Opinion

Opinion

Hydrogen: It’s More Than Fuel Cells

Hydrogen: It’s More Than Fuel Cells

Russell Wong

Russell Wong

Apr 9, 2024

Apr 9, 2024

Hydrogen - you’ve definitely seen or heard something about it. Other than being the most abundant element in the known universe, it is also being studied and deployed intensively by industries all around the world for its usage and its potential to contribute significantly to carbon emission reduction.


If you are not the most technically inclined person - fret not! This article aims to do the following for all our readers:

  1. Tell you why Hydrogen is Important in today’s world,

  2. Teach you how you should think about Hydrogen,

  3. Inform you on ‘What’s next?’


After finishing this article, you should have a stable foundation to go on learning more about the world of hydrogen.

Why Hydrogen is Important

Don’t focus too much on words like ‘fuel cells’, ‘energy carriers’ and ‘hydrogen mobility’. Also tuck away phrases like ‘energy/ fuel for the future’ - instead, I invite you to understand first - some fun facts about hydrogen:

High Energy Content and Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Hydrogen as a substance has a high heat value of about 140 MJ/kg. [1] It is no uranium (sitting at values of 500 GJ/kg or more), but it easily beats out petrol/gasoline (at about 45 MJ/kg), and coal, which typically provides heat values of 20MJ/kg. What this means in plain speak is that all things considered, hydrogen makes for a decent fuel. At the heart of arguments for hydrogen reducing GHG is the fact that when hydrogen is burnt as a fuel (combusted), it reacts with oxygen and releases water. 

Abundance

Hydrogen accounts for 90% of all atoms in the known universe, and accounts for about 75% of the universe’s mass. It is in the air we breathe (in small amounts), and in the water we drink. Without the hydrogen atom, many of the things we know and use would not exist. Hydrogen either makes up or is used to make most materials and things we interact with on a daily basis. Take for example the cotton in your shirt - it is actually made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms.

Versatility

Other than it being almost everywhere, hydrogen is also versatile as it can form many compounds with a wide range of other elements. It is the smallest and lightest element on the element table, and you can think of it as a universal chemical building block that can be used to form many different things.


Its versatility enables the following contributions to our global industries and economy:


You may be thinking - sure, what about hydrogen as a standalone element? Hydrogen by itself is useful too. The next section will explain to you how to think of hydrogen - due to hydrogen’s incredible versatility, we produce hydrogen, and utilize it for a range of purposes.

How you should think about Hydrogen

You should primarily think of hydrogen in 4 categories:

  1. Production

Hydrogen is produced at volumes of about 100 mt/yr (million tonnes a year). [6] Most of the time, this is in gaseous form - simply because to produce hydrogen at a commercial scale, most of the industrial processes are conducted at high temperatures (>500 degrees typically).

  1. Utilization

Hydrogen gas is utilized in many fascinating ways. While a lot of hype and buzz revolves around hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen as a fuel , did you know that actually hydrogen is mostly used for these applications:

  1. 43% of global hydrogen produced is used for refining crude oil

  2. 55% of global hydrogen produced is used on industries in this fashion:

    • 33% on ammonia production 

    • 16.5% on methanol production

    • 5.5% on iron production (otherwise known as Direct Reduced Iron (DRI)


This leaves approximately 2% of global hydrogen produced and utilized on other more nascent applications like hydrogen fuel cells (for hydrogen powered cars and buses).

Figure 1. Hydrogen has been used at industrial scale for more than half a century at industrial scale.
  1. Transportation

By now, you should be thinking of hydrogen as a commodity (as you should!) as it is produced and used on industrial scales. Sometimes, production and utilization facilities are built in integrated facilities, or next to each other. In other cases, hydrogen will need to be stored and transported to the site of usage. There are two broad categories  of transportation of hydrogen:

  1. Transport using vehicles like trucks or ships, which can be done:

    • In liquid hydrogen form, [7] in combination with cryogenic storage and liquid tankers that hold the liquid hydrogen, or

    • In gaseous form, [7] with long cylinders holding highly compressed gaseous hydrogen, or

    • In hydrogen/ energy carrier form i.e. chemical compounds that contain hydrogen in them when broken down at a later stage (examples being Ammonia and LOHCs).

