Considering Hydrogen as Fuel Replacement?

There are multiple actors in government, industry, and academia working on hydrogen development.
However, there are difficult problems with hydrogen. As noted by others, hydrogen is not an energy source but, like a battery, a means for storing and transporting energy produced by other sources.
Hydrogen’s high volatility and relatively low energy density make it hard and potentially hazardous to store, transport, and handle. Conventional fuels pack much more energy in a given volume by chemically binding hydrogen atoms to carbon atoms. We have a massive investment in an existing, vast infrastructure attuned to storing, transporting, and using hydrocarbon fuels that would pose an enormous economic burden to scrap and replace.

Hydrogen production requires a lot of energy. If we do not use renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen it would be counter productive. Secondly, there isn’t a hydrogen infrastructure in place (pipelines, fueling stations), so that would require major public or private investment. And finally, there’s the issue of actually using it in motor vehicles. Do you have an internal combustion engine that burns hydrogen, or do you use fuel cells? Both have advantages and disadvantages.
We have a variety of options for replacing oil and gas from risky sources that threaten our security and economy with supplies from safer, more reliable sources. The US has substantial reserves of oil and gas that have yet to be tapped. The US has sometimes been called the "Saudi Arabia" of coal, with reserves abundant enough to satisfy several hundred years of demand. The traditional technology used to convert coal to gas and liquid fuels more suitable for transportation requires costly, complex, large-scale infrastructure. However, advanced biotechnology offers the potential to extract gas very efficiently from coal seams or other types of hydrocarbon deposits. It may be possible to simply inject microbes into such deposits that would digest the coal and convert it to gas. Existing biofuels initiatives have, as widely observed, often been costly and destructive, damaging the environment, raising the cost of food, increasing hunger, and fomenting social disorder. The next generation of biofuel technology, however, may use algae or other organisms to convert sunlight to hydrocarbon fuel without diverting food production from arable land or promoting deforestation.
All that said, the most cost-effective means to ease the immediate pinch of soaring energy costs lies in improving the efficiency of energy use, as a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute makes clear.

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Last Updated On:30th September 2012

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