terça-feira, 6 de maio de 2008

The Establishment of a European Hydrogen Society

Concerns about climate change and energy security create a forum for the mainstream market penetration of hydrogen. Hydrogen presents the root to a truly sustainable global energy future.
Primary sources of energy such as coal, oil and natural gas exist in nature and they can be burned directly in final uses to provide an energy service, such as heating buildings, or they can be transformed into secondary energy sources (also known as energy carriers).

Electricity is the most common secondary source of energy. Hydrogen is also a secondary source, as it must be produced using a hydrogen-rich source, such a hydrocarbon or water. The process to produce hydrogen from a hydrocarbon, like for example natural gas, is in a very advanced stage of technological development, but this process produces CO2 as a by-product, although in lower quantities than burning directly the natural gas.

The cleanest way to produce hydrogen is through electrolysis of the water (separating the hydrogen and the oxygen of the water). However this process requires electricity that should be obtained from renewable sources. This process is completely known at laboratory scale but more research is required for the efficient production at large scale. The hydrogen can be converted to energy either through combustion or through an electrochemical reaction in a fuel cell to generate heat and electricity.

Let's image an energy based economy: 1-An efficient and competitive hydrogen production, storage and transport system has been built. 2- Hydrogen has become widely accepted as a clean, safe and sustainable form of energy. 3-Cities and towns are filled with highly efficient hydrogen-powered vehicles conveying people and goods, emitting only water. Many of these vehicles refuel at public stations where hydrogen supplies are received by pipeline from centralised production facilities. Others fill their hydrogen tanks from home or at their workplace from either small-scale natural gas reformers (device to produce hydrogen from natural gas) or renewable energy powered electrolysis plants, some using photovoltaic. 4- Home owners have the choice of buying electricity from the grid or supplying their own energy needs with a dedicated fuel cell that provides electricity and thermal energy for heating and cooling. That fuel cell uses hydrogen produced by a small reformer, using natural gas supplied through the local pipeline distribution network. 5- Electricity is produced in centralised power plants, using gasified coal or natural gas. The carbon emitted is captured and piped to a storage site or converted to useful and safe solid products. 6-Some of the hydrogen produced is burnt in highly efficient gas turbines to provide electricity, and some is piped to customers for use in vehicles and distributed generation plants. 7- Renewable energy sources also contribute to both power and hydrogen production. 8-Hydrogen is used to store the intermittent energy generated from wind turbines and photovoltaic. This is the society that Julio Verne envisioned when he described a chemical process to generate electricity for Nemo's Nautilus from sea-water, 1874.
However, the transition to a hydrogen economy would, therefore, be gradual, possibly taking 2 or 3 decades. The construction of entirely new supply infrastructures for hydrogen distribution would undoubtedly be costly and risky, which might be a major barrier to switching to hydrogen. And consumers must be convinced that hydrogen is economical, practical and safe.

Considerably more research and development will be needed to overcome the technical, financial and non-technical barriers that currently stand in the way of hydrogen. Major technological and cost breakthroughs are needed .The cost of supplying hydrogen energy using current technologies, is still very high compared to conventional energy technologies The main areas in which progress is needed are fuel cells; hydrogen production from renewable sources; distribution and storage infrastructure that meets environmental and safety criteria; and carbon capture and storage.

Safety is a critical issue. Contrary to popular opinion, hydrogen is actually less flammable than light oil products, such as gasoline, and most other fossil fuels. But the need to transport and store it under high pressure or at very low temperature brings other hazards. There is plenty of evidence that, with proper handling and controls, hydrogen can be as safe as the fuels in use today. Indeed, hydrogen has a long history of safe use in industry. But, for it to become widely accepted in other applications, it will become increasingly important to develop and implement internationally agreed rules, regulations, codes and standards covering the construction, maintenance and operation of hydrogen facilities and equipment safely, along the entire fuel-supply chain. Uniformity of safety requirements and their strict enforcement will be essential to establishing consumer confidence.

Televised images of the spectacular destruction of the Hindenburg airship affected people’s perception of hydrogen and their acceptance of the gas as a safe energy carrier. The Hindenburg burst into flame in full view of a crowd of reporters while landing in New Jersey, in 1937. The flammability of the hydrogen that fuelled the airship was blamed for the disaster. Now it is known that the paint used on the skin of the airship was the primary cause of the fire. However, this accident stopped the fast development of the hydrogen technology that was taking place in Germany, prior the Second World War.

In order to support the introduction of a safe and reliable hydrogen-based society in Europe, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission, Member States and the private sector continue and increase the investment in R&D and demonstration in the area of hydrogen. But to invest in R&D and Demonstration projects is not enough. We will also need an action plan that integrates political, technological, economic, social and environmental issues addressing the non-technical barriers such as codes and standards for infrastructure implementation and public safety concerns, the social and economic impacts, the changing trends in industrial structures and in the European economy, the changing in the training and education system of engineers and technicians and the public perception.

Maria da Graça Carvalho
Principal Adviser Bureau of European Policy Advisers
European Commission

2 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

Bom meus amigos e amigas,
é bom e estou muinto happy em provar por mim próprio que o tempo do ouro negro acabou.
mas, ho rapaziada, agora começa a guerra dos incompetentes, fazendo Fuel de qualquer coisa, imaginem até de suor de cântoneiro, que é coisa rara, e por isso vai continuar a ser cáaaaaro abastecer.
simplesment a riqueza vai ficar mais distribuída.....há a sim tá bem...todos os fuels alternativos são amigos do ambiente, nem que se tenha de poluir mais,,,,POIS.

olha boys and girls.
o futuro é so um fuel O do sol e mais nehum chama-se H2... hummm
todos podemos fazer em cima do nosso telhado, ou será que o Solinho só vai passar a arder so para alguns, bom as associações já existe e tens que pagar para ser SÓCIO.. HUMM A´TÁ. SÓ ESPERO QUE OS QUE NOS VÃO FAZER A VIDA CÁRA QUE APANHEM UMAS BOAS QUIMADELAS PRA SABER QUE QUANDO A ESTRELA REI NASCE É PRA TODOS. CONCELHOS PARA O NOSSO FUTURO, O MELHORE É CONCORRER A PRIMEIRO.

Anónimo disse...