When considering global warming and the dependency of the United States on foreign oil, there are many reasons why finding alternative energy forms may be beneficial for our nation’s future. When considering alternative energy sources, people often site solar power and wind farms as great alternative and renewable energy sources.
Lets continue this line of thinking by taking a moment to carefully consider hydrogen energy. With the potential for producing electricity and being pollution free, hydrogen has a lot going for it. The underlying technology behind hydrogen energy is continuing to improve, leading to the very real possibility of hydrogen power plants.
Given the complexity of this topic as well as the excitement created from its potential use, lets take a moment to examine the pros and cons associated with hydrogen energy.
The Pros of Hydrogen Energy
1. Pollution Free Energy Source
When using hydrogen to create electricity, you are creating no pollution as a result. While all other forms of fossil fuel power creation generate pollution, hydrogen is the perfect source of power for the future. Also, one of the byproducts of hydrogen is drinkable water. With this in mind it is easy to see how hydrogen will become increasingly important into the future as it becomes a better and better potential energy source.
2. Friendly to the Environment
Unlike the majority of other power generating techniques, creating power from hydrogen is environmentally friendly. Basically no harmful toxins are a result of hydrogen power. This means that a lot of money will not have to be spent in proper disposal. In addition, maintaining the risk of byproduct resources, like spent uranium rods from nuclear energy, will not be a problem. All of this will help to reduce the overall costs of hydrogen energy.
3. Fantastic Fuel Efficiency
When taking into account its weight to fuel efficiency ratio, it is hard to beat hydrogen. Hydrogen is one of the most fuel efficient energy sources out there, making it perfect for any form of transportation where limiting weight is key. While hydrogen is currently used for space flight and in space ships, its adoption to planes, helicopters, and anything else that flies in the sky will mean less pollution and more efficient planes.
4. Renewable Energy Source
Given how universally available hydrogen is, it comes as no surprise that hydrogen is a renewable resource. On earth, most organic matter can be used to create hydrogen. In addition, the large amounts of hydrogen in space makes it an attractive future fuel for large scale space exploration.
5. Potential To Get Better In Application
Unlike other forms of energy, hydrogen has some of the greatest potential out there. As science continues to advance, technology catches up and brings about a number of interesting uses for hydrogen. In addition, technology will slowly lead to smaller and more efficient hydrogen powered power plants, making the total cost less expensive and the use of hydrogen more practical.
The Cons of Hydrogen Energy
1. Hard Obtaining Hydrogen
While hydrogen may comprise 75% of all matter in the entire universe, here on earth, hydrogen is rarely if ever found completely by itself. More often then not, it is tied into other elements. Extracting hydrogen requires electricity and can even create pollution, removing the pollution free benefits of using it as a fuel source. In addition, depending on the nature of the extraction method, there may be waste product produced as well. As such, fossil fuels are still required to separate the hydrogen.
2. Transportation of Hydrogen
Transporting hydrogen is a big challenge. Along with being highly flammable, problems with hydrogen are why blimps dramatically dropped in popularity. You can only transport small amounts of hydrogen safely at a time, requiring additional infrastructure to get a hydrogen plant working. Along with obtaining hydrogen, both transportation and acquisition requires a great deal of wealth in order to set up and get running. Having a large scale infrastructure would require even more money and planning.
3. Hydrogen Battery Size
At the moment, hydrogen batteries are significantly larger and heavier then standard car batteries. While the theories behind hydrogen are very promising, there is still not enough research done to effectively utilize the technology in everyday use. In addition, the cost of hydrogen batteries are significantly more then normal batteries.
Where Does That Leave Us?
Hydrogen has a lot going for it. With incredible potential as a source of clean burning fuel, advancements in the underlying technology can make hydrogen the fuel of the future. For now however there are a number of problems that limit its potential at the moment including storage, transportation, and acquisition. That being said, with the right technology, who knows what will be possible in the future.