Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Power Of Hydrogen

I followed a link from Instapundit this afternoon about a new concept car from Ford that is, according to Popular Mechanics, "the world’s first working plug-in, fuel-cell, hydrogen-powered car." That was pretty cool--a real car with hydrogen fuel-cell power. I wanted a ride. The short little blurb about Ford's new hybrid then sent me on a rabbit trail to an article from the November 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics. It's a very interesting primer on the current state of Hydrogen fuel technology, examining hydrogen as a source of power, its transportation and storage, practical uses, and also the various sources for that hydrogen. I'm not going to synopsize the article; although it's not horribly long, there's an awful lot packed into it, and Jeff Wise at PM has already done all that work. It would be a shame to duplicate his efforts when I really have nothing useful or entertaining to add. I will, however, encourage you to read it for yourself. Wise explains lots of things I never knew before about the mechanics of getting energy from hydrogen, the environmental cost of current methods of hydrogen production, the history of hydrogen technology (it's been used on the space shuttle for decades) and where it's headed, including a look at infrastructure. If you're curious how close we are to a hydrogen economy, go have a look.

Note: Popular Mechanics is also promising a cover story in May on the future of plug-in hybrids that ought to be interesting. I'll try to keep an eye out for it. Let me know if you spot it first.