Hydrogen is the simplest element. Each atom of hydrogen has only one
proton. Hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the universe.
Stars such as the sun consist mostly of hydrogen. The sun is essentially a
giant ball of hydrogen and helium gases.
Hydrogen itself burns cleanly, leaving water as a by product.
Even though hydrogen itself is essentially non-polluting when burned (some
nitrogen oxides, or NOx, may be formed), there is a carbon footprint
associated with it.
Hydrogen occurs naturally on earth only in compound form with other
elements in liquids, gases, or solids namely:
Water: Hydrogen combined with oxygen is water (H2O).
So if hydrogen is derived from water it is a renewable fuel with
virtually no nasty by products. Potentially it could be converted back
to easily transported liquid Electro-fuels
(E-fuel) through recombination with atmospheric carbon dioxide
though this product is the current subject of some debate
Hydrocarbons (fossil fuels): Hydrogen combined with carbon
forms different compounds—or hydrocarbons—found in natural gas, coal,
and petroleum. The major source being Methane C2H4
If hydrogen is derived from hydrocarbons then it must be considered a
fossil fuel that also creates the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide or
carbon monoxide as by-products of the manufacturing process. CCS
carbon capture sequestration methods required to bury these
by-products require further substantial energy input.
Hydrogen gas is described by colours depending on how it is made
White hydrogen - naturally occuring from rare underground
Brown hydrogen - from conversion of coal
Grey hydrogen – extracted from oil and natural gas producing
greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Blue hydrogen – is as above but the carbon emissions in the
production process are captured, sequestered, or repurposed so that
they do not contribute to global warming.
Turquoise hydrogen - experimental - from natural gas
(methane) at high temperatures producing hydrogen and solid carbon
Pink hydrogen- from nuclear energy
Yellow hydrogen- electrolysis from a mix of renewable and
non-renewable electricity sources.
Green hydrogen – is produced from zero-emission renewable
energy by electrolysis of fresh water
Two characteristics are critical in understanding the usefulness of
hydrogen as an energy source:
Pro - Hydrogen has the highest energy content of any common fuel by
weight (about three times more than petrol), but
Con -Hydrogen has the lowest energy content by volume (about four
times less than petrol), so it is difficult to squeeze enough mass of
hydrogen into a reasonable volume
;The weight of natural gas (i.e. methane, CH4) is 15% hydrogen
and 85% is carbon. So ideally producing 1kg of hydrogen results in about
5.7kg of pure carbon or about 11kg of carbon dioxide
Hydrogen contributes about 30% of the energy content of methane. That
means it takes about 3.3 m3 of hydrogen to deliver the same
energy as 1 m3 of natural gas.
To produce hydrogen by electrolysis,
39.4 kWh of input power is required to produce one kg of hydrogen, if the
electrolysis process is 100% efficient.
There are two primary ways to create hydrogen. In one of them, hydrogen is
best thought of as a refined fossil fuel and is equivalent to natural gas.
In the other, hydrogen is made by putting a lot of electricity into water
and is best thought of as a store of energy like a battery.
When we talk about generating electricity, we typically talk about taking
net positive amounts of energy from a source and creating electricity. For
example, the net energy of generating electricity from natural gas
(methane) is positive. We extract the methane, we do some limited
processing of it such as add mercaptan to it to make it smell so we can
detect leaks, we distribute it and then we burn it. The energy we receive
from burning the methane is greater than the energy used to pump, process
and distribute it.
The challenge with hydrogen as a transport fuel – and with storing and
transporting hydrogen in general – is that it is an extremely light,
low-density gas. If a fuel cell car were to use atmospheric pressure to
store the 1kg of hydrogen needed to drive 100km, the fuel tank would have
to be 11m3 in size. So today’s fuel cell cars use compressed hydrogen gas,
squeezing about 5kg into a 700 bar carbon fibre reinforced tank.
But high pressure storage tanks are far from ideal
they are heavy, awkwardly shaped, expensive fuel container
it takes a lot of energy to compress the gas,
How can it be efficiently stored? One way is by changing Hydrogen’s
external physical conditions (such as lowering the temperature and/or
increasing the pressure).
TYPE I Hydrogen Storage Vessels: - All Metal Design
This type of Hydrogen Tank is the least expensive to manufacture, is
fabricated from an all-metal cylinder, and can be built to huge sizes.
These are the heaviest Hydrogen Storage Tanks and usually operate at lower
pressures than the other types of vessels listed. The mass of the metal
required to contain the pressure in a Type I Tank usually only allows for
1% to 2% hydrogen storage compared to the cylinder mass. So, the mass of
hydrogen stored to the mass of cylinder ratio is very low.
