Toward a Hydrogen Economy
- I would very much like to see the world progress towards a hydrogen economy during my lifetime. Recently, President Bush announced his plan for this action by supporting fuel cell research. The logic presented is that once we have the fuel cell, the hydrogen economy will follow. What this really will do is delay progression of renewable energy. Energy from renewable sources is not being promoted, and the process to make hydrogen from gasoline is so inefficient it undoes the gains made by a fuel cell's high efficiency. It makes the environmentalists think something great is being done, while really nothing will change for decades. The only way to reduce pollution and reduce consumption of mined hydrocarbons is to increase the use of renewable energy (i.e. wind and solar).I propose we introduce hydrogen from renewable sources into our existing infrastructure. Hydrogen is already added to the heavy components of crude oil and to coal to make our fuels. Refineries use massive amounts of hydrogen to make gasoline and diesel, and they need more and more as crude becomes heavier and regulations become tighter. Right now, much of this hydrogen comes from converting water and carbon to CO2 and H2 - wasting our carbon resource and putting a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere. If the refineries used H2 from renewable energy sources, then higher quality fuels could be made with less pollution and oil or carbon use. The refinery/power plant equipment needed to use the hydrogen is already in place so we can do this NOW. It requires installing wind farms and solar collectors.If refineries start using hydrogen from renewable sources to upgrade heavy crude and coal to gasoline and diesel, then the market for renewable technologies will skyrocket and the cost of renewable energy equipment will go down. The use of renewable energy can be phased in without the consumer having to change habits or hurting the economy. Progressively, hydrogen use will grow and grow, while traditional hydrocarbons will phase out.Right now, it is more expensive to buy hydrogen from a renewable source than it is to make it from petroleum. Government action is required that will promote the initial investment in renewable hydrogen production equipment.Hydrogen from renewable energy will bring out the fuel cell. The fuel cell will not bring out renewable energy.-Chris
- for those who are interested, here is an article i read in this month's issue of e:environmental magazine about the hydrogen economy and the (hopeful) role of renewables. it's pretty informative.
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