For over 40 years, hydrogen has been used in vast quantities for industrial applications, such as powering forklifts and space shuttles. During that time, an infrastructure had been developed to safely produce, store, transport and utilize hydrogen.
Like most industrial gases, hydrogen is a gas that must be managed and handled safely.
Hydrogen is everywhere and can be seen in industries such as refining, aerospace, food and beverage. In the food industry, hydrogen is used in the hydrogenation of amines and fatty acids and when combined with Sorbitol it creates Mannitol, a food sweetener found in chocolate, candies and chewing gum.
In the case of transportation, hydrogen has an extremely low-density and dissipates almost instantaneously. In the unlikely case that hydrogen were to leak from a vehicle and catch fire, it would burn up into the air in seconds unlike gasoline, which pools on the ground and is extremely difficult to extinguish.
Hydrogen can be produced and transported in a number of ways including on-site electrolysis, tube-trailer delivery, and pipeline transport. Hydrogen generation is not dependant on a limited resource, which makes a hydrogen infrastructure a practical long-term solution. Since hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth, we are able to shift our energy security to a post-carbon era that relies on renewable energy to fuel our cities.
Energy created from windmills and solar panels must be stored to consistently provide energy that can be used at the user’s convenience. Using the electricity that windmills and solar panels produce to create hydrogen that can be used whenever, wherever makes wind and solar power efficient and viable as a solution to power our vehicles, homes, and communities.
Hydrogen has been used for a multitude of purposes in various industrial settings for over 50 years. In the 1960’s, NASA was already using hydrogen in a fuel cell that supplies electricity to the Apollo series of rockets, which ultimately reached the moon. The US Navy has used hydrogen fuel cells to power submarines since the 1980s. As far as vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are already on the road. Toyota released its HFCEV, the Mirai, in 2015. Honda’s HFCEV model, the Clarity, has been available for lease since 2008 and will be on the market this year for buyers.
California has paved the way and invested $200 million dollars to build a hydrogen highway that would consist of 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2020. Hydrogen infrastructures can easily be established across the nation with the proper investment of time and resources.
But alternative vehicle manufacturers and energy companies can’t do it alone – it takes the support of local and state regulations and funding to help continue to build the infrastructure needed.