Net-zero homes are self-sustaining, using as many resources as they create. Environmental engineers and scientists search for sustainable energy sources to meet residential, emission-less energy demands. They are exploring the efficiency of hydrogen heating systems for homes, increasing their reliability and eco-friendliness.
Shannon Flynn is a business technology writer with bylines on MakeUseOf, SiliconANGLE and Energy Central. To read more, subscribe to Renewable Energy Magazine's e-newsletter or visit ReHack.com
Before exploring the functions and benefits of hydrogen heating systems, we must examine the conventional challenges they counteract. Home heating and cooling create 441 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The emissions stem from fossil fuel energy sources.
Nearly 40% of England's power usage derives from heating, and 85% of homes still rely on natural gas systems. Furnaces, boilers and electric heaters all utilize direct or indirect fossil fuel sources. A significant portion of electricity in the U.K. also comes from natural gas, creating emissions during the combustion process.
When fossil-fuel-derived greenhouse gases reach the atmosphere, they alter their composition, hindering Earth's ability to regulate surface temperatures. Naturally, the planet absorbs solar radiation, creates heat, warms its surface, gathers excess energy and sends it to space. Emissions limit the atmosphere's ability to process and release sunlight efficiently.
They have a higher sunlight-to-heat conversion rate, overproducing warmth. Additionally, emissions trap and reprocess excess energy instead of sending it to space. The overproduction and entrapment of heat raise the planet's temperature over time.
Increased global temperatures create a ripple effect of environmental degradation, expanding from localized air pollution to water scarcity. Residential heaters like boilers produce both atmospheric and localized emissions, hindering ecological and human health. Degrading indoor air quality can cause significant respiratory issues, placing families in danger.
Net-zero homes strive to reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect, conserving the atmosphere's natural composition. Residents can transition away from their reliance on fossil fuels towards emission-less energy sources to power home heaters. Hydrogen can increase the containment of solar and wind power over time, and it may power fuel cell heaters.
Using solar and wind energy to power residential heating units is emission-less and presents limitations. Individuals must use renewable energy as panels and turbines create it because of storage limitations. Some units come with small-scale batteries, and they may be inefficient for long-term uses.
Scientists discovered a method of storing large quantities of renewable electricity, increasing its accessibility. It uses a hydrogen battery stored in shipping containers. A clean energy source like solar charges a 5-kilowatt-hour battery.
Next, the electricity moved through an electrolyzer, dividing the solar power into hydrogen and oxygen. The system releases oxygen into the environment and traps hydrogen for future energy uses. Inside the storage container, hydrogen combines with a fibrous metal alloy, storing itself as a solid.
Individuals can source the stored hydrogen to power their net-zero homes' heating systems sustainably. Professionals are developing residential heating devices powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The energy sources work like batteries, increasing one's access to clean energy while minimizing atmospheric impacts.
Fuel cells rely on an anode and cathode, like a conventional battery system. The device uses hydrogen to power the anode while oxygen feeds the cathode. Anodes separate hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons.
The electrons create a flow of clean electricity, which residents can utilize to fuel their electric home heaters. When individuals use hydrogen-derived electricity for heating, they release zero greenhouse gas emissions in the process. The technology effectively minimizes atmospheric emissions and preserves indoor air quality.
When individuals rely on fuel cells for heat, they reduce their risk of inhaling surface-level emissions. The consumption of greenhouse gases increases a child's risk of developing asthma. It also enhances one's risk of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses.
Transitioning away from conventional residential heating practices and adopting hydrogen sources can also improve green employment opportunities. It can also help energy professionals meet eco-consumer demands, getting a leg-up on their competitors.
When companies use hydrogen to power residential heaters, they can meet consumers' needs and increase their success in the industry. Though hydrogen heaters remain in their infancy, professionals may invest in the new technology to support society's shift towards sustainability. They can also support the Paris Agreement's goal by minimizing emissions, decreasing the global temperature.