The Hydrogen Economy

Kuro5hin has an article and discussion:

The reason to change our current fossil-fuel based energy economy towards a renewable energy economy are many. The environmental problems of fossil fuels are well-known, from smog and acid rain to global warming. A second major problem is that soon we have exhausted most of our oil resources. While we actually won’t run out of oil anytime soon, the real problem is that once oil production starts to decline while demand keeps growing, we will certainly see severe price shocks. The third major problem is strategic; the world is more or less dependent on the Middle East, a powder keg just waiting to explode, for oil. All in all, there are plenty of very good reasons to reduce our dependence on oil; the sooner the better.

However, there are many formidable issues that have to be resolved before the hydrogen economy can become a reality. The main problems affect production, storage as well as the final use of the hydrogen to produce electricity (and heat).

A time line for changing towards a sustainable energy economy could look something like the following (with the proper government support in form of research money and tax incentives):

  • Near term: Hybrid vehicles, powered by ultra-modern diesel engines equipped with regenerative particle traps and NOx catalytic converters, allow a huge reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. This is in fact already possible with technology available today. Biodiesel production increases. Intensive research into efficient biomass production and diesel production from said biomass.

  • Middle term: Biodiesel production increases rapidly as oil imports decrease. Synthetic diesel production getting started.

  • Long term: Fuel cells (able to use diesel either directly or by first producing hydrogen with an external reformer) become cost competitive and start to replace diesel engines. All major industrial carbon dioxide sources are utilised to produce synthetic diesel. Independence from fossil fuels is finally achieved.

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.