The HydroSolar package:

The complete answer to concerns about energy shortages, oil crises, greenhouse gases, global warming, power station pollution, and environmental headaches?

David Noel
Ben Franklin Centre for Theoretical Research
PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

The HydroSolar Package described here is an evaluation of credible sources of energy for whole-planet use in the near and middle future. It is shown that solar energy is the only source known at present capable of meeting continuing and expanding demand.

The amount of solar energy available is far above man's current needs and will be available without charge for millions of years to come.

Solar energy impacting on the Earth amounts to about 1.785 E14 kW [5], the equivalent for a world population of 6 billion to a continuous power supply of 30,000 kW per person. Diverting off only one thousandth of this power to human use, 30 kW per head, will provide well in excess of human needs without any disruption to planetary processes. No other amply large, long-term source of energy for mankind is known at present.

A feature of the Hydrosolar Package is its focus on energy transfer -- all transfer occurs by transporting hydrogen, normally by pipeline, from generation point to final use point, in a gigantic, planet-wide HydroWeb.

Hydrogen thus becomes the Universal Fuel, the Universal Power Source, and the Universal Energy Transfer Medium.

What's the Problem?
One of the greatest concerns of today's world is the availability of energy. As civilization advances and local social developments occur, the per-capita energy demand invariably increases.

Thus the average per-capita power draw from all sources is around 2.3 kW, while the people of the United States used around 10.7 kW each (these figures are whole-year averages).

There are two main aspects of energy provision, that is energy sourcing, and energy transfer. Greatest current concerns are with sourcing. Sources include fossil fuels, hydroelectric, nuclear, biofuels, solar energy, wind power, and minor sources such as wave power. Concerns focus on developing sources ample to cope with current and future demands.

Energy transfer methods used vary according to sources. Liquid and gaseous fuels are transported by pipeline or tanker; solid fuels by rail, road, or ship; and electrical energy by power lines.

Prices for energy provision depend on all the infrastructures involved in particular industries, and on supply and demand. Prices are currently increasing fast because demand exceeds supply.

The HydroSolar Package described here aims to give a situation where energy is amply available at low cost and with negligible environmental disadvantages, now and for the foreseeable future. It uses technology currently available, though many aspects of this technology could be greatly improved. This web article suggests areas where research is most needed.

Who's using the energy?
To get an idea of who is using the world's human-captured or human-generated energy, look at this graph of population and energy usage for a selection of countries (from [1]).

Clearly some countries are much heavier users of energy than others. The following table shows data from [1], converted [5] to show per-head power draw for these same countries and for the whole world. The units are in kilowatts (kW). Estimated 2004 populations are also given.

The third column shows energy usage, per head per year, in tonnes of oil equivalent. The last column shows power draw per head, in kilowatts. The power draw is a straight conversion from the tonnes of oil, converting this to electricity supplied on a continuous basis over the whole year.

Table 1. Populations and energy consumption rates for sample countries

Country *Population § Consumption Power Draw
per year per head per head, kW
Australia 20155 5.9 8.08
Bangladesh 141822 0.12 0.16
Brazil 186405 1.01 1.38
Canada 32268 9.53 13.06
China 1315840 1.05 1.44
Hong Kong 7041 3.38 4.63
Egypt 74033 0.73 1.00
France 60496 4.35 5.96
Germany 82689 4.01 5.49
Iceland 295 8.81 12.07
India 1103370 0.34 0.47
Indonesia 222781 0.49 0.67
Iran 69515 2.24 3.07
Italy 58093 3.16 4.33
Japan 128085 4.02 5.51
Kazakhstan 14875 2.56 3.51
Kuwait 2687 8.37 11.47
Mexico 107029 1.36 1.86
Netherlands 16299 5.85 8.01
Norway 4620 8.44 11.56
USA 298213 7.82 10.71
Whole World 6000000 1.67 2.29

*(x 1000, 2004 estimate)
§ (tonnes oil equivalent)

To give a feel for what these figures mean, 2 kW is about the energy drawn by a 2-bar electric fire. A medium-size car draws around 100 kW while in motion, a 1-room air conditioner around 1 kW.

