Energy Quote

The discovery of nuclear chain reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than did the discovery of matches. We only must do everything in our power to safeguard against its abuse.

Albert Einstein

Hydrogen Economy

A Brief Description:

A hydrogen economy is a hypothetical future economy in which energy, for transportation and electrical grid load balancing, is stored as hydrogen. A hydrogen economy is desired in order to solve the problems of energy supply and the ill effects of using hydrocarbon fuels.

The burning of hydrocarbon fuels for the generation of electricity and transportation causes the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Furthermore, the remaining supply of hydrocarbon resources in the world is limited, and the demand for hydrocarbon fuels is increasing, particularly in China, India and other developing countries. Hydrogen has been proposed as a replacement for these fuels. Some believe that fuelcells, using hydrogen as a fuel, will be able to replace most internal combustion engines and will be able to solve most grid load balancing needs in the future.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It also has an excellent energy density by weight, which leads to it being used for spaceships like the space shuttle. Emissions of a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell, in theory, consist of pure water. The fuel cell is also more efficient than an internal combustion engine. The internal combustion engine is said to be 20-30% efficient, while the fuel cell is 75-80% efficient and together with the electric motor and controller the drivetrain overall efficiency approaches 40% with low idling losses.

There are many problems to be solved before hydrogen can serve as a universal energy medium. These include difficulties with hydrogen production, transportation, storage, distribution and end use. It will take many decades to solve all of these problems, and hydrogen may never be the most economically feasible energy storage medium for most uses.

31 Jan 2007 22:39:39

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