Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Dec 17

New Method for Realizing Hydrogen Potential

Posted in Energy Inventions | Fuel Cells | Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen Potential Hydrogen-powered fuel cells hold enormous promise as a power source for future generations. Hydrogen is the simplest element known to humans. Each atom of hydrogen has only one proton. It is also the most abundant gas in the universe. Hydrogen has a unique property. It carries the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight (about three times more than gasoline), but interestingly it has the lowest energy content by volume (about four times less than gasoline). Hydrogen is the lightest element, and it is a gas at normal temperature and pressure. Hydrogen is not a widely used fuel today but it has great potential as an energy carrier in the future. Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of sources (water, fossil fuels, and biomass) and is a byproduct of other chemical processes.


Large quantities of hydrogen can be easily stored for the future use, unlike electricity. Another advantage is hydrogen can also be used in places where it’s hard to use electricity. Hydrogen can store the energy until it’s required and can be moved to the place where it’s needed. Hydrogen is pollution free energy source in a fuel cell. Inside a fuel cell, the hydrogen and oxygen combine and produce electricity, water and heat as a waste. No poisonous fumes emit in this whole process. Another advantage is hydrogen is found in plenty in the universe, constituting about 93% of all atoms. Hydrogen is regarded as perfect fuel. Water is its major reserve on earth which is almost inexhaustible. The use of hydrogen is compatible with nature, rather than invasive.

Scientists all over the world are working hard to make hydrogen as fuel of the future. Hydrogen has the potential to be clean fuel in the future, but storage of hydrogen in a form suitable for mass transport is arduous. Hydrogen is a fuel and in gas form hydrogen is highly explosive, but solid materials come to our rescue here. These solids can absorb and store the fuel in a much safer way. But solid hydrogen storage materials can be very heavy. Lithium ion batteries are used for electric transportation but these lithium batteries can also be pretty weighty.

Dutch researchers are trying out a new method for discovering hydrogen storage materials. They have one candidate metal alloy that could provide a much lighter storage system. Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud and his team are developing a mixture of magnesium, titanium and nickel for storing hydrogen. This alloy could be up to 60% lighter than a lithium battery giving out a similar amount of energy for a car. They are using a new technique “hydrogenography” to find out the right kind of metal alloy. They are not going for the normal and laborious method of synthesizing various combinations of alloys. They are using very thin film of thousands of different metal alloys and watching out the changes in their response to light after soaking up the hydrogen. Commercial production of these alloys will take time. But this new technique hydrogenography could bring into light many new candidate materials for hydrogen storage. Gremaud, is currently working on another family of alloys at Empa in Switzerland that could potentially achieve hydrogen storage of up to 18 wt%. A UK company Ilika is also testing Gremaud’s technique to find out potential candidates for hydrogen storage.

  • http://www.commutercars.com/h2/Links.html Rick Lanese

    If Hydrogen use becomes more advanced as an alternative fuel, it will create a huge step forward for future use and open many possibilities. Thanks a bunch, Rick Lanese

  • http://www.greenfootforward.com Bill Schwartz

    Our alternative green future depends on leadership from Washington. After years of talking about a green revolution, the only way we’re going to see it is to make the hard choices. And the hard choices with falling oil prices means tax gasoline. If we’re really angry about sending billions overseas to the oil producing nations, now is the time to prove it. The time for change is now. We have to tax gasoline and funnel that money into paying for our green fuel and jobs. If we don’t make the hard decisions now, we’ll deserve what we get — more of the same.

  • Chris Novello

    Great intro, thanks.

  • slaps

    If, as Bill Schwartz says, our green future depends on leadership from Washington, then we can immediately draw two conclusions. First, it won’t happen. Second, and this is the key, it will never be cost competitive, never be something that ordinary people want to do, it will be something that folks are forced to do, that taxpayers are forced to pay for, something that never really makes sense, but somehow got the votes in congress to make it happen. Henry Ford built a car, and government leadership was not required to make that car popular. Thomas Edison made a light bulb, and government leadership was not required to make that light bulb popular. Good inventions, useful inventions, practical inventions do not depend on government leadership.

  • Karin

    I beg to differ with the last comment. In Brazil, the government began to intervene in the market for fuel back in the 1970’s. They required that ethanol, or biofuel, be mixed in with gasoline, starting at a low percentage, and now up to 25%. This spurred the development of the biofuel indistry, which is now competitive with gasoline without government subsidy and assistance. Brazil is now close to becoming energy independent, and ethanol accounts for almost one tenth of their total energy consumption. Therefore, sometimes a well thought out government policy is useful. In the case for the US, I don’t think we should produce ethanol, but we should try diversify our dependence on foreign oil through mandating the use of renewable fuels. This will spur development in the private sector, not increase our taxes.

  • Jack Brody

    Ethanol production from food stuffs has not been a success. I think that is widely agreed upon. It uses the most fertile land in a non efficient manner to fill inefficient vehicles and increased the cost of food so that the poor are hurt by it. Stupid policy that only helps the American farmer get paid.

