Friday, September 15, 2006

Hydrogen will save us from global warming!

According to George Monbiot on BBC2's Newsnight last night. He even suggested we could have a pipeline network for hydrogen.

Well, its rubbish.

It is true that hydrogen does exist in abundance both on earth and in the solar system. The problem is that it mostly exists as parts of other compounds such as water, methane and indeed all organic compounds. The only large source of free hydrogen close by I know of is the sun, and I am reliably informed that its a bit hot there!

So given that it does not exist on its own on earth, can it be used as a fuel?

No, because you have to put at least the same amount of energy into extracting it from water as you will get back turning it back into water. You can extract it from methane, but you are either using a fossil fuel or if you are using bio gas, why bother? Why not just use the gas?

What hydrogen may well be useful as is as an energy store. You have spare energy, turn it into hydrogen and oxygen (from water) ship the hydrogen to where you want to use it, and get water back. (They do this on Shetland with wind energy, using spare energy to produce hydrogen which then can be used to generate electricity when there is no wind and to drive cars).

However let us not think that hydrogen will save us from anything. It won't. What will is renewable energies such as wind and solar, as well as bio fuels. There is an article on wikipedia about the hydrogen economy here.

2 comments:

Ellee said...

I agree about the importance of wind/solar energy, I guess lots of people will have their views about different techniques we can use.

I met Peter Juniper from FoE in Cambridge this year and he told me how pleased he was with Cameron's support, how the Conservatives were now behind him, but how let down he felt by Labour. I really liked him.

Benedict White said...

Let down by Labour? Surely not there must be some mistake!

Actualy it amases me how litle money has been spent on research. For example I believe we are still waiting for a final decision over where to site the worlds first large scale test fussion reactor. Some want it in Japan, others in France. As it is only $10 billion, why not build two or chivy the process on with a little more urgency.