Monday, February 28, 2011

Fuel cell device on video

Here's an example of what I'm writing about, except this is still water being electrolyzed. Water requires much more energy to separate into hydrogen and oxygen. Whereas, methanol can be separated into carbon dioxide and hydrogen with a lot less energy. Now, as I mentioned, you can produce this hydrogen on demand to feed into a fuel cell (as demonstrated in this video) which can run a motor which can power a car.

By the way, there's a lot of superfluous talk here about oil fields and such. What interests me here is an energy source which splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which gets feeds into a fuel cell which in turn powers a motor.

Another comment: there's a lot going on here. I wonder about that.

Watching electrolysis videos

There is an entire playlist that I've constructed on my YouTube channel.  If you are interested, check it out.  It is gregmeadows5593.  This playlist shows how to construct a electrolyzer for water.   It uses common materials.  Plus there's another one there done by another guy.  He installed his on his truck.  Supposedly this improves gas mileage.  I wrote about this idea a few months ago.  Check the Energy label and look back a little to find it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Phoenix Motors, Part 2

This is an update on that post, as a reminder that I haven't forgotten about it.  I have not heard back as of yet, and I am wondering if I am going to hear from them at all.

I have given this some thought.  As I am not an engineer nor a mechanic, I am not going to start at this late date in my life to try.  What I need is to find people who know how to do this stuff and put these people together and to try this idea out.  The idea is to make a car powered by hydrogen fuel cell that is supplied with hydrogen from on board methanol hydrolysis unit.

The item on the agenda is to see if these methanol hydrolysis units actually exist.  The intellectual property which demonstrates the concept does exist and has been covered in this blog, should be classified as Energy in the labels section.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow up on Electrolysis of Methanol

I posted this not too long ago.  It took a little time to relocate the resource that explains this in more detail.  For your reference, here is the google search which yields the pertinent information.  Following that link yields this one, which gets the pdf that I referenced in my post.  I sense that a follow up was necessary because of my recent posts about an onboard methanol hydrolyzer electrolyzer which would obviate the need to store hydrogen on a vehicle for hydrogen fuel cell power.

Hence the need for platinum group metals.  These could be supplied from terrestrial sources, or from the Moon or asteroids.  A large source of these metals would make them more economical for the mass market.

I've done some researching this morning.  Ballard, a leading fuel cell manufacturer, says they could mass produce these fuels cells for $73 per kw (2005 prices).  Current prices are still quite high, but presumably they are not being mass produced.  I am assuming that the prices could be reduced considerably from where they are now.

Update:  shortly later:  Here's a rich source of links to research the topic.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Phoenix Motors

I remember this company from a few years ago when I had an investment in Altairnano, which makes ( or made ) batteries intended for automotive use.  Just before the recession was getting started, I cashed out of the investment and went short.

I don't know what happened to the company.  I just got the idea to check back with them and see how they are doing.  I started with Phoenix Motors first, as they would be the platform onto which the batteries would be installed.  I left a message with Phoenix by email and the response said they would get back to me as soon as they can.

Just now checked and they still have a web page up.  I will check later as I am still getting back home from Florida.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Google X Prize, part 2

According to the Wikipedia entry on the Falcon 9 rocket, there will be a launch to the Moon in December 2013 (at the earliest).  From this source,  the team entering the competition, Astrobotic Technology will launch the 240 pound payload with the lander and rover to the Moon.

Astrobotic also has lunar mining contracts with NASA.

Now if they would just discover where the plantinum and ruthenium is and bring it back to Earth, we may be a step closer to a solution for the liquid fuel problem.  A plentiful supply of these two metals could make fuel cell powered autos affordable to the masses.  That's because the metals are useful as catalysts.  The platinum would be useful for the fuel cell and the ruthenium would be useful for the hydrolyzer of methanol.  Working in concert, these two devices would obviate the need to store hydrogen on board a vehicle.  It would make refueling a fuel cell powered vehicle just as easy as a conventionally powered vehicle.

Newsletter - Edition 255 - 20 February 2011 By Christopher Laird

This is what Chris talks about this week on his subscription based newsletter.  A link to it is provided on the Products page.

