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Hydrogen As A Fuel

Posted in Industry News on Aug 02, 2023.

Hydrogen as fuel - The Pros & Cons:

With calls for governments around the world to find alternatives to Fossil fuels, many have debated the use of Hydrogen as the next best fuel source in an effort to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Along with oxygen and nitrogen, hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in the known universe. Combined with the fact that it can be used to generate energy, this surely makes it an ideal renewable fuel source... right?

In this blog post we will take a look at the pro's and con's of using hydrogen as a fuel source.

Research has shown that Hydrogen is one of the simplest and most abundant elements on the planet, this means that it's not likely to run out... unlike its diesel and petrol counterparts. With a potential for near-zero amounts of greenhouse gases produced, it seems hydrogen is by far a superior alternative.


It's a renewable energy source! As we mentioned above, hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. In actual fact it is the most abundant element in the universe. As we're a few years away from space mining we have to stick with what we can find on earth. The most common place to find hydrogen on earth is in water (which we have plenty of) but it can also be found in organic matter such as plants and even natural gasses, diesel and coal. The great thing about hydrogen is that when it is used a as a fuel is that unlike fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide (CO2) when they're burned, hydrogen produces water.

Whilst it can be found in these elements it doesn’t simply exist by itself and methods of extraction are required to harvest it.


Hydrogen however, doesn’t simply exist by itself and therefore it cannot be found within nature; whilst it can be produced from diverse domestic resources like natural gasses, water & even diesel. Currently, the majority of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels but it has recently been found that the preferred and most environmentally friendly method comes from the electrolysis of water using renewable energy such as solar, wind or biomass conversion.

Uses for Hydrogen:

Unlike other energy sources, hydrogen is an energy carrier. Therefore, it can deliver and store large amounts of energy and when used within a fuel cell it is able to generate electricity, power and even heat with the only by-product being water (H2O). With hydrogen becoming an emerging energy source, we could see an uptake of its use within in the commercial sector with transportation and utilities being at the forefront.  

The combination of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells will mean the energy produced can be used for a diverse number of applications including:

  • Combined heat and power
  • Storage
  • Enabling renewable energy
  • Backup and portable power
  • Commercial and industrial transport-including cars trucks and busses


As hydrogen fuel cells do not generate greenhouse gases, they do not pollute to the atmosphere and in-turn actually help to reduce pollution levels and improve overall air quality. This also means that they do not have carbon footprint ...when in use that is! Typically, hydrogen fuel cells are smaller in form an as such are less visually polluting as compared to wind farms and power plants. And as for noise pollution, there isn't any. 

Zero Carbon Energy Strategies:

With hydrogen being used as a clean source of energy having little to no environmental impact, it is clear that it will have an important role in the future development of renewable energy due to its production, storage and use being more obtainable than typical fossil fuels. With the uptake in hydrogen as a renewable source it could make the upgrade of grid infrastructure avoidable. 


As hydrogen is a newer source of renewable energy there is little to no funded infrastructure and therefore it needs investment for it to become a genuinely viable energy source. It should also be noted that the materials used as catalysts in fuel cells (platinum, iridium) and water electrolysis will increase the cost of fuel cells. Currently the cost of hydrogen from fuel cells is greater than other renewable energy sources such as solar panels, but if hydrogen ever takes off it is predicted that these higher costs will only be initial and will lower once it becomes more accessible. However, with the world's view solely pinpointed on electrical energy, it seems that we might be a long way off accessible hydrogen energy for the masses.  

Storage & Extraction:
As we know, hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on the planet. It still needs to be extracted from either water or carbon fossil fuels. Both forms of extraction require large amounts of energy and this energy is a lot more than what is gained from hydrogen itself, therefore offsetting its initial extraction. It should also be noted that using fossil fuels to extract hydrogen undermines the green aspect of hydrogen.

It is well known that Hydrogen is a highly flammable fuel source, and this brings safety concerns to its usage. If handled improperly it can cause fires and explosions in worse cases. Hydrogen itself is a colourless, odourless & tasteless gas. The storage of hydrogen also poses challenges due to its ease of leaking as a gas, its low energy ignition, and its ability to embrittle metals. Consequently, the right ventilation & leak detection should be considered in the design of safe hydrogen systems.  


It is evident that hydrogen fuel cells are one of the better forms of renewable energy available, however there are still challenges that need considering before it takes off and can rival that of other renewable energy sources. With plenty of positives, hydrogen fuel cells could offer a fully renewable and clean power source for limitless applications in the future, and with advancement in technology and infrastructure it should improve over time. It is worth noting that Hydrogen might not solve the energy issue and the only way to make hydrogen more efficient and renewable would be to use electrolysis produced by renewable sources. However, if we cannot sustain large amounts of electricity from renewables it raises the question of why use it to make hydrogen or why use hydrogen at all?   

Hydrogen could become the best solution for net zero energy production and could help meet requirements sooner, but this will need to be shown through infrastructure and advancement in technology.