  2. Transport using hydrogen pipelines in gaseous form - which is by far the lower cost option for delivering large volumes when compared to the other transport options above. [8]


You can check out an in-depth comparison of all the different methods for hydrogen transportation here.

  1. Storage

Similar to transportation of hydrogen, the ability to store hydrogen is important to advance the commercial viability of hydrogen as a commodity.  

Figure 2. An overview of hydrogen storage [9]

While there are many ways to store hydrogen, the two main purposes for storing hydrogen are:

  1. Storing it in containers to transport it - as described above storage and transportation can go hand in hand, or

  2. Storing it in large quantities at central locations for later use/ distribution. Other than figure 2 above, there is also the idea that large amounts of hydrogen gas can be stored underground. [10]

What Next?

After reading the above, I hope you’ve come to the realization that hydrogen is not just about sexy new hydrogen technology (H2 powered cars and electrolysers). Hydrogen has actually been used industrially for a long time, and what we should know is this:


Hydrogen at its core is not that hard to understand - take the time you need to understand how it is produced, utilized, transported and stored, and don’t be afraid to talk about it and learn what you don’t know. Learn at your own pace, don’t place too much emphasis on jargon, and form a solid foundational understanding of hydrogen, which will help you understand more advanced concepts in the long-run.


With only 2% of global hydrogen being produced by and utilized for more nascent technologies, the majority of hydrogen (~98%) today are being produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - hydrogen technology can and should also be optimized here, and these are some examples of how:

  1. H2 recycling from refinery off-gas

  2. H2 recycling from PSA tail gas

  3. Blue H2 (check our thought piece that aims to defend blue hydrogen)


However - that 2% of global hydrogen and nascent technologies are extremely important to our global 2050 NZE [11] (net zero emissions) efforts. 


For the 98% of hydrogen produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - these are typically produced using Grey Hydrogen/ Steam Methane Reformation, where for every 1 kg of Hydrogen produced, 10 kg of CO2 is produced.  (You can explore our article to learn what the different hydrogen colors mean)


It is important to acknowledge that we can’t completely transition to nascent hydrogen technologies overnight, but also that newer technologies like electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cell technology are excellent steps towards producing and utilizing hydrogen with no greenhouse gas emissions.


The best way forward, as is often, is a balanced approach - to optimize how we produce and utilize hydrogen and GHG emissions in our long-standing industrial processes, and also to continue placing a global emphasis on emerging hydrogen technologies. 


Lastly, although Hydrogen is produced and utilized on an industrial scale, it is not yet a globally traded commodity. There are strong arguments for this - as described above hydrogen as a fuel is very environmentally friendly, and its heat values also outperform traditional fuels like petroleum and coal. However, a large barrier to hydrogen as a commodity today is that despite its global production volume, its storage and transportation need to be rapidly improved and evolved. To achieve a “commodity” status and to be readily traded, hydrogen technology needs to allow for:

  1. A large number of hydrogen trade counts

  2. Large volumes of hydrogen being transported without restrictions across cities and regions


I hope that you’ve enjoyed your journey of exploring the hydrogen industry, and that this article has helped you feel more confident to delve a little deeper into the world of hydrogen. If we are to rely heavily on hydrogen in the years to come, everyone has to have a solid foundational understanding of it.

References

[1] World Nuclear Association. "Heat Values of Various Fuels." https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/facts-and-figures/heat-values-of-various-fuels.aspx.

[2] The Royal Society. "Haber-Bosch Process." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/haber-bosch-process#:~:text=The%20Haber%2DBosch%20process%20is,The%20Royal%20Society%2C%202020.

