Hydrogen element is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. It consists of one proton and one electron, found in conjugation with other elements (eg. Water H2O). Hydrocarbons consists of hydrogen as one of the element, are the primary energy source (petrol, coal and natural gas) for the current civilization. Hydrocarbons when burnt releases high amount of carbon into the atmosphere. Take the example of transportation sector which is fueled by petroleum, releases high amount of CO2 (a potent greenhouse gas) and many other pollutants. On the other hand, hydrogen fuel has high energy content and on combustion does not produce any harmful or unwanted substances. Hydrogen energy is obtained from the chemical reaction of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas in presence of air. Hydrogen is not an energy source but an energy carrier [an energy system which contains energy that can be later on converted to other forms]. Many studies have suggested that hydrogen energy is the only alternative fuel that can reduce the dependency on hydrocarbons and help in mitigating the climate change.
HYDROGEN FUEL CELL
The hydrogen fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and distilled water. They are much similar to battery which converts energy produced by a chemical reaction into usable electric power. The batteries may die out but the fuel cell will continue to produce electricity as long as fuel (hydrogen) is supplied to it. NASA uses hydrogen fuel cell to power the shuttles electrical power systems which in turn produces pure water as byproduct that is utilized for drinking purpose.
These are promising technology for use as source of heat and electricity for buildings and also as an electrical power source for electric motors propelling vehicles.
Advantage of hydrogen energy
- The biggest advantage is its pollution free nature, readily available in universe
Hydrogen energy is very efficient fuel source than the traditional sources of fuel and produces more energy per pound of fuel.
- Production and transportation of hydrogen is difficult.
- Also, Hydrogen storage needs special attention due to hydrogen being smallest molecule, density wise lightest and explosive in nature.
- Hydrogen power needs large budget
Hydrogen energy and its potential in India
In India, there is an urgent need to set up hydrogen production cum dispensing stations at suitable locations, especially for making operation of hydrogen fuelled vehicles possible. Fuel cell system may be used for power generation to provide backup power for telecom towers stationary power generation. Also the government is continuously sponsoring the researches make hydrogen energy more feasible.