|Make hydrogen from sea water renewably. This avoids depletion of limited supplies of fossil fuels. It produces no harmful side products. No carbon is released. The investment is recovered and a large return on investment is realized by selling the hydrogen. Everyone wins.|
|Making Green, Inexpensive Hydrogen Fuel -Renewably.|
by Gary P. Hoffman
Hydrogen is one of the best, and cleanest fuels we could possibly use in the future. It can be used in Internal Combustion Engines, with high efficiency and little effect on the environment. It can power heat engines used to produce peaking power for the electrical grid. We can use it in fuel cells. We can do so many things with it.
The problem is, we don't have enough.
How do we get enough hydrogen for our needs ? Then, how do we produce this hydrogen in a manner that does not consume valuable resources or produce harmful side products ? These are the problems that dog the future use of hydrogen on a large scale.
The basic issue is that hydrogen is not an energy source. Rather, it is an energy storage medium that can be used as a fuel. Hydrogen is not available free in Nature. We must make it in a form suitable for our use.
How is this done ?
There are many approaches, but some of them are flawed. For instance, we can start with natural gas. This can go through a chemical process called re-forming. In the process, some hydrogen is released for use. Why not just do that ?
First of all, natural gas is a valuable fossil fuel in short supply. We need it badly elsewhere. And, conversion to hydrogen requires that we supply energy to do the re-forming. Furthermore, some harmful byproducts can be produced in the process. Not a helpful combination. And we waste some of the gas too.
There are other chemical processes that can start with various feed stocks and produce hydrogen as a byproduct. All of these require use of valuable resources and can produce various unwanted byproducts. None of them are sustainable for the long run.
So what is the answer ?
Produce the Hydrogen Renewably. And in the process use no resources in short supply, and produce no harmful side products.
And what is the process to do that ? Electrolysis of sea water, using renewable electricity from either wind turbines or photovoltaic cells.
See the following diagram.
Notice the simple arrangement. Either wind or solar power is used to produce electricity. This is routed via wires to electrodes immersed in the sea water.
At one electrode, oxygen is produced, which is released into the atmosphere. This is a very nice thing to do for the earth.
At the other electrode Hydrogen is produced, and collected in an enclosure. The hydrogen is then pumped into a storage tank.
Once in the tank, it can be used as desired.
Thermodynamically, this is a relatively low efficiency process. That is, it takes a fair amount of electricity to make the hydrogen. But, we don't mind, because once the wind turbine or PV array is paid for, we get the electricity essentially for free !
And how to we recover the investment in the system, and make a profit ?
Simple. We sell the hydrogen. This is an extremely valuable fuel. It is going to be in great demand. As fossil fuel supplies dwindle further and undergo disruptions, the cost of fossil fuels will skyrocket. We will be able to sell our hydrogen at very attractive prices. And we can enlarge our system to make as much hydrogen as we want. The payback will be short, and the return on investment will be large. The risk is extremely small.
So what's the bottom line ?
Make hydrogen from sea water renewably. This avoids depletion of limited supplies of fossil fuels. It produces no harmful side products. No carbon is released. The investment is recovered and a large return on investment is realized by selling the hydrogen. Everyone wins.
Consider too that you can do this anywhere there is sea water. Out of sight of land if desired. Even on a tiny pacific Island. No one need be disturbed by the process. All will be happy to use the product.
Please consider visiting our website for more on this and other good ideas on renewable energy at http://www.usenergyindependence.com.