Establishment of IAHE and Quarter Century of Hydrogen Movement
Quarter century of hydrogen movement 1974–2000
T. Nejat Veziroglu
Clean Energy Research Institute, College of Engineering,
University of Miami, Coral Gables, P.O. Box 248294, Coral Gables,
FL 33124–0622, USA
A quarter of a century has passed since the beginning of the Hydrogen
Energy Movement. Over the past 25 years, there have been accomplishments
on every front — from the acceptance of the concept as an
answer to energy and environment related global problems —
to research, development and commercialization. The Hydrogen Energy
System has now taken firm roots. Activities towards the implementation
It was just a little over a quarter of a century ago, during the
first international conference on Hydrogen Energy, the Hydrogen
Economy Miami Energy Conference, or the THEME Conference for short,
held on 18–20 March 1974, in Miami Beach, FL, USA, when, on
the afternoon of the second day, a small group got together: this
group later named the "Hydrogen Romantics", consisted
of Cesare Marchetti, John Bockris, Tokio Ohta, Bill Van Vorst, Anibal
Martinez, Walter Seifritz, Hussein Abdel-Aal, Bill Escher, Bob Zweig,
the late Kurt Weil, myself and a few other enthusiasts, whose names
escape me (Table 1). There was a passionate, yet deliberate debate.
It was agreed that the Hydrogen Energy System (Fig. 1) was an idea
whose time had arrived. It was the permanent solution to the depletion
of conventional fuels. It was the permanent solution to the global
Table 1. Hydrogen "Romantics"
Fig. 1. A schematic diagram of the Hydrogen Energy System.
Then the discussion turned to whether there was a need for a formal
organization. It was Anibal Martinez of Venezuela (incidentally
the one who took part in setting up the petroleum cartel (OPEC),
who urged the founding of a society dedicated to crusade for the
establishment of what seemed to be to the gathering, and which later
proved to be, the inevitable and universal energy system. It was
ironic that he was proposing the establishment of an organization,
which would make OPEC obsolete. The rest is history. IAHE was established
by the end of that year, and started working in earnest.
In spite of the fact that the conventional fuels are subsidized
by the governments (even though they damage the health of the people,
the well being of this planet, and the integrity of everything living
and/or standing on it), and that equivalent subsidies have never
been extended to hydrogen in the quarter of a century since the
Hydrogen Movement began, hydrogen has still made significant progress
and inroads in several directions in the energy field, due to its
unmatched superior properties and characteristics as an energy carrier.
There has been progress on every front. All those who took part
in the Movement, and all those who are presently taking part in
this Movement, can feel very proud. There is every reason why we
should celebrate this milestone, the Quarter Century of the Hydrogen
Movement. Let us survey the happenings and achievements during this
One of the first activities of the International Association for
Hydrogen Energy was to organize the biennial World Hydrogen Energy
Conferences (WHECs) to provide a platform for the Hydrogen Energy
community, for the scientists, energy engineers, environmentalists,
decision makers, and the thinkers of the future of humankind and
the Planet Earth.
WHEC Conferences have been held in most of the major countries
around the world. The first WHEC Conference was held in Miami in
1976, and the others followed in two-year intervals in Zurich, Tokyo,
Pasadena, Toronto, Vienna, Moscow, Honolulu, Paris, Cocoa Beach,
Stuttgart, Buenos Aires and now in Beijing (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. International conferences on Hydrogen Energy.
I would like to add that, in parallel with the WHEC Conferences,
there have been several other conferences organized, dedicated to
specific applications of hydrogen, such as transportation, fuel
cells, metal hydride batteries, hydrogen–metal interactions,
etc. Also the number of national and international conferences devoted
to hydrogen energy, and/or having sessions on hydrogen energy, are
increasing in number.
Before the THEME Conference, little attention was paid to hydrogen
as an energy carrier. The words "Hydrogen Energy", "Hydrogen
Economy", "Hydrogen Energy System" were unknown even
to most of those well-versed in energy.
Today, these words are well known and accepted (Fig. 3). Not only
the scientists and engineers, but also the public at large, is becoming
exposed to the concept. We see more and more articles and news items
in the popular press about the environmental benefits of hydrogen,
hydrogen as the fuel of the future, and the progress in hydrogen
Fig. 3. Acceptance of "Hydrogen Energy", "Hydrogen
Economy", "Hydrogen Energy System" concepts.
The expressions "hydrogen energy", "hydrogen economy",
"hydrogen energy system" have entered the scientific literature,
newspapers and appear in everyday vocabulary.
