What is Hydrogen and Where Does It Come From?
Hydrogen can be obtained from a wide variety of substances, but above all, from water which the earth has an abundance making it a secure energy for the future. Hydrogen has another decisive advantage: It is a climate-friendly and, when producing green hydrogen, it is even a climate-neutral energy carrier.
The only by-products of green hydrogen production are oxygen and water.
Hydrogen is capable of lifting the space shuttle and will keep planes in the air for hours, so it is more than capable of heating our homes.
Hydrogen can be obtained from different substances, especially water. And we have an unlimited source of water on earth.
It can be a fuel or a coolant, generate electricity and heat. And it has even more potential in the future.
Along with Oxygen, hydrogen is the main component of water. It is a very light gas with the chemical formula H2 and has a huge potential to make the transition to a carbon-neutral energy supply.
Hydrogen does not naturally occur in its pure form. It needs to be produced. There are different ways of doing this, the most common terms to describe the way of production are green, blue and grey production - depending of the amount of CO2 emissions during the production process.
Green Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future, for a simple reason: a zero carbon emission process. Green Hydrogen is efficient and 100% sustainable. Experts calculated that a change from grey to green hydrogen will already save 830 million tonnes of CO2 that are emitted annually. In the UK, green hydrogen is the aim but to begin with, there will be a mix of blue and green hydrogen.
To learn more about hydrogen's role of reducing future carbon emissions, sign up to our 'Hydrogen: The Role of Green Gas in the Decarbonisation of Heat' Training Course:
Three ways to produce hydrogen
Hydrogen molecules (H2) are extremely rare on earth in their isolated form but there are numerous methods to extract hydrogen from water (H2O) or methane (CH4).
(1) By passing an electric current through water, we can break it down into oxygen and hydrogen, this process is called Electrolysis. If we only use sustainable generated electricity, such as wind or solar PV, the process does not generate any carbon emissions. (2) The hydrogen can then be stored in tanks or even underground caverns and transported via pipelines, tankers or trucks. (3) It can then be used wherever gas or other energy sources have been used so far.
Blue: C02 is stored
Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas. The CO2 that is produced is not released into the atmosphere, but up to 90% of the CO2 can be stored in tanks or underground caverns preventing emissions. Lifecycle carbon emission savings of up to 85% are possible with blue hydrogen when compared to natural gas boilers. (Source: The CCC)
Grey: C02 is released into the atmosphere
Like blue hydrogen, grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas. However, the CO2 is not stored underground in this process, but gets released into the atmosphere and causes emissions. The ratio of hydrogen to CO2 is 1 to 10, meaning that 10 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for only one tonne of hydrogen.