The advent of cheap, renewable hydrogen is nigh
Wednesday February 27, 2019. 07:30 PM , from Ars Technica
Enlarge / The Coradia iLint, the world's first hydrogen multiple-unit train for regional transport, is located at Basdorf station. Thanks to its fuel cell drive, the train runs completely emission-free and quietly. The Niederbarnimer Railway aims to use this climate-friendly train on the Heidekrautbahn, thus making the non-electrified line even more environmentally friendly. (credit: Bernd Settnik/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Hydrogen gas has been the pipe dream fuel of clean-energy advocates for decades. Splitting electrons from H2 molecules creates electricity and a waste product: pure H2O. It has the added benefit of being storable (albeit at high pressures or low temperatures), and it can refuel a car or a generator in minutes, as opposed to batteries, which can take hours to recharge.
Unfortunately, most of the hydrogen that is mass-produced today is made by synthesizing it from natural gas (more specifically, methane, or CH4). But it's also possible to make hydrogen using electricity and water, using an electrolyzer. If that electricity is renewable electricity, hydrogen can be nearly carbon neutral in its lifecycle.
The problem is that the electrolyzers that can make hydrogen from renewable energy have historically been prohibitively expensive. But that's changing, according to a new paper in Nature Energy.
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