Introduction

The term, "hydrogen energy economy" refers to global economy hydrogen, using hydrogen for energy carrier. It is a vision for future in which economic system is based on the use of hydrogen as an energy storage and transport medium. It is important for the advancement of humanity for several reasons. First, the fossil fuel economy is fraught with problems: limited supply, global warning, and pollution [74, 81]. Fossil fuels are, indeed, running out. There is a finite supply of oil to be found on the planet, and once that oil is consumed, it simply cannot be recreated without waiting hundreds of thousands of years for nature to create more. By burning the fossil fuels to obtain energy a number of air pollutants and CO2 are released. The release of CO2 into the atmosphere may bring about significant global climate changes; CO2 is a called a greenhouse gas due to its physical characteristic of acting like a layer of glass in the atmosphere allowing the heat from the sun to penetrate but not escape thus contributing to global warming. The air pollution is worsening to an extent where major cities around the world are being forced to restrict car use and introduce measures to encourage cleaner vehicles.

The advantage of a hydrogen energy economy is that it could completely eliminate the problems created by our present fossil fuel economy. Hydrogen as a secondary energy carrier offers the best alternative solutions. Hydrogen produced from renewable energy provides an alternative fuel free of all carbon emissions, and offers a sustainable energy supply. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce no emissions except for water vapour, creating a solution to current urban air pollution problems.

The concept of using hydrogen as an energy system is not new; it has previously been used both industrially and domestically. In the first half of this century the entire gas supply in Germany consisted of town gas, a coal gas made up of more than 50% hydrogen. Only with the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves was hydrogen gradually forced out of the public supply system. As recently as in 1992, almost 3 billion m3 of town gas (a third of that in the former East Germany) was still in use in the private household and small industry sector [212]. The hydrogen energy economy mainly consists of four functional steps: production, storage, transport, and end-use [31].

The prospect of hydrogen energy economy, however, often raises concerns about safety due to hydrogen accidents in the past. As hydrogen technologies developed, safety issues should be addressed. The public's perception and willingness to accept hydrogen as an energy carrier and fuel could be a significant barrier to the construction of a hydrogen economy. Whether used for transportation or in stationary applications the public will have to be encouraged to adopt new technologies as they begin to become commercially available.

This chapter discusses hydrogen safety basics, hydrogen energy technologies, and the vision use of hydrogen in energetic applications. At the end of this chapter, two realistic end-use scenarios considered in the study are presented.

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