It is clean, it is pure, it is natural and it gorges in abundance the basements of Lorraine: I named white hydrogen. There could well be a slick of forty-six million tons there, or half of the world’s annual production. This recent discovery sheds light on our climatic horizon weighed down by tornadoes and heat waves resulting from the warming of the atmosphere.
This gas is indeed a valuable energy alternative, because it can be used as it is, unlike other types of hydrogen which have to be extracted from a molecule through a polluting process of electrolysis. Here, Mother Nature has already done the work: deep in the Earth, iron minerals have severed the water molecule to offer us ready-to-use dihydrogen. More good news: under the earth’s crust, the plant works continuously, which makes white hydrogen a more rapidly renewable energy than oil. Third source of joy: the use of this gas as fuel releases neither carbon nor fine particles.
Of course, the hydrogen molecule – the smallest and most abundant in the universe! – also has its quirks. Discreet and volatile, it is not easily detected, let alone transported, being highly explosive. Released in the open air, it warms the atmosphere eleven times more than carbon dioxide. So many challenges that operators of the new white gold will have to face to make its use possible.
But the real challenge lies beyond the technical issues. It questions our relationship to the environment. By entrusting us with white hydrogen, Mother Nature is perhaps giving us a new chance, while once again appealing to our responsibility: will we be able to manage this resource without succumbing to the industrial rush towards white gold any more than to the illusion of inexhaustible energy? May we handle this spotless molecule with hands that will stay clean, and learn from the lessons of the past.