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The trouble with hydrogen

Although it's potentially a great fuel, hydrogen itself is not an energy source.

The production of elemental hydrogen requires energy.

Maybe "production" is not the right word, because hydrogen is an atomic element — the most basic of them — and it composes about 75% of the visible universe.

But its presence on Earth in pure form is rare. Most of it here is united with oxygen as water. Hydrogen is also a principal component of the so-called fossil fuels, the hydrocarbons like natural gas and petroleum.

But, anyhow — for the purpose of talking about fuel — the important fact is that whether locked up in water or in fossil deposits, the production of hydrogen for any industrial or potential fuel-cell "hydrogen economy" use requires energy.

That means we're stuck with the same old quandary — we need energy sources, because we still have to crank out the power.

Surely the potential to store electricity as hydrogen fuel can provide alternatives of production, such as micro-scale generation plants.

And the ability to use hydrogen to produce electricity on-board a vehicle (via fuel cell) may provide a chance for electrically-powered transport independent of batteries, which must be plugged in and charged like some toy or exchanged at stations in another economy that would require major infrastructure. (A program in Israel is working on that model.)

But — in any case, pros and cons of its value as a fuel aside — hydrogen is not an energy source.

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