The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean


Martin on Apr 12th 2008

Hydrogen is a much vaunted replacement to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, most of its proponents totally fail to recognise that hydrogen is only a storage medium; it is not a source of energy. Furthermore, pure, burnable hydrogen is not found in our environment. It must be extracted from a stable compound like water which is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. This extraction process uses energy, as does the compressing of the two gases into tanks. Hydrogen in pure form then can be burned or put through a fuel cell to power engines and power plants.  

However, it mustn’t be forgotten that the burning of coal or oil or turbines of a hydroelectric dam are still pouring the energy into the splitting of water into its constituent parts. Also, approximately forty percent of the potential energy is lost in the form of heat in converting and then using the energy. It is far better to burn the oil or keep the electricity as electricity than have an intermediate step. Sometimes this unfortunately is not possible, and then a storage medium like hydrogen is necessary. 

In fact hydrogen is a poor storage medium for energy. The individual atoms of hydrogen are so small that it is difficult to keep bottled up. It can literally slip through metal. It is also highly flammable and explosive. There are other methods of storing energy that do not have these drawbacks, but often a technology is adopted that is inferior but which works well enough (see other storage mediums).

If hydrogen is adopted on a large scale, despite the drawbacks of the medium, then some new form of energy generation will still be needed to supply the power to produce the pure hydrogen.

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System fulfills the missing part of the equation with any proposed hydrogen ecconomy. It generates the vast amounts of electricity that is required for injecting into the water in order to produce the hydrogen. Though it would be better to export electricity by cable and use it without the intermediate step, most of the ideal places to build a TIE System are far from civil or industrial centers. In these remote locations, it will be necessary to export the energy in a chemical form to the cities and factories, and hydrogen does fit this bill.