Is hydrogen the fuel of the future?


How will the world solve the problem of reducing our carbon emissions? The solution would be to replace the coal, oil and gas, in the long term, with primary energy that comes from solar-generated electricity and wind-generated electricity. But wind and solar electricity don’t form a complete picture of our clean energy solution. Within the mix, we will need a more high-density transportable fuel. Think about a super tanker that’s going to pick up a hundred thousand tonnes of iron ore from Port Hedland in Western Australia and take it to Shanghai. At the moment it uses bunker fuel. It’s really bad. Wouldn’t it be great if you could replace that with batteries? Well it’s not realistic. It’s hard to see that batteries would achieve the energy density that would allow you to power that ship. But you could do it with hydrogen. Because hydrogen is much higher energy density than batteries. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that doesn’t produce any carbon emissions. Instead, it produces water. The question is, where do you get the hydrogen from? Hydrogen is a secondary source of energy, which means it needs to be produced from other substances. We can produce it from water using renewable energy, which releases no carbon emissions. We can also produce hydrogen from natural gas, coal and biomass using heat to drive chemical reactions with water. This method does release carbon emissions that need to be captured and stored safely. Once you’ve made it, it’s convenient to use as an alternative to oil for transport and natural gas for heating. Hydrogen is an effective way to store and transport energy. With an abundance of natural resources, Australia can make clean hydrogen, ensuring it becomes a key part of our clean energy solution.

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