This is as though every person in the world used all their energy by running an electric fire all year. But many countries have an average power draw much higher than this -- in the USA the average is almost 5 times that.

And the US is not the heaviest user, the figures for Canada (heaviest user), Iceland, Norway, and Kuwait are all higher. Presumably the first three appear because they are cold countries and spend more on heating. The Kuwait figure might reflect the energy that country uses for water desalination.

What does all this Mean for Future World Energy Supply?
By and large, a country's energy use reflects its state of development. More 'advanced', more 'developed', countries use more energy per head than less developed ones -- in Bangladesh, the energy draw is much less than one-tenth of the world average.

And of course every country seeks to improve its standard of living, giving it better health, nutrition, and economic levels. Here is an extract from [2], written in 2005.

"While China's economy grew 9.5 per cent in 2004, this was outstripped by the rise in Chinese energy demand -- up 15.1 per cent over the year. Over the past three years, Chinese energy demand has risen by 65 per cent, accounting for over half the increase in global demand over the period. China now consumes 13.6 per cent of the world's total energy.

Outside China, world energy demand rose by 2.8 per cent, the fastest percentage increase since 1996 and approximately twice the rate of the previous two years. While every region experienced above-trend growth, demand from non-OECD countries (excluding China) grew 4.8 per cent, roughly three times as fast as from the OECD countries. Outside China, India was the single largest source of non-OECD energy growth, with demand rising by 7.2 per cent."

Energy prices, especially for transport fuel, are at an all-time high. It seems obvious that this is because demand is also high, and is going to get higher as countries develop, placing more and more strain on production, especially of petroleum products.

We can't hold back countries like China from developing, the general world view is that we should encourage 'less-developed' countries to improve their levels of health, education, and standard of living.

But reserves of energy, especially of fossil fuels, are limited. While we might be able to ramp up oil supplies by a bit more each year, for a few more years, there is no chance at all of providing the five-fold greater supply needed to bring the rest of the world up to present US levels, and even less of expanding this supply and continuing it into the middle future.

Where will it All End? (said Hanrahan)
There is really only one practical source for future energy needs, that is solar energy. The average Planet Earth inhabitant draws just over 2 kW, an American draws over 10 kW. But the sun provides around 3000 kW per person! [5].

Two commentators have recently estimated the area of land Australia would require if it drew all its energy from trapping solar rays. Interestingly, the larger estimate (50 x 50 km) was regarded as encouragingly low, while the smaller (1000 sq km or 32 x 32 km) was thought to be depressingly large. Of course neither commentator was suggesting setting aside a particular patch of land.

Here I explain the Hydrosolar Package, viewed as the complete answer to concerns about energy shortages, oil crises, greenhouse gases, global warming, power station pollution, and environmental headaches.

The Hydrosolar Package: A Total Energy System for Today
The HydroSolar Package is a complete system for supplying low-cost, non-polluting energy anywhere in the world, using an increasing proportion of renewable sources. In its developed form, it can be essentially automatic, using equipment without moving parts, and without labour costs, apart from a minimum amount of maintenance. These are large claims.

A key aspect of the Package is its method of energy delivery. Renewable energy sources have seen increasing development under the current energy squeeze, but most contain a basic limitation. They produce electricity which must be transmitted to customers and used immediately.

This electricity needs to be carefully regulated, as to voltage and amperage, to suit the needs of the instant. Methods of storing electricity exist, as in giant batteries or potential-energy storage, but these are costly and inflexible.

The HydroSolar Package uses a different approach. In this, all energy sources are turned directly into hydrogen, through electrolysis or its analogues. This hydrogen is fed into an ultimately all-embracing network of pipes, the HydroWeb, extending to all end-users -- similar to existing natural-gas or oil pipelines, but with much greater reach and complexity.

