Massive Find of Natural Hydrogen: The Overlooked Asset in Our Energy ScenarioJuly 8, 2023
When H2 can be found naturally, why is the focus on producing it artificially?
Natural hydrogen is the term used for H2 that is naturally occurring in the ground, air, or other sources.
This isn’t an area where the majority of research and resources have been focused.
Natural hydrogen is also known as native or white H2. While it is the form that is already there in the form used for fuel and energy storage, it is not the form where the majority of resources and research have been aimed.
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The reason is that it’s quite rare for H2 to be found naturally in any quantity that could be considered usable or practical by the energy industry. Though it is the most common element in the universe, it is also the lightest. Therefore, once it is released into the air, it floats upward until it escapes into space. Therefore, it isn’t found in any real quantity in the air. This would require us to have to look underground for stores of it, if it is to be found anywhere on Earth.
Interestingly, such a discovery recently occurred in France, and it is attracting considerable attention.
In May, La Française D’Énergie (FDE) was working in the Lorraine region’s abandoned mines, seeking to measure the risk of firedamp pockets. While doing so, they discovered a massive natural hydrogen deposit. This has drawn substantial attention in the hopes that it could benefit the clean energy transition in Europe as it decarbonizes to fight climate change and seeks new ways to improve energy security.
Researchers and businesses have long been seeking rare deposits of natural hydrogen.
“If confirmed, this would be the largest potential natural hydrogen discovered to date in Europe,” said GeoRessources laboratory co-director of research Philippe de Donato of the University of Lorraine upon the initial discovery of the deposit.
It is now estimated that the Lorraine basin deposit could contain approximately 46 million tons of H2, which is about half the current global H2 production. This would be enough to provide a substantial benefit to the decarbonization strategy of the entire European Union.
Unlike H2 produced using fossil fuels, nuclear, or renewable energy and electrolysis, the naturally occurring gas does not require any water and needs little energy for extraction. Moreover, it does not require much land.
Hydrogen FAQ’s – Natural Hydrogen
- What is natural hydrogen? Natural hydrogen, also known as native or white Hydrogen, is hydrogen that naturally occurs in the ground, air, or other sources.
- Why hasn’t there been more focus on natural hydrogen? The primary reason is its rarity in quantities usable or practical for the energy industry. Also, once released into the air, it floats upward due to its lightness until it escapes into space.
- Where can we find natural hydrogen? For significant quantities of natural hydrogen, we would likely need to look underground. A recent discovery of a massive natural hydrogen deposit occurred in France’s Lorraine region.
- How significant was the natural hydrogen discovery in France? If confirmed, this would be the largest potential natural hydrogen discovered to date in Europe. It’s estimated that the Lorraine basin deposit could contain approximately 46 million tons of H2, about half the current global H2 production.
- What are the benefits of using natural hydrogen? Unlike H2 produced using fossil fuels, nuclear, or renewable energy and electrolysis, naturally occurring hydrogen does not require any water and needs little energy for extraction. It also does not require much land.
- What is the potential impact of natural hydrogen on the energy industry? If harnessed effectively, natural hydrogen could provide a substantial benefit to decarbonization strategies, aiding in the transition towards cleaner energy sources. However, more research is needed to fully understand its potential.
- Why is there a focus on producing hydrogen artificially? Currently, artificial production of hydrogen is more reliable and controllable. It allows for large scale production which meets the demand in various industries. However, it often requires the use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, or renewable energy and electrolysis.