Albert Nunez, Takoma Park, MD: What about metal hydrides?
As opposed to compressed gas and liquid hydrogen, aren't metal
hydrides more promising?
Ned Ford, from the Sierra Club's Global Warming Committee,
responds: Metal hydrides are metals that easily attach and
release hydrogen molecules. The idea is that they can be charged
with hydrogen under pressure and then release the H2 fast enough
to use, but store it in a compact volume and release it slow
enough to protect against explosion in an accident.
In an automobile accident, the threat of explosion from hydrogen
fuel is less than from gasoline. At least the hydrogen rises
in the air and burns away from passengers, unlike gasoline.
But hydrides, like most of the rest of the hydrogen cycle,
are fighting a battle of cost. It remains to be seen whether
a hydride fueling system can be developed that is both inexpensive
enough and feasible for widespread use.
In the mean time, raising the efficiency of vehicles is feasible
and will save money, and will expedite a hydrogen technology,
because more efficient vehicles will make the on-board storage
of hydrogen less problematic.
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