The HydroWeb concept

The fact that the HydroWeb carries only hydrogen means that there is no need for purification, monitoring, transforming, or conversion. Whatever is generated can be fed into the HydroWeb, with exactly the same material being drawn off at all usage points. Only the local pressure will vary at different places.

Hydrogen is the lightest of all materials. A hydrogen atom is the smallest and simplest atom possible, containing only a single proton and a single electron. Hydrogen commonly exists as a gas molecule containing 2 atoms.

As a fuel, hydrogen has a high calorific value, yielding about 2.8 times as much energy as an equivalent mass of gasoline [3]. So instead of a tank holding 70 kg of gasoline motor fuel, a car running on hydrogen combustion could run a similar distance using only 25 kg of hydrogen. Because of its high energy value, liquid hydrogen is the normal fuel for spacecraft,

Generating Hydrogen from Renewable Sources
The direct product from solar cells, wind farms, hydroelectric stations, wave energy capture, and many other renewable sources, such as geothermal energy, is normally electricity. Of course our normal 'power stations' also produce electricity, but not renewably.

A recent ABC Television program, "Solar Future" [8] gave a good review of advances in solar energy production. Here is a short quote from this.

"There's been a lot of talk about a nuclear future for Australia. But we already have an enormous nuclear reactor providing us with massive quantities of energy -- the sun. Our reliance on greenhouse gas emitting coal-fired power stations is unsustainable. Solar power is an obvious alternative choice for sun-drenched Australia, so why aren't we already living in a solar economy? There are a number of promising technologies being developed and the solar future may be about to arrive. "

There are also other promising techniques, one of which is the Solar Tower, a giant flat greenhouse structure with a tall central tower. This runs on heat collected under the greenhouse in the soil or other material, and so is not as dependent as solar cells on currently-received sunlight.

An actual Solar Tower structure. See [7]

It's important to note that the electricity produced from renewable sources is inherently variable. When the sun does not shine, the wind does not blow, or the water behind the dam drops, these sources will diminish or cut out.

In the HydroSolar Package, all the energy available at any time is converted immediately into hydrogen, and fed into the HydroWeb distribution network. The HydroWeb is in itself a buffer reservoir holding many days supply, so actively-producing sources will add to the Web, feeding through simple pressure valves, and inactive ones will just sit until their energy source again becomes active.

This simple procedure avoids a basic problem with energy sources -- their variability. With wind farms or solar power setups, the amount of electricity which can be produced, and its parameters such as voltage and amperage, fluctuate all the time. The end-user cannot cope with a fluctuating supply, so often the peaks of production must be cut down. With the HydroWeb, production can match the maximum availability at any time, no smoothing of supply is needed.

Even with conventional power stations, demand load varies from minute to minute and hour to hour, so generators must be put on- or off-line to try and match the loads.

Making Hydrogen from Electricity
The normal method of making hydrogen using electricity is electrolysis. In this, electric current is passed though water or an aqueous solution between two electrodes, separated by a partition of some sort. The water is split by the current into hydrogen, collecting at one electrode, and oxygen, at the other.

Diagram of electrolysis. From [9]

There are also other possible methods, some mentioned in [9]. It may be possible to design small solid-state units which combine photocell energy collection with electrolysis, feeding hydrogen directly into the HydroWeb. With no moving parts, banks of such units could be deployed anywhere with a HydroWeb connection, and function without attention or labour input for months on end, as long as they could draw on a water supply.

The electrolysis process also produces pure oxygen. While this might be regarded as a byproduct in the present instance, this oxygen can also find valuable uses.

No pump needed
A feature of electrolysis means that the HydroWeb needs no pumps, no equipment with moving parts, and can be essentially automatic. This feature is that the current used in electrolysis will operate to force the hydrogen into a space already under pressure. The solar cell acts as its own pump, and cells can be added at points along the HydroWeb specifically to act as pumps by injecting more hydrogen.

