Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines . It has begun to be used in commercial fuel cell vehicles such as passenger cars, and has been used in fuel cell buses for many years. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.
Because pure hydrogen does not occur naturally on Earth in large quantities, it usually requires a primary energy input to produce on an industrial scale. Hydrogen fuel can be produced from methane or by electrolysis of water. As of 2018, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by other routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water.
BASI would like to see wind, solar, geothermal or hydro power used to produce the majority of Hydrogen in the future. In remote areas, these types of power are more likely to be readily available anyway and a lot of Hydrogen is expected to be needed.
The supply of helium as a lifting gas in airships is unreliable and will continue to be. It is subject to precipitous policy decisions of the US Government and ultimately the availability of this rare gas is finite. Eventually helium must be replaced by hydrogen, so it makes sense to develop a safe method of storing and handling hydrogen.
The Canadian Air Regulation 541.7 states: Hydrogen is not an acceptable lifting gas for use in airships. Although Canada has never had an airship industry, it has regulations that ban the use of hydrogen. The origin of this ban is a political decision made in a foreign country based on neither engineering nor scientific research.* This ban was enacted by the US Congress in 1922, and eventually found its way into the Federal Aviation Administration. After World War 2 when the US became the dominant aviation power, its regulations were “rubber-stamped” into aviation regulations around the world, including Canada.
Technology exists that allows hydrogen gas to be used in a wide variety of common applications. *See: Richard G. Van Treuren. Airships vs. Submarines. Edgewater, Florida: Atlantis Productions, 2009.
Today, it is used safely as fuel in: (wikipedia links)
Research is needed to develop safety protocols and to test materials and gas cell designs that could allow hydrogen to be used safely as a lifting gas. Hydrogen is also desirable for airships because it can be used as fuel for propulsion. Unlike airplanes that are too small to carry a hydrogen fuel tank along with cargo. Immense airships and their lower fuel consumption, can make hydrogen fuel practical. An airship could easily accommodate a large hydrogen fuel tank without impinging on the space available for cargo. A hydrogen-powered airship is the only practical zero-carbon emissions aircraft.
BASI research is examining all facets of hydrogen use in modern airship design. With sufficient testing and demonstration, the current prohibition on the use of hydrogen as a lifting gas can be amended to permit its use.
BASI is committed to the safe production, use and storage of hydrogen gas. Rules are adhered to and procedures are followed to ensure the maximum level of safe operations possible.