Renewable Hydrogen Energy’s Growing Role in Households

Renewable Hydrogen


In recent times, people have become more and more interested in renewable sources of energy because of environmental as well as socioeconomic concerns about the consequences of current use of their non-renewable counterparts. Most of the time, the mentions are about either solar or wind, which are already in widespread use throughout the United States as well as other countries situated all around the world. However, it is important to note that there are also other renewable sources of energy, which have not reached the same stage of development but are being investigated with great interest for their great potential.

For example, people who are interested in renewable sources of energy might be interested in learning that hydrogen can be considered one of them. In brief, hydrogen is the simplest atom in existence, so much so that a hydrogen atom consists of nothing more than a single proton and a single electron. As a result, hydrogen is also the single most common element in the whole of the universe, meaning that there is no chance of it running out anytime soon.

How Does Hydrogen Fuel Work?

Even though it is the single most common element in the universe, hydrogen cannot actually be found in its pure form on our planet, meaning that it has to be created using various methods as well as various materials. For example, one common method is sending an electric current running through water, thus causing the two hydrogen atoms in a water molecule to separate from the one oxygen atom. Similarly, another common method is to separate hydrogen atoms from hydrocarbons such as natural gas by heating them, which is often done by infusing them with high-temperature steam. (1)

Most of the hydrogen that gets produced in the United States on an annual basis is used up in one industrial process or another. For example, some U.S. companies use hydrogen to produce the fertilizers needed to keep the farms as productive as possible, some U.S. companies use hydrogen to kill potentially dangerous microbes lurking on their products, while other U.S. companies use hydrogen to treat the minerals that they dig out of the earth. However, some of the hydrogen is reserved or the purpose of powering hydrogen fuel cells, which have already seen use in NASA’s spacecraft but are also been considered as a serious contender fr the choice of bei

There are a number of reasons that the idea of hydrogen fuel cells are so popular. First, there is the previously mentioned fact that hydrogen is the single most common element in the universe, which means that it comes in plentiful supply. Second, hydrogen is actually more efficient as a source of energy than the hydrocarbons that are currently in use, so much so that it is actually two to three times better than hydrocarbon-fueled cousins. Finally, hydrogen fuel cells tend to produce next to no waste other than a small amount of water vapor, which is important because a lot of other sources of energy leave their users with a wide host of questions about how to solve such problems.

What Are the Challenges to the Use of Hydrogen Fuel for Household Purposes?

You need electricity

First and foremost, the production of hydrogen needs electricity to produce electricity. Generally speaking, U.S. companies that produce hydrogen will produce hydrogen by infusing hydrocarbons with high-temperature steam rather than running an electric current through water because the first is cheaper than the second. As a result, hydrogen fuel is not perfectly free of greenhouse gas emissions, though there are ways to reduce its already low levels. For example, the use of electricity from another renewable source of energy can be much better than the use of electricity from a non-renewable source of energy. Similarly, the people who are currently developing hydrogen fuel cells for use can make them more efficient, which is not unlike how cars are using more and more energy-efficient engines no matter what they run on.

Fuel Cells

Second, hydrogen fuel cells have been seeing use for a long, long time, but it is important to note that those same hydrogen fuel cells were meant for space shuttles rather than daily uses as part of U.S. household appliances. There are people working on efforts to come up with a solution to these problems, but for the most part, they are stuck without further refinements of the basic concept, which leads right into the next point.

In brief, hydrogen fuel cells have not solved a number of the serious problems that keep them from being as practical as other sources of energy in the United States. For example, it is difficult to store hydrogen in hydrogen fuel cells, which will always compromise its viability until it has been solved one way or another. Furthermore, it should be noted that even if these problems can be solved sometime soon in the near future, there is still the matter of building infrastructure to support the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells, which is always expensive and time-consuming but also particularly challenging now that there is a simultaneous need for the infrastructure needed to support other sources of energy as well.

Further Considerations

It remains to be seen whether hydrogen fuel cells will be made practical for common household purposes sometime soon in the future. When it does, chances are good that it will result in significant changes in our household appliances because hydrogen has too many advantages to be passed up without a second thought, After all, while most people are reluctant to change the fundamental elements in their lives, they are also not so unchanging by nature that they will refuse to respond to something that can power their homes at no more than a part of the cost. Until that time comes, all that we can do is to keep up-to-date about what is happening so that we can take advantage of the introduction of hydrogen energy when it becomes available.

References:

  1. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/hydrogen/tech.html
  2. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_basics.html

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