The Type I Hydrogen Tanks also include ultra cold (cryogenic) storage of
hydrogen as a liquid but these must deal with Boil-off gas (BOG), a unique
challenge to cryogenic liquids. To remain in its liquid phase, hydrogen
must maintain cryogenic temperatures. If temperatures rise in the vessel,
the hydrogen will boil, changing from a compact liquid into an expanding
gas. If left unchecked, this will push your vessel beyond its design
Type II: All Metal With Carbon Fibre
These cylinders are all metal and are hoop wrapped (wrapped around the
straight cylinder portion) with composite material. T he stored hydrogen
mass to cylinder mass ratio is very low. These vessels are also heavy and
thick-walled. Standard tanks usually have a maximum pressure of 4,500 psi
Type III: Composite With Metallic Lining
This Hydrogen Storage tank has a much more efficient capacity: up to four
times that of standard Type I vessels. This means smaller and lighter
cylinders can be used to store the same amount of hydrogen. These vessels
are fully wrapped composite cylinders and have a metallic lining. They are
non-load bearing. Standard tanks usually have a maximum pressure of 10,000
psi (700 Bars).
Type IV: Composite With Non-Metallic Lining
This style has the same efficient storage capacity as the Type III’s. They
are fully wrapped composite cylinders with non-metallic liners, usually
consisting of some sort of polymer (like high-density polyethylene). Type
IV Vessels are non-load bearing.
Standard tanks typically have a maximum pressure of 10,000 psi (700 Bars).
Type III & IV tanks are the priciest of all the Hydrogen Storage Tanks
due to the current expense of carbon fiber composite material. Although,
many believe that the cost of carbon fiber will lower in the future.
To transport bulk quantities of hydrogen, however – whether to supply
refuelling stations, or to ship renewable hydrogen around the world –
pressuring the gas is not going to work due to what is called the
“Chilling Effect” namely...
The dihydrogen molecule, with its two protons, can form two possible
quantum spin isomers. In para hydrogen, the more stable form, the spin on
the two protons is opposite; in ortho hydrogen, the spin is aligned. At
room temperature, about 75% of dihydrogen is in the higher energy ortho
state, but the equilibrium shifts as the temperature is lowered, until at
–253°C, it is almost 100% para at equilibrium. As the liquified gas heats
para reverts to ortho and energy is released causing the liquid to boil.
Currently, liquefying hydrogen takes 12kWh of power per kilo of hydrogen,
equivalent to about 25% of the energy that hydrogen would release in a
In short tanks only holding hydrogen gas are not proactical being bulky,
heavy and expensive.
Using an Adsorbent in a Tank
A tank is filled with special material that will absorb hydrogen or
that hydrogen will stick to.
Researchers seek this ideal tank, for various parameters not discussed
here, the ideal tank would have a maximum pressure of 100 bar and with
hydrogen adsorption energy of 15–20kJ/mol.
At that pressure, light-weight, inexpensive, conformable pressure vessels
are possible and the energy penalty for compressing the hydrogen would
also be slashed.
The problem for physical adsorption it that hydrogen does not like to
stick to things.
The two main classes of solid-state hydrogen storage materials sit either
side of that ideal tank.
Metal hydrides, and related materials that take up hydrogen
via chemical bond formation, bind hydrogen too strongly and have to be
heated to drive the hydrogen off. Metal hydrides are metals which have
been bonded to hydrogen to form a new compound.The most common
examples of metal hydrides include aluminum, boron, lithium
borohydride and various salts. For example, aluminum hydrides include
sodium aluminum hydride.
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous absorbents but
currently bind hydrogen too weakly to hold enough of it. MOFs are a
class of organic-inorganic hybrid crystalline materials consisting of
metallic moieties that are linked by strong coordination bonds to
organic ligands. They exhibit a great structural diversity and possess
low weight, exceptionally high surface areas, large free volumes, and
tunable pore sizes and functionalities, making them extremely
attractive for a variety of applications such as hydrogen storage.
metal hydride - hydrogen in yellow
Generally hydrogen will be released from an absorption tank by heating the
contents to release the hydrogen.
The tank can then be re-filled with new hydrogen.
Hydrogen Embrittlement occurs when metals become brittle as a
result of the introduction and diffusion of hydrogen into the material.
Hydrogen has handling and safety issues that methane does not. Hydrogen
can cause embrittlement of metals, and deterioration of plastic and rubber
The degree of embrittlement is influenced both by the amount of hydrogen
absorbed and the microstructure of the material. Hydrogen is normally only
able to enter metals in the form of atoms or hydrogen ions.
Thus, gaseous hydrogen is not absorbed by metals at ambient temperatures,
as it is in molecular form, in which pairs of atoms are tightly bound
Hydrogen ions are also produced by reactions associated with processes
such as corrosion, electroplating and cathodic protection. Consequently,
there is ample opportunity for the entry of hydrogen into metallic
Two methods are discussed Steam, Methane Reforming and Partial Oxidation
Over 95% of the world’s hydrogen is produced using the steam methane
reforming process (SMR). In this reaction, natural gas is reacted with
steam at an elevated temperature to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
A subsequent reaction — the water gas shift reaction — then reacts
additional steam with the carbon monoxide to produce additional hydrogen
and carbon dioxide.
