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“Hydrogen as a Fuel”: Applications, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is the news?

In the Budget 2021-22, the Government of India announced the National Hydrogen Mission. This mission will aim at generating hydrogen from green power sources and using it as a fuel.

Read more about Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021

About Hydrogen fuel 

  • Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number. It is the lightest element in the periodic table. Moreover, it is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe.
  • However, the most common element in nature is not available freely. Hydrogen also exists only in combination with other elements. Thus, it has to be extracted from natural compounds, like water.
  • Hydrogen is categorized by colour tabs, based on its source. We can divide it into ‘grey’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels), ‘blue’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage) or ‘green’ hydrogen (produced from renewable electricity).
  • Green Hydrogen is specifically focussed upon in the government mission.

Hydrogen as a fuel:

  • Hydrogen is considered an alternative to fossil and other types of fuels.
  • However, Hydrogen is a carrier of energy, not a source of it. Fuel cells are required to transform Hydrogen into electricity and use it. Cells use oxidizing agents through an oxidation-reduction reaction, to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • In the case of Hydrogen, fuel cells combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to generate electricity.  A catalyst, usually made from platinum is generally used for this.

Advantages of Hydrogen fuel:

  • Readily Available: It is a basic earth element and is available in abundance.
  • Doesn’t Produce Harmful Emissions: When it burns, it doesn’t emit harmful substances. The only by-product or emission from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water. It makes this fuel 100% clean.
  • Environmentally Friendly: It is a non-toxic substance which is rare for a fuel source.
  • Fuel-Efficient: Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel-efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel:

  • Expensive: Although it is widely available, it is time-consuming to separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances.
  • Difficult to Store: Hydrogen is very difficult to store. Its transportation even in a small amount is very expensive.
  • Not Easy to Replace Existing Infrastructure: There is not much infrastructure that can support hydrogen as fuel. Also, cars need to be refitted in order to accommodate hydrogen as fuel.
  • Highly Inflammable: Since it is a very powerful source of fuel, hydrogen can be very flammable. Hydrogen gas burns in air at very wide concentrations – between 4% and 75%.

Source: Indian express

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