ITM Power, an English company, is in the business of making extraordinary claims. It is engaged in a full-court press with the media there, claiming it has a low-cost, foolproof way for you to produce hydrogen which will heat your home and power your car.
The aim of this is to raise capital. Headlines like Car, Tech Company Deal Put UK on Fast Track to Hydrogen Highway have powered the stock to big gains lately.
But what do they really have?
What they have, according to chief scientist Donald Highgate, is a plastic membrane assembly which allows for more efficient conversion of power to hydrogen than the metal contraptions currently in use.
You probably experimented with an electrolyzer in high school. Two
electrodes go into water and you apply power. Oxygen collects on one,
hydrogen on the other. Bubbles rise to the surface. In a commercial
unit these bubbles are collected for use in a fuel cell, which combines
the hydrogen with oxygen from the air, producing water and electricity.
Highgate says his polymer works in both directions, enabling ITM to
"significantly reduce the costs of fuel cell and electrolyser mass
production." That’s the extraordinary claim. Everything else about the
company — it’s so-called car, its big plans for its hometown of Sheffield, all of it — are smoke and mirrors. Everything rises or fall on the claims for its membrane.
This claim will not be proven in the media. It must be proven
scientifically. It must be demonstrated, both in manufacture and in
use, that this membrane greatly improves the efficiency of an electrolyser, and that it is inexpensive to manufacture.
This has yet to happen, so I must remain skeptical.
One point already clear in The War Against Oil is it will be filled
with charlatans, fakes, thiefs, and liars. We’ve seen the lie about
ethanol. I have warned you today how Boone Pickens is a charlatan. ITM
Power may have something with its membrane.
But don’t take claims as proof. Ever.