Hydrogen Power! Rinaldo Brutoco… Social Engineer for the Future

Jay OwenGreentech, Trendspotting, Advisors' Forum

Hydrogen Power! Rinaldo Brutoco… Social Engineer for the Future

In an open interview last night, Rinaldo Brutoco displayed his range and depth of knowledge and currency with the key issues of today. His credibility lies in the fact that he has been a successful inventor, the backer and long term board member at Men’s Wearhouse with it’s “exemplary corporate culture” stemming from Brutoco’s own World Business Academy inputs (www.worldbusiness.org ), and the kind of activism that succeeds in getting stuff done, like the shutting down of nuclear power plants. He is a force to be reckoned with…and oddly his passion now is for an element that matches his powerful personality: Hydrogen!

Hydrogen is the most sanguine of all the elements. It is ubiquitous because it binds with other elements with ease.  Keeping it isolated would be like forcing an opera singer to perform in the confines of a soundproof closet. It wants to fill the room. And so, people associate Hydrogen with volatility: think “hydrogen bomb.”  What excites Rinaldo is that in fact, despite its potential explosive nature, hydrogen is the “safest fuel to transport in gaseous form.” With effusive enthusiasm Mr. Brutoco describes the fact that a bullet shot into a diesel or gas car would explode the vehicle into flames. In a fuel cell, or hydrogen powered, car a blue flame might shoot out momentarily but the car would not explode. Not to mention the fact that when you power something with hydrogen it not only has no carbon exhaust, it just can’t help but reunite with its friend oxygen in the process, reforming into, you guessed it: H2O, pure water. So is he wasting his time theorizing about this wonderful element? No!

Partly due to the World Business Academy’s intelligent persistence California is going to become the second major center for hydrogen, or fuel cell power. For starters, Governor Brown just got a $200M bill passed to install hydrogen fueling stations around the state just in time for Hyundai’s pioneer fuel cell car, with Honda following fast in its footsteps.  Listen closely because this new wave of clean cars does not need the grid for electricity and does not need the rare earth of hybrid batteries ripped from mountain tops in China or Australia. It just needs Hydrogen (which is everywhere!).  You can drive 350 miles on a tank of hydrogen and it takes only 3-4 minutes  to fill-er-up.

Isolating hydrogen for these fuel stations is not rocket science. In fact a simple windmill can serve as the power source for an electrolyzer to run through water and separate the H from the O2. This sounds like a win-win and is likely to be the wave of the future for Europe with windmills on the North Sea not only generating power on their own but, as a by-product dispensing hydrogen to the rest of Europe.

Germany may already be powered 74% by renewable energy but the first major utility scale fuel cell facility, under the radar of most of the world, is in South Korea, the first country to install one of these major components of our collective hydrogen future. Why would anyone want to do this? Rinaldo suggested we compare the costs and benefits of hydrogen and natural gas (the fossil fuel that not only is polluting our water but more critically is leaching methane into the atmosphere as it is harvested). So here is a real current comparable study:

• For a 50 Megawatt utility Natural Gas is being considered as a choice only for peak hours to supplement the grid when there are surges of usage

• At the same cost a fuel cell station would run 24/7/365 and could be placed in locations without the need for a power grid at all…no high tensile wires that typically lose 50% of the power from the source to the end user

So besides shutting down nuclear power plants to avoid the next disaster The World Business Academy is now working with the California Public Utilities Commission on what they are calling the “California Moonshot!” : To eliminate all fossil fuels from the state in 10 years with no additional cost to the rate payer!  Not only do they know this can be done but they are determined to do it.

Mr. Brutoco is not just fixated on hydrogen. He is aware that already 50 years ago it was proven that the variance in temperature between the surface of the ocean warmed by the sun and the cold water below could be cost effectively converted into power. Today he is studying the feasibility of solar roadways (http://khon2.com/2014/06/05/solar-roadways-turning-highways-into-power-plants/ ) as another option (imagine driving over tough solar panels that would in effect replace the current grid). But that is not all.

The World Business Academy’s tagline is : Taking Responsibility for the Whole. In other words, the problems and the solutions of today are all interrelated.  It is one world economy and even the rise of diseases among the poor can be attributed to climate change , for example. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldbusinessacademy/2014/05/07/new-business-paradigms-conscious-commentary-on-business-and-society ).  Conscious investment is an outcome of this brainstorming.  Investors can find a portfolio based on Rinaldo’s thinking at http://www.firstaffirmative.com/.