What is Hydrogen Energy?

Hydrogen energy is an important part of developed nation’s clean energy plan. Like most sources of clean energy it is relatively new, and as such there is much more to discover about it. Lets look at and answer a few questions about hydrogen energy with our focus being a survey of its positives and negatives.

Hydrogen is the most basic of all Earth elements. The hydrogen atom is made up of a single proton and a single electron. As such, it is very abundant, but it doesn’t really exist as a separate form of matter. Instead it is usually combined with other elements. To separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances takes a lot of work but it produces a powerful, nearly clean source of energy. As a gas, it can be used in fuel cells to power engines.

Advantages of Hydrogen Energy

1. Readily Available : Hydrogen is a great source of energy for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that it is so readily available. While it may take some work to access, there is no element in the universe as abundant as hydrogen.

2. No Harmful Emissions : Another advantage to using hydrogen energy is that when burned, its leaves almost no harmful byproducts. In fact, when used in NASA’s spaceships, the burned hydrogen gas leaves behind clean drinking water for the astronauts.

3. Environment Friendly : Hydrogen is also non-toxic, which makes it a rarity among fuel sources. Nuclear energy, coal, and gasoline are all either toxic or found in hazardous environments. This makes hydrogen ideal for use in a number of ways other fuel sources can’t compete against

4. Used as Fuel in Rockets : Hydrogen energy is also very powerful and very efficient. It’s powerful enough to propel spaceships and safer than using any other similar product to accomplish such an energy-intensive duty. In fact, hydrogen is three times as powerful as gasoline and similar fossil fuels, meaning it takes less of it to accomplish more.

5. Fuel Efficient : Hydrogen energy is very efficient fuel source than traditional sources of energy and produces more energy per pound of fuel. This clearly means that a car loaded with hydrogen fuel with go much farther than the one using same amount of traditional source of energy.

6. Renewable : Unlike non-renewable sources of energy which can’t be produced again and again as they are limited; hydrogen energy can be produced on demand. Hydrogen is available in plenty. All we need is fossil fuels to break the water molecules to separate it from oxygen.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Energy

And yet, hydrogen energy is not quite the perfect, super clean and cheap energy source that so many companies and governments would love to get their hands on. It’s volatile in gas form, and while that makes it able to accomplish huge tasks, it also makes it sometimes hazardous to work around and use.

1. Expensive : Hydrogen gas also requires a lot of work to free if from other elements. If it were simple and easy to isolate everyone would be using it. It’s already being used to power some hybrid cars, but at the moment it is not a viable source of fuel for everyone. That’s simply because it’s expensive and time-consuming to produce. That means until technology advances enough to simplify and ease the process; hydrogen energy will continue to be too expensive for most people.

2. Storage : Hydrogen is also hard to move around. Whereas oil can be sent through pipelines, and coal can be carried in the back of dump trucks, super-light hydrogen is hard to transport in a reasonable fashion. It is very expensive to move anything more than small amounts of it, making it impractical for most functions.

3. Not Easy to Replace Existing Infrastructure : As expensive as hydrogen is to produce and transport, it becomes even more expensive when you consider trying to use it to replace gasoline. There is no existing infrastructure in place to accommodate hydrogen as a fuel source for the average motorist. Gas stations and cars themselves would all have to be refitted at an astronomical cost to taxpayers and governments. It seems insane to even suggest that current fuel sources be replaced when what is already in place is working so well.

4. Highly Flammable : Hydrogen in itself is a very powerful source of fuel. It’s highly inflammable and always in news for the potential risks associated with it.

5. Dependency on Fossil Fuels : Though hydrogen energy is renewable and its environmental impacts are minimal, we still need other non-renewable sources like coal, oil and natural gas to separate it from oxygen. We may reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by using hydrogen but in turn we are actually using them to produce hydrogen fuel.

References:

National Hydrogen Association: Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Department of Energy: Hydrogen Production

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Hydrogen Fuel

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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