Hydrogen Fuel - Seeker's Thoughts

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Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water.
We are so dependent upon the depleting resources of fossil fuels. The major sources of fuel remain petroleum, coal or diesel. 

These fuels are condensed remains of living organisms of prehistoric times. Therefore, the supply of these fuels is limited and will eventually run out.
The rising temperature of the earth is another worry, and due to the use of unclean fuel, the greenhouse gas emission threatens the existence of species.
The universe we live in is made up to 75 % of hydrogen, however, on the surface of the earth, the hydrogen is not in its purest form.
Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind. These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for transportation and electricity generation applications.

What is Hydrogen Fuel?
Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel when burned with oxygen. It can be used in electrochemical cells or internal combustion engines to power vehicles or electric devices. It has begun to be used in commercial fuel cell vehicles such as passenger cars and has been used in fuel cell buses for many years.
Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used to store, move, and deliver energy produced from other sources.

How can hydrogen benefit mankind?
New hydrogen-powered electric flying vehicles will someday serve as taxis, cargo carriers and ambulances of the sky, but experts say they will have to clear a number of regulatory hurdles before being approved for takeoff years in the future.
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How does Hydrogen Fuel Produce?
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-houses, for portable power, and in many more applications.
1.       Thermal Processes
Thermal processes for hydrogen production typically involve steam reforming, a high-temperature process in which steam reacts with a hydrocarbon fuel to produce hydrogen. Many hydrocarbon fuels can be reformed to produce hydrogen, including natural gas, diesel, renewable liquid fuels, gasified coal, or gasified biomass. Today, about 95% of all hydrogen is produced from steam reforming of natural gas.


2.       Electrolytic Processes
Water can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen through a process called electrolysis. Electrolytic processes take place in an electrolyzer, which functions much like a fuel cell in reverse—instead of using the energy of a hydrogen molecule like a fuel cell does, an electrolyzer creates hydrogen from water molecules.
3.       Solar-Driven Processes
Solar-driven processes use light as the agent for hydrogen production. There are a few solar-driven processes, including photobiological, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical. Photobiological processes use the natural photosynthetic activity of bacteria and green algae to produce hydrogen. Photoelectrochemical processes use specialized semiconductors to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. Solar thermochemical hydrogen production uses concentrated solar power to drive water splitting reactions often along with other species such as metal oxides.

4.       Biological Processes
Biological processes use microbes such as bacteria and microalgae and can produce hydrogen through biological reactions. In microbial biomass conversion, the microbes break down organic matter like biomass or wastewater to produce hydrogen, while in photobiological processes the microbes use sunlight as the energy source.

What is Hydrogen Economy?
In 1970, the chemist John Bockris introduced a new term to the world- Hydrogen Economy. He referred to the future in which all vehicles would use Hydrogen as a Fuel.

What are the benefits of Hydrogen Economy?
One of the most important benefits of a hydrogen economy is that fuel cells are nonpolluting. No carbon emissions are produced when electricity is generated in a fuel cell. A hydrogen fuel cell produces two byproducts -- heat and water. 

What is Fuel Cell?
Fuel cells have various advantages compared to conventional power sources, such as internal combustion engines or batteries. Although some of the fuel cells' attributes are only valid for some applications, most advantages are more general.
Benefits include:
·       Fuel cells have a higher efficiency than diesel or gas engines.
·       Most fuel cells operate silently, compared to internal combustion engines. They are therefore ideally suited for use within buildings such as hospitals.
·       Fuel cells can eliminate pollution caused by burning fossil fuels; for hydrogen fuelled fuel cells, the only by-product at point of use is water.
·       If the hydrogen comes from the electrolysis of water driven by renewable energy, then using fuel cells eliminates greenhouse gases over the whole cycle.
·       Fuel cells do not need conventional fuels such as oil or gas and can, therefore, reduce economic dependence on oil producing countries, creating greater energy security for the user nation.

·       Since hydrogen can be produced anywhere where the water is available and a source of power, the generation of fuel can be distributed and does not have to be grid-dependent.
·       The use of stationary fuel cells to generate power at the point of use allows for a decentralized power grid that is potentially more stable.
· Low-temperature fuel cells (PEMFC, DMFC) have low heat transmission which makes them ideal for military applications.
·       Higher temperature fuel cells produce high-grade process heat along with electricity and are well suited to cogeneration applications (such as combined heat and power for residential use).
·       Operating times are much longer than with batteries since doubling the operating time needs only doubling the amount of fuel and not the doubling of the capacity of the unit itself.
·, Unlike batteries, fuel cells, have no "memory effect" when they are getting refueled.
·       The maintenance of fuel cells is simple since there are few moving parts in the system.

Can hydrogen vehicles help break our oil addiction? Hydrogen vehicles will help reduce this dependence, but it will probably be decades before enough hydrogen vehicles are in everyday use to make a significant difference in oil imports. In the long run, however, the impact of hydrogen cars could be considerable.
Hydrogen cars aren't just the cars of the future -- several fuel cell vehicles (or FCVs) are on the road right now:
·       The Honda FCX Clarity: This is the only fuel cell vehicle that can actually be leased by private individuals, but only in parts of California where hydrogen fueling stations are installed. Honda charges $600 per month for an FCX lease. The first FCX was delivered to a California family on July 25, 2008.
·       Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell SUV: Fleets of fuel cell-powered Equinox SUVs have been touring California, New York and Washington, D.C., to demonstrate the technology. This vehicle is not currently available for lease or purchase.
·       Volkswagen Tiguan HyMotion: Like Chevrolet, Volkswagen isn't ready to sell or lease this vehicle, but the HyMotion was part of a National Hydrogen Road Tour that ran from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles, Calif.
·       BMW Hydrogen 7: Although not yet available to the general public, BMW has been giving this vehicle to celebrities -- beginning with actor Will Ferrell -- for extended periods of use.

If the hydrogen economy is going to provide the United States with a future free of pollution and dependence on foreign oil, it must be sustainable.
That is, it must be able to keep up with increased population growth, increased use of energy-hungry technology, changes in politics and changes in people's attitudes toward the environment and toward the welfare of future generations.
It has been estimated that worldwide energy needs will double by the year 2050. It's unlikely that the rapidly diminishing supplies of fossil fuels could keep up with this demand, so new energy resources will be crucial.

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