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Scientists Make Hydrogen from Oil an Economic Possibility

26 Aug 15:00 by Steve Walia

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A new breakthrough in renewable energy development has seen scientists devise a means of extracting hydrogen from oil sands economically.

The cost-effective H2 method could be commercially developed for the use of hydrogen-fuelled transportation. The element is viewed as being efficient for transport and akin in performance to diesel and petrol, but without the dangers of pollution.

The new process can take current oil sand reservoirs, which are found predominantly and widely in Venezuela and Canada, and extract H2 from them so that businesses can operate in a commercially viable way.

By applying the new process to existing oil fields, oil will no longer need to be produced and H2 can be extracted instead for environmental gains. 

The scientists believe that H2 could be produced for 10-50 cents a kilo in this way, using existing distribution chains and infrastructure.

Hydrogen vehicles have long been viewed as an energy-efficient alternative to petrol- and diesel-powered cars, but until now it has been extremely costly to extract H2 from oil sands.

The new process injects oxygen directly into the oil sands to raise their temperature and release the hydrogen particles, which are then filtered to remove any other unwanted gases.

Proton Technologies’ CEO, Grant Strem, who is taking the process through to commercialisation, said that the new approach could be used to generate vast amounts of H2 whilst allowing carbon to remain in the earth, producing clean fuel for cars, planes, lorries and other forms of transport which otherwise rely on polluting fuels.

With demand for oil falling and vast reserves of oil sands still in place and ready to exploit commercially, this new development could provide a greener option and help the world's transportation industries to become cleaner and less polluting.