Most hydrogen produced today is made via steam-methane reforming, a mature
production process in which high-temperature steam (700°C–1,000°C) is used
to produce hydrogen from a methane source, such as natural gas. In
steam-methane reforming, methane reacts with steam under 3–25 bar pressure
(1 bar = 14.5 psi) in the presence of a catalyst to produce hydrogen,
carbon monoxide, and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide. Steam
reforming is endothermic—that is, heat must be supplied to the process for
the reaction to proceed.
Subsequently, in what is called the "water-gas shift reaction," the carbon
monoxide and steam are reacted using a catalyst to produce carbon dioxide
and more hydrogen. In a final process step called "pressure-swing
adsorption," carbon dioxide and other impurities are removed from the gas
stream, leaving essentially pure hydrogen. Steam reforming can also be
used to produce hydrogen from other fuels, such as ethanol, propane, or
even gasoline. Steam-methane reforming reaction
CH4 + H2O (+ heat) → CO + 3H2
Water-gas shift reaction
CO + H2O → CO2 + H2 (+ small amount of
The Carbon Footprint of Steam Methane Reforming The carbon footprint of
hydrogen production via SMR can be broken down into two parts.
First, as indicated by the SMR and WGS reactions, 100% of the carbon in
the incoming methane is ultimately converted to CO2. In the
process of producing one molecule of CO2, four molecules of
hydrogen (H2) are produced, with the steam contributing the
9.3 kilograms (kg) of CO2produced per kg of hydrogen production
For hydrogen created by steam reformation of methane. We extract the
methane, use a bunch of energy in the steam reformation process where the
carbon is removed and turns into CO2 other elements such as
nitrogen and sulfides are also removed and typically turn into other air
pollution, distribute the remaining hydrogen and then use it in a fuel
cell or burn it. That’s highly similar to methane except that instead of
burning both the hydrogen and the carbon in the methane and extracting the
energy, we waste the energy in the carbon and still get CO2.
But we are still getting a net positive energy extraction from the
hydrogen at the end of the process, just less than from burning the
Summary - Hydrogen from steam reformation of methane
Net positive source of energy.
No negative emissions at end point of use.
Less expensive than hydrogen from electrolysis.
Processing emits just as much CO2 as burning the
methane directly, so it contributes to global warming.
It’s energy inefficient compared to burning the methane in a
combined cycle gas generator to get much more of the energy.
Nitrous and sulfur oxides are emitted by processing and create air
Extracting methane is shown to have significant leakage of methane
to the atmosphere, and methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas
There are local impacts of fracking such as minor earthquakes and
in some cases ground water pollution to consider.
2. Partial Oxidation
In partial oxidation, the methane and other hydrocarbons in natural gas
react with a limited amount of oxygen (typically from air) that is not
enough to completely oxidize the hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water.
With less than the stoichiometric amount of oxygen available, the reaction
products contain primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide (and nitrogen, if
the reaction is carried out with air rather than pure oxygen), and a
relatively small amount of carbon dioxide and other compounds.
Subsequently, in a water-gas shift reaction, the carbon monoxide reacts
with water to form carbon dioxide and more hydrogen.
Partial oxidation is an exothermic process—it gives off heat. The process
is, typically, much faster than steam reforming and requires a smaller
reactor vessel. As can be seen in chemical reactions of partial oxidation,
this process initially produces less hydrogen per unit of the input fuel
than is obtained by steam reforming of the same fuel. Partial oxidation of methane reaction
CH4 + ½O2 → CO + 2H2(+ heat)
Water-gas shift reaction
CO + H2O → CO2 + H2 (+ small amount of
Australia is a very dry continent and fresh water is and will remain at a
premium however extraction of hydrogen from water using surplus renewable
electricity from wind and solar sources could assist in generating
supplementary electricity during periods of peak demand or for bulk
Electrolysis of water to create
hydrogen, is a pure energy store. We take electricity generated by some
other means, typically with some mix of fossil fuel generation in it, we
use that electricity in the lossy electrolysis process, we capture the
resulting hydrogen, we distribute it and then we use it in a fuel cell or
burn it to generate electricity. That’s much more similar to a battery.
Electrolysis is the process of using electricity to split water into
hydrogen and oxygen. This reaction takes place in a unit called an
Types of Electrolisers
Like fuel cells, electrolysers consist of an anode and a cathode separated
by an electrolyte.
Different electrolysers function in slightly different ways, mainly due to
the different type of electrolyte material involved.
Polymer Electrolyte Membrane PEM Electrolysers
In a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser, the electrolyte is a
solid specialty plastic material.
Water reacts at the anode to form oxygen and positively charged
hydrogen ions (protons).
The electrons flow through an external circuit and the hydrogen
ions selectively move across the PEM to the cathode.