Using the Power -- Fuel Cells and other Methods
We move now to the demand outlets of the HydroWeb -- where the energy is actually used.

The first usage will be to produce electricity. While it may seem wasteful to turn electricity into hydrogen, and later on turn that hydrogen back into electricity, it may actually be much more efficient.

Transmission losses in electricity lines are very significant. If you use a couple of long extension leads on a domestic power supply, say 100 metres or more, you may find that the voltage at the usage end has dropped too low to activate the machine you want to plug in. Using higher-voltage transmission lines allows transmission for longer distances, but energy losses are still substantial. Losses from hydrogen transmission pipes can be made insignificant.

In the early development of the HydroWeb, hydrogen would be fed directly to existing power stations and used in place of their current fuels -- even, if they have gas-turbine generators, their current equipment. This is a simple large-scale application.

An efficient way of turning hydrogen into electricity is the use of fuel cells.

Schematic of a Fuel Cell. From [10]

There is a good review of the different types of fuel cell in [4]. But basically, fuel cells can range from very large, able to supply a factory or large office, down to very small -- even small enough to fit in a mobile phone.

An important feature of fuel cells is that they contain no moving parts and so can be largely automatic, with minimum maintenance.

In the next stage of development of the HydroWeb, fuel cells could replace electricity substations in the standard grid system. At the next level, hydrogen would flow as far as individual large enterprises, replacing urban power lines.

In the final stage, hydrogen would be supplied to individual homes, again replacing (domestic-voltage) power cables, with each homes having its own automatic fuel cell to provide its electricity needs.

Once available at the domestic level, hydrogen from the HydroWeb could supply all the home's energy needs. Hydrogen would be used to used to fuel gas stoves, water heaters, and other heating supplies, often with little or no modification to existing equipment.

Hydrogen at the home level would also be used to refuel private cars or other vehicles. Where existing gas pipes existed, these might be integrated into the HydroWeb if they met non-leakage standards.

Of course the HydroWeb would eliminate the need for unsightly power lines and towers, and be much safer and less liable to damage from storms, accidental contact, and all sorts of natural disasters.

User or Supplier?
While most users of the HydroWeb will have a meter at their access point, this should be 2-way one. Even today, some electricity users have an agreement with their power company to "feed electricity back into the grid" from their own generators or solar cells. But those agreements involve rigid standards to maintain quality of supply to other users.

With the HydroWeb, it is all much simpler. Only a simple substance, hydrogen, is involved in the 'trading'. Each user would have a buffer tank of hydrogen, their own production from solar cells or whatever would feed into that, their local draw of energy would come out of that.

As long as the pressure in their buffer tank was higher than that at their HydroWeb access at a given moment, the user could vent some hydrogen back into the Web, which would run their meter backwards. The whole thing could be self-regulating, easily accommodating the various loads from and to the HydroWeb.

Transport and Vehicles
In my home town of Perth, Western Australia, the WA Government is trialling some fuel-cell powered buses. Here is a write-up from [11].

"As part of the Western Australian Government's commitment to working towards sustainable transport energy solutions in Western Australia, a number of initiatives are being introduced to encourage the development of clean fuels.

Since September 2004, Perth has been participating in one of the first major trials of hydrogen fuel cell buses in the world. Three Daimler Chrysler hydrogen fuel cell buses will be trialled on normal Perth service routes for two years.

Participation in the trial brings Western Australians close to the global development of this exciting technology, and will allow us to fully evaluate the potential of hydrogen and fuel cells as one of the possible transport energy solutions of the future."

