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Hydrogen—The Renewable Resource of the Future

What is hydrogen (H2)?

In a compound state, hydrogen is most commonly found on the earth in the form of water, or H20. Potentially, as a motor fuel, the main source of hydrogen is natural gas and methanol. Hydrogen fuel may contain low levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, depending on the source. In order to be useful as a motor fuel, hydrogen must be manufactured from other sources. Pure hydrogen can be extracted from virtually any hydrogen-containing compound.

History

Early uses for hydrogen included use as a lifting agent (lighter than air) in observation balloons used during WWI, and later in the 1920’s and 30’s in dirigibles. NASA presently uses liquefied hydrogen as a propellant for the booster rockets in its space exploration programs (such as the Space Shuttle).

Current thinking in Congress and Federal agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE) is to move the United States toward a “hydrogen economy.” Fundamentally, a hydrogen economy will be very different from the world we live in today. The Federal Government is preparing a National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap to prepare for the Energy Economy. Part of this initiative is the Freedom CAR and Fuel Initiative H2 program. The objective is to develop, through partnerships with the private sector, automakers, and energy providers, new vehicle technologies and infrastructure (refueling sites) needed to make practical and cost-effective hydrogen fueled vehicles a future reality.

Hydrogen’s chemical energy can be harnessed in pollution-free ways. Hydrogen is a clean and sustainable form of energy that can be used in mobile and stationary applications. It can become the ideal companion to fuel cells or internal combustion engines (ICE’s) converted to burn hydrogen. Hydrogen can be generated from diverse domestic resources and can reduce demand for oil.