As I search across the Internet and especially the blogosphere, I see many critics of the hydrogen economy stating that hydrogen is generally produced by simple electrolysis of water and this method takes too much energy for hydrogen to be competitive in the marketplace. Most of the time, this is taken by others as fact, especially by those who are not forward thinkers.
For the critics stuck in the here and now with no eye towards the future, the hydrogen economy doesn’t make sense. But, for those who like to look forward to the future of clean energy, I have put together a short list of research that is currently being worked on in the hydrogen production area, from which I’ve already talked about in past posts.
Current Research on Producing Hydrogen
1. Direct solar to hydrogen
2. Hydrogen-on-demand technology using sodium borohydride, phosphonium borate, magnesium, gallium or aluminum compounds
3. Nuclear cracking of water into hydrogen
4. Biomass using pyrolysis or gasification of waste grease and plastics
5. Renewable electrolysis methods including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower
6. Water splitting using microbes, bacteria and algae methods to create hydrogen including waste from farms, grape juice companies, candy factories, restaurants, beer makers and sewage treatment plants
7. Using X-rays upon ice
8. Using radio waves upon seawater
9. Clean coal to hydrogen ala FutureGen and other research
10. Using corn, switchgrass and other plant life to create hydrogen renewably
11. Tapping into water energy such as tidal energy and wave power
12. Using ships with wind turbines such as those being developed by Windhunters
13. Using high altitude wind energy including tethered rotorcraft and kites
14. Micro hydroelectric water turbines on rivers and mountain streams
15. Cheap electrolysis such as from General Electric’s Noryl catalyst
In the here and now, steam reforming of natural gas is actually the most common method of hydrogen production. The idea behind all of the research previously stated, however is to replace this method of production with more environmentally friendly and less energy intensive methods.
Critics argue that a hydrogen-based economy doesn’t make sense now. But, that’s like people in the 1950’s arguing that there would never be a man on the moon. Given the current technology of course not. Given a few years of research and development, however, the world as we know it now will never be the same.