In "Gassing Up with Hydrogen,” Sunita Satyapal, John Petrovic and George Thomas write about the difficulties of storing hydrogen in automobiles to create a replacement for today’s internal-combustion engines. Given the technical and economic challenges the authors describe, the targets they list for storage quantity and costs for 2010 and 2015 seem optimistic. But even if those targets are met, then what? For automobiles running on hydrogen fuel to replenish their supplies, several thousand fueling stations would have to be built at the cost of billions of dollars. Further, a new delivery infrastructure would have to be created to get hydrogen (or hydrogen precursors) to those stations.
Finally, where is the hydrogen to come from? Today most hydrogen is obtained from natural gas in a process that releases carbon dioxide. Hydrogen can also be made by electrolyzing water, but it takes lots of electrical energy to break hydrogen-oxygen bonds. If that electricity is obtained by burning coal, more carbon dioxide will be produced. ...
—James W. Armour, Jr. VILLANOVA, PA.