-edge path to sustainable prosperity.
To become a member of the American Hydrogen Association, whose mission it is “to scientifically test and report options for Civilization to overcome dependence on burning over one million years’ of fossil accumulations each year” and receive the excellent book The Solar Hydrogen Civilization, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web-site is www.clean-air.org. This author also has books for sale and/or for membership contributions. Email at email@example.com to get one.