Fast changes are usually done for two reasons: to build excitement and/or
enhance believability. The movie's camera work and editing accomplished
neither. After seeing the Bond foot chase we were left emotionless and
confused. While fast changes do hide otherwise obvious flaws, taken to an
extreme, they hide just about everything. By contrast a Parkour video on You-Tube is amazing. Instead of
detracting, the amateurish camera work and editing leaves little doubt about
reality and reality is what makes Parkour breathtaking.
The story eventually leads to the great showdown scene in an eco-hotel
situated in the ultra-dry Bolivian desert. The hotel is run by the bad guy's
organization, Greene Planet and is powered by hydrogen.
The notion that hydrogen is an energy source falls somewhere between a
delusion and a scam. There is no free hydrogen available on Earth. Hydrogen
has to be made by stripping it from a hydrocarbon fuel like natural
gas (releasing CO2 in the process) or
by the electrolysis of water. The first nets out less energy than simply
burning the hydrocarbon and the second less energy than simply using the
electricity directly. Biological production is also a possibility but requires a biomass feedstock, not likely
to exist in one of the world's driest
desert, a place where virtually nothing grows.
Hydrogen does have potential as an energy storage medium, in other words
as a battery substitute, but at the moment, based on cost and overall efficiency, it's not competitive, In a hydrogen-based energy storage
system electricity would be used to generate the hydrogen. At a later time,
the hydrogen would be consumed by a fuel cell producing electricity as
needed. Unfortunately, such a system would loose about 50 to 70% of the
original energy as heat. Current fuel cells are also very expensive because
they typically contain platinum. By comparison, a relatively inexpensive
lead acid battery in the same type of application would loose only about 10%
of its energy as heat.
So why is anyone even looking at fuel cells? The answer:
they offer some potential advantages in vehicles. For example, the hydrogen tank of a fuel cell can be refilled in minutes as compared to a typical charging time of hours for
batteries, a huge advantage for a vehicle. However, producing, storing, and
distributing the massive amounts of hydrogen needed for replacing gasoline
in vehicles is itself a major expense with many serious technical problems
that need to be overcome.
In an application like storing energy for a hotel, the
fuel cell advantage of quick rechargability
Hotels don't have to move around or be quickly recharged during brief pauses
in their motion.
The future of fuel cells is based on the hope that, with enough R&D
money, the many problems facing widespread fuel cell
use in vehicles could be solved. On the other hand the same statement can be
made about fuel cell's competitors, not to mention that they have a
significant head start.
Lithium ion batteries already greatly outperform lead acid types and
there is yet another new kid on the block, the
Unlike batteries, supercapacitors can be charged in negligible amounts of
time and can endure millions of charge/discharge cycles. While they are not
yet competitive with batteries for total energy storage per pound, they are
already being combined with batteries in hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
If the hype surrounding
them proves true supercapacitors or supercapacitor/battery systems are going
to blow away current battery performance limitations.
Conceivably, there could have been banks of solar cells on
the desert producing energy for the movie's eco-hotel. Part of this energy
could have been used to produce hydrogen gas by the electrolysis of water,
then compress and store it in
large tanks for later use. At night the hydrogen could then have been
consumed by fuel cells in order to produce electricity.
However, this is not the system depicted in the movie. Here power is being
generated by fuel cells in the middle of the day. What's more, the fuel cells
are distributed throughout the complex. This means that high-pressure
hydrogen would have to be piped throughout the buildings--not a particularly
safe or efficient system.
At first, we found this use of hydrogen was incongruous with the idea
that the Greene Planet organization was promoting green philosophy and
design. Upon reflection, we changed our minds. The supposed environmental
mission of the Greene Planet organization was merely a cover story for
various nefarious activities. The organization itself was a scam, so what
could be more fitting than having it operate an eco-hotel using a green-looking but
impractical energy system.
