As more vehicle manufacturers and airlines invest in hydrogen technology, the question is why?
What are the benefits of hydrogen?
Hydrogen fuel can be produced through several methods. The most common methods today are natural gas reforming (a thermal process), and electrolysis. Other methods include solar-driven and biological processes. Today, about 95% of all hydrogen is produced from steam reforming of natural gas.
Although the production of hydrogen may generate emissions affecting air quality, depending on the source, an FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) running on hydrogen emits only water vapor and warm air as exhaust and is considered a zero-emission vehicle.
Advantages of Hydrogen Energy:
1. It’s a Renewable Energy Source and Bountiful in Supply
Hydrogen is a rich source of energy for many reasons, the main being that it’s bountiful in supply. While it may take a lot of resources to harness it, no other energy source is infinite as hydrogen. That essentially means there is no possibility of it running out like other sources of energy.
2. Numerous Sources to Produce Hydrogen Locally
Hydrogen can be produced either onsite where it will be used or centrally and then distributed. Hydrogen gas can be produced from methane, gasoline, biomass, coal or water. The factors like amounts of pollution, technical challenges, and energy requirements vary depending on the sources used.
3. It is Practically a Clean Energy Source
When hydrogen is burnt to produce fuel, the by-products are totally safe, which means they have no known side effects. Aeronautical companies actually use hydrogen as a source of drinking water. After hydrogen is utilized, it is normally converted to drinking water for astronauts on ship or space stations.
4. Hydrogen Energy is Non-toxic
It is a non-toxic substance that is rare for a fuel source. This means that it is friendly towards the environment and does not cause any harm or destruction to human health.
This aspect makes it preferred compared to other sources of fuel like nuclear energy, natural gas, which are extremely hazardous or daunting to harness safely. It also allows hydrogen to be used in places where other forms of fuel may not be allowed.
5. The Use of Hydrogen Greatly Reduces Pollution
When hydrogen is combined with oxygen in a fuel cell, electricity is produced, which can be used to power vehicles or drive an electric motor as a heat source and for many other uses. When it combines with oxygen, the only by-products are water and heat, which is the advantage of using hydrogen as an energy carrier.
6. It’s Far More Efficient Than Other Sources of energy
Hydrogen is an efficient energy type since it has the ability to convey a lot of energy for every pound of fuel compared to diesel or gas. This categorically means that an automobile that utilizes hydrogen energy will travel more miles than one with an equal amount of gasoline.
For example, compared to a conventional combustion-based power plant that usually generates electricity between 33 to 35% efficiency, hydrogen fuel cells are capable of generating electricity of up to 65% efficiency, having capacity about three times more.
7. Used for Powering Spaceships
Hydrogen energy’s efficiency and power make it an ideal fuel source for spaceships. Its power is so high that it’s able to quickly rocket spaceships to exploration missions.
It’s also the safest form of energy to perform such an energy-intensive task. Hydrogen energy is, in fact, 3 times more potent than gasoline and other fossil-based sources of fuel. This ideally means that you need less hydrogen to complete an enormous task.
It also offers motive power for airplanes, boats, cars, and both portable and stationary fuel cell applications. The downside to using hydrogen in cars is that it’s practically difficult to store in cryogenic or high-pressure tanks.
8. A Sustainable Production System
Electrolysis is a method in which water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen. In this case, renewable energy can be used to power electrolysers to produce hydrogen from water that provides a sustainable system independent of petroleum products and is also non-polluting, producing no emissions. Some of the renewable sources used to power electrolysers are wind, hydro, solar and tidal energy.
After the hydrogen is produced in an electrolyser, it can be used in a fuel cell to produce electricity. The by-products generated in the fuel cell process are water and heat. If fuel cells operate at high temperatures, the system can be set up as a co-generator, with the waste energy used for heating.
There is a great deal of benefits to the use of Hydrogen, which has definitely moved on since it was first identified in 1776 by a British Scientist Henry Cavendish and subsequently used in the 1950’s American space programme.
Sources: Energy.gov and conserve-energy-future.com