Image for New Hydrogen Program to Make Clean Production Cost Less Green

New Hydrogen Program to Make Clean Production Cost Less Green

Gases / Industries / Industry News

Hydrogen (H) is the lightest, simplest element in the periodic table and is used for weather balloons, processing petroleum products, glass production, and heat-treating furnaces for steel production. It’s also commonly used in a variety of chemical processes, such as hydrogen fuel cells to power cars and in fuel-celled forklifts. Producing hydrogen takes energy because hydrogen atoms don’t exist on their own. They are almost always connected to another element, such as H2O. To create hydrogen, you must break those molecular bonds.


The Hydrogen Rainbow

Hydrogen comes in a variety of “colors.” This means that the hydrogen manufacturing methods of separating hydrogen from various compounds (water, ammonia, methane, etc.), and the emissions that result thereafter, are labeled as green, blue, pink, grey, and brown. The brighter colors (green and blue) typically refer to hydrogen produced using processes that emit a lower amount of greenhouse gases. The darker colors (grey and brown) refer to higher emissions and pollutants.

Green hydrogen is produced entirely by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or hydro, which then powers an electrolyzer that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The lack of CO2 emissions makes this production method green.

Blue hydrogen is the capture and storage of hydrogen during steam methane reformation, which causes some (but reduced) carbon dioxide emissions. However, those emissions are stored underground and reused for other processes.

Pink hydrogen is produced using nuclear power instead of renewable power to electrolyze water.

Grey hydrogen is produced like blue hydrogen, however carbon emissions are not captured and stored, but instead are released into the atmosphere.

Brown hydrogen is the byproduct of fossil fuels. Steam reforming and gasification is the separation of hydrogen atoms from carbon atoms in either natural gas or coal production. During this process of gasification, carbon dioxide emissions are high.


U.S. Hydrogen Production

Hydrogen’s popularity is increasing because it’s reliable, versatile, and can be produced in a variety of ways. The two most common methods for producing hydrogen are steam-methane reforming and electrolysis. Approximately 10 million metric tons of hydrogen are produced in the U.S. annually, with 95% made by natural gas reforming in large central plants. Currently, the majority of U.S. hydrogen production is grey, but hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role in the transition to clean energy. It’s abundant, efficient, and green hydrogen production produces no emissions. Researchers are exploring and developing other production methods, which could provide more environmentally friendly options.

The biggest obstacle in switching processes to green hydrogen production is the cost. Making hydrogen from natural gas costs about $1.50 per kilogram, whereas clean hydrogen costs about $5 per kilogram. Driving down the price of clean hydrogen could be a big step toward combatting climate change.


The Hydrogen Shot

In June 2021, the Department of Energy launched a program called the Hydrogen Shot. The goal is to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per one kilogram, in one decade. According to the Department of Energy, “The Hydrogen Shot establishes a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for demonstration projects. Achieving the Hydrogen Shot’s 80% cost reduction goal can unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks. This would create more clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and position America to compete in the clean energy market on a global scale. These efforts would ensure that environmental protection and benefits for local communities are a priority.”

There are three primary pathways to achieve this goal:

  1. 1. Improve the efficiency, durability, and manufacturing volume of electrolyzers.
  2. 2. Improve pyrolysis, which generates solid carbon, not carbon dioxide as a byproduct.
  3. 3. Advanced pathways – which includes all new, experimental technologies.

Not only can hydrogen be a clean and renewable resource with health and environmental benefits, but Hydrogen provides flexibility because it can be produced, stored underground, and utilized as needed. Other obstacles may be uncovered as the program progresses, but these are important steps toward all green, hydrogen production. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The Department of Energy approved a $504 million loan guarantee in June 2022 to construct 220 megawatts of electrolyzers in Delta, UT, paired with underground storage caverns to store the hydrogen produced from excess renewable electricity”.


Hydrogen at Rocky Mountain Air

Rocky Mountain Air offers liquid or compressed hydrogen in various concentrations and purities. We also offer bulk hydrogen options for our partners, such as tanks and trailers, and scheduled refills on-site for such applications. Contact your local branch today in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, or Nebraska to discuss your hydrogen uses, or to set up a usage evaluation. We look forward to serving you with flawless dependability!

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