At the cathode, hydrogen ions combine with electrons from the
external circuit to form hydrogen gas. Anode Reaction: 2H2O
→ O2 + 4H+ + 4e- Cathode Reaction: 4H+ + 4e- → 2H2
Alkaline electrolysers operate via transport of hydroxide ions (OH-)
through the electrolyte from the cathode to the anode with hydrogen being
generated on the cathode side. Electrolysers using a liquid alkaline
solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte have been
commercially available for many years. Newer approaches using solid
alkaline exchange membranes as the electrolyte are showing promise on the
Solid Oxide Electrolysers
Solid oxide electrolysers, which use a solid ceramic material as the
electrolyte that selectively conducts negatively charged oxygen ions (O2-)
at elevated temperatures, generate hydrogen in a slightly different way.
Water at the cathode combines with electrons from the external
circuit to form hydrogen gas and negatively charged oxygen ions.
The oxygen ions pass through the solid ceramic membrane and react
at the anode to form oxygen gas and generate electrons for the
Solid oxide electrolysers must operate at temperatures high enough for the
solid oxide membranes to function properly (about 700°–800°C, compared to
PEM electrolysers, which operate at 70°–90°C, and commercial alkaline
electrolysers, which operate at 100°–150°C). The solid oxide electrolysers
can effectively use heat available at these elevated temperatures (from
various sources, including nuclear energy) to decrease the amount of
electrical energy needed to produce hydrogen from water.
When electricity is used to produce hydrogen, thermodynamics dictate that
you will always produce less energy than you consume. In other words, the
energy input in electricity will be greater than the energy output of
hydrogen. Nevertheless, if a cheap source of electricity is available —
such as excess grid electricity at certain times of the day — it may be
economical to produce hydrogen in this way. In Australia water usage in
electrolysis should be a “closed circuit” with by-product water being
returned to the electrolyser for multiple re-use.
Summary - Hydrogen from electrolysis
If the electricity for electrolysis is sourced from renewables with
low CO2, then the net energy cycle is very low carbon.
No negative emissions at end point of use.
Electrolysis is about 70% efficient, meaning about 30% of the
energy in the electricity is wasted. This is much less efficient than
If the electricity for electrolysis is sourced from fossil fuels,
then the net energy cycle is higher carbon.
Fuel cells are only 40% to 60% efficient and waste heat is
generated. If the waste heat is used as well, overall efficiency at
point of generation can be greater, but the theoretical maximum is
85%. At minimum, 15% of stored electricity is thrown away. In reality,
no automotive fuel cell captures the waste heat, so 40% to 60% of the
stored electricity is thrown away.
If the hydrogen is burned in a Carnot or steam cycle, then
efficiency is even lower than via a fuel cell, closer to gasoline
where efficiency is in the range of 20%.
Solar-driven processes use light as the agent for hydrogen production.
There are a few solar-driven processes, including photobiological,
photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical.
Photobiological processes use the natural photosynthetic activity of
bacteria and green algae to produce hydrogen.
Photoelectrochemical processes use specialized semiconductors to separate
water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Solar thermochemical hydrogen production uses concentrated solar power to
drive water splitting reactions often along with other species such as
Biological processes use microbes such as bacteria and microalgae and can
produce hydrogen through biological reactions.
In microbial biomass conversion, the microbes break down organic matter
like biomass or wastewater to produce hydrogen, while in photobiological
processes the microbes use sunlight as the energy source.
At time of writing the Federal government has allocated $539 million on
“hydrogen” production and CCS “carbon capture sequestration” at five
In Australia, ammonia NH4 is being eyed favourably as a way to
The Haber Process is used to convert hydrogen to Ammonia at about 400 to
500 degrees Celsius and 100 bar.
Liquefied ammonia is a well-established industrial chemical,
shipped at vast scale due to its use in fertiliser. The ammonia as
fertiliser, , once produced can be used directly by the purchaser
Presently ammonia is produced from fossil fuel sources. . The process of
converting hydrogen to ammonia at source and then converting the ammonia
back to hydrogen by the purchaser involves the release of waste products
including nitrous oxides.
Haber Process for making Ammonia
Australia is home to the world’s largest carbon capture and storage
facility at Chevron’s Gorgon natural gas project on Barrow Island off
its northwest coast.
The project has stored more than 4 million metric tons (4.4 million U.S.
tons) of carbon emissions since it started operating in 2019. CCS
Carbon Capture Sequestration involves mechnically compressing CO2
carbon dioxide to an ultra cold supercritical liquid s-CO2. The s-CO2 is
injected via drill holes deep into geological strata where, in theory
the pressure of the overlying rock keep the s-CO2 in a near supercritcal
state. The host rock strata chosen must be overlain by an "impermeable"
cap-rock layer meant to prevent any s-CO2 from migrating upward to the
Built by Chevron in 2016 at a likely cost of $88 billion, the facility
produces 25 million metric tons of natural gas and up to 10 million
metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
That’s because the Gorgon gas field contains a mix of about 60% natural
gas and 40% carbon dioxide (which exists in many gas fields around the
Chevron has to separate the carbon dioxide from the mixture before it
can liquefy natural gas for transport.from the mixture and sequester it
New money would be spent on accelerating development of a new carbon
capture hub and technologies and the conversion of natural methane gas
to exportable ammonia.
