Early Headlines: Fuel Cell Confusion, Global Corporate Takeover, Engineer Remembers Nothing, Putin's Nuclear Intentions and More

May 14th, 2015
in News, econ_news, syndication

Early Bird Headlines 14 May 2015

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.


Follow up:


The United States and the world are engaged in a great debate about new trade agreements. Such pacts used to be called "free-trade agreements"; in fact, they were managed trade agreements, tailored to corporate interests, largely in the US and the European Union. Today, such deals are more often referred to as "partnerships,"as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But they are not partnerships of equals: the US effectively dictates the terms. Fortunately, America's "partners" are becoming increasingly resistant.


  • Train Derailed at 106 M.P.H. on Sharp Turn; at Least 7 Dead (The New York Times) The black box indicates the brakes were applied hard three seconds before the crash, but the engineer's attorney syas he has "absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual".
  • Amtrak says it needs billions to meet 'state of good repair' (Al Jazeera) Railroad service says $52 billion needed to keep railroads in order, as service comes under scrutiny after Philly crash. See next article.
  • House committee passes bill that cuts Amtrak funding after crash (CNN) The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 to reduce grants to Amtrak by $252 million -- a drop of about 15% to about $1.1 billion from last year's level of $1.4 billion. The cut would apply only to Amtrak's capital spending and wouldn't touch funding levels for safety and operations. Democrats tried unsuccessfully to increase the appropriation to $2.4 billion.


  • Putin’s Nuclear Intentions Are Deeply Concerning, NATO Says (Bloomberg, MSN News) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization expressed fears about Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear-weapons plans and demanded an immediate halt to his support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. With Putin stepping up Cold War rhetoric, foreign ministers from NATO nations meeting in Antalya, Turkey, urged him to help end the conflict in the battle-scarred region amid signs that Russian-backed rebels are using a cease-fire agreed in February to re-equip and prepare another offensive.


  • China cautions U.S. Navy on patrols in South China Sea (CNN) The U.S. is considering deploying aircraft and ships to contest Chinese claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said Wednesday. China has warned against any action that "might be considered provocative".





  • Afghanistan: '11 dead' in Kabul siege, including US citizen (BBC News) Afghan police say that at least 11 people have been killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel that was packed with foreigners awaiting a concert. Indian and US officials said a US citizen and two Indians were among those killed at the Palace Park Hotel. The police say they shot dead the two gunmen before they could carry out a suicide attack.

South Korea

  • Korea’s Fuel-Cell Strategy Takes Page From China Solar Playbook (Bloomberg Business) South Korea is seeking to produce fuel cell systems more cheaply. The goal: Do for fuel cells what China did for solar panels. Henri Winand, chief executive officer of Intelligent Energy Holdings Plc, a U.K.-based provider of fuel cell technology:
Fuel cells are now at a tipping point, addressing real market needs. The industry is where solar was 10 years ago, before China made it a commodity.”

Econintersect: This article is confusing. It apparently is talking only about fuel cells which use natural gas in a chemical processor to produce heat and hydrogen. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen from air in a fuel cell stack producing water and electricity. The electricity is converted to AC power and the water is recycled into steam using the heat from the first stage of the process and other sources. The heat output can also be used for such things as space heating. The graphic below is by South Korea's Doosan Corp which makes such a system for large industrial applications.


While the Doosan process may indeed develop clean and economical power plants Econintersect is of the opinion that the ultimate function that holds the most promise for fuel cells is in energy storage and recovery, especially for solar photovoltaic electricity generation. Hydrogen can be produced electrochemically from water using excess solar output and stored until used to produce electricity and water at some later time and in another physical location. It is such a process that is involved in hydrogen fuel cell powered cars.

This article mentions fuel cell powered cars very briefly without explaining the difference between the two types of systems adequately. An uninformed reader could easily finish the article thinking that hydrogen fuel cell powered cars would use natural gas as the input fuel and that will, in our opinion, never be an economically feasible technology for transportation vehicles.



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