Iceland’s Hydrogen Economy

I heard this news report from BBC on my way to work today. It sounds fascinating!

When water is zapped with electricity and electrolysed, it splits into oxygen and hydrogen. In Iceland they’ll use geothermal and hydropower to make that clean electricity. Other countries could use power from wind or the sun. The hydrogen fuel can then be used to power an electric motor via fuel cells in a vehicle acting like a generator. The only emission is pure water.

To seperate hydrogen from oxygen takes electricity, to use hydrogen to power a car is the reverse process of electrolysed, which means to put the hydrogen back with oxygen, that process produce electricity that can power the car. The car can get oxygen from air. The final product is just water. It is a silent process as well!

Isn’t that cool?

The project is currently founded by three major car companies including Daimler Chrysler.

Icelanders won’t have to wait long to board hydrogen-powered vehicles. Next spring, the first buses fuelled by hydrogen arrive on the streets of Reykjavik. They’ll look like this, but equipped with their silent fuel cells, there’ll be some critical differences. The buses are designed by the car company Daimler Chrysler, …

While listening an image kept on popping up in my head. It was an image of the Texas Econamy versus Iceland Econamy. On one hand, there is this entire country trying to produce a renewable energy resource; on the other, we have an administration that is fueled with power company higher ups. Just imagine how many people’s wealth depends on people continue to use the dirty fossil fuels.

An iceland professor on the show stated that he expected this change will take three generations with him being the first. “Hopefully our grandchildren will be able to live in a much cleaner and peaceful world than us.”

Go and read this! Hydrogen Economy
Now I want to visit Iceland! 🙂

6 thoughts on “Iceland’s Hydrogen Economy

  1. Jean, Iceland is endowed with plentiful geothermal resources. Texas is not. Their other options for producing hydrogen are using nuclear, solar, or wind power to perform electrolysis, or use natural gas (do a google search to find the chemistry behind this process). The natural gas to hydrogen process is the cheapest way (cheapest in terms of $ and in terms of Joules) to obtain hydrogen right now I believe. The hydrogen economy is feel-good PR by our political masters while they scramble to find a way out of the corner we’ve painted outselves into.

  2. Jean, mfd,

    Have a look at the website to find out how to harness Hot Dry Rock geothermal energy. Combine that technology with the hydrogen economy and you might begin to see a global solution to the problem of replacing fossil fuels.

  3. Wonderful site! Thank you, Rosco!
    Nice Design, too! I will need some time to look it through…

    It feels like the US has retreated back to the dark ages while the rest of developed countries are working on the future. It is sad to see so many countries are trying hard to work on renewable energy, while our government is opening up our national parks to the oil industry.

  4. Jean,

    corporations would like you to buy into the natural gas method to obtain hydrogen so you’ll buy fuel cells that use natural gas instead of water (corporations would love to sell you lots of natural gas)….

    Water, however, is available to everyone who gets rained on. ANYONE can change water into hydrogen and oxyen with 1.4 volts. and once used, turns back into water again (unlike natural gas).

    -where can anyone get 1.4 volts of electricity???

    the smallest/cheapest solar panel can produce 1.4 volts and you don’t need a battery (if you cover your roof with 100Watt solar panels you can drive your fuel cell/water car);

    piezo-electric crystals will produce 1.4 volts of electricity when exposed to the pressure of sound;

    there are common micro-organism to do the job for you:
    Rhodopseudomonas palustris

    here’s how you can get the bacteria:
    heat some ordinary soil-taken from a local tomato plot for 2 hours at a temperature just above water’s boiling point, the hydrogen-consuming microbes died off. However, bacteria that generate hydrogen survived because they can form heat-resistant spores.

    and there are MANY other methods like windmill farms split hydrogen instead of feeding batteries or power grids, ocean wave electric generators, generators which use the electro-magnetic fields of the earth, etc…

    PEM fuel cells that use water NOT natural gas are the way to go if you don’t want to be reliant upon a corporation to supply you with your fuel.

    natural gas IS what “the politicians”, financed by big oil, want consumers to end up using rather than water.

  5. little o,
    Thank you so much for such a detailed description of what could be done to get clean energy! I’ve never thought bacteria could be used as an energy source. Fascinating!

  6. Hi Jean, a response to little o’s comment …

    These are all good suggestions but each possible method of producing hydrogen must be assessed in two ways.

    1) Is the method energetically viable?

    The method must not only produce more energy than is consumed but the ratio of energy produced to energy consumed must be good enough to compete with ‘bad’ methods. And the rate of energy production (the power) must be competitive.

    For example, imagine that if I use 1 gallon of gasoline to drill, pump, and refine petroleum and ultimately end up with 10 gallons of gasoline. The ratio is 10 to 1. 10 units produced per 1 invested. If the ratio is less than or equal to one then most people would not do it.

    Now apply the same analysis to solar cells – if I have 1 solar cell and use all the energy produced over the lifetime of the solar cell to produce more solar cells, how many solar cells can I produce?

    The rate of production must also be good. An efficient method that takes a long time to pay off (solar cells for example) are at a disadvantage to methods that have a quicker rate of production.

    Is the science of the method sound?

    2) Is the method economically viable?

    The economics of the process must be good otherwise it will not be seriously adopted by society. A few hobbyists and wealthy environmentalists will use this method but if the majority of the population use another method then it won’t matter what the fringe uses.

    Note that energetically viable != economically viable. Economics has some correlation with the underlying physics but is heavily influenced by politics.

    Is method compatible with our current political/economic system?


    Ideally research would be funded for the study the science of all plausible methods of energy ‘production’ so that we can assess the relative strenghts and weaknesses of each method. The usual sources of funding are government and the marketplace neither of which have scientific truth as their primary objectives.

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