Hydrogen Intermodal Transporation
A Foundation for All Nations to Compete in the Global Economy
Several domestic US automobile manufactures have committed to develop vehicles using hydrogen.
(They had previously committed to producing electric vehicles in California, a program now defunct at their behest.)
Critics argue this "commitment" is merely a ploy to sidestep current calls for increased efficiency in gasoline and diesel fuel powered vehicles.
Some hospitals have installed combined electrolyzer-storage-fuel cell units for local emergency power.
These are advantageous for emergency use due to their low maintenance requirement and ease of location compared to internal combustion driven generators.
The North Atlantic island country of Iceland has committed to becoming the world's first hydrogen economy by the year 2050.
Iceland is in a unique position: at present, it imports all the petroleum products necessary to power its automobiles and fishing fleet.
But Iceland has large geothermal and hydroelectric resources, so much so that the local price of electricity actually is lower than the price of the hydrocarbons that could be used to produce that electricity.
Iceland already converts its surplus electricity into exportable goods and hydrocarbon replacements.
In 2002, it produced 2000 tons of hydrogen gas by electrolysis, primarily for the production of ammonia (NH3) for fertilizer.
Ammonia is produced, transported, and used throughout the world, and 90% of the cost of ammonia is the cost of the energy to produce it.
Iceland is also developing an aluminum-smelting industry. (Aluminum costs are primarily driven by the cost of the electricity to run the smelters.)
Either of these industries could effectively export all of Iceland's potential geothermal electricity.
But neither directly replaces hydrocarbons. Plans call for Reykjavik's 80 busses to run on compressed hydrogen by 2005.
Research on powering the nation's fishing fleet with hydrogen is underway.
For practicality, Iceland may end up processing imported oil with hydrogen to extend it, rather than to replace it altogether.
A pilot project demonstrating a hydrogen economy is operational on the Norwegian island of Utsira.
The installation combines wind power and hydrogen power. In periods when there is surplus wind energy, the excess power is used for generating hydrogen by electrolysis.
The hydrogen is stored, and is available for power generation in periods where there is little wind.
The Hydrogen Expedition is currently working on creating a hydrogen fuel cell-powered ship and using it to circumnavigate the globe, as a way to demonstrate the capability of hydrogen fuel cells.
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