Presidential candidate runs on hydrogen ticket

Harry Braun III is running for president on a platform to change the United States’ economy from one energized by fossil fuels to one energized by hydrogen from water by 2010.

Braun, who is campaigning in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, said in the process of converting from oil to hydrogen, “millions of jobs will be created as wind and ocean thermal-powered hydrogen production systems are mass produced” by various industries.

In other words, Braun said the key to such a quick conversion, which he referred to as “wartime speed,” is mass production to make renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.

At the same time, Braun advocates passage of legislation called the “Fair Accounting Act,” which Braun said “will eliminate subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels, and factor in environmental and military costs of using such fuels.”

By enacting the legislation, Braun said renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil or nuclear fuels. In a free market system, where subsidies are removed, Braun said renewable energy is less expensive than fossil fuels.

Braun, a Phoenix, Ariz., resident, author, energy analyst and former high school science teacher, said the primary reasons such a rapid conversion is necessary are to address serious national security issues because of America’s reliance on foreign oil, exponentially growing problems associated with global warming, and mass destruction and over-fishing of ocean ecosystems.

In addition, Braun said every internal combustion engine in every ship, aircraft, truck, SUV and car could easily be converted from running on liquid fossil fuels to liquid hydrogen. This means all 250 million automobiles currently on the road could be converted from running on gasoline or diesel fuel to liquid hydrogen for $1,500-$3,000 per vehicle, Braun said.

Braun cited successful past examples of use of “several thousand” hydrogen-powered vehicles in the 1930s in Germany and the United Kingdom, as evidence that his plan is economically and environmentally feasible.

Braun said: “At least half or all of the conversion cost could be returned to vehicle owners as a tax credit, which would be paid for by a temporary $1 per gallon carbon tax that will be imposed by passage of the Fair Accounting Act legislation. The carbon tax would raise about $200 billion annually until it is phased out with the use of gasoline and other hydrocarbon fuels by 2010.”

Use of fossil fuels to run machines produces carbon dioxide gas—the chief component of “greenhouse” gases that cause global warming, according to nearly all scientific experts. However, by switching to hydrogen, an energy carrier, water is produced as a waste product rather than carbon dioxide.

Braun said global warming may be eliminated if hydrogen is extracted from water by splitting water molecules through a wind-driven, electrolytic process.

The cornerstone of Braun’s $6 trillion plan, known as The Phoenix Project, calls for production and deployment of 10 million “windships” that use wind energy to convert ocean water into hydrogen. The hydrogen could then be piped to shore and stored and distributed where needed to meet all energy needs, Braun said.

While the manufacturing of 10 million windships in five years or less may appear unobtainable to some, Braun asserts a windship would be no more difficult to make than an automobile. As evidence that production of 10 million windships in five years is within the manufacturing capacity of private industry, Braun states: “We already make 17 million new cars every year.”

According to Braun, windships were the idea of former U.S. Navy Engineer and Architect Professor William Heronemus, who taught engineering at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Braun said the windships “would provide a critical sanctuary for the ocean’s fish and other marine organisms that are now being exterminated by oil spills, other pollution and unregulated destructive fishing practices.”

The windships could vary in height. However, in Braun’s illustration, which appeared in the December 1975 National Geographic, the windship is approximately 200 feet above the ocean’s surface.

The above-water wind array is counterbalanced by a large, submersed electrolyzer unit and employee work station and living quarters. The windships would be connected by submerged hydrogen collection and distribution pipelines (see illustration on A1).

President Bush advocated transition to a hydrogen economy during last January’s State of the Union address. However, federal research and development dollars have been directed to perfecting reformers that convert gasoline and coal into hydrogen for fuel cells that energize large machines such as automobiles.

Hydrogen produced from corn-based ethanol is a big winner in the proposed new federal energy bill that Braun and other renewable energy advocates have labeled as a “terrible” bill. Braun believes land should be used to grow food crops, not fuel crops, due to the amount of resources needed to grow fuel crops and their associated pollution problems.

Braun also said fuel cells are a “gimmick” that stand in the way of progress. Fuel cells are battery-like devices that produce energy for machines through chemically uniting hydrogen and oxygen gases to produce water.

Braun recently appeared on National Public Radio’s Nov. 21 edition of Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. During his appearance, Braun said: “We don’t need fuel cells at all” because internal combustion engines, which have been developed for more than 100 years, operate equally, if not better, on hydrogen rather than gasoline or diesel fuel.

Braun also has thoughts on recent efforts by the coal industry to capitalize on the transition to a hydrogen-based economy. Braun would like to eventually close all coal and nuclear power plants due to their negative environmental impact and health threats.

Braun said people would not be supportive of using coal as a hydrogen source if they witnessed the environmental destruction associated with mining coal. “You basically have to chop the top off mountains to get the coal,” Braun said.

Coal advocates claim the United States has a 250-year supply of coal, at current rates of consumption. Braun countered that if coal is used to power vehicles, the U.S. would exhaust its coal resources in 50 years or less.

To view images and read more about Harry Braun and The Phoenix Project, visit: To hear Braun on National Public Radio’s Nov. 21 edition of Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, visit the archives section at:

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