Japan Times: Can Hydrogen drive a society
The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster increased the need to find other sources of energy that are safer, less destructive and more efficient. With the better-known renewable sources of energy, such as solar, geothermal and wind energy, another relatively clean form of energy transfer and storage is being explored in Japan — hydrogen fuel cells. The government and industry should continue exploring ways to develop the infrastructure necessary to utilize hydrogen fuel cells, despite the many difficulties involved.
Hydrogen has potential for a number of reasons. It is abundant and easily combines with other elements. It is already present in many of the most important organic compounds. It is relatively easy to separate from other hydrocarbon compounds, and the combustion of hydrogen releases a high amount of energy.
Most importantly, it is clean since it produces much less carbon dioxide during production and none at all during use. In fact, the only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cells are water and heat.
Hydrogen fuel cells have been used by the American aerospace program since the 1970s to propel rockets and space shuttles into orbit. The United States and other major energy-using countries like China and India are pursuing hydrogen as one element in a cleaner system for energy production, storage and consumption. Even though hydrogen-based fuel cells are well developed, and many are in use in limited areas, a full-scale system of production and supply is far from complete anywhere. The use of such fuel cells is not yet ready for full-scale use.