What’s on : Lectures
The Hydrogen Economy
Professor Paul Dodds
Professor of Energy Systems, University College, London
Abstract: Hydrogen, as the main constituent of town gas, caused an energy revolution when it was introduced across the UK in the 1810s. Might we return to using hydrogen again in the future? Hydrogen (including hydrogen-based compounds such as ammonia) is the only zero-carbon energy carriers other than electricity and heat that are under serious consideration for the future. For the last 20 years, the transport sector has been considered the primary future market for hydrogen, but have battery electric vehicles already taken the lead in that market? We will take a tour through the potential uses of hydrogen, from cars, trucks and trains, to heating our houses and powering industry. We will examine the innovation challenges and opportunities for both hydrogen and fuel cells, from both engineering and economic perspectives, to underpin a hydrogen economy.
IMAGE “A PEEP at the GAS LIGHTS in PALL MALL”
Below are the powerpoint slides that professor Paul Doods used, which you may download for personal use only please
Prof Dodds gave a comprehensive and objective overview of the many competing routes to a green economy, with particular emphasis on the possible roles of hydrogen. The hydrogen economy effectively started 200 years ago with the use of town gas (which was 50% hydrogen), initially for lighting and later for heating, until replaced with natural gas. Future challenges are that hydrogen production using renewable energy is inefficient; production from natural gas would require CO2 pipelines and storage; high pressures and purities are normally required; and there are some safety issues. However, special factors make a number of applications potentially viable, including fuel cells for vehicles; domestic heating using the natural gas grid; and industrial uses. The future for hydrogen is difficult to predict, as all the competing technologies are on steep learning curves with rapidly reducing costs. Hydrogen (and ammonia in some applications) could make major contributions in many sectors, depending on economics, user experience, and air pollution.