Another interesting tidbit on a hydrogen economy also at SD - researchers at Penn State have developed a new method of extracting hydrogen from cellulose and other organic materials.
"The researchers used naturally occurring bacteria in a microbial electrolysis cell with acetic acid -- the acid found in vinegar. Acetic acid is also the predominant acid produced by fermentation of glucose or cellulose. The anode was granulated graphite, the cathode was carbon with a platinum catalyst, and they used an off-the-shelf anion exchange membrane. The bacteria consume the acetic acid and release electrons and protons creating up to 0.3 volts. When more than 0.2 volts are added from an outside source, hydrogen gas bubbles up from the liquid."
Water hydrolysis, the most common method of hydrogen production, is only 50 to 70 percent efficient, but this new process is being rated at 144%! The researchers suggest that hydrogen produced from their new method could be added to existing natural gas (methane) supplies to produce a cleaner and more efficient fuel burning energy resource. Couple this breakthrough with the one below, and we could actually see a hydrogen based energy industry finally making an appearance, with all the attendant positive political, environmental and security implications you could hope for the world.