Monday, 9 July 2007

Hydrogen powers car trial in Norway

In a sign of how far ahead of us many Scandinavian countries are when it comes to climate change, Norway has set up a project called HyNor. Over 40 organisations are involved in the project, including Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company. The project is aiming to have hydrogen filling stations along a 360 mile stretch of road along the south coast. HyNor is using thirteen hydrogen powered Toyota Prius cars to evaluate the feasibility of hydrogen powered vehicles. The advantage of hydrogen powered fuel cells is that the only waste product is water. There are no harmful chemicals or toxins or CO2 emissions.

There are two ways of extracting hydrogen, one is to extract it from fossil fuels, the other is by the electrolysis of water. With either method, electricity is needed to extract the hydrogen. Opponents point to the CO2 emissions created by the electricity generating plants, as this is an energy intensive operation. What they fail to point out is that getting oil out of the ground, transporting it and manufacturing petrol from the oil also produces CO2 emissions, even before the petrol is used in cars. The better option is to use electrolysis. This only requires water and a ‘clean’ electricity supply to make the operation carbon neutral. In Berlin for example, hydrogen is being extracted at a plant using electricity from a hydroelectric plant. This technology has lots of potential, but there has to be more progress on renewable electricity as well.

1 comment:

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