Is Hydrogen going to waste?

One of the depressing things about our current plight is how complicated it all is. Over here is all the waste we produce. Over there-global warming and energy production. In the middle, ordinary people wanting a better life, and at the same time, wanting to do the right thing.

Take electric cars. They’re a lot less polluting, quieter and cheaper to run than the old petrol ones. But there’s a real environmental cost to producing the batteries. Most of us are seeing a gradual and worthy uptake in these new vehicles. But before you rush round to your nearest Rolls Royce dealer, does this current craze have a serious rival? What if we could power clean green motors and get rid of some of the mountains of filthy waste which disfigure the planet?

We’ve posted three takes on hydrogen today-all based on the idea of its use in fuel cells, those almost miraculously simple devices which produce nothing worse than a little water after combustion. In AutoExpress Martin Saarinen *1 has a nicely balanced menu of pros and cons which should give some pause for thought. Especially for anyone about to unleash major damage to their bank account with a new vehicle. Molly Burgess of H2 News *2 reports of some exciting British companies who hope to use waste to generate hydrogen. (LSS finds the first English plant to this purpose is already planned) And for all you scholars the US Department Of Energy *3 has a nice summary of all the ways that H2, the lightest gas can be run up in quantity.

But has hydrogen got off to a late start? A little digging showed LSS that there are 35000 electric charge points in the UK and 8 380 Petrol stations, no less. If hydrogen has a future, if must replace the latter, while competing with the former. At which point we remember the wise thoughts of that brilliant journalist James May. Although we cannot find the precise reference,. we remember him explaining how electric cars almost strangled petrol ones at birth in the years 1910-1920. Petrol only won because there were no national grids, so it was easier to build and supply filling stations. The UK hydrogen hopefuls we alluded to above plan to have 800 stations by 2027 and 2000 by 2030. By which time electric may have already won the marketing battle. Remember VHS v Betamax? It’s a cautionary tale.

We thank Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire for the idea and research for this blog

40 waste-to-hydrogen refuelling stations planned for the UK (h2-view.com) *2

Alternative Fuels Data Center: Hydrogen Production and Distribution (energy.gov) *3

Hydrogen fuel cells: do hydrogen cars have a future? | Auto Express*1

#fuelcells #hydrogen #electriccars #wasteenergy #transport

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