MULTI PURPOSE - The same service station that provides freshly charged hydrogen batteries, doubles up as an energy store for the national grid of the country concerned, without giant silos or gas holders. Why put in load levelling stations that only have one function? We hoped this would be a topic of discussion at UN COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. But it never got that far, where coal was the main negotiating point, and Australia, China, India and Russia refused to agree phasing out. In days gone by town gas was stored in silos called gasometers or gas holders. Every town had one, with cities having several. These gas holder have all but disappeared, as relics of a bygone age.
WHAT IS WHITE HYDROGEN ?
White hydrogen is a naturally-occurring geological gas found in underground deposits and created through fracking. There are no strategies to exploit this hydrogen at present, where it would be difficult to contain such as to exploit.
Going back to basics: hydrogen (H) is the lightest element of the periodic table and the most common substance in the universe. It can be used as feedstock, fuel or an energy carrier and does not emit CO2 when burnt, that is why you often hear about its high potential for decarbonising the planet - with a hydrogen economy.
In nature, we find it mostly in gaseous form (H2) and it is
has no colour. That is why, when you hear about “white hydrogen”, we refer to the naturally occurring one that might be (rarely) found in underground deposits.
At present there is no viable strategy to use these deposits, so we apply different processes to generate
hydrogen artificially. That is what the colours mentioned here are for: each one refers to the energy source and/or process that was used to produce
the hydrogen gas.
THE HYDROGEN COLOUR SPECTRUM
Hydrogen is an invisible colourless gas. But we use a spectrum of colours to describe how hydrogen is produced, or naturally formed. In essence, the spectrum is used to express how dirty or clean a method of producing the gas is. The chart is only a guide, because each method is subject to variations that can render a process cleaner or dirtier, depending on the efficiency of the application. It is literally, 50 shades of grey for the dirtier conversions.
In addition to producing the gas, the level of compression for storage, or liquefaction, uses more energy, as will converting the gas to ammonia, etc. All these factors have to be taken into consideration depending on the end use. For example, cars will more than likely use highly compressed gas in type IV cylinders, where trucks might benefit from LH2. Each method increases the potential carbon footprint. Ships are likely to use liquid hydrogen, but low pressure gas cylinders (that do not yet exist) would be a more efficient use for transport, where marine cryogenic cylinders are heavy and expensive, and there are as yet no IMO rules, the recommendations for gas vessels being far more onerous than for train and truck tankers.
Houses and factories could use piped gas. Then again, properly designed homes can generate their own solar electricity and heat, or be retro-fitted. That is not the case with industry in most applications. Storage is the main problem for industrial use, heralding a return to gas silos, or large cryogenic cylinders that are expensive and boil off at the rate of 1% a day. Hence, are not economically viable - at the moment.
Food for thought!
NATURAL CARBON LOCK - It took a long time for nature to capture and lock up carbon in coal. It makes no sense to gasify coal to release carbon and hydrogen, as with conversion options using carbon capture and storage (CCS) to turn a process from dirty to near neutral. That is wasteful of energy and unsustainable.
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