This article was first published in gasworld in September 2012.
Everybody’s heard of the hydrogen economy, with its promise of limitless low carbon energy. But after decades of R&D, the dream seems scarcely any closer. Apparently still confounded by major technical challenges, the hydrogen economy remains an elusive mirage – always ‘just 10 years away’.
But perhaps the hydrogen enthusiasts have simply picked the wrong element? A growing band of companies and independent experts now argue that some of the long-awaited promise of hydrogen could soon be delivered by a different gas – and at a fraction of the cost.
“Hydrogen could bankrupt the country,” says Professor Yulong Ding, Director of the Institute of Particle Science & Engineering at the University of Leeds, “there’s a much greater chance we’ll see a nitrogen economy.”
Full disclosure: this article was sponsored by Highview Power Storage and the Dearman Engine Company. They have established the Liquid Air Energy Group with the support of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the British Cryogenic Cluster and a number of British universities, to assess the potential of liquid air as an energy vector. The group will publish a white paper next spring.
The launch of the Liquid Air Energy Group was covered by BBC radio and television news on 2nd October, and you can read BBC Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin’s online story here.