by Acad. Vladimir RUSANOV, Director, Institute of Hydrogen Energetics and Plasma Technologies, Russian Research Center KURCHATOVSKY INSTITUTE
The traditional power engineering, based on diesel fuel, methane, gasoline, kerosene, etc. now has an alternative-hydrogen energetics. It is based on the process of oxidation of hydrogen by oxygen of the air. This is accompanied by the release of heat (about 3 kWt/h per m3 of H2 ) and the production of water at not so high temperatures. This kind of reaction is obviously "most acceptable" from the ecological point of view.
One of the leading trends in world science now includes studies, development and perfection of methods of H2 production (including that from water and natural carbohydrates). And it is no less important to learn to use this "product" effectively, such as in fuel elements, and improve and perfect methods of its storage, transportation and safe handling. This range of problems relates to the general subject of hydrogen energetics*.
Its "basis" is this lightest of gases (1 m3 weighs approximately 0.1 kg) with small size of molecule (about 0.76 A). It is easily permeable and mobile and enters into a large number of reactions: with carbon, producing a large number of carbohydrates, with metals, producing hydrites; with halogens, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus; it can be liquefied at a low temperature (of the order of -252°C). And its most remarkable compound associated with oxygen is water. Its vast resources on our planet act as "accumulators" and prac-
* See: V. Rusanov, "Hydrogen-Possibility of Technical Progress", Science in Russia, No. 4, 1998. - Ed.
tically inexhaustible sources of bound (with other substances) hydrogen.
So it looks as if an alternative to the energy crisis has already been found. But the new fuel so far remains rather expensive, which means that problem number one on the agenda is launching large-scale production of inexpensive hydrogen. Our country alone can require fo ... Read more