Hydrogen

Energy - Hydrogen - About The Sector

Hydrogen is a very attractive potential source of energy storage as the process by which it releases energy is very efficient and its waste product is water. It can be produced from natural gas (by steam reformation) or from water (by electrolysis), the latter being the cleaner method as steam reformation involves the consumption of the non-renewable gas and the process emits carbon dioxide. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel by direct burning (as in aerospace where it is a main fuel for rockets) but it can also be used to produce electricity via hydrogen fuel cells. The drawbacks to hydrogen as a fuel are the high cost of producing it, that the main fuels for producing it are fossil-based (making it no longer a clean energy source) and that it is highly flammable and thus difficult to store and transport.

Developments in nanotechnology are targeted at enabling more efficient production of hydrogen from water and at improving its storage. Some nanomaterials are very effective in the decomposition of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen through photocatalysis (e.g. titanium dioxide). Others can absorb hydrogen and store it at high densities ready to be released when and where it is to be used.