“Blue” hydrogen turned out to be less environmentally friendly than the burning of natural gas or coal

Hydrogen production plays an important role in the global transition to environmentally friendly energy, especially in complicated industries – aviation and steel production.

As the industry grows, “colors” of hydrogen are increasingly appearing. “Black” hydrogen is carried out by gasification of coal. “Gray” hydrogen is formed during reforming of ordinary natural gas. “Brown” hydrogen is obtained by incomplete oxidation of lignite or brown coal under high pressure. Currently, 96 percent of hydrogen production falls into these environmentally friendly categories.

“Green” is hydrogen obtained from pure renewable

Sources, usually by electrolysis. “Blue” hydrogen, which for a long time was considered a good alternative with low emissions. This is the same “gray” hydrogen obtained by steam methane steaming, but with additional carbon capture at the final stage.

Hydrogen production

But now, scientists from Kornelsky and Stanford universities warn that “blue” hydrogen is a bad alternative, since it is associated with hidden emissions that bring more harm to the atmosphere in some industries than traditional options for burning coal or gas.

It turns out that now it is much easier to buy a gas boiler for heating a private house than to use a “blue” hydrogen with a complex technology of obtaining. Moreover, the impact on the ecology will be the same. However, the first way, even cheaper, and even safer due to the rolling point of the technology.

In some cases, the transition to “blue” hydrogen for heating, cooking, or electricity production, greenhouse gas emissions grow by 20 % compared to natural gas or coal and 60 % compared to the use of diesel fuel.

A gas boilerThis is what an ordinary gas boiler looks like

The loss of “blue” hydrogen here is explained by the imperfection of ways to extract natural gas, when its leaks are approximately 3.5 % of the production level. In addition, methane remains in the atmosphere for 20 years.

The main problem of obtaining “blue” hydrogen is that the process of carbon capture requires energy, and this energy is obtained from burning an additional amount of natural gas. Thus, even when all carbon emissions are captured in the process of reforming, additional methane leaks in the general cycle reduce environmental indicators by 9-12 percent.

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