Twenty-five years ago, there was no organization dedicated to hydrogen
energy. Today, national and international organizations, devoted
to hydrogen energy or the application of its unique and particular
properties, cover the globe from one end to the other; from the
United States to Japan, from Sweden to Australia. As can be seen
in Fig. 4, there are at least eighteen such organizations, and their
numbers are growing. Many of these organizations are also forming
alliances with environmental groups, establishing chapters, and
educating the uninitiated.
Fig. 4. Organizations dedicated to Hydrogen Energy.
A quarter of a century ago, there was no periodical dedicated to
hydrogen energy. The International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (IJHE),
which is the official journal of the International Association for
Hydrogen Energy (IAHE), is in its 25th year. In 1975, it started
as a quarterly. Three years later, it became bimonthly, and in 1982,
was elevated to monthly. From time to time, we are increasing the
page budget, because of the growing number of the papers being received.
In addition to IJHE, there are now several other periodicals —
not only in English, but also in many other languages (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5. Periodicals on Hydrogen Energy.
The number of hydrogen energy-related books has shown an exponential
growth over the past 25 years. The THEME and the WHEC Conference
proceedings now stand at 45 volumes. In addition, dozens of volumes
have been published on hydrogen energy, hydrogen-fuelled transportation,
hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen–metal interactions in all the
major languages of the world (Fig. 6).
Fig. 6. Books on Hydrogen Energy.
2.6. Visual programs
Twenty-five years ago, we heard little or nothing in the visual
media about hydrogen, with the exception that it was the fuel for
the rockets in space programs. Since then, many imaginative and
popular programs and documentaries have been produced by major television
companies, hydrogen energy organizations, and companies working
on the hydrogen energy technologies (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7. Visual programs on Hydrogen Energy.,
2.7. Internet sites
Of course, before 1974, there were no internet sites at all, as
well as no internet sites on Hydrogen Energy. Your association,
the International Association for Hydrogen Energy, has established
an internet site with the address of "www.iahe.org", giving
information on the association, its goals and objectives, organization,
activities, conferences, publications, memberships, etc. There are
a score of other internet sites which are dedicated to giving information
on Hydrogen Energy and on various organizations and companies related
to Hydrogen Energy (Fig. 8). Their numbers are growing fast.
Fig. 8. Internet sites on Hydrogen Energy.
2.8. Electric power generation
Hydrogen is a unique fuel with unmatched properties. One of its
unique properties is that it can be converted to electricity electrochemically
in fuel cells with high efficiencies. It is not subject to the limitations
of the Carnot Cycle, which is the case with the present-day thermal
power plants — whether they burn fossil fuels or nuclear fuels.
Because of this high utilization efficiency advantage of hydrogen,
electric utilities, electric power equipment manufacturers and power
industry research organizations have taken a particular interest
in electric power generation through hydrogen fuel cells. Tokyo
Electric Utility started experimenting with a 4.5 MW Pratt and Whitney
fuel cell years ago. Now they have a second one in line —
an 11 MW fuel cell power plant.
Major power generating equipment manufacturers have become involved
in research, development, and marketing of hydrogen fuel cell power
plants. Several new companies have been formed specifically to work
on fuel cells (Fig. 9).
Fig. 9. Companies and organizations involved in Hydrogen Fuel,
Cell Electric Power Generation.
There are many types of fuel cells. They have different and unique
properties making each type suitable for a particular application:
phosphoric acid fuel cells, alkaline fuel cells, proton exchange
membrane fuel cells, molten carbonate fuel cells, and solid oxide
fuel cells. Some of these have already been commercialized, demonstration
projects have been started for some, and others are in the research
and developmental stage. Westinghouse Company announced that they
will market a 1 MW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Power Plant, with an efficiency
of 70%, starting the year 2001.
In addition to having high utilization efficiencies, hydrogen fuel
cells are clean (the only by-product being water), and quiet (i.e.,
no moving parts). They are versatile; they can be used for large-scale
power generation in central power plants, as well as for small-scale
electricity production in distributed mode. Because of all these
unique characteristics, there is no doubt, that hydrogen fuel cell
generating capacity will grow rapidly.
2.9. Surface vehicles
The unique properties of hydrogen make it suitable as a fuel for
motive power, both for IC engine powered vehicles and electric powered
vehicles. In addition to its unsurpassed environmental characteristics,
the lean-burning property of hydrogen make it a suitable and efficient
fuel for the stop-and-go type city driving. The Mazda Corporation
of Japan has reported that hydrogen is the best fuel for Wänkel
The efficiency advantage of hydrogen fuel cells is being put into
use in electric cars in which hydrogen fuel cells provide the motive
power, rather than electric batteries. Hydrogen fuel cells can,
and do overcome the problems encountered with battery-powered electric
cars, such as small acceleration, low-velocity and short-driving
range. As can be seen from Fig. 10, all of the major car companies
of the world are now involved in the development and commercialization
of hydrogen-fuelled motor vehicles. Most of these companies are
preparing to offer hydrogen-fuelled cars in 2004.
