Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chocolate: The Answer To Hydrogen Fuel Supplies?

Mention hydrogen as a fuel source and politicians, scientists and techies get that glassed over look in their eyes. Simply put, hydrogen is a perfect fuel. It can be combined with oxygen to produce electricity. Hydrogen is the most comment element on our planet. When used as an energy source, it produces no greenhouse gases or other pollutants. Sounds great, right? 

There is just one problem with the idea of using hydrogen as the solution to all of our energy problems. While hydrogen is the most common element on our planet, it is rarely found in a usable form. Instead, hydrogen tends to cling to other elements such as oxygen, which gives us H2O, water. The power required to separate hydrogen from these other elements is shockingly large.

In the United States, Honda has a number of hydrogen vehicles it is testing on the road via some families. The cars work well. Powering them, however, is the problem. The families must take the cars to a specific station at a Honda facility. There, they will find a few hundred feet of solar panels and a hydrogen tank. It takes the system roughly two to three weeks to create enough usable hydrogen for one full tank for the car. Given the fact there are millions of cars on the road, you can see the problem. Yes, there are more efficient methods for conversion than solar power, but nothing remotely efficient enough to create enough usable hydrogen.

In a humorous turn, scientists in the UK have discovered that hydrogen can be produced from the wastes of creating confectionaries such as chocolate. The waste is treated with e-coli bacteria. Yes, e-coli. The bacteria then process the food material and produces gas. Guess what kind of gas is produced? Yes, hydrogen.

Could it be that chocolate will play a fundamental role in a hydrogen fuel future? Could we really be that lucky?


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