A global transformation of the energy sector is underway. To support a future where all our energy comes from clean sources, the world needs to transition towards alternative, flexible, storable, and safe fuels. Hydrogen, element number 1 (H), possesses all of these characteristics.
Hydrogen is a colourless, odorless gas and is the most abundant element in the universe, however pure hydrogen is not found naturally on Earth. It must be extracted from the substances that contain it – water mainly, but also coal, natural gas, and biomass – and this takes energy.
Hydrogen is produced from other energy sources, most commonly through steam-methane reformation, which is what considers it more of an energy carrier than an energy source itself. Whether hydrogen is truly a zero or low-emissions fuel depends on its production. When produced through renewable methods such as electrolysis, water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen through an electric current. However, further advancements are required to improve efficiency and scale in electrolysis processes to make them cost-competitive and as widely available as fossil-fuel hydrogen production methods.
Tackling climate change while still providing various sources of energy is made possible given hydrogen’s versatility. Hydrogen can be used, like natural gas, to produce heat. Delivery of hydrogen for heating purposes would most likely be via new or existing gas networks, and hydrogen can also be blended with natural gas for cooking.
Hydrogen can also be used to generate electricity (through fuel cells or being burned to drive turbines). If made when there is surplus or cheap electricity available, hydrogen can be stored and then used to produce electricity when there is insufficient electricity available from other sources.
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Currently, hydrogen is primarily transported in a gaseous or liquid form and carried by large tube trailers or pipelines. This includes liquid H2, ammonia and LOHC, with most hydrogen produced and consumed at the same site or in close proximity. The challenges to hydrogen transportation range from delivery expenses to lack of energy efficiency, potential leakage, flammability, and evaporation. Gaseous hydrogen also requires significant amounts of energy to be liquified and has to be cooled to – 253°C (−423°F).
The current transportation and storage methods can be alleviated by Kotai’s NABH4 method, ensuring a green export market. In transporting H2 in a powder, the transportation process becomes safer, more accessible, and would be able to meet growing hydrogen demand for clean energy.
Global HYDROGEN Market
Hydrogen can play an important role in meeting growing demands for energy while reducing the effects of carbon emissions. As a fuel, hydrogen is renewable and sustainable, both important factors in the reduction of fossil fuel usage. Hydrogen additionally holds potential as a low-carbon energy carrier, and through electrolysis and Kotai’s NABH4 method, low-carbon energy production becomes increasingly possible.
The result of hydrogen decarbonizing the power sector will transform the ways energy is produced and used. We are already seeing unprecedented growth in low-emissions electricity generation. However, in other energy-consuming sectors, such as heavy transport, heavy industry and providing heat, the journey to clean energy is less advanced. Further integrating hydrogen into the energy chain will allow these sectors to reach cleaner alternatives.