FAQs

On this page you will find the questions that are frequently asked about Hydrogen Planet, and the Hydrogen alternative in general.


1.  Q: Would batteries still have a place in this brave new hydrogen world? And what about fuel cells? We always see in the media the yoking together of hydrogen and fuel cells – is there a reason for this?
A:  

As for batteries, yes, we will always need them in some form or another, but only on a comparatively small scale – they simply don't “scale up” to the capacity which our society needs for town supply or for industry, or even for heavy transport – and certainly not for aviation.

But fuel cells are a different matter – a key component of a hydrogen-driven society. They are not storage devices, as is often thought, but function as engines – very quiet engines, without pistons or any other kind of mechanical clatter, simply converting incoming, carefully dosed, hydrogen into the electricity needed by the immediate circumstances – lighting, feeding a local grid, powering a car, driving the innumerable motors without which industry cannot function.

 
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2.  Q: How do you store it?
A:  

Good and necessary question! Certainly, hydrogen will never be able to compete with the way natural gas is stored in nature, dumbly waiting for human technology to access it. However, the supply of water is not in doubt, so neither is the supply of hydrogen derived from water. And the tanks and pipelines needed to store hydrogen are already in existence, at a small scale – there is no doubt that the necessary expansion of these facilities could be implemented, as could other methods of storage.

 
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3.  Q: What are the costs of using hydrogen: how will the bills compare with current fuel prices?
A:  

It will not be cheap! But neither are our present fuel bills – and we must not forget that we are preventing enormous future expense for those coming after us, if we cut right down on the planet-heating emissions of carbon dioxide, and introduce as a replacement the climatologically harmless hydrogen which we advocate here.

 
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4.  Q: Are there examples of where hydrogen has been used successfully?
A:  

Yes! There are lots of hydrogen success stories, many of these are within transport, for example public buses in various cities. Visit our “Links” page for more specific examples.

 
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5.  Q: If it is such an obvious and doable alternative, why hasn’t it been done already?
A:  

The key reason is commercial rather than scientific: it is the power of incumbency, whereby those who acquire the dominant position in a given market are able to hold off all challengers, and have been able to gain the political and financial influence to maintain this dominance. If hydrogen technology becomes much cheaper it may be able to challenge the leaders of the fossil fuel companies which have so much influence with governments.

 
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6.  Q: How does it work, where do we get the hydrogen from?
A:  

Hydrogen is a component of water, so we must separate it from water using electrolysis. This is a well understood technology, using the passage of an electric current through specially treated water. For example, it has been done on a large scale in Norway for the past 90 years, using that country's vast hydroelectric power to split water, thus gaining the hydrogen as a saleable product (it is used in the metal and food industries). A similar use of renewably generated electricity could furnish us with all the hydrogen we need to displace all the fossil fuels which now use – about 12 billion tonnes a year.

 
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7.  Q: Isn’t hydrogen much less efficient than carbon?
A:  

It depends what you mean by “efficient”. You need a lot less by weight for the same energy output via oil or natural gas or coal, but hydrogen is a highly voluminous gas, so you need a lot more by volume to get the same effect. However, the hydrogen we propose should be used is generated by sun, wind and wave power; of which we have a constant supply. There is enough wind alone to generate enough electricity, and hydrogen via this electricity, for the whole world. An annual extra of this clean gas hydrogen can be generated, so that needing more does not become an issue.

 
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8.  Q: Isn’t hydrogen quite a dangerous gas to be using in our homes and other close proximities? Isn’t there a hydrogen bomb?!
A:  

All fuels are dangerous: the gas in our stoves and the petrol in our cars are equally explosive and flammable. The key is to prevent leaks, just as with current fuels. And the H-Bomb is a very different matter, nothing to do with any explosive reaction with the air's oxygen! It uses a different component of the atom, the nucleus, which combines with an adjoining hydrogen nucleus to create the designed-in explosion.

 
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