The company said that, after initial tests are complete, it will bury as
much as 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—cutting the
project’s carbon footprint by about 40%.
Most CCS facilities inject the captured carbon dioxide into oil fields,
where CO2 dissolves the oil and actually increases the
volumes that can be recovered.
In Norway, Equinor (formerly Statoil) buries carbon dioxide in saline
aquifers, because releasing the gas would require paying a steep carbon
That’s what makes the Gorgon project different.
The carbon dioxide buried is neither used for enhanced oil recovery nor
is it buried to avoid a carbon price.
It’s being buried simply because the Australian government asked Chevron
to do so.
Once working at full scale, it will be the world’s largest CCS facility
that simply buries the greenhouse gas in underground reservoirs.
The Carbon Dioxide (CO2 Injection Project involves the
design, construction and operation of facilities to inject and store
reservoir CO2 into a deep reservoir unit, known as the Dupuy Formation,
a deep saline formation, more than two kilometres beneath Barrow Island.
The Dupuy Formation is Late-Jurassic aged and consists of sandstones and
siltstones, with overall thickness of between 200m and 500m.
Permanently storing CO2 in subsurface geologic reservoirs has
been proposed as a means to curb anthropogenic CO 2 emissions
into the atmosphere. Storage of CO 2 in geologic reservoirs
will occur in the forms of structural or stratigraphic trapping,
residual or capillary trapping, solubility trapping, and mineral
Among these, residual or capillary trapping has emerged as one of the
most significant mechanisms for the long‐term geological storage of CO
The reservoir CO2 will be separated at the liquefied natural
gas (LNG) plant site and transported by pipeline to one of three drill
centres. To minimise the environmental footprint on the island, nine
injection wells have been directionally drilled from the three drill
centres. Once the CO2 is injected, it will migrate through
the Dupuy Formation until it becomes trapped
The top of the Dupuy Formation reservoir is located approximately 2300 m
below Barrow Island and is overlain by a thick shale cap-rock seal. The
shale is intended to keep most of the entrapped carbon dioxide from
leaking to the surface. The pressure in the reservoir will cause the
injected CO 2 to behave as a supercritical fluid with behavio
ur of both a liquid and a gas.
The reservoir CO 2 will become trapped in the reservoir
through a combination of residual saturation trapping and by dissolution
into the waters in the formation.
During geologic CO2 sequestration, the liquid carbon dioxide
(referred to a supercritical) s-CO2 is injected into the
sandstone and siltstone.
Salty water (native brine) is already present in the tiny pore spaces
(capillaries) between the rock grains. The s-CO2 moves
upward in the salty water some dissolves in the water and some gets
trapped in the pore spaces as bubbles or ganglia.
Some considerations along the way….
no geological structure is without flaws so some leakage may be
due to delays in CCS the project accounted for about half the
greenhouse gas increase Australia saw in 2018.
only 40% of CO2 produced is currently successfully
captured and injected
core‐scale experiments and pore‐network flow models suggest that
this capillary trapping in saline aquifers ranges from 10% to 90% of
the total injected volume of CO2. So not all injected CO2
at the producer end conversion of hydrogen to ammonia releases
at the buyer end conversion of ammonia back into hydrogen
releases greenhouse gasses
Potential technologies are available to produce zero emissions hydrogen
from natural methane gas with pure sequestered carbon as a by-product.
Untested Experimental Zero CO2 process that converts
methane into hydrogen
West Virginia University (WVU) has developed a process that converts
methane—the primary component of natural gas—into hydrogen while
emitting zero CO 2.
The process creates carbon solids for manufacturing applications,
valuable for early producers The solid carbon nanocrystals that
accumulate on the catalyst can washed and separated for commercial
use in carbon fibres
The thermocatalytic decomposition (TCD) method process uses a
novel nickel-based bimetallic catalyst to produce hydrogen at 600
the metallic precursors are re-synthesised and recycled back into
the closed-loop cycle allows for continuous catalyst replacement
while emitting zero carbon dioxide emissions.
the downside is that with commercial levels of production the
world market would be flooded with high quality carbon suitable for
carbon fibre but the supply would greatly exceed demand and carbon
high temperatures required
the process has not been tested at scale
Ammonia to Hydrogen conversion using renewable electricity
Northwestern University has developed an experimental electrochemical
cell with a proton-conducting membrane and integrated it with an
The process functions at much lower temperatures than traditional
methods (250 degrees Celsius as opposed to 500 to 600 degrees Celsius)
The ammonia first encounters the catalyst that splits it into nitrogen
That hydrogen gets immediately converted into protons, which are then
electrically driven across the proton-conducting membrane in our
electrochemical cell. Using Le Chatelier's principle by continually
pulling off the hydrogen, the reaction is driven further than it would
otherwise. Removing one of the products of the ammonia-splitting
reaction—namely the hydrogen—pushes the reaction forward, beyond what
the ammonia-splitting catalyst can do alone.