Fig. 10. Companies involved in Hydrogen-Fuelled Vehicles.
2.10. Naval applications
Because it does not produce any harmful chemicals, due to its stealth
characteristics, and because its higher efficiency will provide
longer under water cruising range, the German Navy has decided to
have its next generation of submarines incorporate hydrogen fuel
cell power plants. Also, the Australian, Canadian and Italian navies
are experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells in their submarines.
(Fig. 11). Of course, because of the aforementioned characteristics,
hydrogen is the right fuel for sea surface transportation, as well.
Fig. 11. Naval applications of hydrogen.
2.11. Space programs
Before 1974, hydrogen was used in rockets by the Soviet and the
United States space programs. Now, the other countries, which have
space programs, have joined them and are using hydrogen as the staple
fuel of their space programs because of another unsurpassed, unmatched
property of hydrogen — that of being the lightest fuel (Fig.
Fig. 12. Hydrogen in space programs.
2.12. Aerospace planes
Before 1974, there were no aerospace planes, which of course would
have used hydrogen as fuel, because it is the fuel of choice for
space programs. Today, we have the American shuttle visiting space,
putting communication satellites and observation satellites in orbit,
conducting various scientific experiments, and carrying the parts
of the international space station. Russia has built a shuttle that
can land automatically without a pilot being in charge. The European
two plane Sänger System is on the drawing board. US Space Organization
NASA is developing a single stage to orbit aerospace plane, named
"VentureStar", to replace the present shuttle (Fig. 13).
The contractors are Lockheed-Martin and Rocketdyne, a division of
Boeing. It will use an aerospike rocket engine expected to run on
"slush hydrogen" — a mixture of liquid and solid
hydrogen — which makes use of another unique property of hydrogen,
resulting in the reduction of storage size. The companies are now
working on a one-third size concept demonstrator named X-33, which
is scheduled to fly in 2002. There is no doubt that the experience
gained will be of immense value in building tomorrow's hypersonic
passenger transport — of course, to be fuelled by hydrogen.
Fig. 13. Hydrogen in aerospace planes.
Because of its light weight and excellent combustion characteristics,
hydrogen is the ideal fuel for airplanes. In 1956, a Pratt &
Whitney developed hydrogen-fuelled turbo-jet engine was mounted
on one side of a B-57 bomber and some in-flight data were collected.
After 1974, hydrogen-fuelled airplane activities have increased
(Fig. 14). On April 15, 1988, the first passenger plane flew on
a hydrogen-fuelled engine near Moscow. The Tupolev 155 (equivalent
to an American Boeing 727) was equipped with two engines —
one running on hydrogen, the other on jet fuel — a liquid
hydrogen storage tank, and a hydrogen supply and control system.
The plane took off and landed on jet fuel, but hydrogen was used
during the cruising phase of the flight. The various aeronautical
establishments of Russia and Tupolev Institute are now working on
the design and development of an all-hydrogen supersonic passenger
plane, which will be called the Tupolev 204.
Fig. 14. Hydrogen in air transportation.
On June 17, 1988, two months after the flight of the Soviet jet,
Bill Conrad, a retired Pan American pilot, flew a hydrogen-fuelled
single engine plane in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The flight lasted only
36 s, but the fact that it was fuelled entirely by hydrogen in take-off,
flight and landing established a new record.
Actually, Mr. Conrad's plan was to taxi down the runway to the
starting point, then take off, fly a few times above the airport
and land, all on hydrogen fuel. Because hydrogen fuel is more efficient
than conventional fuel, the plane suddenly lifted off the ground
while taxiing. Mr. Conrad immediately reduced power, put the plane
back on the runway, continued in his taxiing mode to the starting
point, ready for the flight. The officials from the Civil Aeronautics
Board and other recording agencies told Mr. Conrad that he had already
established a record and there was no need for him to fly again.
The European Airbus Company has initiated a program of research
and development work for a hydrogen-fuelled air transport. Their
studies indicate that although hydrogen costs more than jet fuel,
the airfares for hydrogen-fuelled air transportation would be competitive
with today's airfares, because of the great weight and energy savings
with (the much lighter) hydrogen fuel. Germany and Russia have signed
an agreement of cooperation for the development of hydrogen-fuelled
air transportation. Japan has initiated research and development
work on a hypersonic transport, for which hydrogen is expected to
be the fuel of choice, because of its excellent combustion properties,
light weight and environmental compatibility.
