The Hydrogen Economy
Mankindís energy needs have evolved for centuries and are continuing to evolve today. From wood and animal fat, to coal, to petroleum, to propane, to natural gas, we have used a succession of fuels to heat us, manufacture our goods, light our lamps, and move about our planet. Hydrogen is the latest in the succession of energy providers, with many social, economic, and environmental benefits to its credit.
The technology is now available to begin converting from a petroleum-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy.
All three energy sectors (transportation, industry, and heating and cooling buildings) stand to benefit. Of these, the transportation sector will likely have the most profound immediate effect.
Research is advancing on fuel cells and many other hydrogen technologies; so we need to begin building the supply and distribution systems to energize these products.
We will not immediately dispose of the 800 million vehicles that are presently in the World. Millions of new internal combustion engine vehicles will be produced before the transition to manufacturing totally clean vehicles can be completed. These new and older cars will be on our roads for at least the next 30 years. If they are powered with hydrogen, billions of tons of greenhouse gases and pollutants will not be thrust into the air.
Converting internal combustion engines in automobiles is possible today. See our Automobile page for more information.
Sources of Hydrogen
Currently, natural gas (methane) is the primary source for producing hydrogen, using a method called "Steam Methane Reformation" (SMR). However, as the cost of natural gas rises, and the cost of electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources diminishes, more and more of our hydrogen will come from clean renewable energy.
Research is striving to improve renewable methods of generating hydrogen (from livestock waste, landfill biomass, waste-water sludge, chemical reactions and electricity from solar, wind and water power). As fossil fuel companies become basic energy companies, harvesting hydrogen from these sources can make it a completely renewable resource.
A Series of Transitions
Converting to the hydrogen economy is a series of transitions: first, a transition when both conventional fuels and hydrogen will be available, and used, for example, in the same internal combustion engine, and second, when hydrogen alone will be used. The complete transition will stretch at least a decade. It could even take 20 years or more before we produce hydrogen from completely renewable resources. The transition can be done in a very short period of time if all people of the world put their collective efforts into it and demand that it be done.
The worldís energy systems continue to evolve, and no single source of energy will meet all mankindís needs forever.
Letís start this important next step together! Now!