World being remade
Gold and silver
Mid East
US coming tech rebirth
Areas for your kids to study
Self employment

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Google Lunar X prize

It would have been interesting as a research project.  But when this was announced, I wasn't too interested in the space program.  Now that I am, it is too late.  But I wouldn't be entering it, though.  Just curious about what it would cost and what you would need to pull it off.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Posting on space is light

Because of what's happening in Wisconsin.  This is a very, very big deal.  I can't ignore it or downplay it.  If this has the wrong outcome, a lot won't matter any more.  That includes space.  Don't think so?  It may not be, but on the other hand, NASA has done virtually nothing in manned space program since Apollo.  Can we really depend upon NASA for a serious space program anymore?

I am reading ( or was) John M. Logsdon's book which was discussed on the Space Show recently.  I haven't got much to say about it yet.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ATO Ascender needs no beamed up power

According to the JP Aerospace Forum post, in response to a question on that point, JP said he believed they can get to orbit without beamed power.

I guess that answered a question that I had.  But if it turns out otherwise, this could be an alternative, I suppose.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A solution for overpopulation?

I liked this so I tweeted it.  I am going to label it as space stuff because this technique will be useful in space colonization as well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fusion news

There some news item that I've seen a couple times today about Iran and fusion.  It made me a bit curious, so I looked around a little on the subject of fusion.

As with almost all of what I write about here, it is from a layman's point of view.   The Iranian fusion story didn't appear significant to me, so I dropped that angle.

But I did keep reading on a little further on the subject of fusion.   What I read confirms me in the opinion that I've stated before on this blog ( I think): and that is this: the government will choose the most expensive way that has the least probability of success in order to solve a problem that doesn't exist.  In terms of fusion research, that is the use of tokomaks in order to produce net energy from fusion.

Tokomaks are but one instance of how the government follows the pattern that I pointed out.  Without the documentation that will doubtlessly show that pattern, I leave it up to the reader to mentally confirm or reject that hypothesis.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In situ resourcing

Combine that with this , and you could build what you need where it's needed.  This is contrasted with having to launch a rocket carrying it to where it is needed.  The machine gets taken there and just builds what you need at the location using the materials available at that location.  Saves a lot of mass and makes it easier to do what you want in space.  This assumes that the device can work in space.

A few comments about the NASA FY 2012 budget request

The following observations are based upon 2011 Budget Authorization  Act

There are several categories listed in the table from this page, among these 9 categories, Space Technology gets a big boost and Space Operations gets a major cut.  The cut for Space Operations comes from the retirement of the Shuttle.  There are some cuts and increases among other categories such as Commercial Spaceflight coming out ahead and Astrophysics taking a cut.

This budget request is not anything dramatic in my opinion.  It is good to see Commercial Spaceflight getting a raise, but I would like to see more aggressive pursuit of this capability.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some musings about methanol and fuel cells

Fuel cells are much more efficient than internal combustion engines.  Here's an example.

The EPA rating of the Honda FCX Clarity 60  miles per kg hydrogen.  Now if you were to hydrolyze electrolyze the methanol in order to obtain the hydrogen, how many miles per gallon equivalent would you get?  I came up with about 30 for this car.

An equivalent car with a internal combustion engine running on methanol would be much less mpg than a gasoline powered engine because there is less energy per gallon in methanol than for gasoline.  About 60%, if memory serves.

If an equivalent gas powered car got 30 mpg with gas, then methanol would only be about 18 mpg.  In other words, a little more than half of the efficiency of the hydrogen obtained by hydrolysis of methanol.  Not to mention that methanol is cheaper than gasoline.

A trip to the Moon for less than a Shuttle launch

Looking over the Falcon 9 heavy proposed launch system, and the proposed powered down landing capability mentioned earlier on this blog, it may be possible to return to the Moon in a short time at a much cheaper price. It would be interesting if such a mission was undertaken with a goal of determining the feasibility of mining the lunar surface.  This ought to be a high priority.

If fossil fuels are yesterday's energy, then tomorrow's energy had better speed up.  That's because tomorrow's energy might be needed a lot sooner than anyone thinks.  And tomorrow's energy isn't here yet.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Very interesting

But not for the reasons given on this Facebook page.

His claims may be extravagant, but the idea may have an application for hydrolyzing methanol.  It takes much less energy to do methanol as opposed to water.

