A dramatic reduction in our country’s carbon footprint will need to rely on a specific convergence of three factors: Energy economics, energy infrastructure, and energy technologies. The U.S. is experiencing such a convergence, and it is positioning us for a clean energy boom. Domestic natural gas production is rising and is expected to continue for decades to come, resulting in cleaner power generation, lower prices, and enhanced energy security.
Increased natural gas production and infrastructure support the highly efficient production of hydrogen. Fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen without combustion, produce no emissions other than water and heat. Emissions from Nuvera’s PowerTap® hydrogen generator, which relies on natural gas as a feedstock, are so low – about the same as a residential boiler – as to be exempt from the strictest air quality permitting requirements.
Fuel cell adoption based on natural gas infrastructure is good news for a renewable energy future. The same PowerTap system that reforms natural gas into hydrogen can also use renewable gas sources from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and dairy farms. As noted on the Web site of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the DOE is pursuing this technology because reforming low-cost natural gas to produce hydrogen can provide the commercial hydrogen production capacity needed to support a full fleet of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).[i] Once commercially adopted, natural gas reformation will open the way to use of the other renewable natural gas sources mentioned. When “renewable natural gas” is used, the net carbon fuel cycle is zero.[ii]
Read more about how options for our clean energy future are falling into place.
For a detailed report from Sandia National Laboratory on the synergies between fuel cell and natural gas vehicles, visithttp://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/downloads/vehicle-technologies-office-transitioning-transportation-sector-exploring
[i] “Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Natural Gas Reforming,” n.d., http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming(accessed 3/11/15)
[ii] The CO2 released by the renewable natural gas reforming process is offset by CO2 metabolically absorbed by the organisms used to create the renewable natural gas.