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If you’re like me, you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder: what is the basis of our economy? Some may blurt “money”, as if by rote. But what lies beneath the money? It has to be oil, our old friend.

Some may argue that, pound for pound, coffee is the most valuable traded commodity. True – it wakes you up, and keeps you productive, in that giant rectangle you spend most of your life in; but that rectangle wasn’t built on coffee! Sorry – we didn’t build this city on rock and roll, either. Oil – black gold. That’s the ticket. Look what it did for the Beverly Hill Billies (my earliest introduction to the oil and gas industry). It has the power to build all the squares and rectangles. It has the power to connect all the squares and rectangles. It has the power to light all the squares and rectangles. It has the power to move billions of people to and from the glowing squares and rectangles. It has the power to change the weather, making us stay inside the glowing squares and rectangles – standing on boxes, as the water rises. A bunch of lines, lights, squares and rectangles – that’s what we have! So, oil may be the basis of our economy, for better or worse, but where does the future lay? One word – hydrogen.

By all accounts, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. The Sun fuses hydrogen atoms – to give you some idea of the potential power. We already have some hydrogen powered vehicles; the only waste product is water! Hydrogen is a logical choice; it makes sense to me. It has the potential to provide far more energy than oil. I know what you’re thinking:  if it is so abundant and powerful, how come we don’t use more of it? Some may ask: wouldn’t the abundance of it devalue it?  How can you sell something that is everywhere? I have some ideas.

Hydrogen gas, as the Hindenburg discovered, is highly flammable. Thus, I imagine it would be costly to store large quantities of hydrogen in a safe, secure form that is readily available to consumers. The very fact that it is so volatile means customers would have to pay for its storage; I guess that’s where the money could be made. That’s not to mention the collection technique, like large scale electrolysis of water, which would be very expensive indeed (requiring even more energy, ironically), thus increasing prices. Safety is definitely an issue. My understanding is they are still working on hydrogen fusion. Once mastered, it has the potential to solve many of the energy problems we face, but also the potential for large scale destruction if something went wrong.

Considering the pros and cons, I still think hydrogen has a bright future. I envision a hydrogen economy, where all attention is focused on the safe storage and delivery of usable hydrogen, for a wide variety of societal needs. Perhaps widespread industrial electrolysis will create hydrogen gas on demand. Best of all, its development and use will not be restricted to an archaic, oil rich monopoly. Potentially, every country could access this ubiquitous element. The mighty hydrogen atom will see a day when it is more valuable than an atom of gold; certainly preferable to the black ooze that passed for an energy source in the past. I wonder if future generations will scoff at how primitive countries once sought to seize, control and defend patches of black goo. Perhaps this is the sort of thing they’ll be discussing in their well lit squares and rectangles, huddled around the coffee maker – all powered by hydrogen, our new friend.

Postscript

These are my initial thoughts on The Hydrogen Economy. This is an idea I have been pondering for several years now. I intend to add to it, as new ideas come my way, so be sure to visit again. Thanks for reading.

 

“atom hydrogen” by Ludie Cochrane is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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