2.14. Hydride applications
One of the unique properties of hydrogen is that it will combine
with certain metals and alloys easily, in large amounts, forming
hydrides in exothermic chemical reactions. When hydrides are supplied
with heat, hydrogen is released. The temperature and pressure characteristics
vary for different metals and alloys. Advantage is being taken of
these properties for many electrochemical and thermochemical applications
(Fig. 15). Smaller size hydrogen hydride batteries (e.g., for lap
top computers), and larger batteries for electric cars have already
Fig. 15. Hydrogen Hydride Applications.
There are demonstration projects for hydrogen-hydride air conditioning,
refrigeration and heat pumps. They do not need chlorofluorocarbons,
and as such, they will not damage the ozone layer. Conversion to
hydrogen-hydride air conditioning and refrigeration systems will
put a definite stop to the ozone layer depletion.
2.15. Catalytic combustion
Another unique property of hydrogen is the flameless combustion
or the catalytic combustion in the presence of small amounts of
catalysts, such as platinum or palladium. Catalytic combustion applications
have many advantages over those of flame combustion applications:
They are safer and have higher second law efficiencies, as well
as being environmentally compatible. Many residential and commercial
appliances have been developed using this unique property of hydrogen
Fig. 16. Hydrogen catalytic combustion applications.
2.16. International programs
Today the German/Saudi Arabian Hy-Solar Project is producing solar
hydrogen in the world's largest petroleum country. Saudi Arabians
expect eventually to be the permanent exporters of energy in the
form of solar hydrogen and they are preparing for it.
Euro-Quebec is another successful international program. They have
been looking into applications of relatively inexpensive hydro power-produced
liquid hydrogen imported to Europe from Canada — applications
such as for city bus transportation and smelting of iron, as well
as the development of an infrastructure for overseas transportation
and storage of liquid hydrogen. Norway and Germany are working on
a similar program.
The Japanese WE-NET Program is the most ambitious and comprehensive
hydrogen program in the world. Japan expects to spend about 4 billion
dollars by 2020 to achieve what amounts to a deliberate and planned
way for conversion to hydrogen.
The International Space Station, which is now under construction,
uses hydrogen for transportation, which will use hydrogen fuel cells
to provide electricity and potable water, is another important international
program based on hydrogen energy. Planning for the United Nations
Industrial Development Organization's International Centre for Hydrogen
Energy Technologies (to be established in Istanbul, Turkey) is moving
ahead (Fig. 17).
Fig. 17. Hydrogen Energy international programs.
2.17. International standards
Of course, no technology can take roots without standards, and no
universal technology can be established without international standards.
In 1990, the International Standards Organization, based in Geneva,
Switzerland (which is now an affiliated organization of the United
Nations), with the initiative and representations of Gustov Grob
of Switzerland, decided that the time had arrived for preparing
international standards for hydrogen energy technologies. They established,
a committee, ISO/TC-197 Committee, to prepare such standards. During
its first meeting, the Committee formed 10 sub-committees (Fig.
18) to work on the standards for Hydrogen Energy Technologies. It
is gratifying to note that the committee's work is successfully
Fig. 18. International Standards for Hydrogen Energy Technologies.
2.18. Building hydrogen economy
As you can gather from this overview, during the past quarter of
a century, the fundamentals of the Hydrogen Energy System have been
worked out, and strong foundations have been laid. As we enter the
21st Century, the development and commercialization of the various
components of the Hydrogen Energy System are being accelerated.
Our studies show that the world economy would essentially be based
on Hydrogen Energy towards the end of the forthcoming three-quarters
of a century, i.e., by 2074 (Fig. 19).
Fig. 19. Building hydrogen economy.
3. Concluding remarks
In one-quarter of a century — 1974–2000 — Hydrogen
Energy has moved forward on all fronts; making in-roads in all areas
of energy. Because of the unrelenting work of scientists, engineers
and dreamers, such as the participants of the WHEC Conferences and
the membership of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy.
We can all rejoice in the progress made to date, and this progress
has been substantial.
In the decades ahead of us, the progress will be many fold greater,
and the Hydrogen Energy System will provide the Planet Earth, the
only one known to be hospitable to life, with the energy system
it deserves: clean, efficient, sustainable and abundant energy.
My friends, my colleagues, pioneers of the hydrogen age, your efforts
will expedite the spread of the clean and abundant energy system,
enhance the quality of the life for the peoples of the world, and
help preserve our biosphere. I wish you Godspeed.