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Using Byproducts to Fuel Hydrogen Cars
One of the key sticking points of going to a hydrogen economy is how are we going to produce enough hydrogen to fuel both car and home? How can anyone have a hydrogen car without any fuel to go into it? Current methods of producing hydrogen include steam reforming of natural gas and electrolyzing water.
If a hydrogen economy is to come to fruition in the near future, we will most likely need many methods for producing hydrogen. Renewable resources for producing hydrogen will include biomass and ethanol, wind farms, tidal energy, hydroelectric energy, solar and other experimental resources such as gravitational energy.
Another resource for producing hydrogen will be in capturing hydrogen that is currently (or in the future) being produced as a byproduct for other processes.
Clean coal technology is one of these processes currently being developed in order to turn coal into electricity. Hydrogen is to be captured during this process and sold as a secondary commodity. Noxious fumes are to be sequestered providing near zero emissions. The Federal FutureGen Initiative addresses this issue and India has also decided to undertake this challenge as well.
Hydrogen is also a byproduct of producing sodium-chlorate, which is used to manufacture pesticides and bleaches. In Vancouver, Canada it is said that there is enough hydrogen as byproduct to power 20,000 hydrogen cars for one year. This technology will be featured in the 2010 Olympics to be held in Vancouver. Currently in Berscia, Italy a chlorate production unit designed by Uhdenora separates the hydrogen and is the first large-scale commercial fuel cell installation in the world.
Current nuclear reactors may also be modified to use the steam they produce in cooling the reactor to do high-temperature electrolysis to produce hydrogen. The Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative as well as researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory are already moving ahead with studying this technology. New generation nuclear reactors which are much safer and more efficient than old units are also being investigated for possible use.
It's good to know that in moving to a hydrogen-based economy, we don't have to totally reinvent the wheel, only upgrade the wheel, as needed, to fit current and future needs.
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