Hydrogen emerging as new cleaner fuel

Published November 5, 2020, 4:22 PM

by Manila Bulletin

In  the  mounting  worldwide effort to  cut down on polluting emissions from  the burning of traditional fuels like diesel, gasoline, natural  gas, and coal, the world’s  scientists and other researchers  are now exploring other sources of power  for industry, for transportation,  for offices  and homes.

Early this week, there  was  news  from  London  that the international maritime industry is racing to find technologies  to cut carbon-polluting emissions from their ships. The United  Nations  has set goals for the world shipping industry – that  its first  net-zero-emission   ships must enter  the global fleet  by  2030.

Hydrogen has emerged as  a  leading  candidate  to replace today’s fuels and world oil major Royal Dutch has announced its commitment  to hydrogen as “advantaged  over other potential  zero-emissions fuels for  shipping.”

In  its  present  stage  of development, hydrogen  as  fuel occupies  more space than other fuels, so that it is more feasible, for now, to use it  only for ships on short voyages, as  well as on  river vessels. It is also more costly to produce than low-sulphur  fuel   oil, another  possible replacement for today’s fossil  fuels with their high-carbon emissions.

The  international  movement for lower carbon emissions is also being pushed by countries like Norway which has ordered  that cruise ships and ferries travelling through its fjords must be emissions-free by 2026.

We welcome these moves to cut down on world carbon pollution, particularly the setting of deadlines.   China became the first nation to set a deadline – 2060 – for a total end to its carbon emissions. It was followed by Japan which set its deadline at 2050. And now we have two more dates – 2030 set by the United  Nations  for  the shipping industry, and 2026 set by Norway  for  all ships sailing in its fjords.

Hydrogen  is  now being developed  for  world  shipping.  Right now,  hydrogen is  far less dense than other  fuels, making it necessary to carry more  of it for one voyage.  Once  this  problem  is solved,  it may also become a major fuel  substitute for airliners.

Hydrogen is a cleaner fuel  than oil, gas,  or coal. We in the Philippines are now also turning to renewable and cleaner sources of energy, notably solar,  wind,  biomass, and geothermal.   We are part of  the  worldwide  movement  to cut down and eventually eliminate pollution  of earth’s atmosphere before it becomes too deadly for  humanity.