Hydrogen – Fuel of the Future?

Hydrogen – Fuel of the Future?


Blog Type: Technology

Hydrogen, produced from tap water, could become the forever fuel
of the future, generating power for homes, industry, and cars.

By Darshan Goswami, M.S., P.E.

A new day is dawning for a revolutionary way to generate electric power
from renewable energy sources. Imagine a future where the electrical power
needed to run your computer, TV and DVD is generated from a small
appliance about the size of a dishwasher located in your home. Envision
generating electricity without combustion, and producing heat and pure
drinking water as by-products.
Picture a world powered almost entirely by an infinitely abundant and totally
clean fuel. Hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, is that fuel,
which can be produced from tap water to generate power for homes and
cars.
Imagine being able to drive your car more than 500 miles between fill-ups.
The car you drive could become a “power station on wheels” producing
about 30 to 50 kilowatts of electricity. At work the parked car in the parking
lot could be making money for you by supplying energy to the power grid
during peak hours. The same fuel cells in the car parked in your garage
could provide power for your home use.
In the new age of hydrogen, each individual could become the producer as
well as the consumer of energy. Automobile, oil, and utility companies are
spending billions to make this dream come true.

Renewable Energy Source:

Hydrogen is “a renewable, versatile, simple sustainable domestic energy”
and there is no danger of running out of hydrogen because it is the most
abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen can be produced through a
thermal, electrolytic, or photolytic process from fossil fuels, biomass, or
water. Renewable and nuclear systems can produce hydrogen from water
using a thermal or electrolytic process. People can even produce it in their
homes with relatively simple apparatus.

The Hydrogen Economy is the term used to mark the shift from fossil fuels
such as coal, oil, and gas to hydrogen. The vision of a Hydrogen Economy is
one of an unlimited source of fuel that would be used to generate energy
without releasing carbon and other pollutants into the air.

Hydrogen has the potential to do for the energy revolution what the
computer and the Internet have done for the information revolution. Fuel
cells are considered the “microchip of the hydrogen age,” the key to
abundant energy from secure, renewable resources. Ultimately, fuel cells
supplying homes, businesses, and industries could be linked to a national
power grid allowing surplus power at one location to be transferred to areas
experiencing power shortages.

Hydrocarbon Economy:

Today, we have a “hydrocarbon economy” but the transition toward a
“Hydrogen Economy” has already begun. In the very near future we will
have weaned ourselves from carbon and we will live in a “Hydrogen
Economy” powered by hydrogen energy from renewable resources. You will
have access to hydrogen energy to the same extent that they now have
access to petroleum, natural gas, and electric power.

Some cities, such as Chicago and Vancouver, already have buses powered
by hydrogen fuel cells. Ford, GM, BMW, Toyota, and Honda have prototype
cars powered by hydrogen. Ford chairman William Clay Ford Jr. has declared
that the fuel cell will “finally end the 100-year reign of the internalcombustion
engine.” Such efforts are leading the world toward the
“Hydrogen Economy.”

The present fossil fuel economy has created significant environmental
problems worldwide. The Hydrogen Economy promises to eliminate all of the
problems created by the fossil fuel economy. The advantages of the
Hydrogen Economy include greater fuel efficiency, elimination of pollution
caused by fossil fuels, elimination of greenhouse gases, and elimination of
economic dependence on Middle East oil reserves.

Good for Developing Countries:

Specifically, the Hydrogen Economy may be even more beneficial to
developing countries because it will generate more economic opportunities,
reduce poverty and offer a dramatically cleaner renewable resource to
bypass at least part of the expense of building a fossil fuel infrastructure.
The Hydrogen Economy could produce total decentralization of the global
energy market controlled by giant oil companies and utilities, and result in
vast redistribution of wealth and power. In a Hydrogen Economy utility
companies will become obsolete.

The Hydrogen Economic revolution must overcome major challenges in
regard to the safe production, storage and transportation of hydrogen, and
in developing new sensor technology.

“World Hydrogen Energy Roadmap” must be developed to address hydrogen
production, delivery and transportation, storage, conversion, public-private
partnerships, research, codes and standards, testing, public education, and
end use products. This effort must include government, industry,
universities, and research laboratories.

Government subsidies and tax incentives could be used to encourage put the
Hydrogen Economy on a fast track. The goal of the program should be to
develop technologies to safely produce, store and transport hydrogen from
water, nature’s abundant and virtually free source of hydrogen.

New Energy Revolution:

Hydrogen has the potential to do for the energy revolution what the
computer and the Internet have done for the information revolution. Global
reliance on Middle East oil will come to an end and international trade
balances will be realigned. Fuel cells are a “critical technology” that will bring
a total revolution in the energy sector and change the course of history.
President Bush has referred to fuel cells as the “wave of the future” and
called for a “focused effort to bring fuel cells to market.”

The ultimate goal is to use the renewable energy of the sun to split water
into its basic components of oxygen and hydrogen.

The Hydrogen Economy would open the doors for fundamental changes in
our economic, political, and social institutions, similar to the impact of steam
power at the beginning of the “Industrial Age.” The giant oil companies are
investing heavily in a hydrogen future to control the design, production, and
sales of the devices that produce and consume hydrogen. Fuel companies
like Shell, BP, and Texaco are forming hydrogen and fuel cell technology
divisions.

The Hydrogen Economy is a bright vision for the future of energy that will
revolutionize the world by reducing our reliance for oil from Middle Eastern
countries. I envision hydrogen as the power generation fuel of the future
that will wean the world away from oil, slow global warming, and lift billions
out of poverty. If significant progress is desired, government and private
partnerships must be established to concentrate development efforts. A
“Manhattan Hydrogen Project” is needed to ensure the Hydrogen Economy
vision becomes a reality soon.

Darshan Goswami: Darshan Goswami has over 35 years of experience in
the energy field. He is working for United States Department of Energy
(DOE) as a Project Manager in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He retired as Chief
of Energy Forecasting and Renewable Energy from the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. Earlier, he worked for
30 years at Duquesne Light Company, an electric utility company in
Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He is a registered Professional Electrical Engineer with a
passion and commitment to promote, develop and deploy Renewable Energy
Resources and the Hydrogen Economy.

Submitted 9 months 1 week ago by SeT Admin.
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