Two events are inevitable and will occur during the first half of the 21st century. First, world population — presently over 6 billion — will approach 10 billion. The greatest increase will occur in the developing nations such as China and India. Second, fluid fuels, oil and natural gas, will approach exhaustion with coal the only significant remaining fossil fuel. Technology can convert coal to a fluid fuel but with a marked greenhouse gas impact. Fluid fuels needed for the second half of the 21st century can be supplied by a hydrogen economy, but only if nuclear energy is the primary energy source to produce hydrogen.
A nuclear-hydrogen economy must begin now if we are to avoid irreparable environmental impacts from greenhouse gases and economic and military conflict from dwindling fluid fossil fuels.
Gary M. Sandquist
mechanical engineering department
University of Utah