Hydrogen for alternative fuel is used by combustion in an engine similar to gasoline. Currently hydrogen is energy expensive and more energy is required to collect and process it than is obtained through combustion. The hydrogen is extracted from the carrier compound with oxygen, as water using electrolysis or other less common experimental methods.
The primary concern with hydrogen is safety though. It is highly explosive when mixed with air and will asphyxiate humans when in its pure form. Also, in liquid form it is extremely cold and can cause frostbite from exposure to human tissue. One place where hydrogen has been coming in useful has been fuel cells and batteries. Hydrogen isn’t an energy source but rather an energy carrier which takes a great amount of energy to extract from water. This is why costs to use it as a combustion fuel are so high but it makes it very useful for energy storage.
Check out this video on hydrogen in fuel cells for energy storage. It explains in detail how hydrogen is used to create these high energy storage batteries. It’s only a little over a minute long and covers the process quite completely.
I don’t think hydrogen will be useful as a fuel source anytime soon except in outer space. However, it is already proving to be an excellent way to store energy which is an important part of all renewable energy sources. Hopefully hydrogen will work together with another fuel to produce a truely next generation renewable energy. Let’s recap the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen now.
Pros of Hydrogen
* The Earth is covered in huge amounts of water which as you know is H20. This means there is a lot of hydrogen stored on our planet.
* Extremly useful for energy storage in fuel cells and batteries.
* Alternative fuel that is sustinable for thousands of years.
Cons of Hydrogen
* Extremely explosive when mixxed with oxygen, dangerous fumes, liquid form is extremely cold. Numerous safety, storage, and transportation issues come from this.
* Accidents involving hydrogen vehicles can be extremely dangerous.