A fuel-cell powered bus. Original caption: In the photograph above the first bus is unloaded from the ship, with the pure steam rising from its exhaust pipe visible at the rear. From [11]

According to [3], DaimlerChrysler's Nebus stores 24 kg H2 in pressure tanks on the roof, and has a driving distance of 270-290 km. The fuel cells produce 250 kW and take up no more space than a similar diesel engine does.

Private cars are now available which are powered by fuel cells. At present, however, there is no network of supply points. The HydroWeb will remedy this, in the interim feeding to service stations, and perhaps involving plug-in exchange fuel tanks rather than waiting to "fill the tank" in the normal way.

Original caption: The Ford P2000. The P2000 with fuel cells is designed to have the same fuel efficiency as today's Ford Taurus. It has an acceleration speed of 0 to 100 km/h in twelve seconds. The hydrogen car has a fuel-cell stack that can generate 90 hp. The hydrogen in the Ford car shown here is stored compressed in a pressure tank. The P2000 is constructed in lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium, and plastic in order to achieve the best fuel efficiency. Ford is developing its fuel-cell cars in collaboration with Ballard Power Systems and DaimlerChrysler. The P2000 will be out on the market in 2004. From [3]

With the developed HydroWeb, just plug your car into your own hydrogen buffer tank at night to recharge it.

Conventional internal-combustion cars can also be run with hydrogen. In Western Australia, government subsidies of up to $3000 are now available to private car owners to fit LPG (liquified petroleum gas) tanks to their vehicles. Most service stations here now offer this supply. Different sorts of tank would be required to use hydrogen instead of LPG, but the internal combustion engines themselves would need little change to run on hydrogen.

In Great Britain during the Second World War, when private motorists could not buy petrol, one could occasionally see a private car fueled by town gas, held in a gas bag on the roof. Town gas, available even in wartime, was made from coal and piped to homes.

Air Travel using Hydrogen
According to [3], "in air travel, hydrogen has many advantages over conventional jet fuel. In addition to a cleaner environment, hydrogen as a fuel offers greater performance, increased safety, and lower noise levels. Liquid hydrogen's high calorific value reduces fuel weight by a factor of 2.8, which means it is possible to use smaller engines with less noise."

DaimlerChrysler's hydrogen-driven Cryoplane is based
on the Airbus 320. From [3]

"Even better utilization is achieved by using liquid hydrogen to cool the engines instead of conventional air cooling. It has been determined that the life of jet turbines will be increased by 25%, and the need for maintenance and repairs will be reduced respectively. This is in part due to the purity of the fuel".

"The only disadvantage compared with kerosene jet fuel is that hydrogen has a lower density and therefore requires larger fuel tanks. In 1956, a B57 was flown with LH2, and in June of 1989, a Cheetah was flown using only hydrogen. Airbus is working with Russian Tupolev on building a hydrogen-driven airplane; testing of the plane will begin in the year 2000."

"Airbus has plans for the commercial sale of hydrogen-driven passenger airplanes from 2005-2007 [Daimler Benz Aerospace/ (Airbus)]. Boeing has also indicated that they have designs for building a hydrogen-fueled airplane."

Of course liquid hydrogen is the common fuel used for rockets and vehicles such as the Space Shuttle.

Pollution, Greenhouse Gases, Global Warming, and the Environment
Burning hydrogen, whether by internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or gas furnace, produces only water as an emission. The reaction draws on oxygen from the air, but as long as this is available, the method can be used even in closed spaces.

There is much present concern with the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While I have put forward evidence indicating [12] that this build-up is not a source of global warming, replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen must alleviate such concerns.

Extracting Coal, Oil, and Uranium
Coal reserves on the planet are still quite high, but coal mining is quite costly, dangerous, non-renewable, and polluting. Oil reserves have similar problems, and reserves are relatively low and very unlikely to support higher and longer-term extraction rates.

Reserves of uranium are limited, its extraction is similarly costly, dangerous, and non-renewable. Disposal of radioactive waste is a major headache.

