Planetforlife Home Page

The false promise of the hydrogen economy


Many believe that hydrogen is the energy source of the future and that hydrogen is the solution to the coming energy crisis. There are numerous books, magazine articles, and websites extolling hydrogen's virtues. The Bush Administration supports the idea with the "Freedom Car and Fuel Initiative." They envision an energy economy where hydrogen replaces oil. The new "hydrogen economy" would produce no green house gasses and there would be no need to import Middle East oil and gas. This sounds like utopia.

However, the hydrogen economy idea breaks down when examined in the light of engineering, physics, and chemistry. Hydrogen economy proponents seem to overlook the fact that hydrogen is only a carrier of energy--energy that has to come from somewhere.

In addition, hydrogen is not a convenient carrier of energy. To be useful for trucks, automobiles, and anything else that moves, hydrogen must be liquefied or compressed to increase the energy density. In either case the tanks are very expensive. Hydrogen can be transported by truck, ship, or pipeline but at a cost much greater compared to oil.

Hydrogen Atom hydrogen

The Politics of the Hydrogen Economy
The Underlying Science
The Bossel and Eliasson Report
Fuel Cells
Hydrogen Powered Vehicles

First Upload: 12 May 2004