The English hydrogen boom

The British government isn't just backing sure things. It is acting as a sort of venture capitalist, on both the research and the application side of the hydrogen puzzle. Would that America could be as brave.

Fundamental change is hard work.

It takes a lot of research, and a lot of false starts.

Take, for example, the English hydrogen boom.

Right now companies there are bidding for roughly $11 million in hydrogen and fuel cell subsidies. There is enthusiasm on the local level, too, with London and Sunderland both deploying hydrogen-fueled buses.

A lovely new research and demonstration center has just opened at Swansea, while researchers at Leeds, in Yorkshire, are exploring conversion of industrial glycerol into a hydrogen-rich gas.

Despite the growing climate fatigue, researchers at Liverpool and Newcastle are excited about a new method for injecting hydrogen into a porous material that can hold it safely.

Perhaps no effort is so audacious, however, as the Bio-Reactor from Hydrogen UK, described in the video above. The Web site has just opened. The page is a template from its Web host.

The idea is to create a green algae biomass, extract hydrogen from that, and store it. The company hopes to cut the size of its unit by more than half and go into production. Personal, green power plants.

It may work in principle, but it may fail in practice. All these ideas, being pursued across the country, may succeed or fail, in the lab, in practice, or financially.

It's the fact they're being tried that matters. The British government isn't just backing sure things. It is acting as a sort of venture capitalist, on both the research and the application side of the hydrogen puzzle.

Would that America could be as brave.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com