Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Hydrogen can be extracted from a range of sources since it is in al-
most everything, from biological tissue and DNA, to petroleum, gasoline,
paper, human waste and water. It can be generated from nuclear plants,
solar plants, wind plants, ocean thermal power plants or green plants.
When hydrogen is burned in a combustion chamber instead of a con-
ventional boiler, high-pressure superheated steam can be generated and
fed directly into a turbine. This could cut the capital cost of a power plant
by one half. While hydrogen is burned, there is essentially no pollution.
Expensive pollution control systems, which can be almost one third of the
capital costs of conventional fossil fuel power plants are not required. This
should also allow plants to be located closer to residential and commercial
loads, reducing power transmission costs and line losses.
Since hydrogen burns cleanly and reacts completely with oxygen to
produce water vapor, this makes it more desirable than fossil fuels for es-
sentially all industrial processes. For example, the direct reduction of iron
or copper ores could be done with hydrogen rather than smelting by coal
or oil in a blast furnace. Hydrogen can be used with conventional vented
burners as well as unvented burners. This would allow utilization of al-
most all of the 30 to 40% of the combustion energy of conventional burners
that is lost as vented heat and combustion by-products.
Hydrogen is known as a secondary energy carrier, instead of a pri-
mary energy source. Energy is needed to extract the hydrogen from water,
natural gas, or other compound that holds the hydrogen. This portrayal is
not precise because it assumes solar, coal, oil or nuclear are primary ener-
gy sources, but energy is still expended to acquire them. Finding, extract-
ing and delivering the so-called primary energy sources requires energy
and major investments before they can be utilized. Coal and natural gas
are closer to true primary energy sources since they can be burned directly
with little or no refining, but energy is still needed to extract these resourc-
es and deliver them to where the energy is needed. Even when extensive
drilling for oil is not required from shallow wells or pools, energy is still
needed for pumping, refining and delivery.
Many environmental problems are the result of finding, transport-
ing and burning fossil fuels. But, when hydrogen is used as a fuel, its
by-product is essentially water vapor. When hydrogen is burned in the
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