Climate Change: the next innovation?

Burning hydrogen gas is seen as a zero-carbon consumption, and some far-sighted people are looking at how best to innovate a zero-carbon production of hydrogen from sunlight. One can imagine the deserts of north Africa as massive areas of production, whether it is by concave mirrors or photovoltaic sheets or similar. But the problem with hydrogen is how to move it in bulk from A to B.
It is nothing like as ‘energy dense’ as oil, and if you try and liquify hydrogen the extreme temperatures and pressures required make it pretty much lethal. No tanker of liquified hydrogen could sail up the Thames – it would be far too dangerous, not least for the crews. Equally, long-distance pipelines would have to be unfeasibly enormous if this new hydrogen was to seriously replace oil at a global scale.
So, the innovation we are waiting for is to find a way to make hydrogen as energy dense as oil at normal pressure and temperature, thus making it transportable and a source of new revenue for hotter countries.
As a further twist, we can imagine some of these new hydrogen-from-sunlight areas also capturing some atmospheric carbon to produce methane, not for burning but to go on produce more complex hydrocarbons such as plastics and pharmaceuticals. Provided these plastics are not burnt later in life, we would then have a system of carbon capture and one of resource production combined.
Of course, nature already does this using plant leaves … but not in hot areas of natural water shortage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s