I was listening to a Forum on KQED several months ago regarding environmental policies when a thought came into my head. As Michael Krasny discussed solor, wind and geothermal power I wondered how the coal power plants and oil companies would survive in the future and how much turmoil the shuttering of those industries would cause. Then it became clear – Hydrogen.

I wrote in to voice my opinion. It was something like this:

“Does your guest think hydrogen is a good alternative? What if we start by repurposing the technology used in that water-powered welding torch invented in Houston over 20 years ago. It split water into oxygen and hydrogen. Then burned the hydrogen while exhausting oxygen. If we create small electric generators powered by water we could stick them on electric vehicles to power their batteries. Cars could then re-oxygenate our environment! Scale them a little larger and stack them in arrays and we could create smaller version of today’s coal power plants and place them closer to neighborhoods as cities expand. Less power loss through the wires since we put them as close as substations.”

The response was something like this:

“Well, hydrogen is a fuel, not a power source.”

He went on in a list of ways that other alternatives were superior and didn’t touch on hydrogen again. But he’s wrong I think!


Here are some ways hydrogen is a superior idea:

  • Hydrogen from water means that oil refineries can become water distillation and hydrogenation facilities. Once desalination scales throughput for our needs we can hook up a pipeline to the oceans since they’re all on the coasts anyway. Until then we can practice building our plants along the Great Lakes.
  • Since hydrogen is converted from water on the fly in a car as electric feeds into the batteries there is much less risk of fire in an accident than there is in our gas-powered vehicles. In case of a crash that harms the unit there would be a small amount of hydrogen released and a large splash of clean water to drench it.
  • Exxon, Mobile, 76, Texaco and other gas companies can stay in business. Gas stations too. People will need a place to fill up on distilled water in varying concentrations of hydrogenation. They can sell premium water-bottle style fuel packs at the grocery store under the same brand.
  • Bottled water by the gallon is already more expensive than gasoline. When the cost of water for cars meets the cost for drinking in the middle it will still mean a same-or-better profit margin for gasoline companies. When you factor in less exploration costs it will most likely be even more profitable.
  • Oxygenating the environment is a growing importance. The air we breathe is much less oxygenated than the air just a few hundred years ago as CO2 rises. Oxygen makes people more calm and able to focus with ease.
  • Once vehicles and power plants are taken care of we can make portable units for homes. They will last longer than solar panels and much less work to install. Add a personal inline water purifier and it’s all set.
  • Portable power generators will transport easily for remote areas, aid work and disaster relief.
  • The greatest benefit: Shipping will benefit from free fuel. Ships will fuel themselves from the water they float on.

Hydrogen power cell housed under a water slide in the park. Woking, Britain.

For those of you interested in precedents check out the hydrogen fuel cell system built in a park in Woking, Surrey, Great Britain. Hydrogen is already part of the United Kingdom’s energy policy. Don’t forget that hydrogen is a fuel, not a power source. Water is the endless renewable power source. 



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