The problem with using this in an internal combustion engine is that hydrogen is destructive to metal.  It makes metal brittle.  You need a special type of metal to withstand what hydrogen will do to it.  So, this contraption will ruin your engine.  Let's assume though, that it can produce significant amounts of hydrogen.  Enough say for a hydrogen fuel cell.  If you grasp this idea, then you can see what I am talking about.  Or do you?

His claim is that it improves gas mileage.  No doubt that hydrogen will burn in an internal combustion engine.  Ford and BMW have experimented with the idea.  I have my doubts that this idea from the Facebook page will work because the hydrolysis of water is very energy intensive.  If it were that easy, Ford and BMW would be selling hydrogen powered cars right now.

Methanol is different.  Not only that, direct methanol fuel cells can provide the energy to hydrolyze the methanol that is converted to carbon dioxide and hydrogen.  If hydrogen can be electrolyzed fast enough to feed the hydrogen to the fuel cell in order to produce power for the car, then you don't need to store much of it onboard.  It becomes much cheaper this way because to store hydrogen requires cryogenics or a very high pressure tank.   This is not convenient.  Thus if you can hydrolyze fast enough, you've solved that problem.

The next problem is to get the platinum group metals to use as catalysts.  Hence, the need to mine them from somewhere.  I say you can mine them in outer space.

Moon Treaty

I can't believe that anyone would take this seriously.  How do you enforce a treaty that regulates the behavior of only one nation who has ever put people on it?  How do you restrict any human activity that does not exist?  Is the aim to make sure that it never happens?  Evidently that is the case.  Here is one of the provisions of the treaty

Requires all resource extraction and allocation be made by an international regime.
 Good lord.  Why would you want to bring lawyers into this?  Not many countries have ratified it, so it means little.  But there is an Outer Space Treaty, if you can believe that.  I suppose space exploration by anybody in the world is everybody's business.  I guess they pretty much smashed up any idea of ever getting off this planet by doing something like this.  It doesn't expressly forbid it, but it does make it more complicated than what it has to be.  Indeed, how the hell is anyone going to know or care what the heck goes on in space?

Common heritage of all mankind?   How lovely that sounds.  But it is deeply flawed.  If nobody owns something, there nobody will care for it.  That's why you abandon the idea of the commons.  It's why communism doesn't work.  Why did our government ever agree to this nonsense?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Space Show Today

Just finished listening in.  Don't usually listen, which is unfortunate since I write so much about the subject.  The show is a really good resource to go to in order to learn what happening in space.

Today's guest was John Logsdon.  Most of what I heard was about the race to the moon.  In order to discuss this in depth, I will have to listen to it again.  If there was anything that I had a question about (but didn't ask) is that he may have said something to the effect that no imperative exists as it did in the sixties.  If he did say that, I would have to disagree.  If there is an imperative for this country today, it is to solve its energy problem, and as I have stated before, the answer to this could be in space.

If that isn't an imperative, then there could never be one.

Update: 30 min later

I decided to order a copy of his book that they discussed.  I will get it on Tuesday.  Look for my discussion of the book at that time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I participated in this poll

You can too right here. I posted my vote and comment on Facebook.

Mining asteroids, revisited

In light of the new information that I've come across, it may be time to revisit this topic.  In the discussion, which was about 3 weeks ago, I wondered if the mission costs could be reduced and the yields increased.  The purpose of those two price points is to bring it into profitability.  The thought also occurred to me is what if it is true?  What if the costs are always going to be too high to achieve profitability?  I will return to this question later in this brief write up.

One of the baseline assumptions is that the mass of the mining device will be kept under 2000 kg.  One way to lower costs is to make the entire mission dependent upon not increasing that number by very much.  If you did, you can use a smaller, less expensive propulsion method.

It would also pay to be able to make multiple missions with only this one device.  In other words, don't assume a one off mission, but a series of missions.  If each mission can return with an average of 40 million dollars worth of cargo, then the payoff could come after a certain number of missions.

The third way would be in increasing yield.  It would make sense that after a number of missions, a learning curve would favor greater efficiency.  Experience should yield better results.

