Could finding enough white hydrogen make a difference to decarbonization?November 4, 2023
Scientists in France found a deposit of natural H2 earlier this year, but will it solve zero-carbon challenges?
Early this summer, scientists in northern France discovered what has the potential to be a huge white hydrogen deposit, that is, naturally occurring H2.
Depending on how this H2 is extracted, it could prove to be one of the cheapest and cleanest forms.
As climate change plans roll into place worldwide, H2 has been making major headlines as a low- or zero-carbon option to replace fossil fuels. That said, not all forms of the gas are equally clean, depending on how it is produced. Brown, black and grey H2, for instance, are all produced using processes with fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. They produce unmitigated carbon emissions, which deeply reduce their benefit as an environmentally friendly alternative to using fossil fuels directly as an energy source.
Green H2 is produced using electrolysis (water molecule splitting) powered by renewable energy such as solar or wind power. That said, white hydrogen is the form that already exists in underground deposits and that can be extracted, transported, stored, and used without needing any other process to make it.
Until recently, no known deposits of white hydrogen existed at a size that would be practical.
The new deposit discovered in France could be enough to provide a meaningful source of the clean energy.
“If we find enough hydrogen, this could solve a lot of our global warming problems,” said Philip Jessop, a professor at Queen’s University in Canada and is the Canada Research Chair in green chemistry. “The importance of this discovery is what it could mean for everybody.”
The natural H2 deposit was found in July 2023 by Philippe de Donato and Jacques Pironon, scientists at the Université de Lorraine. They made the discovery while attempting to find a source of methane in the north-eastern part of the country.
Replacing fossil fuels
White hydrogen could prove to be a meaningful source of H2, which is viewed as a key component of an overall greenhouse gas emission strategy as a part of the battle against climate change. This is because it can be used as an energy source as a replacement for gasoline or diesel, or to generate electricity.
Q. What is white hydrogen?
A. White hydrogen is a naturally existing form of hydrogen (H2) that can be found in underground deposits. It can be extracted, transported, stored, and used without needing any other process to make it.
Q. How was the white hydrogen deposit in France discovered?
A. The white hydrogen deposit in France was discovered by Philippe de Donato and Jacques Pironon, scientists at the Université de Lorraine, in July 2023. They stumbled upon this discovery while attempting to find a source of methane in the north-eastern part of the country.
Q. What makes white hydrogen a potential solution to zero-carbon challenges?
A. White hydrogen is considered a low- or zero-carbon option to replace fossil fuels. Unlike other forms of hydrogen such as brown, black, and grey H2, which are produced using processes with fossil fuels, white hydrogen does not produce unmitigated carbon emissions. This reduces their environmental impact significantly.
Q. How is white hydrogen different from green hydrogen?
A. Green hydrogen is produced using electrolysis, which involves splitting water molecules powered by renewable energy such as solar or wind power. On the other hand, white hydrogen is a naturally occurring form that can be extracted directly from underground deposits.
Q. What could be the impact of the white hydrogen deposit discovered in France?
A. The newly discovered deposit in France could provide a meaningful source of clean energy. If enough hydrogen is found, it could potentially solve many global warming problems, according to Philip Jessop, a professor at Queen’s University in Canada and the Canada Research Chair in green chemistry.
Q. How can white hydrogen be used in our battle against climate change?
A. White hydrogen can be used as an energy source to replace gasoline or diesel, or to generate electricity. It is viewed as a key component of an overall greenhouse gas emission strategy in the fight against climate change.