PINK (PURPLE OR RED) HYDROGEN
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. 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 PINK HYDROGEN ?
or nuclear hydrogen, can also be referred to as purple or red hydrogen.
Pink hydrogen is the most dangerous option in the long term, with short term gains in extra generating capacity to make hydrogen gas via electrolyzers. It is unsustainable and one of our least favoured options in the quest for a circular economy. The radioactive toxic waste is dumped in the oceans, where it remains a potential biological hazard (almost) forever. Hence, the exploitation could never be circular, where sustainable practices are neutral and do not present a long term danger.
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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