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The Future of Hydrogen is Now
This article by the National Hydrogen Association was recently published in Renewable Energy World Magazine. We wanted to share it with Fuel Cell Insider readers to underscore the message that fuel cells and hydrogen aren’t “future” technologies, but commercially available in several applications today, and making great strides in demonstrations in others.

Enjoy!

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One of the questions people often ask the hydrogen industry is, “When will hydrogen be ready? How long before it’s actually used?” The simple answer is: right now.

.The real surprise for most is learning how many different ways hydrogen is being used already for everyday applications and how linked hydrogen technologies are with the deployment of traditional renewable technologies.

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Most people think of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for passenger cars. That’s true, but it’s only part of the picture. Adding hydrogen to the variety of clean car technologies in development today is hugely important and something that is developing steadily. In fact, hydrogen vehicles from nine car companies just completed a cross-country tour. At the same time, other products using hydrogen are being sold today for uses most folks don’t know about. Some well-known names, like FedEx, Wall-Mart, Sprint, Orlando and Vancouver International Airports, and others are among those who have begun to introduce hydrogen technologies to their operations. You can read about many of these real-world applications at www.h2andyou.org. In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in this quick overview of just some of the industries and technologies where hydrogen is being put to use today, besides passenger cars, and a reminder of how hydrogen technologies are an enabler for wider deployment of renewables.

Stationary Power and Emergency Back-Up Systems

Hydrogen fuel cells are increasingly being used for backup power to improve reliability in facilities where interruption of grid electricity can spell trouble for public safety or capturing revenue. Telecommunications is a prime example. Fuel cells are currently being used to support over 400 cell phone towers across the U.S. Hurricane Katrina taught us the importance of having cell phone communication for rescue operations. Since then, new legislation now requires cell phone towers to have at least 8 hours of back-up power. Some major wireless providers have found that fuel cells can be more effective than batteries as a reliable back-up source and maybe even cheaper over the life of the system. These fuel cell systems and larger ones can support entire buildings or industrial process, providing clean, reliable off-grid electricity.

Portable Power

Today, some small, portable, emissions-free power generators are using hydrogen fuel cells to power laptops, cell phones, tools, radios, fans, TVs and other appliances. In addition to use by travelers and campers, these systems are designed to be used by emergency responders, the military and others who need power on the “go”.

Forklifts and Other Specialty Transportation

Special function vehicles, like airport luggage tugs and forklifts, are also providing emerging markets for hydrogen fuel cells. These hydrogen-fueled specialty vehicles are particularly valued in locations where elimination of emissions is critical, like enclosed warehouses, and when down time for battery charging and swapping costs money. A hydrogen-powered tug or forklift requires only a minute or two to refuel compared to many times that for battery swapping and charging, and hydrogen can improve operating efficiencies and costs. See this article in Earthtoys.

Hydrogen Buses

Numerous transit systems around the world have conducted demonstration programs placing hydrogen fuel cell buses in operation which provide pollution-free, quiet urban public transportation. For example, AC Transit in the San Francisco Bay area currently has three hydrogen fuel cell-powered hybrid buses operating in real revenue service and is gearing up for more. As a result, these buses have measurably reduced local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and are achieving efficiencies 2 times greater than their diesel buses. By visiting the AC Transit website, you can monitor their power usage and pollution reduction in real time. Additionally, three hydrogen buses helped move attendees around sports venues at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and hydrogen buses will be used at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Hydrogen Injection for Diesel Trucks

A small-scale application of hydrogen technology that is providing truckers with sizeable benefits is now available commercially. After-market hydrogen injection systems, which can be installed on virtually any of today’s heavy diesel trucks, draw a small amount of electricity from the truck engine’s alternator to split water held in a small container, producing hydrogen and oxygen gases. The hydrogen and oxygen gases are both injected along with the diesel fuel into the engine. The result is a significant reduction in air pollution emissions and greenhouse gases, reduced fuel consumption by 10% or more, and an average 5% increase in horsepower and engine torque. Trucking and shipping companies, FedEx among them, together have now logged tens of millions of miles with hydrogen injection systems.

Hydrogen and Renewables

Lots of people know that hydrogen needs renewables.  To make hydrogen, the most environmentally attractive option is to make it from water, with zero pollution, using renewable electricity from wind and solar resources.  Renewables are extremely important for producing hydrogen and helping with long-term pollution reductions in the energy and transportation sectors.  But did you know that renewables may need hydrogen?  Intermittent renewables can store their off-peak electricity for use later or for sale as a fuel.  What if most of the electricity in the grid came from wind and the wind stopped blowing?  Adding a hydrogen system to ensure reliability increases the value of renewables and gives utilities flexibility.  Utilities can use the hydrogen on demand to produce electricity when needed most, just like the back-up power systems mentioned above.  In this way, hydrogen technologies are a key enabler for the wider deployment of renewables.  See information from the Hydrogen from Renewables Forum here.