[3] Petro Online. "What Are the 4 Main Types of Hydrocarbons?" https://www.petro-online.com/news/fuel-for-thought/13/breaking-news/what-are-the-4-main-types-of-hydrocarbons/54595#:~:text=The%20three%20most%20common%20and,to%20the%20environment%20when%20combusted.

[4] S&P Global. "Future of Ethane as a Global Commodity." https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/ci/research-analysis/future-of-ethane-as-a-global-commodity.html#:~:text=Ethane%20is%20a%20by%2Dproduct,steam%20crackers%20for%20ethylene%20production.

[5] Department of the Environment and Energy. "Methanol." https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/npi/substances/fact-sheets/methanol#:~:text=It%20is%20used%20as%20an,vitamins%2C%20hormones%20and%20other%20pharmaceuticals.

[6] International Energy Agency. "Global Hydrogen Review 2023." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-hydrogen-review-2023.

[7] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-technologies-office.

[8] ScienceDirect. "Point-to-point transportation: The economics of hydrogen export." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S036031992203107X.

[9] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen Storage." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-storage.

[10] Institute for Energy and the Environment, Penn State University. "Underground Hydrogen Storage to Support Renewable Energy." https://iee.psu.edu/news/blog/underground-hydrogen-storage-support-renewable-energy.

[11] International Energy Agency. "Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE)." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-and-climate-model/net-zero-emissions-by-2050-scenario-nze.

Hydrogen - you’ve definitely seen or heard something about it. Other than being the most abundant element in the known universe, it is also being studied and deployed intensively by industries all around the world for its usage and its potential to contribute significantly to carbon emission reduction.


If you are not the most technically inclined person - fret not! This article aims to do the following for all our readers:

  1. Tell you why Hydrogen is Important in today’s world,

  2. Teach you how you should think about Hydrogen,

  3. Inform you on ‘What’s next?’


After finishing this article, you should have a stable foundation to go on learning more about the world of hydrogen.

Why Hydrogen is Important

Don’t focus too much on words like ‘fuel cells’, ‘energy carriers’ and ‘hydrogen mobility’. Also tuck away phrases like ‘energy/ fuel for the future’ - instead, I invite you to understand first - some fun facts about hydrogen:

High Energy Content and Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Hydrogen as a substance has a high heat value of about 140 MJ/kg. [1] It is no uranium (sitting at values of 500 GJ/kg or more), but it easily beats out petrol/gasoline (at about 45 MJ/kg), and coal, which typically provides heat values of 20MJ/kg. What this means in plain speak is that all things considered, hydrogen makes for a decent fuel. At the heart of arguments for hydrogen reducing GHG is the fact that when hydrogen is burnt as a fuel (combusted), it reacts with oxygen and releases water. 

Abundance

Hydrogen accounts for 90% of all atoms in the known universe, and accounts for about 75% of the universe’s mass. It is in the air we breathe (in small amounts), and in the water we drink. Without the hydrogen atom, many of the things we know and use would not exist. Hydrogen either makes up or is used to make most materials and things we interact with on a daily basis. Take for example the cotton in your shirt - it is actually made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms.

Versatility

Other than it being almost everywhere, hydrogen is also versatile as it can form many compounds with a wide range of other elements. It is the smallest and lightest element on the element table, and you can think of it as a universal chemical building block that can be used to form many different things.


Its versatility enables the following contributions to our global industries and economy:


You may be thinking - sure, what about hydrogen as a standalone element? Hydrogen by itself is useful too. The next section will explain to you how to think of hydrogen - due to hydrogen’s incredible versatility, we produce hydrogen, and utilize it for a range of purposes.

How you should think about Hydrogen

You should primarily think of hydrogen in 4 categories:

  1. Production

Hydrogen is produced at volumes of about 100 mt/yr (million tonnes a year). [6] Most of the time, this is in gaseous form - simply because to produce hydrogen at a commercial scale, most of the industrial processes are conducted at high temperatures (>500 degrees typically).

