Hydrogen Fuel Production Processes
The production of hydrogen fuel utilizes a number of sources
including natural gas, water, farm waste, landfill waste, and
solar and wind processes. One of the most significant factors
of hydrogen fuel production is the cost of extraction, refining,
transportation and production of the fuel itself.
In contrast, the energy produced by this
fuel is not the result of human effort, and there is therefore
no cost attributed to it. On the other hand, the energy
content of hydrogen fuel is subject to a manufacturing process,
and this involves a fairly significant cost.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of different methods
used in the production of hydrogen fuel, and each of these obviously
entails varying investment costs. Below is a look at the various
process used in the production of hydrogen fuel and the costs
that they entail.
Natural gas can be used to produce hydrogen fuel in a process
called steam reformation. Steam reformation basically involves
using methane or other types of natural gases that react with
steam at temperatures of 700ºC to 1100°C. With this process,
hydrogen can be derived from natural gases with about an 80% rate
of efficiency. Using other types of hydrocarbon matter will naturally
result in varying degrees of efficiency. The end result of this
process is syngas.
Nuclear energy has also been widely used in the production of
hydrogen fuel by way of water electrolysis. This process requires
as much as 240,000 tons of raw uranium, which is enough to provide
power for up to 2,000 power plants running at 600 megawatts. This
is quite a costly production process however, and it its estimated
that costs can run as high as $840 billion.
Solar energy is another way to produce hydrogen fuel, and this
has been proposed as another viable method to produce hydrogen
fuel via the electrolysis of water. In comparison to nuclear energy
production of hydrogen fuel, using solar energy would entail a
cost of about $22 trillion for 113 million 40-kilowatt systems.
Wind energy has come into increased prominence as a viable energy
source over the past several years, and it too involves the electrolysis
of water to produce the fuel. It is estimated that producing hydrogen
fuel in this manner will require as many as 1 million 2-megawatt
wind turbines, all of which will entail a price tag of $3 trillion.
Another process used in the production of hydrogen fuel utilizes
biomass. This process also involves a steam reformation to produce
the energy source. This process requires more than 3,300 power
plants and up to 113.4 million acres of farmlands in order to
produce significant amounts of biomass at a cost of about $565
Finally, coal is another viable hydrogen fuel production process
that has been started by the government program called FutureGen.
This process involves the gasification of coal, which then produces
hydrogen fuel via a steam reformation process. The process requires
up to 1 billion tons of coal at a cost of approximately $500 billion.