During the final showdown scene Bond finds himself trapped
in a room with the latest Bond girl, not a bad fate except that the room is
ablaze and they're both about to experience a painful death. Bond is holding
a handgun contemplating euthanasia when he has a sudden epiphany, or should
we say movie cliché. There's a hydrogen fuel cell on the wall across the
room and thanks to the Hindenburg
disaster, everyone knows that hydrogen is wicked stuff. Of course, unlike
real fires where visibility is measured in inches, there's no smoke to
obscure this discovery or Bond's aim. He shoots the fuel cell, or was it the
hydrogen line feeding it, no matter, the hydrogen detonates and blows out the wall allowing Bond and girl to escape.
An explosion-generated shock wave powerful enough to blow out a wall
would also travel into the room. If the occupants survived, they would be
seriously stunned and at least temporarily, if not permanently, deaf. However,
the detonation itself would be problematic. Even the Hindenburg did not
detonate although once ignited it did rapidly turn into a major
conflagration. To detonate, the hydrogen would
first have to be mixed in explosive proportions with oxygen and then
provided a sufficient amount of activation energy.
While we can't claim to have shot any fuel cells, our bet
is that not much of anything would happen. Fuel cells do have both hydrogen
and oxygen in them but the two components are not mixed. They are separated
by a membrane. Also, handgun bullets, as explained in our book are not a
very good source of ignition.
On the other hand the fuel cell does produce electricity
and shooting it could short it out, producing a spark that could easily
ignite a hydrogen leak. If there were no safety shutoff on the
hydrogen supply the result
could be like a very hot, very large, and very dangerous blow torch.
Shooting a high pressure hydrogen line might be even worse, but there is
little reason to think it would immediately detonate.
After escaping, it's once again cliché time. Bond captures the main bad
guy, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), drives him into the desert and
abandons him with nothing but a can of motor oil, telling him that he
doubts he'll go far before drinking it. We're later informed that Greene was
found in the desert, shot dead, with motor oil in his stomach. We don't know
where the bullet came from but obviously Greene had suffered mightily from
thirst before dying.
The cliché stems from the idea that even a short walk in a desert
produces unbearable thirst. While the Bolivian desert is one of the driest
places on Earth, it's also one of the coolest. Night time temperatures
routinely approach freezing. Summertime highs rarely
exceed 80 °F (27 °C). At
such temperatures and low humidity, a walk in the desert is quite pleasant.
Yes, he would eventually become fatally dehydrated, but it could take several days,
and on flat terrain he could walk a considerable distance.
Certainly, there would be no reason to carry, yet alone drink, a can of motor
By contrast, if the desert's temperature were elevated to say 110
°F (43 °C) or higher,
walking even a few miles would be torturous, if not impossible. Without
water, the lifespan of most people would be measured in hours. Aside from immediate thirst,
walking in such heat makes the heart race, the head feel light, and the
stomach nauseated. Movement has to be extremely slow and rest stops frequent
in order to compensate.
As for the Greene Planet organization, their dastardly plot consisted of
damming up underground rivers in huge caverns beneath the Bolivian
desert, in order to cut off Bolivia's water supply. Next they overthrew the
Bolivian government and replaced it with a hand-picked dictator who in
granted them rights to the desert's resources. Finally, they pressured the
signing a water contract doubling its price. (Yeah right, and dictators can
always be trusted to obey contract law.)
It's amazing that Bolivia's entire water supply would come from beneath
one of the driest desert in the world, considering that much of Bolivia is in the
lowland plains of the Amazon Basin where rainfall is abundant. But our biggest source of amazement
was that brilliant master criminals would go to the trouble and expense of
setting up a phony eco-organization, overthrowing a government, and constructing
underground dams with the required distribution system just to sell water to people in
one of the poorest countries in the world. Haven't these crooks ever heard
about gambling rackets, embezzlement, blackmail, prostitution, forgery,
theft, or selling dope to people in one of the richest countries in the
world? Surely there's an easier way to make a dishonest buck than by peddling water.
In spite of flaws in the current installment we like the
new Bond style. Our favorite Bond is still Sean Connery but Daniel Craig
ranks high and we would like to see more of him. Hopefully, the new Bond
movie style will mature a little more in the direction of reality and
lose some of its youthful silliness.
We also hope the camera work and editing of action scenes in future editions
will be neither shaken nor stirred, at least not so vigorously. We'd like to
not just see but comprehend action scenes.