Why Hydrogen?

Why Hydrogen?

Hydrogen can fuel much more than cars and trucks, It can also fuel ships, airplanes, and trains. It can be used to generate electricity, for heating, and as a fuel for industrial processes. We envision a future economy in which hydrogen is the World’s clean energy choice—flexible, affordable, safe, domestically produced, used in all sectors of the economy, and in all regions of the World.

The modern world is desperately searching for the replacement of hydrocarbons as conventional source of energy. There are a number of reasons for that:

– Depleting hydrocarbon reserves
– Environmental concerns, mainly regarding greenhouse gases supposedly causing global warming
– Geographical and political reasons
– Storage and transportation technology matters

The modern society has clear understanding that Hydrogen may become such replacement for hydrocarbons to become the primary source of energy.

Hydrogen Enthusiasts: According to Hydrogen.com, moving towards Hydrogen Economy means getting used to comparing Hydrogen with other fuels in common use today.
Hydrogen holds more chemical energy pound for pound than any other fuel. Two pounds of Hydrogen provide as much energy as a gallon of gasoline.How does a gallon of Hydrogen compare with a gallon of gasoline? It takes just under one-third of a gallon of gasoline to equal the energy in a gallon of liquid Hydrogen. And it takes not quite half a gallon of gasoline to equal the energy in a pound of Hydrogen.

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Under the hood of today’s automobiles, internal combustion engines capture only 15% – 20% of the energy in gasoline. Fuel cells running on pure Hydrogen are much more efficient. By harnessing the fuel’s energy via an electrochemical reaction rather than a thermochemical (combustion) reaction, a fuel cell can convert 40% – 65% of Hydrogen’s energy into electricity to propel a car.

When fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, propane and wood burn, they create pollutants like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, a variety of hydrocarbon chemicals and quantities of particulate matter. This is because they are all carbon-based fuels.

Pure Hydrogen produces only heat energy and water when burned.

In fact, one pound of Hydrogen when combined with oxygen will make nine pounds of water. That means a Hydrogen power plant could make electricity and clean, distilled water.

Public Opinion: In The Hydrogen Economy, best-selling author Jeremy Rifkin envisions the dawn of a new economy powered by Hydrogen that will fundamentally change the nature of the market, political and social institutions.

Rifkin observes that we are fast approaching a critical watershed for the fossil-fuel era, with potentially dire consequences for industrial civilization. While experts had been saying that we had another forty or so years of cheap available crude oil left, some of the world’s leading petroleum geologists are now suggesting that global oil production could peak and begin a steep decline much sooner, as early as the end of this decade. Non-OPEC oil producing countries are already nearing their peak production. Looming oil shortages make industrial life vulnerable to massive disruptions and possibly even collapse.

Commercial fuel-cells powered by Hydrogen are just now being introduced into the market for home, office and industrial use. The major automakers have spent more than two billion dollars developing Hydrogen cars, buses, and trucks, and the first mass-produced vehicles are expected to be on the road in just a few years.

Oil Companies: According to Dr. Michiel J. Groeneveld, head of Shell International Exploration & Production’s Novel Technologies, Exploratory Research unit, “in time, we will develop less of a hydrocarbon(-based) economy to more Hydrogen and more sustainable energy. But there is still a long road to go.”

According to Dr. Groeneveld, the Shell group of companies shares the widespread concern that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities is leading to changes in the global climate. They believe that action is required now to lay the foundation for eventually stabilizing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere in an equitable and an economically responsible way, he said.

Dr. Groeneveld sees the transition to a cleaner and less carbon-intensive energy system as one of the most critical issues facing society.

Dr. Groeneveld sees Hydrogen as a bridge fuel from fossil fuels to sustainable energy (renewables), because it is an ultra clean fuel, produces no CO2 emissions during combustion, and is easier to store and to distribute than electricity. “The fuel cell converts Hydrogen with very high efficiencies, up to 70%,” he noted.

To better understand hydrogen’s benefits, we can first review some of the present concerns with the structure of the existing energy economy.

Four realities suggest that the current energy economy is not sustainable:

  1. The demand for energy is growing and the raw materials for the fossil fuel economy are diminishing. Oil, coal, and natural gas supplies are not replenished as it is consumed, so an alternative must be found.
  2. Most of the people who consume fossil fuels don’t live where fuels are extracted. This situation creates enormous economic motivation for the consuming nations to try to exert control over the regions that supply the fuels. For many people and governments in the world, the resulting conflicts are unacceptable.
  3. Emissions from fossil fuel usage significantly degrade air quality all over the world, especially in Northeastern United States. The resulting carbon byproducts are substantially changing the world’s climate. For many people and governments in the world the resulting health and climate impacts are unacceptable.
  4. Third world economies are especially susceptible when developing energy systems needed to improve their economies. The fossil fuel economy puts people and nations under the undue influence of energy suppliers. This lack of economic independence is unacceptable to many businesses and governments.

Hydrogen has two main benefits that address these concerns.

  1. The use of hydrogen greatly reduces pollution. When hydrogen is combined with oxygen in a fuel cell, energy in the form of electricity is produced. This electricity can be used to power vehicles, as a heat source and for many other uses. The advantage of using hydrogen as an energy carrier is that when it combines with oxygen the only byproducts are water and heat. No greenhouse gasses or other particulates are produced by the use of hydrogen fuel cells.
  2. Hydrogen can be produced locally from numerous sources. Hydrogen can be produced either centrally, and then distributed, or onsite where it will be used. Hydrogen gas can be produced from methane, gasoline, biomass, coal or water. Each of these sources brings with it different amounts of pollution, technical challenges, and energy requirements.