Natural Gas, Nuclear and Hydrogen
Loyola de Palacio Series on European Energy Policy
13. R&D programs for hydrogen: US and EU Steven Stoft and César Dopazo1 1 THE CASE FOR HYDROGEN Hydrogen (H2) is, among other things, an energy carrier very abundant in nature in combination with other chemical elements. Molecular H2 can be synthesized by energy-intensive processes. H2 must then be stored, distributed and finally utilized for energy generation. Internal combustion engines (ICEs), in the form of reciprocating machines or gas turbines, as well as electrochemical devices, known as fuel cells (FCs), can convert H2 into mechanical energy and/or electricity. Possible incentives for the development of hydrogen technologies are either related to the potential to store electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources or to provide an alternative fuel for transportation. At present only three approaches seem plausible for powering cars and trucks without oil and without significant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: (i) hydrogen, (ii) batteries, and (iii) biofuels. Each of these encompasses a number of distinct possibilities depending on the primary energy source. Hydrogen can be derived from natural gas, coal, fossil-generated electricity, or non-fossil electricity; if a fossil fuel is the energy source, it must be used with carbon sequestration to achieve significantly reduced CO2 emissions. Batteries offer similar options. Biofuels are more restrictive, and only advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, would have a large impact on the emissions problem Of course, efficiency improvements to current internal combustion designs provide a partial fourth alternative, although there are physical limits. The US National Research Council (NRC) of the National...
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