Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's the first thing you think of when...

I feel guilty for my reaction but when I heard Korea had just opened a new kind of gas station, one that provides hydrogen gas, my first thought was, "Boom!"

On the one hand, no one uses hydrogen without some serious concerns for safety and Koreans might be in a hurry but they aren't stupid. The blurb on Arirang TV showed a hose sealing tightly into a car's tank and I am sure its as safe as it can be.

And honestly, a small hydrogen leak could be problematic but hydrogen doesn't stick around the way other gases might.

Oh, Arirang does have video-on-demand so you could find the news episode (Tuesday morning Sept 18) but this Korea Times article is probably handier. The article doesn't mention safety at all. Perhaps its a non-issue; everyone knows to be careful.

On the other hand, apparently not everyone knows that roofing and sealing materials can be flammable. Maybe people don't use tar anymore but any sealant will have solvents and they are flammable.

Longtime readers will know that I am interested in environmental issues and using hydrogen gas is great for the environment. The exhaust is water, which could be broken back down into hydrogen fuel again. This is a great step for Korea and I feel bad that I immediately imagined what the explosion would look like.

Canada has been using hydrogen fuel cells for nearly ten years, I think. The Canadian company Ballard was a pioneer in the field and some buses in Vancouver run on Hydrogen. I don't know of any trouble there.
I am out of the loop though. The last time I heard hydrogen being discussed as a fuel source, people were wondering how to store hydrogen in non-gaseous form to avoid Hindenburg-type accidents. The video on Arirang appeared to show a transfer of gas, not the use of hydrogen salts or anything.

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