“Hydrogen” cannot always be associated with “Green”
So it would seem that our export hydrogen would be produced from natural
gas rather than via solar using water.
Without 100% CCS this process contributes to carbon dioxide pollution of
our atmosphere – the hydrogen produced is a “refined fossil fuel” and
has a negative impact in terms of stabilising our atmosphere and
At the time of writing $83 million dollars of government money in New
South Wales is being allocated to the construction of a natural gas/
hydrogen electricity co-generation facility initially burning natural
gas but able to burn 95% natural gas and 5% hydrogen in a couple of
years’ time. The source of this “offer to buy” future hydrogen gas
(water or fossil fuel) component currently does not exist and the manner
in which the hydrogen will be produced and delivered has not been
specified. It is possible to mix hydrogen and natural gas in the fuel
stream, with a reduction in CO2 output, but because of the
difference in energy content, to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2
requires about 75% H2 by volume.
One concludes that the NSW project is simply natural gas generator of
electricity with the word “hydrogen” in there as a distraction of the
reality another fossil fuel facility.
Hydrogen Fuel as part of a mix of energy sources
"Hydrogen-based fuels can be a
great clean energy carrier -- yet great are also their costs and
associated risks," says lead author Falko Ueckerdt from the Potsdam
Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Fuels based
on hydrogen as a universal climate solution might be a bit of false
promise. While they're wonderfully versatile, it should not be
expected that they broadly replace fossil fuels. Hydrogen-based
fuels will likely be scarce and not competitive for at least another
decade. Betting on their wide-ranging use would likely
increase fossil fuel dependency: if we cling to combustion
technologies and hope to feed them with hydrogen-based fuels, and
these turn out to be too costly and scarce, then we will end up
further burning oil and gas and emit greenhouse gases. This could
endanger short- and long-term climate targets."
Prioritising to applications like aviation and steel productions
"We should hence prioritise
those precious hydrogen-based fuels to applications for which they
are indispensable: long-distance aviation, feedstocks in chemical
production, steel production and potentially some high-temperature
industrial processes," says Ueckerdt. "These are sectors and
applications that we can hardly electrify directly."
Electro-fuels (E-fuels) –
Hydrogen from Electrolysis + CO2 from the atmosphere
So-called green hydrogen is produced through a process called
electrolysis. To crack the stable H2O water molecules into
Hydrogen and Oxygen, a lot of electricity is needed. The hydrogen can
then be used to synthesise hydrocarbon fuels by adding carbon from CO2.
The resulting electro-fuels or e-fuels are easier to store and transport
than electricity or pure hydrogen.
"Most importantly, e-fuels can
be burned in conventional combustion processes and engines and thus
directly substitute fossil fuels," says Gunnar Luderer, co-author of
the paper. "However, given their limited availability, it would be
wrong to think that fossils can be fully replaced this way."
Driving a car with hydrogen-based fuels needs five times more energy
than a battery-electric car
"We are currently far from 100%
renewable electricity -- so making efficient use of it is key.
However, if we use hydrogen-based fuels instead of direct
electrification alternatives, two to fourteen times the amount of
electricity generation is needed, depending on the application and
the respective technologies," says co-author Romain Sacchi from the
Paul Scherrer Institute. "Efficiency losses happen both on
the supply side, in the production process of the hydrogen-based
fuels, and on the demand side -- a combustion engine wastes a lot
more energy than an electrical one."
"Low energy efficiencies cause a fragile climate
effectiveness," says Sacchi. "If produced with the current
electricity mixes, hydrogen-based fuels would increase -- not
decrease -- greenhouse gas emissions. For the German electricity mix
in 2018, using hydrogen-based fuels in cars, trucks or planes would
produce about three to four times more greenhouse gas emissions than
using fossil fuel." In contrast, electric cars or trucks cause
greenhouse-gas emissions that are comparable to or lower than those of
diesel or gasoline cars already based on today's electricity mixes in
most countries, the researchers show based on a full cradle-to-grave
life-cycle analysis that includes also those emission associated with
the battery production.
"Only for truly renewable-based power systems do
hydrogen-based fuels become an effective means to help stabilize our
climate," says co-author Jordan Everall. "Hydrogen-based fuels thus
clearly require building up loads of additional renewable energy
Summary of Practicality for Australia
Australia is blessed with massive solar and wind energy potential. We
also have quality reserves of lithium, magnesium, high quality silica
sand and rare metals. Government value-adding investment in building and
exporting quality solar, wind, semiconductor and lithium battery devices
might be money better spent.