Jeffrey Serfass, President
National Hydrogen Association

For more informtation on the NHA, visit their website. This article first appeared here, in the Renewable Energy World Magazine.

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09.26.2008
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  1. September 26, 2008 @ 9:01 pm
    Philip A. Block says...

    A very good article. But, I would say, most of the people reading it are probably already cognizant of the information in the article. How do you get it to those people in congress? I have written my two senators and congressman (Georgia) and received nothing in return but a format letter expousing nuclear power (a 20th century obsolete technology). I have written Boortz, Limbaugh, Hennity, Cain, and still all I hear from them is wind (pun intended), solar, and, again, nuclear power.  A couple of years ago I visited my alma mater’s (a small school) electrical engineering dept. and inquired why there was no provision for a course in Fuel Cells but one for nuclear power and received a sarcastic answer “what about hydrogen?” and turned and walked off from me. This from a Phd. that graduated from the University of South Carolina where much research on Fuel Cells and hydrogen is going on. Also, Columbia, the capital of SC is touting itself as an H2 capital. A group of scientisists from the Savannah river plant has set itself up outside the government property to pursue research on H2. All this, and yet the general public is being brainwashed about everything but the one big answer, H2.

  2. September 26, 2008 @ 9:27 pm
    Fuel system says...

    The FreedomCar, to explore making the technology work in hydrogen cars, and FreedomFuel, which will study how to produce, store and deliver hydrogen. Fuel system

  3. September 30, 2008 @ 1:41 pm
    Dwaine L. says...

    The paragraph on hydrogen injection into diesels fits my findings on an inventor who used what I call heterolysis to power a small internal combustion engine modified to run off water.  I believe the answer to hydrogen production on the go is closed system(no outside electron injection) fracturing of the H20 covalent bond by resonant static field free energy arrangement.  It may be a form of quantum entanglement symmetry made possible by the Lewis bonding of ,specifically, the heteroatomic system of water and natural resonance propagated through a low voltage (12V) static field potential.

  4. September 30, 2008 @ 6:55 pm
    Philip A. Block says...

    Well, Dwaine, no matter how one cuts it , the whole problem is that the amount of energy, Watts, Joules, or however you want to measure it, used to separate the molecules (H2, O2) in water is more than can you get back out of it in the form of H2. Using the car generator to electrolyze the water still requires the engine to power that generator and uses energy (in the form of gasoline)  to run the engine. Static field? Static generators can produce many thousands of volts but little current. That is why you can be knocked off your feet by one and survive. The voltage is high, but the current is low, so very low energy. Add some current to it, like a lightning bolt, and you will turn into a pile of carbon dust. Power or watts, W=EI, is what does it, not the voltage or current by itself. Sorry, physics is not like the law or religion, you cannot change the rules to suit yourself. No matter how you cut it, you ain’t going to get two pounds of flour out of a one pound bag. People all over the world, within the most sophisticated labs, are trying to solve the problem of producing H2 at a reasonable cost (whatever that is). Do you not think they have not gone back over all the old scientific manuals, notes, writtings, equations, formulas, etc. searching for an idea? Also, watch out for the con artist that comes up with a lot of fancy words, equations, or whatever, to impress you. Remember, Al Gore has absolutely no scientific training or back ground, but has been able to con the world on global warming and, has been able to get a lot of fellow con artists on board with him. 

  5. October 17, 2008 @ 11:00 pm
    water powered cars says...

    water powered cars…

    I am glad I found this blog. Great information. Thanks for posting. :)…

  6. November 5, 2008 @ 11:16 pm
    Ajibulu-SO says...

    Great report from the president! I will like to join and diseminate this project in Africa. I am currently operating a consultancy outfit in Lagos Nigeria and Abuja office is nearing completion. It would be good to be nearer the legislatures I think.

  7. November 10, 2008 @ 4:19 pm
    Philip A. Block says...

    Not a bad idea Mr. Ajibulu-SO–being near the political center. It is very important that politicans over the whole world be moved mentally from the 20th century concept of nuclear power and central power plants into the 21st century of Fuel Cells and H2 as the main conncept of distributed electrical generation and fuel. Good luck with your new office.

  8. December 4, 2008 @ 10:44 pm
    sulistyo says...

    I just have read this article, I glad with the information which provided in this news.I hope the article can explore more information the more efficience hydogen car on the 21th century. Bravo

  9. December 31, 2008 @ 4:15 pm
    Charles Adams says...

    Probably the wrong forum, however here we go….I need a 25-30mw generator I would look at 2x15mw units, 4 platforms in total for a 100mw plus of output. I have been speaking with a few companies, but would regard outside info as intel. The primary system I would like to look at are AFC as I am looking to ammonia as a fuel source. Anyone have any thoughts.Thanks to those who answer,Charles Adams561-503-9998 <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:SimSun; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-alt:宋体; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 680460288 22 0 262145 0;} @font-face {font-family:”\@SimSun”; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 680460288 22 0 262145 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:SimSun;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

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