"It is the thought of bionics to use artificial systems in place of the evolved originals in nature. For a future biophotolysis of the water I could imagine that hydrogen will be binded to a carbohydrate-analogue in a first stage. The hydrogen-complex, unable to re-react with oxygen, then moves to a second stage, where the hydrogen will be released. The blank carrier molecule moves back to the first stage, where it is reloaded with hydrogen. — But a solution à la bionics is not in sight. At present the substitution of the process by biological components should be permitted."
Plasmachemical hydrogen production from hydrocarbons and water could present a promising bionic process.
"Hydrogen energy passed two stages of development: the first "economic" stage when the catastrophe due to depletion of world power resources (oil, gas) was considered to be real and the second "ecological" stage when it became clear that the use of conventional fuels in electricity production, transport, chemistry, and metallurgy leads to irreversible catastrophic consequences (acid rains, green-house effect, ozone deficiency, etc.). The understanding of the second problem resulted to the merging and interpenetrating of two directions in the research activity of the Institute and allowed to define today the main tasks of hydrogen energy and plasma technologies and bring the ecology into focus."
"The large-scale production of cheap hydrogen is one of the basic tasks of the present-day ecology (and development of hydrogen energy). The analysis shows that for Russia it is necessary to increase hydrogen production gradually to bring it to 20-23 million t/y within 4-5 years. This first stage should be characterized by the efficient use of hydrogen in transport, metallurgy, oil chemistry, etc. However, as early as the first decades of the new millenium the hydrogen output should be brought to 60-65 million t/y and the wide use of hydrogen should be simultaneously provided in all industries. The next stage, a wide-scale use of hydrogen as a basic, ecologically safe fuel, requires a hydrogen output of 200 million t/y. It is necessary to mentioned that since hydrogen is a secondary energy carrier, hydrogen energy should rely on primary energy sources: enhanced-safety nuclear power, solar, wind, tide energy, etc."
"Plasmochemical and electrochemical production of hydrogen from water is the basic highly promising and universal processes. The plasmochemical method can be used to produce both hydrogen from natural gas (methane) and in the course of its cleaning from sulfuric impurities, such as H2S. As the investigations show, the power consumption, in these two plasmochemical processes is 1 kWh/m3H2 to be economically acceptable for large-scale production of hydrogen. For comparison, the most efficient contemporary plasmochemical nonequilibrium and electrochemical systems for production of hydrogen from water consume as a rule 4 kWh/m3H2. The further reduction in the power consumption for hydrogen production remains a most fundamental task. This problem calls for a wide range of various research works, including basic ones, to be performed."
And Jules Verne wrote in 'The Mysterious Island' in 1870:
"And what will they burn instead of coal?" "Water", replied Harding. "Water!" cried Pencroft, "Water as fuel for steamers and engines! Water to heat water!" "Yes, but water decomposed into its primitive elements", replied Cyrus Harding, "and decomposed doubtless, by electricity, which will then have become a powerful and manageable force, for all great discoveries, by some inexplicable laws, appear to agree and become complete at the same time. Yes, my friends, I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. Some day the coalrooms of steamers and the tenders of locomotives will, instead of coal, be stored with these two condensed gases, which will burn in the furnaces with enormous calorific power. There is, therefore, nothing to fear. As long as the earth is inhabited it will supply the wants of its inhabitants, and there will be no want of either light or heat as long as the productions of the vegetable, mineral or animal kingdoms do not fail us. I believe, then, that when the deposits of coal are exhausted we shall heat and warm ourselves with water. Water will be the coal of the future."