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Hydrogen as fuel of the future

In the wake of the search for alternative fuels, hydrogen has emerged as a frontrunner. Hydrogen as fuel of the future......


In the wake of the search for alternative fuels, hydrogen has emerged as a frontrunner.

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen is a clean alternative to methane, also known as natural gas. It’s the most abundant chemical element, estimated to contribute 75% of the mass of the universe.

Here on earth, vast numbers of hydrogen atoms are contained in water, plants, animals and, of course, humans. But while it’s present in nearly all molecules in living things, it’s very scarce as a gas – less than one part per million by volume.

Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biogas and renewable power like solar and wind. The challenge is harnessing hydrogen as a gas on a large scale to fuel our homes and businesses.

Benefits of Hydrogen:

  • Ultimate Green Fuel: The only by-product hydrogen leaves is pure water. Therefore, in the pursuit of fuels with a smaller carbon footprint, hydrogen has tremendous potential, if it can be viably extracted and stored for providing energy.
  • AbundanceHydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. It is also the most abundant element in the universe. Therefore, if humanity is able to tap hydrogen as a fuel, it would be a sustainable source of energy. There would be no need of plans to extract it in a limited quantity as we currently have for fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.
  • High calorific value and more efficient storage: Hydrogen provides three times more energy than is provided by fossil fuels. Conversely, it provides the same energy from one-third quantity as compared to fossil fuels. This means that hydrogen would consume lesser storage space and would be more economical to store. This can be helpful in designing sleeker storage systems.
  • Cheaper Raw material: As we move towards a lesser-carbon future, transport systems need to be reformed as automobiles are one of the largest emitters of environmental pollution. The constraint in this direction is the inefficient storage batteries and the huge cost of rare metals, which are used in the production of batteries. Hydrogen, being independent of rare earth metals has no such limitation and can be a better substitute for fossil fuels.

Challenges with Hydrogen as a source of Fuel:

  • Availability of alternatives: Till recently, the availability of coal and petroleum has been the chief factor limiting investment in the field of exploring the usage of hydrogen in the energy sector. Similarly, the continued focus on solar energy and the already established capacity (in the form of thermal or nuclear energy, for instance) are huge impediments in the pathway to allocation of funds.
  • Absence of Independent existence: Hydrogen, though the most abundant element in the universe, is not available as a free element in its natural state. It usually exists in combined form with other elements like oxygen (in the form of water) or carbon (Carbon dioxide). The process to extract hydrogen from such compounds is energy-intensive, thus reducing the attractiveness of hydrogen as a source of energy.
  • Unclean Production Process: As already stated above, the extraction of hydrogen from its compounds is an energy-intensive process. Since fossil fuel sources constitute our main source of energy, this means a huge carbon footprint.  With the world striving towards a low-carbon future, this does not augur well for the usage of hydrogen as a potential source of energy. Therefore, despite being used as a fuel for the Apollo-I mission in 1969, hydrogen could not take off as the primary choice of energy source.


  • Hydrogen can be a potent weapon in the endeavor of the Indian government to end its dependency on fossil fuels. With China establishing its dominance in the mining of rare-earth metals, India is already late to the energy scene. It can counter this threat by establishing a strong research culture in usage of hydrogen as a source of energy.
  • However, this would require a concerted effort from the government and the private sector, along with a friendly regulatory regime in the energy sector.

MCQs about Hydrogen as fuel of the future

Question 1: What is the primary by-product of using hydrogen as a fuel?

A) Carbon dioxide

B) Methane

C) Oxygen

D) Water

Question 2: What is the main reason for hydrogen being considered a potential sustainable source of energy?

A) Abundance of rare metals

B) Low calorific value

C) High carbon emissions

D) High energy content and leaving only water as a by-product

Question 3: Why is hydrogen considered a potentially cheaper raw material for transportation compared to batteries?

A) Hydrogen is abundant in nature.

B) Hydrogen is more efficient for energy storage.

C) Batteries require rare earth metals.

D) Hydrogen is already widely used in transportation.

Question 4: What is a significant challenge associated with the production process of hydrogen as a fuel?

A) Hydrogen extraction from its compounds is energy-intensive.

B) Hydrogen is highly explosive in its natural state.

C) Hydrogen is scarce and difficult to find.

D) Hydrogen is toxic and harmful to the environment.

Question 5: What is a key factor hindering the widespread use of hydrogen as a primary source of energy?

A) China’s dominance in hydrogen research.

B) The unavailability of hydrogen in nature.

C) The lack of government funding for hydrogen research.

D) The energy-intensive process of extracting hydrogen.

Read also:- Green Hydrogen Policy

Hydrogen as fuel of the future,Hydrogen as fuel of the future,Hydrogen as fuel of the future

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