FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cheap Hydrogen?

One of the biggest hurdles on the way to the much-touted "hydrogen economy" -- in which hydrogen would replace petroleum as our primary fuel -- is the enormous cost of generating hydrogen. Now, researchers at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory have teamed up with Salt Lake City-based ceramics firm Cerametec to create a process for cost-effectively producting hydrogen.

The process involves generating hydrogen with nuclear reactors, which can heat water necessary for the process with greater efficiency than can other kinds of heaters. Indeed, one of the drawbacks in generating hydrogen is that it requires more energy than the resulting hydrogen yields.

The obvious drawback to this plan, of course, is the need to build more nuclear reactors. As well as being politically risky, this has environmental and engineering consequences -- after all, no new reactors have been built in the US in 30 years.

Source: KurzweilAI.net