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Uses For Hydrogen Energy

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[Big Ben, London, United Kingdom - Marchin Nowak]

 

- Overview

Hydrogen is the most basic of all Earth elements. The hydrogen atom is made up of a single proton and a single electron. As such, it is very abundant, but it doesn’t really exist as a separate form of matter. Instead, it is usually combined with other elements. To separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances takes a lot of effort, but it produces a powerful, nearly clean source of energy. As a gas, it can be used in fuel cells to power engines. 

Hydrogen gas is extracted from water by a technique known as electrolysis, which involves running a high electric current through water to separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The electrolysis process is pretty expensive since it involves high energy expenditure. 

The energy used to generate electricity in the electrolysis process is harnessed from fossil fuels like oil, natural gas or coal. It can also be tapped from renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower to ensure there are no greenhouse gas emissions. 

Obtaining volumes of hydrogen by this method is still under research to establish a viable method of generating it domestically at a relatively low cost. 

Another method of hydrogen gas extraction is steam-methane reforming or steam extraction, which entails the separation of hydrogen atoms in methane from carbon atoms. It is the current technique used to obtain hydrogen gas in vast quantities. The downside to steam-methane reforming is that it emits a lot of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to the atmosphere, which are recipes for global warming. 

To obtain electricity from the hydrogen gas, it is conveyed to fuel cells where it combines with oxygen, and the result is a chemical reaction that generates electricity and heat. The hydrogen gas can also just be burned to power vehicle engines. The byproducts of this chemical reaction are water and carbon that is used to produce methane and coal.

- Various Uses For Hydrogen

Supplying hydrogen to industrial users is now a major business around the world. Demand for hydrogen, which has grown more than threefold since 1975, continues to rise – almost entirely supplied from fossil fuels, with 6% of global natural gas and 2% of global coal going to hydrogen production.  

As a consequence, production of hydrogen is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia combined.  

  • Hydrogen use today is dominated by industry, namely: oil refining, ammonia production, methanol production and steel production. Virtually all of this hydrogen is supplied using fossil fuels, so there is significant potential for emissions reductions from clean hydrogen.
  • In transport, the competitiveness of hydrogen fuel cell cars depends on fuel cell costs and refuelling stations while for trucks the priority is to reduce the delivered price of hydrogen. Shipping and aviation have limited low-carbon fuel options available and represent an opportunity for hydrogen-based fuels.
  • In buildings, hydrogen could be blended into existing natural gas networks, with the highest potential in multifamily and commercial buildings, particularly in dense cities while longer-term prospects could include the direct use of hydrogen in hydrogen boilers or fuel cells.
  • In power generation, hydrogen is one of the leading options for storing renewable energy, and hydrogen and ammonia can be used in gas turbines to increase power system flexibility. Ammonia could also be used in coal-fired power plants to reduce emissions.
 
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[Norway - rnyanresatka]

- Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydrogen Energy

Clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. 

Hydrogen is already widely used in some industries, but it has not yet realised its potential to support clean energy transitions. Ambitious, targeted and near-term action is needed to further overcome barriers and reduce costs. The time is right to tap into hydrogen’s potential to play a key role in a clean, secure and affordable energy future. 

Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges. It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors -- including long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel -- where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security. Despite very ambitious international climate goals, global energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all time high. Outdoor air pollution also remains a pressing problem, with around 3 million people dying prematurely each year.

 

Advantages:

  • It’s a Renewable Energy Source and Bountiful in Supply
  • Numerous Sources to Produce Hydrogen Locally
  • It is Practically a Clean Energy Source
  • Hydrogen Energy is Non-toxic
  • The Use of Hydrogen Greatly Reduces Pollution
  • It’s Far More Efficient Than Other Sources of energy
  • Used For Powering Space Ships
  • A Sustainable Production System


Disadvantages:

  • Hydrogen Energy is Expensive
  • Storage Complications
  • It’s Not the Safest Source of Energy
  • Tricky to Move Around
  • It is Dependent on Fossil fuels
  • Hydrogen Energy Cannot Sustain the Population



[More to come ...]

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