Hydrogen Fuel
Hydrogen Fuel Advantages
Hydrogen Fuel Algae
Hydrogen Fuel Artificial Photosynthesis
Hydrogen Fuel Disadvantages
Hydrogen Fuel Electrolysis of Water
Hydrogen Fuel Natural Gas
Hydrogen Fuel Production
Hydrogen Fuel Renewable Energy
Hydrogen Fuel Sources


Hydrogen Fuel from
Natural Gas

One of the most important components used in the production of hydrogen fuel is natural gas, which consists mainly of methane. Methane is found mainly in fossil fuels and coal beds, where it is commonly present in the form of methane clathrates. Aside from being an important source of fuel, methane is also widely used as an ingredient in fertilizers, and it serves as a powerful greenhouse gas as well.

In order to use natural gas as a source of fuel, it will have to be processed extensively so that all the trace ingredients can be removed, leaving only the methane intact.
hydrogen fuel from natural gas

This process results in a number of by-products including ethane, propane, various types of butanes and pentanes, hydrocarbons, sulfur, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. In some cases, helium and nitrogen are also produced.

To produce hydrogen fuel from fossil fuel, a process called reforming is typically used. The primary device used in this process is called a reformer, interestingly enough, and this causes the steam to react with the fossil fuel given sufficiently high temperatures. The most commonly used reformer in hydrogen fuel production is called a steam methane reformer.

During the fossil fuel-to-hydrogen fuel production process, a considerable amount of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Because of this, fuel cells that utilize fossil fuels are not as environmentally friendly as they would seem, and they therefore do not contribute significantly to the global emission-reducing campaign.

One of the most common-and least expensive-methods of producing hydrogen is a process called steam methane reforming, which uses natural gas or syngas as a raw material. In addition to producing hydrogen, this process is also commonly used in the industrial production of ammonia.

With sufficiently high temperatures in the 700ºC to 1100°C range and the use of a metal catalyst such as nickel, the steam causes a reaction with the methane in order to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen. At lower temperatures, even more hydrogen can be produced via a gas-shift reaction with carbon monoxide.

One of the most significant uses of hydrogen is as an energy source for fuel cells. In vehicles with an on-board reforming hydrogen engine, a methanol tank is commonly used in conjunction with a steam-reforming unit, and both of these devices take the place of bulky hydrogen tanks. Nevertheless, the bulkiness of such a system has made many manufacturers discard the use of an on-board reforming system as being too unpractical for regular use.

This system also has further disadvantages, the most notable of which is the production of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, making such systems largely irrelevant for emission reduction usage, as explained previously.

A further drawback to this system is that the cost of producing hydrogen by this process is still largely dependent on the scale of the application. While larger systems may be able to produce sufficient hydrogen to offset the costs, smaller system do not present a significant cost advantage over traditional energy production systems.

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