We rely upon energy to get things done. It powers our bodies and it powers our industries. We’ve developed many methods to transport and store energy for our industries. Some methods come quite naturally such as using wood from trees. Other methods are pure human genius as with using hydrogen gas and fuel cells. Let’s look at this energy genius.
While hydrogen is the first element on the periodic table and a key constituent of our Sun, there’s not much of it floating freely in Earth’s atmosphere. Actually, given its volatile nature, this is a good thing. Nevertheless, we can expend energy to isolate and store it. Then, as need, we release the energy in the hydrogen gas by oxidizing it. The oxidation’s end product is water so the claim is that using it doesn’t pollute.
However, we must use energy to isolate and store hydrogen gas as its not floating free. Typically we use a natural gas formation process to do this. Simply, the process transfers the energy of the natural gas to become energy in the hydrogen gas. This formation process has the usually debilitating fossil fuel pollution products, i.e. carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Thus, using hydrogen in our energy distribution network results in the same problems as using natural gas directly. That is, hydrogen doesn’t remove the pollution from energy usage, we simply move the location of the polluter.
When thinking about sources of energy, hydrogen is not directly a source, it’s a carrier. Nor is it truly pollution free. We can store and transport energy by forming hydrogen gas. But we have many other methods to store and transport energy without having to build a new distribution network. Perhaps its not genius. Instead, let’s decrease the pollution at source or reduce our energy demands or do both. Thus our energy usage would minimize pollution of the future. This would be genius.