In recent years, the use of the hydrogen fuel cell as an energy source became a topic of great interest, but with time, interest seems to have faded. There was a lot of initial hype over potentialities, but yet nothing really seemed to come of it. There are a number of obstacles that did and still do stand in the way of hydrogen really becoming a viable option for fueling our transportation networks. It has a lot of potential for being useful in a variety of applications, and yet, we do not see this power undergoing significant development.
So, what is standing in the way of a bright future for hydrogen as a large scale power source?
Lack of Infrastructure
In order to switch even just the US fleet of automobiles to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would require a great deal of infrastructure that we currently do not have. We would need places to produce this energy, facilities that produce vehicles with better technology and that can run greater distances. There also needs to be a means by which the driver can “fill up” when need be. These would all be serious undertakings and would take a good deal of time and money.
Production of Hydrogen
A key barrier and concern about hydrogen power is where hydrogen comes from. Hydrogen is produced as the result of a chemical reaction. While there are a number of ways to create this element, currently, the most cost-effective means is through the use of natural gas and steam. First, natural gas is a non-renewable energy source; secondly, a large amount of carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere during the production of hydrogen, in many ways, negating some of the benefit that can be achieved through the life of a consumer vehicle.
If research and development can help us to find a better means by which hydrogen can be produced, the future for the hydrogen fuel cell as a truly viable fuel option for transportation is bright. For the time being, however, the viability just isn’t there in terms of demand, resource availability and infrastructure.
Hydrogen does seem to hold a lot of potential promise for a cleaner energy source of the future. However, the idea of using hydrogen as a primary fuel source for something like vehicles, at least at this time, seems to be better in theory than in actual practice. There is a huge amount of infrastructure that nations would have to provide, as well as advancements in fuel cell technology and the range of these vehicles, before they could really even be considered to be viable.
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