The use of hydrogen fuel is one of several emerging technologies that may one day lead to a future in which energy is abundant and clean. When hydrogen gas is burned as a fuel it produces byproducts that are about as benign as possible: the only things that are released are energy and water vapor. Of course, isolating pure hydrogen gas in the first place requires some chemical reactions, and it also requires an expenditure of energy from some other source to drive those chemical reactions. In order for hydrogen to be a clean and useful fuel our methods of producing it need to be efficient and they must avoid releasing greenhouse gases themselves.
Fortunately, there are methods of producing hydrogen that don’t release greenhouse gases into the air; even better, these methods can be used to produce carbon nanotubes (CNTs) instead of carbon dioxide. The hydrogen can then be used as a clean burning fuel, and the CNTs can be used in many ways, including the formation of structural fibers that could one day replace steel.
A recent editorial in the Houston Chronicle highlights how using natural gas (methane) to produce CNTs and hydrogen could help propel us to a zero-carbon future. Professor Matteo Pasquali, the Director of the Carbon Hub at Rice University and one of the founders of DexMat, was interviewed for this article and remarked on how fortuitous it is that producing CNTs from methane gives off hydrogen as a byproduct. The article also highlights how the development of a CNT/hydrogen industry in Houston could help create new jobs for the many thousands of Texans that currently work in the declining oil and gas industry.
You can read the editorial here!