Hydrogen Economy

The word hydrogen economy was coined in 1970 by Jhon Bockris General Motors (GM) Technical
Centre. It basically defines delivery of Energy using Hydrogen.

The concept here is

H2+O2 → H2O

The Calorific value of energy produced in above reaction is around 33.3Kw-hr/kg. It is also found when
in Otto engine this is used i.e Hydrogen as fuel it works around 38% efficiency which is 8% more than
Petrol. More over presence of GHG is negligible especially if we use carbon catching procedure.

So we can say it can be used as next generation fuel, eg US 1% of net Power is generated by the Help of


Hydrogen is very unstable molecule so always it tries to attach or bond itself to as free radical available.
So though in nature it is available in plenty but not alone, for this reason we need to extract or liberate
Hydrogen from these bonds.

Generally it is extracted from the most abundant source i.e Hydrocarbons or from other source Water (H2
O) & also from Biomass.

Here when it is extracted from water it is generally done by the Procedure of supplying electricity which
in turn is generated mostly from Solar , Hydro or Wind energy, this method is 50-85% efficient . It also
can be done with the Thermal sources of but it won’t remain a green source then.

The other method for extracting it from Hydrocarbon by Thermo-chemical such as methane goes such
that at 700-11000 C steam is passed through methane to extract Hydrogen & CO2 this CO2 is taken care
with the Carbon Sequestration. Other methods are Partial Oxidation etc.

Through Biomass it is done by sending exhaust gases to Wet Biomass or by dry biomass via pyrolisis
where Hydrogen, Ammonia & Charcoal is Obtained .

Current World Production without Carbon Sequestration is 48% from natural gas, 30% from Oil, 18%
from Coal, 4% from Electrolysis.

The Ammonia Produced in these cases are used as Fertilizers or for Hydro-cracking in Petroleum
Use of H2 as Fuel

Hydrogen @1bar 300k has LHV/Vol. is 2.86 MJ/m3 when required to be used as direct fuel for Vehicles
or other stuff. So , it is required to be compressed & taken at 1bar to 350 bar at 300K.

The ideal compressor work = 16% of LHV.

Practical Energy Requirement here goes to 35% of LHV.

Liquefaction 20K at 1 Bar liquid Hydrogen work required is 60% of LHV.

Then comes question of Safety, Infra Structure & Supply.

So to avoid this issue Fuel Cells are used , first cell was shown & developed by Sir William Grove in the
year 1893.

Now direct conversion fuel/oxidant has higher efficiency than the IC engines . There are two type of Fuel
cell they are

1) Hydrogen Air (Pre-dominant)
2) Methanol/Air (Under-development)

The usage is of PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) Cell are more. But they are costly and cost factors are
derived with the varying cost of the Platinum in Market.

So Hydrogen can be used as fuel but the cost & risk factors for this in Particular are very high & in near
future the Cost is very unlikely to go down, this has been predicted on the basis of pricing of precious
material & Tetrafluoroethlyne based copolymers .

The Risk factors involved as because Hydrogen by itself is very reactive & unstable so bit of energy given
can cause huge risk for life & safety for people, the amount of Hydrogen extracted from the Hydrocarbon
are not sufficient enough for large scale use as fuel also huge difficulty in storage & Supply.