Now if the costs of the baseline of 600 million can't be brought down that much and if the yield can be brought up, what then?  Is it worth it to subsidize the costs of the mission for the sake of its other benefits?  Is it in the interest of the people to bring back platinum and platinum group metals if bringing them back will provide a new energy source?  What if this energy source was worth more in cost savings than the market value of the metals themselves?

I think the answer to these question is so what, yes, yes, yes.  The answer to that last question is: the market value of platinum is not nearly the value that could be added by having it.  In other words, it would be worth it to subsidize it.  It wouldn't even be necessary for the government to do this.  Private industry could do this in order to bring an automobile to market which would be clean, efficient, and cost effective to own and operate.  That is the promise of this approach, in my opinion.

Update: about 9 am cst

I've been playing around with the idea of using advanced propulsion for the spacecraft to take the mining equipment to an asteroid.   If we assume a total mass of less than 3000 kg, it would arrive at an asteroid in several months. 

Also, I checked out a Falcon 9 rocket's lift capacity.  It could hold 3 such devices along with their propulsion and so forth.  The cost to launch a Falcon 9 is 50 million.  That brings the launch cost for each mining spacecraft down to 17 million or so.  Once the other costs are figured in, just one Falcon mission that launches 3 of these mining missions reaches profitable stage.  If the mining craft can be reused over and over again, it will become very profitable over time. 

How to get the platinum back to Earth?  Pay a manned mission to bring it back when they go back home.  This would help the manned space missions by being able to defray some of their own costs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SpaceX's Dragon: Not your Daddy's spacecraft

Long term plans for the Spacex's Dragon capsule is for it to do a powered down landing. If I heard the video right, it could land on the Moon. Now, if it could do that and get back into lunar orbit and then back to Earth, that would indeed be something. Hat tip: QuantumG


 I'm glad to see that this is getting some traction in some quarters.  Bob Zubrin says Soaring Oil Price Threatens U.S. Economy.

 Incidentally, this is the very reason I advocate mining space for platinum group metals that are useful in catalysts for fuel cells.  I think this will be a big help in reducing costs to the US economy of oil imports, which are a major drag on economic growth.

IEC Fusion propulsion

Looking over that Powerpoint file mentioned yesterday, it looks like there is one in which enough information can be gathered in order to make an guesstimate on what it would take to achieve escape velocity.  It is a the same basic concept as polywell fusion, but probably not a polywell design.  Instead it confines the electrons like the polywell does, as far as I can tell.  Instead of making electricity, it appears to make thrust.  Here's a screenshot of the powerpoint on it.

source: via twitter!/LPPX

Amateur alert:  figures may be not be exact.  Fiddling around with this, it looks like an array of 5 of these could propel 30000 kg dry mass out of Earth orbit in less than 300 days.  Not fast enough for a manned mission, but perhaps useful to deliver cargo back and forth between the Earth and Moon.  Modest amount of propellant would be needed.  Assuming the thing had a long service life, it may be feasible as a space truck to deliver commercial cargo to and from the Moon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should anybody be worried about this?

Just saw this story a minute ago.  NASA says the Apophis asteroid won't hit, but the Russians say it just might. Who's right?  It will be a bad day if it does.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dense Plasma Focus revisited

I knew I got the idea from somewhere.  It appears that I got the idea of using this as propulsion from watching the video I posted here previously.  Now, let's look at some screen shots of this video in order to show what I saw ( or think I saw).

The top video screen shot is of a "powerful" beam emanating from the plasmoid inside the electrode pictured.
The two pics below are of the plasmoid, with two beams of opposite electrical charge which emanate from the plasmoid in opposite directions.

Focus Fusion Society
The bottom pic here shows a positively charged beam emanating from the plasmoid where the fusion has taken place.  Now, the thing I saw was that this positively charged beam can possibly be utilized as a reaction mass for thrust.  It would have velocity and mass.  The electrons wouldn't have much mass and couldn't supply much in the way of mass, but the postively charged ions could.

Now if you could fire enough of these beams out the back of a nozzle and do it concurrently with producing energy from fusion, the yield in thrust might be sufficient to propel a spacecraft.  (That is the idea I got from this)  The video said the beam lasts " a few millionnths of a second".  If you had sufficient number of these electrodes which ionize the hydrogen and create the plasmoids where the fusion takes place, you could possibly have a continuous firing without melting the electrodes.  If so, it is a question of how much matter gets expelled and its velocity in determining thrust.  My hunch is that it may be of sufficient velocity and mass that it can be useful for thrust.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

About using Focus Fusion for propulsion

Since I saw Trent Waddington's post on his blog about this idea, I can't seem to stop thinking about it.

