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Friday, January 25, 2008

Hydrogen a possible new energy source for Laos

The Environment Research Institute is studying the possibility of Laos investing in extracting hydrogen from water as a future alternative energy source.

The Deputy Director of the institute under the Water Resource and Environment Administration, Mr Phonechaleun Nonthaxay, confirmed yesterday that the institute had received funds from an international organisation to run the study.

“It is just a small project and we are all new to this concept,” he told Vientiane Times, adding that he would be ready to provide further information on the study once the results were available.

Study team member Ms Duangmani Luangmani explained yesterday that the study had begun in 2006 with financial support of US$6,000 from the International Environment Research Centre in Singapore .

The purpose of the study would be to determine the investment costs of hydrogen extraction, as well as the short and long-term benefits of the energy for Laos , she said.

Laos had the advantage of a large water supply compared to other countries, which would constitute the raw material to produce the valuable substance, she added.

“The water supply in Laos has many benefits, including the fact that once it is used to generate electricity, it can also be a raw material for hydrogen production,” she said.

She said that Japan , the US and neighbouring China had modern plants to extract hydrogen from water and used the energy to run industrial factories and cars. However, these countries could not produce hydrogen for commercial purposes because it is still four times more expensive than normal petrol.

She added that these countries were still in the investigative process.

Although hydrogen is still very expensive, Ms Duangmani said the study would be useful for the future development of Laos once the world's petrol supplies were exhausted.

“We are now gathering information from a number of sectors, including the amount of water in Laos and investment possibilities,” he said,

Ms Duangmani said hydrogen was one of the cleanest energy sources, which would be beneficial to the environment and future livelihoods.

She said the study was expected to end this year, therefore she could not provide any information about whether Laos should invest in the installation of hydrogen plants, or anything about the long-term benefits of this form of energy.

She confirmed, however, that the International Environment Research Centre was considering allocating more money for the environment institute to study in more detail the possibility of a hydrogen extraction project.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update January 25, 2008)

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