The most likely long-term energy economy will utilize mixed hydrogen/electric means to carry energy to end-use. Hydrogen and electricity are the obvious technological complements because neither electricity nor hydrogen is the best choice for all applications.
Today, hydrogen is made mainly from fossil fuels. Natural gas is the primary fossil fuel source, but some is made from petroleum fractions. Petroleum refining accounts for most of this production. However, coal is the cheapest, nearest-term, large-scale source of hydrogen because coal and water are the basic chemical feed stocks needed to produce coal-derived hydrogen by well understood processes.
Nuclear power is the leading intermediate-term source of energy for hydrogen production, either by proven electrolytic means or by proposed, but unproven, thermochemical means. Both technologies require substantial improvement to compete economically with hydrogen derived from coal. Nuclear energy is also a likely long-term source of energy for hydrogen production.
Solar energy is a long-term candidate for production of hydrogen as well, either through electrolytic or thermochemical means; ultimately, solar-produced hydrogen is likely to become competitive with hydrogen derived from nuclear energy.
The first chapter of Hydrogen Manufacture by Electrolysis, Thermal Decomposition and Unusual Techniques presents a full survey of a wide range of hydrogen technologies. The second chapter encompasses those methods which produce hydrogen from fossil fuels. Water electrolysis, as it might be used in a hydrogen economy, is covered in the third chapter, while the fourth chapter surveys proposed thermochemical means for splitting water to produce hydrogen. In the fifth chapter, more unusual sources and processes which may someday be useful in the conversion to a hydrogen economy are presented. The sixth chapter provides an overview of the economics of a hydrogen economy and the final chapter discusses various aspects of hydrogen safety. A complete bibliography of the published source material on which this book is based is also included.
The table of contents is organized in such a way as to serve as a subject index and provides easy access to the information contained in this book. Each chapter is followed by a list of references giving further details on these timely topics and the bibliography at the end of the volume lists highly important government reports.