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Hydrogen and Fuel Cells 101

Jan 10, 2022

The document "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells 101" highlights hydrogen's potential as a versatile energy carrier, with applications ranging from transportation to industrial processes. Produced primarily from natural gas in the U.S., hydrogen offers environmental benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and is being globally adopted in various sectors, such as transportation and power generation.

The document titled "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells 101" provides an overview of hydrogen and its potential applications. Here's a summary:

  • Overview: Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is present in substances like water, sugar, and methane. It has a high energy content by weight, three times more than gasoline. Hydrogen can be used in various applications, including making fertilizer, steel, and as a fuel for transportation. It can also be used to store energy and produce electricity, with water as the only byproduct. The U.S. produces hydrogen from multiple abundant fuel sources.

  • Key Technologies: Electrolyzers are used to produce hydrogen using electricity, while fuel cells use hydrogen to generate electricity. Fuel cells operate without combustion.

  • Challenges: Some of the challenges associated with hydrogen include its high cost, the need for energy or fuel to produce it, difficulties in storage and transport, and limited infrastructure.

  • Sources: Most of the hydrogen produced today comes from natural gas. The U.S. produces 10 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, mainly for oil refining and fertilizer production.

  • Uses: Hydrogen has applications in hard-to-decarbonize sectors like steel, cement, and ammonia industries. It's used in transportation, especially for heavy-duty applications like trucks and trains. Hydrogen is also beneficial for long-term energy storage and improving electric grid efficiency.

  • Benefits: Hydrogen can lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased oil consumption, the ability to store renewable power, reduced air pollution, and reliable grid support. Fuel cells offer benefits like quiet operation, low maintenance, high reliability, and efficiency.

  • U.S. Production and Applications: The U.S. produces 10 million metric tons of hydrogen per year and has over 1,600 miles of hydrogen pipelines. There are real-world applications of hydrogen in the U.S., including fuel cell forklifts, stationary and backup power, fuel cell delivery trucks, fuel cell buses, and hydrogen retail stations.

  • Global Applications: Globally, there are examples of hydrogen applications like the world's first 4-seater fuel cell plane in Germany, a town in Japan running on hydrogen, a fuel cell cab fleet in Paris, and the world's first hydrogen fuel cell train in Germany.

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