  1. Utilization

Hydrogen gas is utilized in many fascinating ways. While a lot of hype and buzz revolves around hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen as a fuel , did you know that actually hydrogen is mostly used for these applications:

  1. 43% of global hydrogen produced is used for refining crude oil

  2. 55% of global hydrogen produced is used on industries in this fashion:

    • 33% on ammonia production 

    • 16.5% on methanol production

    • 5.5% on iron production (otherwise known as Direct Reduced Iron (DRI)


This leaves approximately 2% of global hydrogen produced and utilized on other more nascent applications like hydrogen fuel cells (for hydrogen powered cars and buses).

Figure 1. Hydrogen has been used at industrial scale for more than half a century at industrial scale.
  1. Transportation

By now, you should be thinking of hydrogen as a commodity (as you should!) as it is produced and used on industrial scales. Sometimes, production and utilization facilities are built in integrated facilities, or next to each other. In other cases, hydrogen will need to be stored and transported to the site of usage. There are two broad categories  of transportation of hydrogen:

  1. Transport using vehicles like trucks or ships, which can be done:

    • In liquid hydrogen form, [7] in combination with cryogenic storage and liquid tankers that hold the liquid hydrogen, or

    • In gaseous form, [7] with long cylinders holding highly compressed gaseous hydrogen, or

    • In hydrogen/ energy carrier form i.e. chemical compounds that contain hydrogen in them when broken down at a later stage (examples being Ammonia and LOHCs).

  2. Transport using hydrogen pipelines in gaseous form - which is by far the lower cost option for delivering large volumes when compared to the other transport options above. [8]


You can check out an in-depth comparison of all the different methods for hydrogen transportation here.

  1. Storage

Similar to transportation of hydrogen, the ability to store hydrogen is important to advance the commercial viability of hydrogen as a commodity.  

Figure 2. An overview of hydrogen storage [9]

While there are many ways to store hydrogen, the two main purposes for storing hydrogen are:

  1. Storing it in containers to transport it - as described above storage and transportation can go hand in hand, or

  2. Storing it in large quantities at central locations for later use/ distribution. Other than figure 2 above, there is also the idea that large amounts of hydrogen gas can be stored underground. [10]

What Next?

After reading the above, I hope you’ve come to the realization that hydrogen is not just about sexy new hydrogen technology (H2 powered cars and electrolysers). Hydrogen has actually been used industrially for a long time, and what we should know is this:


Hydrogen at its core is not that hard to understand - take the time you need to understand how it is produced, utilized, transported and stored, and don’t be afraid to talk about it and learn what you don’t know. Learn at your own pace, don’t place too much emphasis on jargon, and form a solid foundational understanding of hydrogen, which will help you understand more advanced concepts in the long-run.


With only 2% of global hydrogen being produced by and utilized for more nascent technologies, the majority of hydrogen (~98%) today are being produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - hydrogen technology can and should also be optimized here, and these are some examples of how:

  1. H2 recycling from refinery off-gas

  2. H2 recycling from PSA tail gas

  3. Blue H2 (check our thought piece that aims to defend blue hydrogen)


However - that 2% of global hydrogen and nascent technologies are extremely important to our global 2050 NZE [11] (net zero emissions) efforts. 


For the 98% of hydrogen produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - these are typically produced using Grey Hydrogen/ Steam Methane Reformation, where for every 1 kg of Hydrogen produced, 10 kg of CO2 is produced.  (You can explore our article to learn what the different hydrogen colors mean)


It is important to acknowledge that we can’t completely transition to nascent hydrogen technologies overnight, but also that newer technologies like electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cell technology are excellent steps towards producing and utilizing hydrogen with no greenhouse gas emissions.


The best way forward, as is often, is a balanced approach - to optimize how we produce and utilize hydrogen and GHG emissions in our long-standing industrial processes, and also to continue placing a global emphasis on emerging hydrogen technologies. 


