The hydrogen industry has gone through significant upheaval over the past decade. With various governments around the world investing billions of dollars into pursuing hydrogen initiatives, the industry is reaching an inflection point. But as the shakeout enters into full swing, the big question remains: Is this the beginning of a viable new industry, or merely the final throes of a failed attempt to make hydrogen a major player in the global economy? In this article, we explore the possibilities of whether a viable hydrogen industry can emerge from the current shakeout.
1. The Promise of the Hydrogen Economy
is an enticing one. This fuel holds the potential to power a wide range of sustainable, clean energy devices, from cars to homes and commercial buildings. The advantages of using hydrogen are wide-reaching, and include:
- Zero emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases
- Renewability through the use of renewables such as wind and solar power
- High efficiency in energy conversion
- High energy density, making it ideal for transportation and storage
Not only is hydrogen increasingly being used as a fuel, it can also be used as a chemical for producing fertilisers, solvents, and fuels like paraffin or methanol. In terms of energy production, hydrogen also has its uses. Combined with oxygen, it can create electric power via fuel cells and can also be used to create hydrogen gas for fuel storage. In short, the potential of a hydrogen-powered world is immense.
2. Struggles for a Hydrogen Industry
Alternative Storage Solutions?
The move from a reliance on fossil fuels towards hydrogen fuel cells has some potential stumbling blocks. Safe, efficient, and cost-effective ways to store hydrogen are yet to be developed. Without proper storage, the spread of hydrogen usage as a viable alternative to diesel is unlikely. Developing this technology is one of the biggest challenges on the way to a new age of hydrogen energy.
Possible solutions include using metal hydrides as an energy storage medium, storing them as a liquefied gas at cryogenic temperatures, or compressing them to high pressures.
Each option comes with drawbacks such as:
- Cost effectivity
The search for the perfect storage vessel is an ongoing process, with the hopes of successful implementation placed upon the work of researchers around the world. This development is essential to the growth of the hydrogen industry. Until a successful solution is found, the future of fuel cells remains uncertain.
3. Towards a Viable Hydrogen Economy
With more and more buzz about the future of a hydrogen economy, it’s important to understand what is needed to make it a reality. Like any industrial revolution, the shift to a hydrogen economy requires three major components.
- Infrastructure: Hydrogen-powered infrastructure needs to be built, such as power plants, fueling stations and storage tanks.
- Fuel Sources: Hydrogen needs to come from somewhere. That can come from various sources such as water, natural gas and biomass.
- Government Funding and Support: Governments around the world need to invest in the research, development, and infrastructure needed for the hydrogen economy to succeed.
The good news is that all of these components are already being developed around the world. In many countries, the government is funding research into new hydrogen technology, and businesses are starting to invest in building the necessary infrastructure for a hydrogen economy. While there’s still a long way to go, the march towards a hydrogen economy is well underway.
4. Harnessing the Potential of Hydrogen
Hydrogen has the potential to be one of the world’s most impactful fuel sources. With its unique properties, it can be used to power everything from cars to planes to entire cities. Hydrogen is a clean fuel source that emits no greenhouse gases, making it an ideal solution for greening the planet.
There are a few ways to harness the potential of hydrogen. One of the popular methods is to use electrolysis, which is the process of using electricity to separate the hydrogen and oxygen molecules. This method is cost-effective and, when used with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, produces clean hydrogen that can be used as fuel. Other methods include steam reforming, which is used to create hydrogen from natural gas, and biological processes, which uses microorganisms to produce hydrogen.
- Electrolysis: Cost-effective, when used with renewable energy sources
- Steam Reforming: Used to create hydrogen from natural gas
- Biological Processes: Using micro-organisms to produce hydrogen
As the hydrogen economy continues to grow and evolve, its potential to revolutionize many industries and fuel much of the world’s energy needs is undeniable. The key to success for those involved in the hydrogen shakeout is to stay ahead of the curve and position themselves strategically for success. With a bit of patience, and some clever maneuvering, a viable industry is sure to emerge from the hydrogen revolution.