Hydrogen should only have a few specific roles in our energy mix. Only
hydrogen production from closed circuit electrolysis should be
considered. Our limited fresh water resources limits the range of
hydrogen use to...
contributing to peak electricity demand
bulk transport,such as trains, where fuel volume is a minor
alternative feedstocks in chemical production,
clean high quality steel/ alloy production with focus on value
some industrial processes such as micro-chip manufacturing
Sadly Australia does not meet its ethical responsibilities as a first
world nation and as a member of the global community. Production of
hydrogen from methane, while it may provide a brief stop-gap for exports
as coal exports decline is neither “clean” nor “green”. It is a “refined
fossil fuel” no more. Current levels of carbon dioxide released from
existing methane facilities are frightening. The additional atmospheric
pollution that could be released through the large scale conversion of
hydrogen to and from ammonia. Much higher safeguards on shipping
boatloads of ammonia are required especially considering the proximity
of large urban populations close to potential ammonia ports.
CCS - Carbon capture sequestration has been studied for several decades.
Results are not remotely close to the required 100%. Larger scale
attempts fall back to a ”hide and forget” methodology.
The consequences of burying vast amounts of supercritical CO2
in geological strata for geological periods of time seems as
environmentally irresponsible as the dumping of barrels of nuclear waste
in to the deep ocean in the 1960's. Putting millions of tonnes if carbon
dioxide into geologcal strata and expecting all of it to remain intact
over geological periods of time borders on the absurd. Carbon dioxide
will leak, the crust of the earth is dynamic and we risk acidifying
oceans and groundwater, suffocating livestock and communities.
The World Heritage-Listed Daintree Rainforest region in northern
Queensland has no or limited mains electricity supply. Residents of the
area use diesel generators or solar power and battery storage, or a
combination of both. Solar panels are not viable for all residents due
to shading issues and, in the wet season, the lack of sunshine means
diesel generators must be used. It is estimated that the Daintree area
uses around four million litres of diesel per annum to generate power.
The Federal Government is granting substantial funding to Daintree
Renewable Energy Pty Ltd in support of a feasibility study to
investigate the technical and economic viability of a proposed
solar-based (with hydrogen storage) microgrid for the Daintree region.
Work commenced on the study in late 2019 and is expected to be completed
around the middle of 2020. The proposed microgrid project under
evaluation would convert excess energy generated from existing and new
solar panels into hydrogen via electrolysis. The hydrogen produced would
be stored to be used to generate electricity during unfavourable
conditions (thereby reducing reliance on diesel generation).
Following the May 2021 Budget, the local member stated on ABC radio,
that the project would include solar
panels, hydrogen production (via electrolysis?) AND battery
storage. Fuels Cells are not
mentioned.The area is one of extreme rainfall amounting to several
metres per year. The sun can be behind heavy cloud for weeks at a time
during the "Wet season". So why build a micro-grid that is solely
dependent on sunlight to gererate both electricity and produce hydrogen
as fuel to cover peak demand and provide electricity during the
very long periods of thick cloud cover?
There are numerous major and minor permanent streams, all with
sufficient head for a mix of high head / low water consumption (ie 50m
and 2L/sec) and low head / high water consumption (ie 2m and 110L/sec)
readily available micro-hydro facilities both of which would require
minor infastructure and have minimal environmental impact.
The premise for the project seem counter-intuitive. When the sun isn't
shining, it is raining and the streams are running well. When it is
sunny the solar panels supply power and surplus can be put into
batteries or flywheels or pumped hydro or compressed air- so why
use hydrogen which would put additional demand on the solar panels and
need sunny days? Is this project being set up to fail?
For this project based on publically availble information (May
2021)..When the sun is shining the solar panels must produce:
demand electricity plus
charge the batteries plus
in a RAINFOREST! with mean annual sunshine for 2019 only 20.0 MJ/m2
and high daily variations (courtesy bom.gov.au)
there are various different technologies currently available
from fast response battery systems to fuel cells (power to gas/H2
and back to power)
in the situation of the Daintree, baseload needs to be
supported. Baseload support via batteries is extremely expensive
and so the fuel cell options have been explored
long-term energy storage is also problematic for batteries due
to self/internal discharge, while this is very small large
long-term storage losses due to this phenomenonis problematic.
the impact of seasonality on utilisation factors for battery
storage makes the investment in long term storage options too
expensive when compared to other solutions.
In Northern Europe due to the high uptake of
seasonally-sensitive renewables(especially solar)grid supporting
systems are being developed.
During the market sounding exercise Sunverge approached a
company calledITMwho currently have a number of published,
established Power to Gas (Fuel Cell) demonstration projects with
major European power companies. theimpact
using H2 storage was seen as an alternative to
Due to the low cost to physically store H2 per kWh this allows
for a simplistic protection approach in that the highest priority
after safety is grid stability and so any deviation outside the
allowable bands include rates of change in frequency will trigger
the fuel cell to support the network (next level net load
following PV excess)
The use of fast electrolysis and fuel cells does not seem to be
mentioned in the current plan?