All these reserves are highly localized, with some countries favoured by rich deposits, and others reserve-poor. In contrast, solar energy is available anywhere on the planet, though obviously in greater amount within the tropics and in the absence of permanent cloud-cover.

Safety, Security and Spillage with Hydrogen Systems
While hydrogen is a fuel and so can ignite, it is relatively safe compared to gasoline / petrol during storage, transmission, and use. Hydrogen got a bad name after the 'Hindenburg Disaster', when a giant German airship filled with hydrogen caught fire and crashed in 1937, with much loss of life. However, recent analysis showed that the hydrogen was not to blame, but rather the aluminium compound coating the canopy. Here are extracts from [13].

"Sixty years after the Hindenburg disaster, however, former NASA engineer Addison Bain published his research exonerating hydrogen as the culprit in the fire. Addison reviewed footage of the airship burning and crashing and deemed it inconsistent with a hydrogen fire, which produces a nearly invisible flame. Bain then proceeded to interview survivors, search German archival records and analyze wreckage and samples of the fabric used in airship's envelope. Testing the fabric samples, Bain found they spontaneously burned up when exposed to an electric field similar to the atmospheric conditions of that fateful night in 1937. The cause? The aluminum compound coating the envelope's cotton fabric."

Original caption: This demonstration of fuel leak fires shows the hydrogen leak on the left burning in a contained plume while the gasoline on the right spreads out, eventually engulfing the car. Credit: Michael R. Swain. From [13]

Hydrogen gas can burn, of course, and it ignites more easily than natural gas. But hydrogen has several physical properties that actually make it a safer choice than hydrocarbon fuels. For one thing, hydrogen is extremely buoyant -- almost 15 times lighter than air -- and disperses and mixes with air more quickly than gasoline fumes. Once mixed with air, hydrogen gas tends to burn when ignited, unlike hydrocarbons which tend to explode with incredible violence. Moreover, hydrogen's clear flames actually burn cooler and emit less smoke than hydrocarbon fuels.

The HydroWeb hydrogen distribution system described in this article would be much more robust and safe in the face of storms, floods, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, compared to electricity transmission or oil transport by road or rail.

Spillages from oil tankers can cause major environmental disasters along seashores, with bad effects lasting decades. In contrast, a hydrogen leak from the HydroWeb would be relatively inoffensive -- the hydrogen would disperse rapidly into the air, rise rapidly because of its lightness, and break down rapidly into water by reaction with oxygen in the air.

Note also that the HydroWeb is not directional and varying in properties like an electricity grid, which radiates out from the generating station at high voltage, and is progressively transformed down into lower voltages as it approaches the end user. In contrast, the HydroWeb is more like a ring mains or a water mains system, where material can be added or withdrawn at any point.

This feature makes the HydroWeb more stable also. Shutdowns or damage in individual pipe runs will have only very local effect -- most users will just receive their hydrogen through other pathways through the Web, without any special action. Individual users with their own buffer tanks may not even notice a temporary loss of connection to the HydroWeb. Because the Web itself will have a major buffering capacity, the equivalent of electricity blackouts or brownouts should not occur.

The HydroWeb would also not suffer the equivalent of voltage drops or spikes from electricity transmission. Pressure within the Web will vary naturally as withdrawal or addition of hydrogen occurs, giving no practical disadvantages within wide limits.

A detailed economic analysis of introduction and development of the HydroSolar Package and its constituent HydroWeb is beyond the scope of this article. However, in view of the fact that this Web involves minimal labour costs and a cost-free power source, it may well be that its biggest running cost will be depreciation on the large, but staged, capital investment required.

If this is so, the hydrogen delivered by the Package should be much less costly as a fuel or energy source than anything in current use. The amount available should also be capable of considerable expansion.

Social and Political Effects
Social and political effects of the Package might be very major and cannot be detailed here. Some broad indications might include the following.

