"Two-thirds of the water here is hydrogen," said Professor Z. Xiao Guo, as he took a bottle of pure water on the desk, to explain why hydrogen was one of the most promising alternatives of the energy sources in the future.
Guo, from Department of Materials, Queen Mary, University of London, is working on the storage of hydrogen, "the most abundant element on the earth". The storage of hydrogen is only one of the problems that scientists are trying to solve before the use of hydrogen as energy can be commercialized.
A delegation of Royal Society led by Sir David Wallace was in China last week exchanging with their Chinese colleagues their latest development of research on hydrogen fuel. They have visited top Chinese research institutes on hydrogen in Dalian, Shenyang and Beijing.
China is one of the leading countries in the world in the research and development of hydrogen fuel. "That is why we are here," said Professor Peter Hall, a member of the delegation, at Tsinghua University for a symposium.
"It is too early to say which country holds the best technology in this area," said Sir Wallace. They believe China can take a lead in the world.
There are still a lot of uncertainties for hydrogen as a fuel. Scientists are not sure whether there will be changes or what changes will be if there is too much hydrogen in the air. What's more, it uses much energy to take hydrogen. Producing hydrogen in a most cost efficient way is still a problem.
Despite all of this, the use of hydrogen has attracted much attention out of the concern for the environment which in turn affects climate. Global climate change has been identified as one of the top priorities when UK takes the presidency of G8.
The British scientists also expressed their hope that academic institute like Royal Society and Chinese Academy of Sciences can contribute to help ministers to achieve their goal for controlling the climate change.
China published its first law for renewable energy in February this year. As the law will be effective January 1, 2006, it is expected that detailed regulations on implementation of the law will be worked out within this year.
Less than one month later, UK issued its revised renewable energy planning. The Department of Trade and Industry of UK predicts 500 billion USD for clean energy market a year.
The EU will launch a training program this September to tell half a million people in 20 year that hydrogen is clean and safe.
In China, hydrogen fuel is also a hot topic. Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, pioneer of fuel cell research which the British scientists visited during their China trip, started to build a base in Jiangsu province for the industrialization of hydrogen fuel cells with an investment of 2 billion yuan.
Dr. Wallace recalled a meeting in Shenzhen between Chinese Minister of Science & Technology Xu Guanhua and his British counterpart Lord Sainsbury in 2001, where Xu emphasized the importance of Sino-UK cooperation on clean energy.
Their travel to China this time is an example of such links. It is one of the activities sponsored by UK around China under the support of the Chinese government for a one year program called UK-China Partners in Science.
In addition, they believe the clean energy, including the hydrogen, will narrow the gap between the developed nations and the developing countries. "It uses renewable and abundant resources. And developed countries need huge investment on changes of their fixed infrastructure to use it. But developing nations needn't do that because they have less fixed infrastructure," said Dr. Wallace.
By People's Daily Online