cells run on hydrogen, the simplest element and most
plentiful gas in the universe. Hydrogen is colorless,
odorless and tasteless. Each hydrogen molecule has two
atoms of hydrogen, which accounts for the H 2 we often
see. Hydrogen is the lightest element, with a density of
0.08988 grams per liter at standard pressure, yet it has
the highest energy content per unit weight of all the
fuels – 52,000 Btu/lb, or three times the energy of a
pound of gasoline.
is never found alone on earth — it is always combined
with other elements such as oxygen and carbon. Hydrogen
can be extracted from virtually any hydrogen compound
and is the ultimate clean energy carrier. It is safe to
manufacture. And hydrogen's chemical energy can be
harnessed in pollution-free ways.
is the perfect companion to electrons in the clean
energy systems of the future. But hydrogen is not
perfect – no fuel is.
of its high energy content, hydrogen must be handled
properly, just as gasoline and natural gas today
require careful handling. H ydrogen is no more
dangerous than other fuels, just different.
fuels like “town gas” were used in many
communities in the U.S. and are still used around
is made, shipped and used safely today in many
industries worldwide. Hydrogen producers and users
have generated an impeccable safety record over the
hydrogen trucks have carried on the nation's
roadways an average 70 million gallons of liquid
hydrogen per year without major incident.
Flexibility means Energy Security. Hydrogen can be
produced from a variety of sources:
natural gas, gasoline, diesel, propane
fuels: methanol, ethanol, landfill gas,
using electrolysis, solar or wind power
sodium borohydride, algae, peanut shells
generated from diverse domestic resources can reduce
demand for oil by more than 11 million barrels per day
by the year 2040.
hydrogen is such a light gas, it is difficult to store a
large amount in a small space. That is a challenge for
auto engineers who want to match today's 300-mile
vehicle range. Researchers are examining an impressive
array of storage options, with U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) support. Today's prototype FCVs use compressed
hydrogen tanks or liquid hydrogen tanks. New
technologies such as metal hydrides and chemical
hydrides may become viable in the future. Another option
would be to store hydrogen compounds – methanol,
gasoline, or other compounds – on board, and extract
the hydrogen when the vehicle is operating.
fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity, the main
question on everybody's mind is “Where and how am I
going to get the hydrogen to fuel up my fuel cell
car?” If auto engineers choose to store hydrogen
compounds on board the vehicle, tomorrow's fuel
infrastructure would look a lot like today's. Many other
options are being explored to deliver hydrogen to fuel
cell vehicles (FCVs).
production and delivery. Hydrogen production
and delivery services – including a limited
pipeline system – already serve the needs of
today's industrial demand.
Production. The energy station of the future
might produce hydrogen on demand from natural gas,
other compounds or even water.
Approaches. Fuel cell products that generate
electrical power sometimes come with hydrogen
generators called Reformers. An energy station might
purchase one of these units, use the electricity for
operations and tap into the reformer to produce
hydrogen for vehicles.
from the sun. The ultimate solution might be
solar powered hydrogen filling stations, where
electricity generated by the sun (or by a windmill)
is used to extract hydrogen from water. This is not
as far out as it sounds. Two such stations already
are operating in Southern California.
a complete listing of the hydrogen fueling stations
out our chart.
has been handled and sent through hundreds of miles of
pipelines with relative safety for the oil, chemical,
and iron industries.
with partners, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
developed a National Hydrogen Energy Road Map to provide
a framework to make the hydrogen economy a
reality. This Road Map outlines the challenges
ahead to developing a hydrogen economy - including the
necessary elements of a hydrogen infrastructure for not
only on transportation uses but also distributed
generation, since development of a hydrogen
infrastructure would benefit both applications.
National Hydrogen Energy Road Map and other pertinent
documents are available on the DOE's Hydrogen,
Fuel Cells, & Infrastructure Technologies Program
much will Hydrogen fuel cost?
U.S. Department of Energy's Hydrogen, Fuel Cells &
Infrastructure Technologies Program is working to
achieve the following goals:
2005, the technology will be available to produce
hydrogen at the pump for $3.00 per gallon gasoline
equivalent, and DOE wants to validate this technology
by 2008. By 2010, the price goal is $1.50 per
gallon of gasoline equivalent (untaxed) at the
$3 a gallon would save most of us money, since FCVs
will be two to three times more efficient than
internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. If
all the goals are met, FCVs offer the promise of
energy at $1 a gallon - or less!