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Can Hydrogen Fuel Power the Planet?

Posted on 25 August 2021 by Guest Author

Stopping climate change is complex, but one wonder solution has been hyped beyond almost any other: hydrogen. What can this fuel do to stop global warming, and why isn't it the silver bullet that many suggest?

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. The engineer Rosie Barnes said they could burn H2 which could be useful for aircraft, but what about its use in fuel cells where electricity is produced without burning Hydrogen. Fuel cells simply reverse the electrolysis that produced the green hydrogen. Fuel cells produce electicity without wasting energy producing heat as well as electricity.                                                                                                                        I agree with the video that the best thing is to produce electricity as close as possible to where it is to be used. However, for industries with a high electricity appetite green hydrogen can be efficiently and safely transported as NH3 which doesn't take up anyway near as much space as H2. That would be useful for providing energy to factories requiring a higher concentration of energy than they can produce in the limited space they have at the factory.                                                                                                                                                                                     My first worry is that H2 is so small a molecule it could easily leak little by little. Eventually what effect is all that extra H2 going to have in the upper atmosphere?                                                                                                                                                                                                      My second worry is that the distinction between blue hydrogen and green hydrogen might get blurred in practice.                                                                                                                                                                    Thirdly, some natural gas miners like Twiggy Forrest promise to implement a plan to eventually transition to using green hydrogen in their natural gas facilities. They say that the facilities they are building for the natural gas they have rights to now so that these facilities can later be transitioned to using green hydrogen. Even with his marine ecology doctorate, if Twiggy Forrest is mining lots of natural gas, when does he switch to using his facilities for green hydrogen instead of using the natural gas, especially if he still has an abundant supply of natural gas? Is the promise of transitioning to green hydrogen a type of green washing of natural gas mining?

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  2. Jan, fuel cells are actually not that efficient. I suggets you digest this:

    The battery EV is actually about three times as efficient compared to a hydrgen fuel car with fuel cell ...

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  3. Jan: H2 is not a big problem in the atmosphere, so leaks only matter as a factor of fuel/energy loss. Atmospheric H2 is mostly consumed in soils, and little to none makes its way into the stratosphere.

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  4. This is not simply about energy efficiency. Its all about user friendliness and hydrogen fuel cell cars have a big problem: Nobody is likely to buy these hydrogen fuel cell cars without an extensive and easily accessible refueling network, because you cannot refuel these cars at home ( to my knowledge). And no company is likely to provide a decent refueling network in case the cars still dont attract buyers.

    And so what we see are quite small and experimental refueling networks. Japan has 134 refueling stations. Germany has 90, The USA 46, China 39,  about 20 other countries have typically around 6 refuleing stations. It doesn't seem like not a lot of refueling stations to inspire public confidence, given it's for entire countries, and uptake of hydrogen fuel cell cars has been slower than EV's, unsurprisingly. Obviously other factors contribute, but I know I would be nervous buying one if there weren't many refuling stations reasonably close by and between cities.

    However hydrogen fuel cell trucks have a future, because they have good range, and  the truck companies provide their own refueling facilities. Information on hydrogen fuel cell trucks already being trialled is described here.

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