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Hydrogen Economy

The concept of hydrogen economy is founded on the basis that it is possible to establish a new economic structure in which hydrogen is widely used as an energy carrier. Unlike conventional fossil fuels, hydrogen does not discharge carbon or other pollutants (such as particulate matter) to the atmosphere, offering an environmental-friendly and inexhaustible energy supply for the future.

Modern interest in the hydrogen economy can generally be traced to a technical report by Lawrence W. Jones of the University of Michigan in 1970s. In the scenario of hydrogen economy, people can produce hydrogen without using fossil fuels in the process. Renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass - are converted to electricity and drives electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be stored and later used in a fuel cell to generate electricity, with heat as a byproduct that could be directed to heating or other applications.

The feasibility of a hydrogen economy depends on various issues of energy sourcing, including fossil fuel use, climate change, and sustainable energy generation. As hydrogen does not occur naturally in quantity, it must be generated from some other energy sources by steam reformation of natural gas or other methods, making hydrogen an energy carrier (like electricity) but not a primary energy source (like coal).


  • [1] Eisenbeiss, G. Is the Hydrogen Economy Around the Corner? Wengenmayr, R., Buhrke T. (eds) Renewable Energy – Sustainable Energy Concepts for the Future. Wiley-VCH., Germany, 2008.
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