Science Questions

How does biohydrogen compare with other gas options?

Sun, 9th Oct 2011

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Question

Jesse Chubb, via facebook asked:

Hydrogen is clean and all but I like the idea of using natural gas. It seems oil can be made from algae and bacteria eating the algae can make methane. Then there are all the natural gas deposits caught between bedrock deposits, frozen methane hydrates on the ocean floor, and natural gas rising out of landfills. Making a waste product and natural process into a primary fuel source seems the most attractive options to me.

Answer

Mark -   Those routes to making methane are actually really good ideas and as we know, all of the waste treatment plants have been making biogas by that method for many years.  One of the newer ideas is to culture biofuels or bioenergy crops or even algae, feed them into a digester and make methane.  The thing about hydrogen is firstly that you have a carbon-free economy, but also that when you look at the biochemistry and the energy pathways involved, instead of making those algae and then turning them into methane, if you can make hydrogen directly, thatíll be more efficient, and you'll effectively get more energy from a certain amount of land which is gathering a certain amount of sunlight.

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