On Nature: Hydrogen Fuel

David Voigts.

Hydrogen has long been recognized as a possible alternative to fossil fuels because it has a high energy content and its combustion does not produce any greenhouse gases, just water. However, the difficulty of producing it has kept hydrogen from widespread use. This is changing with at least two major projects.

According to a recent article in the Gulfport, Mississippi, SunHerald newspaper, a facility will be built on 70,000 acres in the Gulfport region to generate electricity from wind and solar for the electrolysis of water to produce green hydrogen. The fuel will then be stored underground in nearby salt caverns until it is transported by pipeline, ship, or other means to where it is needed.

Another project in north Texas was described in a recent issue of Inside Climate News. It is expected to produce 200,000 kilograms of hydrogen per day, enough to satisfy 0.1 percent of U.S. diesel demand. A large wind and solar facility will generate the electricity needed to break water into oxygen and hydrogen.

There are still difficult problems that must be overcome, but hydrogen seems poised to change the energy landscape, especially for uses that are hard to electrify, like airplanes and long-haul trucks.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.