Hydrogen Power: Another Solution to the Energy Crunch

Of all the proposed solutions to the energy crisis, hydrogen power is among the most promising.

| March/April 1979

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Roger Billings aboard a tractor he converted to run on hydrogen power.


In "Lance Crombie - Spokesperson for the Alcohol-fuel Movement" and "The Alcohol Fuel Solution," we told you about alcohol and its potential as a fuel. Well, we sure haven't lost our enthusiasm for this excellent renewable resource, but we're also excited about another source of energy—hydrogen—which many folks feel is the fuel of the future.  

Recently, MOTHER EARTH NEWS sent a staffer and a photographer out to Provo, Utah to talk to Roger Billings, head of the Billings Energy Corporation. Between manufacturing computer systems and doing hydrogen research, Mr. Billings is quite a busy gentleman. Nevertheless, he took the time to discuss the various aspects of hydrogen power with us, including its production and use as a fuel. The points he brought up were interesting enough, but the equipment he demonstrated was even more impressive: it provided us with proof that hydrogen power isn't just yesterday's dream, but today's reality!  

Petroleum—though far from an ideal source of fuel—is essentially the energy that our society runs on. But, with the planet's supply of "black gold" dwindling, alternative sources of energy must be developed. One of the most likely candidates for a substitute fuel is hydrogen.

Although this light gas is one of the most abundant elements on earth (plentiful in water and in both fossil and nonfossil matter), it's rarely found in a natural free state. Therefore, the fuel must be isolated (which until recently involved a costly manufacturing process), and the very economics of that separation—plus the storage problems that hydrogen presents—made the gas impractical as a fuel in the past.

In the last decade, however, there have been many advances in the hydrogen field, and—thanks to researchers like Mr. Billings—this fuel is very near to becoming a practical energy source.

Why Hydrogen?

Obviously, hydrogen isn't the only solution to our "power" problems, but it does happen to be one of the better ones. Since the gas is present in almost all matter, our supply is virtually inexhaustible. In addition, hydrogen is lightweight, non-toxic, and highly efficient as a fuel (it has a high heat value of about 62,400 Btu's per pound, as opposed to petroleum oil with 19,000 and natural gas with 22,500) and it can be substituted for most fuels being used today. Even better, this plentiful energy source is entirely nonpolluting (the only by-product produced by burning hydrogen is water vapor, if the combustion temperatures are controlled) and leaves no residue.

2/9/2008 5:13:55 AM

i am highly interested to know in details about the hydrogen gases also the oxygen gases for researching and intoduing in our morden techknology,which helps as economy in every step of our life.

paul hales
2/7/2008 2:02:55 AM

Imagine when suitable hydrogen manufacturing units are incorperated into large off shore Wind turbines or even better large Tidal Stream Turbines in remote areas , with the hydrogen collected by tanker, just like a bee visiting the flower bed. Safe, plentiful, and worldwide, we tidal turbine designers are just waiting for the world to wake up to this potential. Regards Paul Hales The Hales Energy Group Leader

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