Australia is positioning themselves to be at the
forefront of the much needed hydrogen market,heavily investing
government money primarily blue and grey hydrogen refined
from natural gas (methane) necessitating injecting underground
geological structures to sequester some, but not all, carbon
dioxide . Simultaneously AUD$240 million to develop the
world’s largest ‘green’ ammonia plant called H2U. Situated in
Southern Australia’s city of Whyalla, the plant will use a
combination of wind and solar power to generate power to the
75MW electrolyser, which in turn will provide sufficient renewable
green hydrogen gas via electrolysis to create 40,000
tonnes of ammonia each year. In periods of low renewable output,
there will be two 16MW ‘open cycle gas turbines’ operating
entirely on hydrogen produced at the site. Ammonia has the
additional benefit of as being an alternative fuel source for
large-scale power stations as a substitute for hydrocarbon-based
fuels. While hydrogen gas is best utilised in the distribution
to the end user, ammonia pellets made with hydrogen can used as
Saudi Arabia - the worlds largest oil producer is going
for renewable green hydrogen via electrolysis. The
intention being to remain as the central supplier of energy to
the world. Saudi’s Public Investment Fund has partnered with Air
Products to develop the $5 billion ‘mega-scale’ facility, the
NEOM Project,the first ‘green’ hydrogen plant of its kind in the
world. The initial phase of production will be powered by 4GW of
an undeclared mix of wind and solar PV technology, and will
produce 650 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.To facilitate the
export of hydrogen, Neom will contain an ammonia production
plant, one of the few processes capable of safe transport of
hydrogen and with potential as a hydrogen-based fuel. This plant
is necessary toward creating an export industry that intends to
ship 1.2 million tonnes of ammonia each year.
Japan - As the world’s fourth largest consumer of oil
and gas products and one of the world's most nuclear based
economies, Japan is going for renewable green hydrogen via
electrolysis While Japan will be among the biggest
importers of clean hydrogen in the coming years, the need to
develop an internal supply is just as important.The result is
the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field or FH2R, a joint
venture by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development
Organisation (NEDO) – Japan’s premier public research
institution, regional utility Tohoku Electric Power Company,
Toshiba ESS and Iwatani Corporation.FH2R is a 10MW-class
hydrogen production unit, that utilizes 20MW of solar PV
generation alongside input from the grid to conduct the
electrolysis of water. Using only renewable-powered
electrolysis, FH2R can produce 1,200 Nm³/Hour or up to 900
tonnes of hydrogen a year. While this dwarfs in comparison to
Neom’s expected output, the research facility reaches these
figures with a relatively small 180,000m² solar PV field.
Europe has been leading the hydrogen revolution for a
number of years already as the region looks to replace the deep
seasonal dependency on natural gas with hydrogen gas.They will
be producing renewable green hydrogen gas via electrolysis One
of the most ambitious projects is a joint venture between
Gasunie, Equinor and Shell together with the local authorities
of Groningen – called NortH2. NortH2 will be the largest
offshore wind-powered hydrogen facility initially capable of
producing 4GW of green hydrogen by 2030 and rising to 10GW by
2040, or totaling around 1 million metric tonnes each year. This
equates to supplying the energy demands of 12.5 million Dutch
households at their current levels. With the EU’s goal of
developing 40GW of hydrogen electrolysers by 2040, this project
will fulfill 10% of the continental supply! Beyond the benefit
of developing ‘green’ hydrogen, there is the benefit of
repurposing Gasunie’s existing natural gas infrastructure for
the transmission and distribution of hydrogen gas. The potential
in this area is massive considering the extensive gas
infrastructure that exists throughout Europe. The sufficient
capacity to store and transport hydrogen and the development of
industrial clusters can ensure repurposing upgrades and costs
are minimized by utilising existing infrastructure.While these
‘green’ hydrogen projects are the ideal end-goal, it cannot be
overlooked that over 95% of hydrogen currently produced is done
so as ‘blue’ or ‘grey’ hydrogen. The refining sector has assumed
a monumental undertaking to support and grow the market and
technologies required to kick start a functional hydrogen sector
Central to how society embraces hydrogen will be defined by how
we can utilize the gas (or it’s byproducts such as ammonia)
beyond industrial or manufacturing capacity. And while hydrogen
fuel cells for cars leave significant challenges still to be
overcome, hydrogen-powered public transport has become an
increasingly viable and attractive alternative
Russia - there has been an impetus to search for ways
to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions as the future of fossil
fuels remains in doubt. it is the development of low-carbon
processes is needed to inhibit the advancement of climate change
Building the first experimental turbine in the world to run
entirely off hydrogen and designing gas turbines that can run on
natural gas supplemented with 10% hydrogen