Lastly, although Hydrogen is produced and utilized on an industrial scale, it is not yet a globally traded commodity. There are strong arguments for this - as described above hydrogen as a fuel is very environmentally friendly, and its heat values also outperform traditional fuels like petroleum and coal. However, a large barrier to hydrogen as a commodity today is that despite its global production volume, its storage and transportation need to be rapidly improved and evolved. To achieve a “commodity” status and to be readily traded, hydrogen technology needs to allow for:

  1. A large number of hydrogen trade counts

  2. Large volumes of hydrogen being transported without restrictions across cities and regions


I hope that you’ve enjoyed your journey of exploring the hydrogen industry, and that this article has helped you feel more confident to delve a little deeper into the world of hydrogen. If we are to rely heavily on hydrogen in the years to come, everyone has to have a solid foundational understanding of it.

References

[1] World Nuclear Association. "Heat Values of Various Fuels." https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/facts-and-figures/heat-values-of-various-fuels.aspx.

[2] The Royal Society. "Haber-Bosch Process." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/haber-bosch-process#:~:text=The%20Haber%2DBosch%20process%20is,The%20Royal%20Society%2C%202020.

[3] Petro Online. "What Are the 4 Main Types of Hydrocarbons?" https://www.petro-online.com/news/fuel-for-thought/13/breaking-news/what-are-the-4-main-types-of-hydrocarbons/54595#:~:text=The%20three%20most%20common%20and,to%20the%20environment%20when%20combusted.

[4] S&P Global. "Future of Ethane as a Global Commodity." https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/ci/research-analysis/future-of-ethane-as-a-global-commodity.html#:~:text=Ethane%20is%20a%20by%2Dproduct,steam%20crackers%20for%20ethylene%20production.

[5] Department of the Environment and Energy. "Methanol." https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/npi/substances/fact-sheets/methanol#:~:text=It%20is%20used%20as%20an,vitamins%2C%20hormones%20and%20other%20pharmaceuticals.

[6] International Energy Agency. "Global Hydrogen Review 2023." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-hydrogen-review-2023.

[7] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-technologies-office.

[8] ScienceDirect. "Point-to-point transportation: The economics of hydrogen export." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S036031992203107X.

[9] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen Storage." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-storage.

[10] Institute for Energy and the Environment, Penn State University. "Underground Hydrogen Storage to Support Renewable Energy." https://iee.psu.edu/news/blog/underground-hydrogen-storage-support-renewable-energy.

[11] International Energy Agency. "Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE)." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-and-climate-model/net-zero-emissions-by-2050-scenario-nze.

Hydrogen - you’ve definitely seen or heard something about it. Other than being the most abundant element in the known universe, it is also being studied and deployed intensively by industries all around the world for its usage and its potential to contribute significantly to carbon emission reduction.


If you are not the most technically inclined person - fret not! This article aims to do the following for all our readers:

  1. Tell you why Hydrogen is Important in today’s world,

  2. Teach you how you should think about Hydrogen,

  3. Inform you on ‘What’s next?’


After finishing this article, you should have a stable foundation to go on learning more about the world of hydrogen.

Why Hydrogen is Important

Don’t focus too much on words like ‘fuel cells’, ‘energy carriers’ and ‘hydrogen mobility’. Also tuck away phrases like ‘energy/ fuel for the future’ - instead, I invite you to understand first - some fun facts about hydrogen:

High Energy Content and Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Hydrogen as a substance has a high heat value of about 140 MJ/kg. [1] It is no uranium (sitting at values of 500 GJ/kg or more), but it easily beats out petrol/gasoline (at about 45 MJ/kg), and coal, which typically provides heat values of 20MJ/kg. What this means in plain speak is that all things considered, hydrogen makes for a decent fuel. At the heart of arguments for hydrogen reducing GHG is the fact that when hydrogen is burnt as a fuel (combusted), it reacts with oxygen and releases water. 

Abundance

Hydrogen accounts for 90% of all atoms in the known universe, and accounts for about 75% of the universe’s mass. It is in the air we breathe (in small amounts), and in the water we drink. Without the hydrogen atom, many of the things we know and use would not exist. Hydrogen either makes up or is used to make most materials and things we interact with on a daily basis. Take for example the cotton in your shirt - it is actually made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms.

