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Towards the Hydrogen Economy


The never ending debate on energy supply for a cleaner environment,
recently associated with the worldwide effort to decrease global CO2
emissions, has been revived by the steep increase in oil prices and the
parallel controversy about the potential of nuclear energy, initiated in
the mass media on the anniversary of the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl.
Thus, now seems an appropriate time for the scientific community and
energy producers to exchange their knowledge in this debate far away
from the magic solutions provided by mass media prophets, in an attempt
to arrive at realistic guidelines that may help society to understand
the important issues involved in the move towards a cleaner energy
system. In this essay a description of the potential paths that may make
it possible to change from the current energy sources to a cleaner
energy production system is provided, the main focus being placed on how
the so-called hydrogen economy might eventually be implemented. The
milestones that the international agencies expect to emerge during the
transition will be described, taking into account the issues of hydrogen
production, distribution, storage and use. Additionally, the potential
exploitation of the different hydrogen sources, both renewable and
nonrenewable, will be evaluated taking into account their availability
and the efficiency of the processes used to transform them into hydrogen.