|Below is an extract from "Introduction to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells", online educational material about Hydrogen and Fuel Cell technology designed for teachers and students at ages of 13-16 years old.|
The Hydrogen Energy System
It is becoming clear that Hydrogen and Fuel Cell technology present a considerable part of the solution to our energy needs. It is therefore extremely important that through education and outreach, we make this transition as informed as possible. By starting at the ground level in schools, we are ensuring that the scientists of the future get the best education in this area, and that future generations are aware and well informed as to the benefits of Hydrogen and Fuel cell technology.
With this in mind, miniHYDROGEN have identified a need for, and developed, online educational material for teachers and students. The educational material is designed for teachers and students at ages of 13-16 years old and the website provides a complete collection of resources for teachers and schools wanting to expand their curriculum.
Below is an extract from their "Introduction to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells", the complete documents are available, free, from http://minihydrogen.com/catalog/teach-materials.php.
The hydrogen energy system
Hydrogen and fuel cells is a new and different energy system. Hydrogen functions as a universal energy carrier that is converted to energy in fuel cells, with water as the only emission. Hydrogen is produced from water using renewable energy sources. This energy system therefore holds the potential of zero emission. The picture below shows the hydrogen energy system:
All energy comes from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, waves, hydro and biomass. The energy is either used directly as electricity or stored in hydrogen for use in transportation or to create electricity when the sun is not shinning or the wind is not blowing. The renewable energy is stored in hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by use of electricity. This process is called electrolysis. Other productions methods will also be used to create hydrogen from fossil fuels. After the production hydrogen functions as an energy carrier that can be used to supply energy wherever it is needed. A fuel cell is used to convert the hydrogen into energy again. In the fuel cell hydrogen and oxygen (air) reacts and creates water as the only emission. The reaction creates electricity and heat that can be used in various applications. As fuel cells are very scaleable they can be used in all applications that needs energy, ranging from mobile cell phones, cars, busses and even as large heat and power plants. Fuel cell as a technology will be the next energy innovation step that will bring progress and prosperity to our societies, with as great an impact, as the steam engine and the combustion engine have had.
Relying only on renewable energy also solves the threats of oil depletion and pollution in the present energy system. This also makes it possible for everybody to produce their own energy creating more politically stability and benefits to all of us. But much has to be done before hydrogen is for real. The next sections deal with this.
Hydrogen reacts with many different materials and is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, 90% of the atoms in the know universe are hydrogen. Hydrogen therefore can be produced from a various types of sources. The most important source is water, which can be split into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis.
The table below outlines the different sources for and methods to produce hydrogen:
Our energy system can't be changed for hydrogen from one day to another. Most hydrogen today is produced for industrial purposes from fossil fuels, and in amounts far enough for supplying a hydrogen energy system. Fossil fuels today are the cheapest way to produce hydrogen. Fossil sources and technologies for hydrogen production therefore will be necessary for decades to come, and will help the transition to hydrogen.
As renewable energy becomes competitive and fossil fuels more rare, transition to renewable hydrogen will happen. In the long term, electrolysis of water with renewable energy will therefore also be the most important hydrogen production technology.
The picture on the right shows the principles of electrolysis. Alkaline electrolysis is the most mature technology. An electrical current is applied to a conductive liquid electrolyte. The electrolyte contains hydrogen and oxygen and when a current is applied these are split into ions. Due to the current the ions will be attracted to each their electrode. In PEM electrolysis the electrolyte is a solid polymer exchange membrane. This makes possible electrolysis of pure water, giving higher purity of hydrogen. The great challenge of hydrogen production is to mature the technology and scaling up production thus lowering the hydrogen production price.
The miniHYDROGEN education website is developed in close co-operation with education centres in Denmark, and is a culmination of a 2-year project on hydrogen education in the Danish Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Besides the education material miniHYDROGEN provides consultancy, and puts together complete education concepts for single schools or groups of schools.
miniHYDROGEN are always looking to investigate possible partnerships for further development of related education material.
For further information on miniHYDROGEN educational material and products please visit www.miniHYDROGEN.com
Prepared by Fuel Cell Markets on behalf of miniHYDROGEN
Fuel Cell Markets Ltd (www.fuelcellmarkets.com) is a market catalyst for the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen industries. The Fuel Cell Markets solution is an advanced open industry communications platform designed for the purpose of aiding commercialisation. The solution highlights opportunities for development and growth, facilitates the communication of information, and is used as a tool by the business development team to promote hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to traditional industry and consumers.