Here's why I like it:  It transmutes electric energy directly into propulsion.  I think it can do this at a much higher rate than say VASIMR's approach.  The reason:  it uses fusion energy to heat the plasma.  That makes it much hotter and more energetic and much more efficient.  It should deliver more ISP (assuming that I am right about that) and possibly much more thrust.

VASIMR's plasma is heated up to 1 million degrees.  The plasma coming out of this thing is at 1 billion degrees.  A thousand times hotter.  

The major problem is that it may generate so much heat that it may melt everything, which is not what we want.  If there is a way to solve that problem, you may be able to run the thing continuously producing thrust at high efficiencies in terms of the power use ( in starting up the fusion) and the propellant use ( which is being fused together, it doesn't take much matter in order to create large amounts of energy ).

The trick is to control the heat and the plasma.  VASIMR does it with magnets.  I don't know if it can be done the same way here, or even if it is necessary.

Cross posted on Facebook.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bring back the Shuttle?

I found out about this from Selenian Boondocks.  Is it retired or not?  It is almost like Dracula.  Maybe to kill it requires a wooden stake.  Not that I want to see it die, but in today's political environment, how does it survive?

I wrote a lot about recycling the external tanks, but that isn't going to happen.  Safety concerns are already high enough.  To keep the ET's in orbit would just increase concerns even further.  So, there's really nothing here to support.  It costs too much for today's poltical climate.  Even if the politics were favorable, it is still a high cost proposition.  The only thing that makes it more interesting to me is if the ET's were recycled.  I've batted the idea around here and elsewhere though.  There's not much interest in the idea.

The government should commit itself to one course of action and stick with it.  I think the probability of success may be higher if the shuttle is retired.  Let the commercial option carry the load in the future.  I think it is the best shot we have.   It just won't do to have the shuttle re retired in the near future because of another budget crunch.

By the way, I just listened to the Space Show broadcast mentioned at Selenian Boondocks.  Now I am familiar with Altius.  My education continues.

JP Aerospace in the News

On their blog, they have a YouTube video up.  I did a video response to it on YouTube using one of my own videos.

I guess I could have use my last video, but that was supposed to be humor.  You can take your pick here. We aim to provide a choice and to please.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

QuantumG's Blog: Making Fusion Rockets Relevant

QuantumG's Blog: Making Fusion Rockets Relevant

NASA finds Earth sized planet

I guess all we need now is figure out how to make a warp drive work and we can go there.  NASA spends a lot of money on projects like these, but they will never yield any practical knowledge of any kind.  On the other hand, there are projects that are screaming for attention, but will never see a dime.  This is our government at work.  Spending money like mad to accomplish nothing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Hindenberg

I was thinking about this early today with respect to the method in which JP Aerospace wants to get to orbit. The Hindenberg was a huge airship, over 800 feet long.  That's what I was thinking about.  JP's idea of using large "V" shaped airships will be even bigger than this.  I think he wants to use 900 foot long airships.

As with the Hindenberg, these should carry a lot of freight.  But these won't be the airships that get to space. The ones that will go will be the real monsters.  Over a mile long.  But these will never land on the ground. They will dock to a permanent Dark Sky Station (DSS) which will float at 170k feet in the sky.  The Airship to Orbit, or ATO, will depart from the DSS and return there after completing a mission.

JP's airships will use hydrogen, just as with the Hindenberg.  Should there be concern about this?  The cause of the Hindenberg disaster has not been completely resolved.  I have heard that the hydrogen lifting gas was not the culprit, though.

Control of airships may be dicey, especially at take off and landing.  Would it be better to have some sort of protected area that gives shelter from wind?  Launching and landing in a big Meteor Crater is way of avoiding wind.  It is always calm at the bottom of the crater.

