Hydrogen is the tenth most abundant element on the earth. In order for it to be used at scale, hydrogen has to be extracted from compounds. Blue hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, typically natural gas. One of the mainstream methods used to extract blue hydrogen is known as Steam Methane Reforming (SMR). A considerable amount of carbon dioxide and methane is produced during the production of blue hydrogen. However, around 80% to 90% of the total emission is captured and stored. This process is known as Carbon Capture and Store (CSS). 

The potential for hydrogen to be used at a larger commercial scale is definitely promising and how it could positively impact the decarbonization of the energy sector is clear among industry operators, however, questions remain. Is it versatile enough to invest billions of dollars on? 

Various Applications of Blue Hydrogen 

Blue hydrogen is extremely versatile. It finds several applications across an array of energy-consuming industries. It is speculated that hydrogen fuel will eventually transform the energy industry, making it more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Considering that private companies are being incentivized to reduce greenhouse emissions, this makes it extremely important to take initiatives to start integrating hydrogen into mass-scale production. 

Along with various energy consulting firms in the UK and all around the world, key members of the energy sector are also taking keen interest and making great investments in hydrogen, especially blue hydrogen. 

  • Fuel Production 

Hydrogen is used in the production of fuel in many ways. Typically, it is used to process crude oil. As a result, refined fuels such as gasoline and diesel are produced. It is also employed in the fuel production process to get rid of various contaminants from crude oil or refined fuels. For example, hydrogen is used to remove sulphur from refined fuels, especially diesel. 

Over the years, the consumption of hydrogen in refineries has increased significantly. This is mainly due to the strict rules and regulations, such as the IMO 2020 sulfur regulation, regarding maintaining the quality of diesel by lowering the amount of sulphur in it.

  • Industrial Applications 

Hydrogen has an exhaustive list of industrial applications. It is extremely versatile, which is why it is used abundantly in not only the energy industry but also other core industries around the world. 

One major example is hydrogen’s application for energy production. Specifically, it can be injected into current grid pipelines so that it can be stored for later use. Examples include transport applications or power generation.

Some industrial applications of blue hydrogen outside of the energy industry include its use in the production of ammonia and flat glass. Blue hydrogen is used in metalworking, especially for metal alloying. It can also be used in the direct reduction of iron ore, which is an important process in steel manufacturing. It finds applications in the electronic industry as well.    

  • Energy Generation 

Blue hydrogen plays a vital role in generating electricity more efficiently. It can be used as an alternative to air-cooling methods for the cooling of power generators. However, the biggest contribution of blue hydrogen in regards to energy generation comes in the form of stationary fuel cells. 

Blue hydrogen can be used in stationary fuel cells. These cells are often employed as backup energy sources in buildings and there are major implications for long haul transport and commercial fleets that rely on fuel cells to operate. It is speculated that stationary fuel cells possess the potential to revolutionize the transport industry if they are used for other vehicular options like trains, cars, and buses. 

Blue Hydrogen or Green Hydrogen – Which is Better?

Many industry experts are still divided over the blue hydrogen-green hydrogen debate. 

We cannot ignore the economic benefits of blue hydrogen. While it is true that blue hydrogen is not as eco-friendly as green hydrogen, its current production costs are significantly low compared to green hydrogen. Plus, advancements and growing support for CCS is making blue hydrogen one of the most viable sustainable energy solutions at the moment. Across Europe, many hydrogen-CCS projects are going ahead.

There’s one more factor that must be considered when it comes to the significance of hydrogen for the energy industry – the storage of excess electricity or surplus energy. 

Storing Excess Energy

The energy industry is evolving and more sustainable, energy efficient solutions are being sought after. Unfortunately, certain technological advancements are required to ensure grid infrastructure is able to meet high demand and alleviate storage and demand imbalances.  As a result, many energy companies still favor the use of fossil fuels to produce energy. 

The good news is that hydrogen may be able to bridge this gap between energy production and consumption. There are electrolyzer technologies that are being used at scale today, which can draw hydrogen out of storage and place it into a fuel cell for subsequent electricity production or power-to-liquid schemes.

Author Bio

Pangea Strategic Intelligence’s on demand energy consulting platform facilitates engagements with market-embedded Experts so Clients make better business decisions, faster.

Posted by Miley Dowling

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