The following is a guest post from Avky Inc co-founders Kyle Uchitel and Aleksandr Vasser.
Growing concerns as to the future of fossil fuels and an increase in terrorist attacks across the globe has meant that there has been substantial interest in trying to find safer, less risky forms of fuel sources. However, at present, there is no singular method of fuel production that supersedes the remainder.
Because the technology into alternative fuel sources remain very much in the infancy of their lifespans, this means that there is still significant progress to be made before they can be utilized on a more global scale.
Hydrogen for example has been proposed as a potential energy source, but again, there are numerous complications and challenges associated with it before it can be utilized to any meaningful level.
In the first instance, hydrogen is not readily available in the Earth’s atmosphere in a free form, meaning that it cannot be captured from natural means, but rather, produced as a result of a by-product of some other industrial process.
Hydrogen is one of the most fundamental chemical building blocks of all matter on Earth and is found in water, metals, fossil fuels and animal matter. The difficulty does not pertain so much as to the availability of hydrogen but rather, the access to it.
At present, the primary means by which the bulk of hydrogen is produced is by means of the so called steam reforming process. Under steam reforming, natural gas and steam that has been deliberately heated are combined with hydrogen produced as a result.
Steam reforming is problematic for several reasons. In the first instance, a substantial amount of input energy is necessary to facilitate the chemical reaction and for the production of the hydrogen. In addition, natural gas is a fossil fuel and as such, non-renewable. In trying to save fuel consumption, it would appear hydrogen production has actually exacerbated it.
Partial oxidation of oil is also another process by which hydrogen is released, as the oxidation will cause an increase in the number of bonded oxygen molecules resulting in the liberation of hydrogen molecules which can then be siphoned off and harnessed.
Again, just as with the steam reforming, oil as a hydrocarbon compound is another example of a fossil fuel and as such then is not only a major contributor to the carbon cycle (itself problematic in relation to the greenhouse effect) but also a finite resource.
Hydrogen has a long way to go before it can be used properly.