Versatility

Other than it being almost everywhere, hydrogen is also versatile as it can form many compounds with a wide range of other elements. It is the smallest and lightest element on the element table, and you can think of it as a universal chemical building block that can be used to form many different things.


Its versatility enables the following contributions to our global industries and economy:


You may be thinking - sure, what about hydrogen as a standalone element? Hydrogen by itself is useful too. The next section will explain to you how to think of hydrogen - due to hydrogen’s incredible versatility, we produce hydrogen, and utilize it for a range of purposes.

How you should think about Hydrogen

You should primarily think of hydrogen in 4 categories:

  1. Production

Hydrogen is produced at volumes of about 100 mt/yr (million tonnes a year). [6] Most of the time, this is in gaseous form - simply because to produce hydrogen at a commercial scale, most of the industrial processes are conducted at high temperatures (>500 degrees typically).

  1. Utilization

Hydrogen gas is utilized in many fascinating ways. While a lot of hype and buzz revolves around hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen as a fuel , did you know that actually hydrogen is mostly used for these applications:

  1. 43% of global hydrogen produced is used for refining crude oil

  2. 55% of global hydrogen produced is used on industries in this fashion:

    • 33% on ammonia production 

    • 16.5% on methanol production

    • 5.5% on iron production (otherwise known as Direct Reduced Iron (DRI)


This leaves approximately 2% of global hydrogen produced and utilized on other more nascent applications like hydrogen fuel cells (for hydrogen powered cars and buses).

Figure 1. Hydrogen has been used at industrial scale for more than half a century at industrial scale.
  1. Transportation

By now, you should be thinking of hydrogen as a commodity (as you should!) as it is produced and used on industrial scales. Sometimes, production and utilization facilities are built in integrated facilities, or next to each other. In other cases, hydrogen will need to be stored and transported to the site of usage. There are two broad categories  of transportation of hydrogen:

  1. Transport using vehicles like trucks or ships, which can be done:

    • In liquid hydrogen form, [7] in combination with cryogenic storage and liquid tankers that hold the liquid hydrogen, or

    • In gaseous form, [7] with long cylinders holding highly compressed gaseous hydrogen, or

    • In hydrogen/ energy carrier form i.e. chemical compounds that contain hydrogen in them when broken down at a later stage (examples being Ammonia and LOHCs).

  2. Transport using hydrogen pipelines in gaseous form - which is by far the lower cost option for delivering large volumes when compared to the other transport options above. [8]


You can check out an in-depth comparison of all the different methods for hydrogen transportation here.

  1. Storage

Similar to transportation of hydrogen, the ability to store hydrogen is important to advance the commercial viability of hydrogen as a commodity.  

Figure 2. An overview of hydrogen storage [9]

While there are many ways to store hydrogen, the two main purposes for storing hydrogen are:

  1. Storing it in containers to transport it - as described above storage and transportation can go hand in hand, or

  2. Storing it in large quantities at central locations for later use/ distribution. Other than figure 2 above, there is also the idea that large amounts of hydrogen gas can be stored underground. [10]

What Next?

After reading the above, I hope you’ve come to the realization that hydrogen is not just about sexy new hydrogen technology (H2 powered cars and electrolysers). Hydrogen has actually been used industrially for a long time, and what we should know is this:


Hydrogen at its core is not that hard to understand - take the time you need to understand how it is produced, utilized, transported and stored, and don’t be afraid to talk about it and learn what you don’t know. Learn at your own pace, don’t place too much emphasis on jargon, and form a solid foundational understanding of hydrogen, which will help you understand more advanced concepts in the long-run.


With only 2% of global hydrogen being produced by and utilized for more nascent technologies, the majority of hydrogen (~98%) today are being produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - hydrogen technology can and should also be optimized here, and these are some examples of how:

  1. H2 recycling from refinery off-gas

  2. H2 recycling from PSA tail gas

  3. Blue H2 (check our thought piece that aims to defend blue hydrogen)


However - that 2% of global hydrogen and nascent technologies are extremely important to our global 2050 NZE [11] (net zero emissions) efforts. 