When plentiful hydrogen is available to replace petroleum fuel products, demand for these will lessen and their price should fall. Nevertheless, the replacement process would take many years, and petroleum products will continue to be needed for the manufacture of many products, such as plastics.

The fact that the HydroWeb is expected to expand internationally, eventually to cover the whole world, represents something of a relative economic disadvantage to countries rich in native deposits of oil and other power sources. This must alter international relations.

With easy access to hydrogen from international sources, competition should bring fuel costs down to a low and stable level.

Mining of coal and uranium would be expected to decline, with corresponding economic and social effects.

Governments currently rely on taxes on fuels for much of their budgets. They may thus be expected to tax the flow of hydrogen through the HydroWeb.

  • Plentiful, cheap energy.
  • No carbon dioxide emissions.
  • No unsightly power pylons or cables.
  • A stable, safe, and self-adjusting energy delivery system.
  • No coal mining or oil extraction needed for energy.
  • No political pressures from different national energy reserves.
  • No oil spills from ocean tankers, no pollution of beaches or wildlife.
  • No road accidents involving road fuel tankers.
  • No coal-carrying trains.
  • No electromagnetic radiation from or energy loss in power lines.
  • No need for mining or use of nuclear fuels.
  • Plentiful supply of oxygen as by-product.

  • Drawbacks
  • Hydrogen is a light, penetrating gas requiring good leakage control.
  • Its volume must be reduced by compression or liquefaction if it is to fuel vehicles.
  • Some social upheavals likely and readjustments virtually certain.

  • Research Needs
    All the above is possible with technology available today. Nevertheless, with Package implementation some areas of research and development would come into special prominence.

    One area is the development of small solid-state cells which, supplied with sunlight and water, would produce hydrogen under pressure to feed directly into the HydroWeb. Small users might expect to install small banks of these units, large users or power utilities might expect to install very large banks of cells and continue to use existing renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity and geothermal energy to bulk up inputs to the HydroWeb.

    A second area is further development of vehicle tanks or cylinders to contain compressed hydrogen. While this technology is well developed now and cylinders holding hydrogen compressed to up to 800 atmospheres are available [3], there is a need to investigate safer storage devices.

    One approach which might be fruitful is to look at containers filled with suitable liquids or gels rather than just empty space. Hydrogen is unique in that it can bond with other substances by 'hydrogen bonding', in addition to normal chemical bonding (this is the reason why water is a liquid at room temperature, rather than the gas which would be expected from its molecular structure). So a container filled with a suitable gel should be able to take up or release hydrogen slowly.

    As an example, your hydrogen-powered vehicle might be plugged into your buffer tank at night, and take an hour to fill the vehicle tank. When driving, hydrogen would be released from the gel to power the vehicle. Accidental breakage of the vehicle tank would release hydrogen slowly rather than in a few seconds, making the vehicle much safer.

    Blue-Sky Stuff
    The HydroSolar Package just described is capable of implementation using only today's technology. For those interested in more speculative possible advancements in this field, some ideas are collected in the accompanying article, "Blue-skies thinking re the HydroSolar Package" [18].

    References and Links
    [1] Population and Energy Consumption.
    [2] Record Demand Drove Energy Markets in 2004.
    [3] Green Heat and Power: Eco-effective Energy Solutions in the 21st Century.
    [4] Joseph J Romm: The Hype about Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate. Island Press, Washington, 2005.
    [5] Calculations and data sources not explicitly given here are at: HydroSolar Calculations.
    [6] Conversion factors.
    [7] Thoughts about Solar Towers, Promising new Energy Source from the Environment.
    [8] Solar Future.
    [9] The Chemistry of Water.
    [10] A Schematic Fuel Cell.
    [11] Perth Fuel Cell Bus Trial .
    [12] The Greenhouse Gas Fallacy Revisited.
    [13] Jacqueline S. Mitchell. Hydrogen Myths.
    [18] Blue-skies thinking re the HydroSolar Package.


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