  • Chris Merron

    I think you should read what Prof Ulf Bossel has to say about Hydrogen as an energy carrier. If you generate hydrogen using renewable sources you would have to provide four times the capacity of generating plant (Wind, Solar, Tidal) than if you used the electrons directly or via battery storage in a vehicle.
    It’s a great idea – clean, no nasty waste; just water. Sounds too good to be true. It is.

  • Chris Merron

    May I add that I think that Hydrogen as a fuel is our best hope; if used in a nuclear fusion reactor.
    Wonder of wonders, we’ve already got one that works; it’s about 80 million miles away and we call it Sol or the Sun.

  • http://www.greenfootforward.com Bill Schwartz

    Hydrogen may indeed be the answer in decades to come. But we don’t have decades to waste. I’m all for capitalism and the small entrepreneur to make a difference both scientifically and economically, but our government has the bucks (borrowed I admit) to make green happen now. We’re a long way past the first car and Henry Ford. 100 years ago nobody cared about the environment or pollution from cars, trains, or planes. Today is a different story. We are choking on our own fumes. Playing games with something lovingly called “clean coal” and waiting for the perfect battery to show up on our doorstep. Well, we have to get started with what we have. GM screwed itself and the public when it destroyed the EV-1. Imagine where they’d be now if they had wanted to move the ball forward instead of fighting the government regulations and settling for cheap oil. Green is a state of mind and for conservation and environmentalism to work we all have to be on board in our daily lives. If it takes the government to tax oil to push up the prices, then so be it. The time for action is now.

  • Chris Merron

    Bill, the 250th Tesla Roadster has been delivered and the Saloon is due to be launched on 26th March. Real cars with high performance and battery storage. The Clarity, on the other hand, can not be sold because it is too expensive and is only being leased in California. As you say, in years to come the hydrogen economy could be made to work. We don’t have to wait that long, however.
    I believe that a great deal of money will be wasted on attempting to develop a Hydrogen Economy. The only justification being that the oil companies could sell hydrogen when the oil runs out. They are making a start by extracting hydrogen from oil, just to get the ball rolling, you understand!

  • http://www.greenfootforward.com Bill Schwartz

    Another problem I see with our energy future is the government playing politics with handing out money to all comers. The mistakes that we’ve made with ethanol have cost this country billions of dollars. Had the farm lobby not been so strong, we’d be much further along on real progress with plug-in hybrids and improving the grid. I feel like a broken record when it comes to taxing oil though. It’s such a needed step and we the worst thing we can do is wait for the suppliers to raise prices and then again be behind the curve. The more we raise taxes on oil to force conservation and put people behind the wheels of the new hybrid technology the better off we’ll be. But if we wait for the Mid East to raise prices and fall behind the curve, then the government and the public will fight tax increases as too punitive. We’ve got to come together as a nation, right here and now and put a collective green foot forward by making the right choices for our future.

  • G.Hauser

    The energy content of four times less than gasoline ist the state of the higher level H2 liquid. To come there it needs ca. 30% of the gaseos H2 energy! In the gaseous state the energy content is much more lower: about 3W per litre against ca. 9,000 W per litre for gasoline. But to hold the liquide State one must hold the temperature below minus 240°C and it needs pressure proof tanks by 200 bar. That ist not the way to go to future – may be the nano storages bring a solution but better is, the H2 to convert at least to Methanol with al liquide state under standart conditions and 5400 W per litre.

  • russ

    I love the green mantra – blame GM and push for money thrown at everything.

    250 Telsas – Wow! How impressive! A rich boy’s toy and nothing more. Other electric vehicles are more impressive. Telsa is producing what they want not what the market needs.

    Storing H2 is a fallacy – note the numbers above – it has been considered on an industrial basis and dropped as a really dumb idea. Far more energy intensive than storing natural gas.

    A practical energy efficient source is required for it to be usable. Keep up the research!

  • Francisco A Roque

    Hydrogen is the answer, we all need to keep pushing for it individually, I will try my 6 pack soon, the oil cartels keep increasing the prices, thanks to that the world should keep trying whatever to free ourselves from oil. Again… one barrel saved… one barrel they will have to store for a rainy day.

  • athar. India

    The level of energy is required efficiently when potentially keeps up body sweat with equal volume of water, so continue the research and made the difference.

  • ashok

    I am inclined to believe that our salvation is clearly in Nuclear energy. Maximum output for the most minimal input. It is here and now. That does not preclude us from developing other forms of energy. Solar energy, where available, has the greatest potential on a local basis. Produce it, use it. Electric cars will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. With this twin strategy of mass-scale energy production that feeds the national grid combined with electric cars, we will have a firm grip on our energy situation. Other forms that we are trying right now – ethanol – are a complete waste of our national time and energy.

  • do

    h2 technology will not be given out by money oriented minds.
    even if they have the technology they will keep it.

    the system is wrong, wrong as in … hmmm wait a minute.. its not the system that is polluting the world..

    its free will and necessity, the culprits are all the people who drive cars.


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