For the 98% of hydrogen produced and used in long-standing industrial processes - these are typically produced using Grey Hydrogen/ Steam Methane Reformation, where for every 1 kg of Hydrogen produced, 10 kg of CO2 is produced.  (You can explore our article to learn what the different hydrogen colors mean)


It is important to acknowledge that we can’t completely transition to nascent hydrogen technologies overnight, but also that newer technologies like electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cell technology are excellent steps towards producing and utilizing hydrogen with no greenhouse gas emissions.


The best way forward, as is often, is a balanced approach - to optimize how we produce and utilize hydrogen and GHG emissions in our long-standing industrial processes, and also to continue placing a global emphasis on emerging hydrogen technologies. 


Lastly, although Hydrogen is produced and utilized on an industrial scale, it is not yet a globally traded commodity. There are strong arguments for this - as described above hydrogen as a fuel is very environmentally friendly, and its heat values also outperform traditional fuels like petroleum and coal. However, a large barrier to hydrogen as a commodity today is that despite its global production volume, its storage and transportation need to be rapidly improved and evolved. To achieve a “commodity” status and to be readily traded, hydrogen technology needs to allow for:

  1. A large number of hydrogen trade counts

  2. Large volumes of hydrogen being transported without restrictions across cities and regions


I hope that you’ve enjoyed your journey of exploring the hydrogen industry, and that this article has helped you feel more confident to delve a little deeper into the world of hydrogen. If we are to rely heavily on hydrogen in the years to come, everyone has to have a solid foundational understanding of it.

References

[1] World Nuclear Association. "Heat Values of Various Fuels." https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/facts-and-figures/heat-values-of-various-fuels.aspx.

[2] The Royal Society. "Haber-Bosch Process." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/haber-bosch-process#:~:text=The%20Haber%2DBosch%20process%20is,The%20Royal%20Society%2C%202020.

[3] Petro Online. "What Are the 4 Main Types of Hydrocarbons?" https://www.petro-online.com/news/fuel-for-thought/13/breaking-news/what-are-the-4-main-types-of-hydrocarbons/54595#:~:text=The%20three%20most%20common%20and,to%20the%20environment%20when%20combusted.

[4] S&P Global. "Future of Ethane as a Global Commodity." https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/ci/research-analysis/future-of-ethane-as-a-global-commodity.html#:~:text=Ethane%20is%20a%20by%2Dproduct,steam%20crackers%20for%20ethylene%20production.

[5] Department of the Environment and Energy. "Methanol." https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/npi/substances/fact-sheets/methanol#:~:text=It%20is%20used%20as%20an,vitamins%2C%20hormones%20and%20other%20pharmaceuticals.

[6] International Energy Agency. "Global Hydrogen Review 2023." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-hydrogen-review-2023.

[7] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-technologies-office.

[8] ScienceDirect. "Point-to-point transportation: The economics of hydrogen export." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S036031992203107X.

[9] U.S. Department of Energy. "Hydrogen Storage." https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-storage.

[10] Institute for Energy and the Environment, Penn State University. "Underground Hydrogen Storage to Support Renewable Energy." https://iee.psu.edu/news/blog/underground-hydrogen-storage-support-renewable-energy.

[11] International Energy Agency. "Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE)." https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-and-climate-model/net-zero-emissions-by-2050-scenario-nze.

About DiviGas:

DiviGas is a start-up in the energy industry, we have invented a radically new process for manufacturing next-generation membranes for hydrogen separation and purification. To date, we are a team of 12+ people from different backgrounds and nationalities, and our main offices are in Singapore (HQ) and Melbourne (R&D, Manufacturing Facilities).


We have an acknowledged bias towards gas purification but this expertise is precisely why we have a special point of view on these industrial topics. At the time of writing we are not paid or financed by large oil and gas companies and our unambiguous objective as a company is to promote and advance technology for decarbonization and solving climate change.