Maneuvering the airships is also tricky.  I do not think it has any control surfaces as does a plane.  It moves the air inside the ship around in order to facilitate movement.  One thing I wondered is if it is feasible to have the ATO do an orbit around the DSS.  If the orbit is really large, say 200 miles from the DSS, it could stay within range of an energy source that can be beamed to it.  That would come in handy in attempting to get to orbit.  At least you wouldn't have to devote mass for lots of solar panels to power the thing to orbit.

The ATO could do a corkscrew type ascent while orbiting the DSS.  Once it gets high enough, the rest of the trip to orbit could be a more standard rocket trajectory.  The difference is that the launch point is much higher. Right on the edge of space, as a matter of fact.  It is a this point that aerodynamic lift is lost, but drag could still be a problem.

It is not so much mass that is a concern, but its sheer size that could be a hindrance in getting to space.  Such a large craft can generate a lot of friction at high velocities.   I would hypothesize that you may want to shrink the size of the craft to a much smaller size once you stop getting aerodynamic lift and air drag becomes a problem.  Solar panels can get in the way.  But a small, compact, heat exchanger could transfer the energy provided from the DSS into thrust to move the craft into an upward trajectory, similar to the one proposed by Parkin in his doctoral thesis.  Parkin's concept avoids the hardest acceleration while in the lower atmosphere.
That concept may be feasible in this context as well.

Another idea that I got, which would eliminate some mass, would be to use the surrounding atmosphere as reaction mass.  The air would be drawn into the heat exchanger, then the heated air would be expelled out, giving thrust.  Proceeding in this manner would eliminate the need to carry reaction mass for part of the trip to space.  This would be useful at lower altitudes.  At some point, you would have to rely upon on board reaction mass.

But in the end, how big can the craft get before it becomes unmanageable?  JP has two major issues to solve. Size is relevant to the issues of air drag and energy.  You need a way to get energy to the airship, but solar energy takes up a lot of surface area which may cause a problem with air drag at higher velocities.  The beamed propulsion concept may help solve both problems.  You can keep the solar panels to a minimum and still have an energy source which can get you to orbit.

Update 3:45 cst

I thought it may be useful to see some illustrations of JP Aerospace's concept.    Here is the first stage of his 3 stage concept.  It takes off from Earth and goes to the Dark Sky Station

Source: Floating to Space DVD
 After it takes off, it rendezvous with the Dark Sky Station (the airship is circled) look how big the DSS, the ATO is on the left.  Keep in mind each side of the "V" is over 1 mile long.

Source: Floating to Space DVD
 And finally the ATO in orbit:

Source: Floating to Space DVD

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stuck on Stupid

That's a phrase that got popularized during the Iraq War.  When it comes to analysis of the Energy Problem, I think we may all be stuck on stupid.  This country imports way, way too much oil.  With current events unfolding in Egypt, the consequences of stupidity could be mind boggling.

I hate to do this, because I tend to sympathize with these guys, but this post is stuck on stupid.  The only way that it isn't SOS is if you can put one of these in a car.  Because that is where they are needed.  It doesn't help much that they have efficiencies that are much higher than most heat engines and appear to rival fuel cells.  The advantage of fuel cells is that they be fit into cars.  And as I've pointed out in an earlier post, it is feasible to make them run on methanol.

You see, that is where the problem comes in.  How to power our automobile fleet. The current system requires gasoline, which requires oil.  And we import a lot of this.  Burning natural gas in a turbine does nothing to address this problem.

Making methanol with natural gas is cheap.  Transporting the methanol is cheap.  Electrolyzing it is cheap. The expensive part is putting them in a car.  Fuel cells require expensive catalysts.  There may be other reasons for this expensive price of over 100k dollars for this car, but I suspect the major roadblock is the cost of the platinum in the fuel cells.  The other part is the cost of the hydrogen.

My understanding is that a major cost of hydrogen is getting it compressed or liquified.  If this can be bypassed, by electrolysis, then it should become much cheaper.  That would leave the major stumbling block the cost and availability of platinum and platinum group catalysts.  This is why I am in favor of mining it from asteroids.  You solve the metals problem, you solve the hydrogen problem and ultimately the energy problem.

Another way to solve the catalyst problem is to find a cheaper one!  Now, if this idea works, then you won't need platinum, nor platinum group metals which are expensive.  Wish I could remember where I saw this, as it was posted on another blog.   Sorry I can't give a hat tip for this one.