One of the key sticking points of going to a hydrogen economy is how are we going to produce enough hydrogen to fuel both car and home? Current methods include steam reforming natural gas and electrolyzing water.
If a hydrogen economy is to come to fruition in the near future, we will most likely need many methods for producing hydrogen. Renewable resources for producing hydrogen will include biomass and ethanol, wind farms, tidal energy, hydroelectric energy, solar and other experimental resources such as gravitational energy.
Another resource for producing hydrogen will be in capturing hydrogen that is currently (or in the future) being produced as a byproduct for other processes.
Clean coal technology is one of these processes currently being developed in order to turn coal into electricity. Hydrogen is to be captured during this process and sold as a secondary commodity. Noxious fumes are to be sequestered providing near zero emissions.
Hydrogen is also a byproduct of producing sodium-chlorate, which is used to manufacture pesticides and bleaches. In Vancouver, Canada it is said that there is enough hydrogen as byproduct to power 20,000 hydrogen cars for one year. This technology will be featured in the 2010 Olympics to be held in Vancouver.
Current nuclear reactors can also be modified to use the steam they produce in cooling the reactor to do high-temperature electrolysis to produce hydrogen. The Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative as well as researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory are already moving ahead with studying this technology.
It’s good to know that in moving to a hydrogen-based economy, we don’t have to totally reinvent the wheel, only upgrade the wheel to current and future needs.