Hydrogen can 'fundamentally transform the U.S. energy system' says National Academies' Report

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2004 - In a report by the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC), released late yesterday, a research committee recognized that the transition to hydrogen over the next several decades could significantly transform our energy future for the better.

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2004 - In a report by the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC), released late yesterday, a research committee recognized that the transition to hydrogen over the next several decades could significantly transform our energy future for the better. In advance of a full examination of the document, the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) commends the National Academies for undertaking this thorough analysis of hydrogen production and use and its impact on U.S. energy consumption. The report also examines the goals and impacts of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program on the overall hydrogen economy.


"We are very pleased that the [NRC] report reaffirms analytically our view that hydrogen can significantly transform the way we make and use energy, with the potential to make long-term, fundamental improvements in our energy future," says Jeff Serfass, President of the NHA

The almost 400-page document, which examines DOE's hydrogen program, reports that hydrogen, when generated at central stations with current technologies "could be roughly comparable in overall cost to gasoline when used in hybrid electric vehicles." Furthermore, the committee predicts that expected advances in production technologies will bring the cost of hydrogen much lower than gasoline on an energy per mile basis. According to the review, the committee's estimation accounts for the difference in efficiency between gasoline electric hybrids and fuel cell vehicles in order to make a "head-to-head comparison of the total supply chain cost."

Hydrogen safety "from both a technological and societal perspective" will continue to be an important issue, says the report, one which the DOE hydrogen program is doing a good job of addressing. Like gasoline or natural gas, any flammable fluid must be handled with care and although hydrogen has a long history of safe use in professional environments, the general public must also know how to use it safely.

"Hydrogen can be produced from domestic energy resources in a manner that is affordable and environmentally benign," says the committee. All production technologies using renewable, nuclear and fossil fuel feedstocks should be explored. Centralized production of hydrogen from natural gas and coal feedstocks with carbon capture and sequestration is a cost-competitive production method in the near-term, while centralized nuclear, distributed natural gas and distributed wind-turbine electrolysis will be competitive in the transition period, and potentially for the longer term.

"There is a potential for replacing essentially all gasoline with hydrogen over the next half century using only domestic resources," adds the committee. "And [hydrogen has the] potential for eliminating almost all CO2 and criteria pollutants from vehicular emissions."

The National Hydrogen Association is the premier hydrogen trade organization whose members include energy companies, automotive manufacturers, fuel cell developers, universities, laboratories and a diverse array of national and international companies which represent the growing hydrogen community. The mission of the NHA is to support the commercialization of hydrogen while identifying and removing barriers to its development and helping to guide the hydrogen community to a shared vision for our energy future.

For more information on the National Hydrogen Association or the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier, please visit the NHA website at www.HydrogenUS.org, or email nha@ttcorp.com.

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