Industrial hydrogen applications must replace fossil fuels for climate targets, report

Industrial hydrogen applications must replace fossil fuels for climate targets, report

April 1, 2020 0 By Angie Bergenson
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A new Rocky Mountain Institute report showed that H2 will be critical to slow the planet’s warming.

Industrial hydrogen applications to replace fossil fuels will be essential for reaching net-zero carbon emissions targets for 2050, said a new Rocky Mountain Institute report.

This report suggested that H2 will play a vital role in holding back climate warming by 2 degrees Celsius.

“The industrial processes used in the production of things like steel, cement, glass, and chemicals all require high temperature heat,” said the Hydrogen’s Decarbonization Impact for Industry report. “For these hard-to-abate sectors, there is essentially no way to reach net-zero emissions at the scale required without using hydrogen.”

Moreover, the report also explained that replacing fossil fuels such as natural gas with industrial hydrogen applications instead could form a $1 trillion market. H2 has been drawing increasing focus as a zero-carbon emission source of fuel. It has the capacity for industrial purposes in addition to electricity generation as well as transportation.

The main factor making industrial hydrogen uses positively impactful is in green H2 production.

At the moment, about 96 percent of H2 is produced through the use of fossil fuels. Only 4 percent is produced by way of electrolysis, said the report. Therefore, to truly replace fossil fuels and have the desired impact on climate change, it must be produced using green technology.

Among the most popular strategies currently being pursued is in the form of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. This could use the same fossil fuel based H2 production methods, while mitigating the CO2 emissions that result. The current CCS technologies have an efficiency rate of about 90 percent. For this reason, it isn’t labeled as green H2, but is instead known as “blue” hydrogen.

Among the fossil fuels used for current and for blue production include natural gas as well as oil and coal. This method is called steam methane reforming (SMR). It breaks hydrocarbon molecules apart and is typically considered to be the most cost effective, said the report.

On the other hand, electrolysis could be used to produce green H2 for industrial hydrogen applications. It separates hydrogen from water. For every 1 kg of H2, it requires 50 to 55 KWh Industrial hydrogen - Pollution - global warmng - fossil fuelsof electricity. To keep this method green, the electricity would need to be produced by way of a zero-carbon emission renewable energy source such as wind.