Hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen is the element that occurs most frequently in our universe. It is found all around us and can be used as a climate-neutral energy carrier. The gas can be used as fuel for vehicles and other machinery, as well as a means for energy storage. Currently, active research is underway on ways to produce inexpensive hydrogen on an industrial scale.

Hydrogen fuel market outlook

In August 2019, a consortium of European companies comprising Danish energy producer ØrstedBritish hydrogen solutions developer ITM Power, and energy market consultant Element Energy have secured funding from the UK government for the Gigastack feasibility study, a six-month project to investigate the potential delivery of bulk, low-cost and zero-carbon hydrogen.

Hydrogen for energy storage 

Excess of electrical power made by renewable facilities during peaks of production can be used to split water molecules and make hydrogen, which can be stored in tanks or underground caves, and transported through pipelines, or by tankers or trucks. Such technology allows using green power plants independently of weather conditions to make them more reliable.

Hydrogen production technologies

Hydrogen is made by electrolysis, an electrochemical process that splits and harvests oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) molecules from water (H2O).

PEM electrolysis

Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) technology uses a solid membrane to separate the final gases and simultaneously compress hydrogen. Therefore, much less energy is spent to compress the gas to a pressure of 50-300 bar, necessary for its storage. As in all other electrolysis methods, PEM electrolysis requires a drying phase, after which hydrogen with a purity of more than 99.9998% is obtained.

The technology eliminates many potential impurities, such as sulfur and hydrocarbons. Unlike other forms of electrolysis, PEM electrolysis does not imply a costly gas purification step so that the product could meet automotive industry purity requirements (SAE J2719).

Risks and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel

Consumer concern about the risk of explosions prevents the spread of hydrogen fuel. Residents of Japan and South Korea are protesting against construction of hydrogen plants. This year, two people were killed in a hydrogen tank explosion in South Korea, after which the explosion also occurred at a hydrogen station in Norway.

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