Seeking an alternative energy source has been one of the major quests of mankind since the last century. Because oil, the main source of energy today, will soon be in short supply. Using hydrogen as power is one of the hot picks; however, the most common misunderstanding is that hydrogen itself is an energy source. In fact, it is more like an energy carrier. It allows us to transform many things which are abundant in our life that we have taken for granted and develop them into energy source. Such things as water and even feed stock will help us produce reliable sources of Energy. The Hydrogen for transport and the B&E report is a good introduction to hydrogen power.
There are many different methods to produce hydrogen on a commercial scale as follows: Steam Reforming of Natural Gas, Electrolysis, Biomass Gasification, Reformation of Methanol, Coal Gasification, and other Future Possibilities. There are also three options for on board vehicle storage of hydrogen, which are: Compressed gas storage tanks, Liquid hydrogen, and Chemical Hydrides. These methods and options are all described in more details in John P Blakeley’s article, “Key Factors in the Introduction of Hydrogen”. He also mentioned environmental impact issues and some other aspects in his article.
Because of the abundant source for extracting hydrogen and its environmental friendly nature, the governments of many countries are attracted to hydrogen power. The U.S. Department of Energy formed Hydrogen; Fuel Cells & Infrastructure Technologies Program (HFCIT) has focused its research and development activities towards the application of hydrogen power. There was a Merit Review and Peer Evaluation held on May 19-22, 2003 , at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley , California . It covers the hydrogen production, delivery and storage; fuel cells (information about fuel cells can be found here); technology validation; and safety, codes and standards were also addressed. (FY2003 Merit Review & Peer Evaluation Report)
Collaborating in the field of hydrogen power seems to be a good idea as it appears to have a bright future. The hydrogen and fuel cell powered PAC II sets 3,836 km/l record to show the competent potential advantages compared to the internal combustion cars, Honda/Plug Power test home hydrogen refueling unit, and the commence of new portable fuel cell shipments are all signs that we are getting closer to the green energy future. If that is not enough, then the news of California, Florida, and New York start building hydrogen highway will definitely seal the deal.
Many schools and colleges have started to encourage students to participle the hydrogen power projects, from basic science project Splitting water to Solar-hydrogen powered vehicle. One of the major supports for students will be Fuel Cells 2000, an educational organization formed to promote the development and early commercialization of fuel cells and related pollution-free, efficient energy generation, storage and utilization technologies and fuels. They have got online resources and a list of fuel cells for education purpose.
Popularizing the Hydrogen Technology
On the whole, hydrogen fuelled transportations are being trialed in selected cities world-wide, with a plan to achieving full commercialization. However, despite the strong industrial and political interest in the introduction of hydrogen public transportation to the market, the successful introduction of these vehicles will depend not only on technical maturity, but also on public acceptance of hydrogen fuel and technologies.
A major concern from the public is the fear of danger explosions associated with the image of hydrogen, and a lack of technicians also limits the spread of hydrogen technology. More detail information can be found in the study carried out by Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH (LBST) in co-operation with the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. In order to popularize hydrogen as a fuel, the U.S. Department of Energy (USDE) points out that education of the general public, training personnel in the handling and maintenance of hydrogen system components, adoption of codes and standards, and development of certified procedures and training manuals for fuel cells will be needed.
It is only a matter of time for the hydrogen era to come, as Stanford researchers can already envision a hydrogen economy.
National Renewable Energy Lab
Fuel Cell Information
Fuel Cell Company Manufacturers Directory
Hydrogen Fueling Station Locations