What Is Green H2?

If you are a green lifestyle enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about green H2 or Green hydrogen as one of the latest eco-friendly technologies enjoying growing popularity. Well, it turns out, while hydrogen has been used as fuel for decades, it looks like environmentalists have just discovered recently that there are likely huge benefits worth tapping from it.
You’ll agree that green H2 has been making headlines of late and going by the trends, the debate seems to be gaining momentum and becoming more interesting. For instance, as one of his bids to promote the use of renewable energy in the U.S. President Biden has promised that his administration will invest $100 million in research and development of hydrogen plus fuel cells to produce hydrogen that’s cheaper than natural gas. Similarly, the European Union is also set to invest $430 billion in hydrogen by the year 2030 as part of its Green Deal. Many other countries and making huge investments specifically into green H2. So, what exactly is Green H2 and why is the interest in it?

About Green H2

H2 is fuel created from renewable energy sources. Unlike the energy that is created using fossil fuels, hydrogen is clean-burning, abundant and consequently cheap. For this kind of uniqueness and with its ability to help meet the energy demands without any harmful consequences to the environment, the green lifestyle enthusiasts describe green H2 as the fuel of the future.

Simply put, energy from H2 is clean and hence can be used as power for transportation, manufacturing, food processing, oil refining, metallurgy, fertilizer and chemical production among others. But that’s not all! What’s even more interesting is the fact that its only by-product is water. Also, since it’s versatile, it can be used as a gas, liquid, or converted to fuel or electricity depending on one’s energy needs.

Look, the universe has more hydrogen than any other element. But there’s a catch! While the abundance sounds great and justifies the need to tap into the element, there are challenges when it comes to the production process, storage and usage of hydrogen. That’s, in fact, the reason the “future” of hydrogen has not materialized, despite the focus and huge investments into tapping the green H2.

The Challenges of Producing, Storing and Using H2

Currently, hydrogen is largely produced through the process of steam methane reforming. In this process, a catalyst is used to react high-temperature steam and methane to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide in a small amount. The impurities are then removed to leave pure hydrogen which is stored after compressing it.

As is the case with any gas hydrogen can be compressed, stored in tanks and then used where it’s needed. However, it is worth noting that hydrogen is much larger than other hydrocarbons. Just as an illustration, hydrogen is approximately four times larger than natural gas. That means to compress and store it like natural gas, a much stronger compression would be needed. More precisely, a force that is 700 times stronger than the normal atmospheric pressure would be required. While that can be done, the cost of doing it would make the process more expensive than that of other fuels.

Regarding usage, its light and flammability feature implies that it needs proper handing for safety purposes. In comparison with gasoline, for instance, hydrogen is about 57 times lighter. That means hydrogen can easily disperse in the atmosphere. Further, since it’s less dense, transporting it can be a little bit difficult. At the moment, hydrogen is mainly transported through tube trailers, trucks and dedicated pipelines, by rail and sometimes by barge. Research is ongoing to improve efficiency in the generation, storage and transportation of green H2.

The Future of Green H2

Experts and green lifestyle enthusiasts predict that there will be widespread research, adoption and use of hydrogen in the next five to ten years. For instance, a study estimates that the U.S. hydrogen economy is likely to hit $140 billion and support a whopping 700,000 jobs by the year 2030. Similar growth in the usage of hydrogen will be registered in Europe and Japan over the coming years.

The projection of growth in the production and use of hydrogen as a green lifestyle fuel is premised on the assumption that there will be major policy changes driven by markets and mass manufacture of electrolyzers which so far has not been done anywhere in the world. Thankfully, going by the number of projects being undertaken around the world, the adoption and use of H2 is possible.

Bottom Line?

Arguably, nations of the world and beginning to tap the potential that exists in the earth’s most abundant element, hydrogen. It is, in fact, a way of promoting sustainable use of energy and other environmentally friendly technologies. If things go well, the exploration and use of hydrogen could help the world realize the desire to realize zero emissions.