Have you heard of the hydrogen fuel revolution?
What if one of the world’s most complex challenges: climate change, had a simple answer? Well, it doesn’t per se, but hydrogen, the simplest & lightest element, can be produced as a renewable energy source and replace the heavy carbon emitting and noxious fossil fuels we’ve relied on for years.
One way that governments, corporations, and startups are working to limit global temperature rises is to increase their use of alternative and renewable fuel sources that emit less CO2. As the world grapples with the urgent need to transition to renewable energy sources, hydrogen has emerged as a promising candidate.
With its potential to produce clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, renewable hydrogen energy has garnered significant attention, especially in the construction industry. The clean hydrogen revolution is coming, but there are lingering questions about its renewability. In this article, we will dive into the concept of hydrogen energy, explore its renewability, and examine its advantages and drawbacks for heavy industry.
What is hydrogen energy?
Hydrogen is found in vast quantities on Earth, primarily in water and organic matter. An energy carrier, hydrogen can be used to store, move, and deliver energy produced from other sources. But because hydrogen is not found in nature in its pure state, it must be produced from other sources (e.g., natural gas, biogas, solar power, wind power, etc.) through different methods (e.g., electrolysis, steam methane reforming, pyrolysis, biomass gasification, etc.).
Hydrogen energy is a clean alternative to methane (aka natural gas) because when it is used in fuel cells to generate electricity or combusted to produce heat and power it does not emit CO2 emissions.
How energy is produced with hydrogen
Once hydrogen has successfully been produced in its pure state, there are two traditional methods of producing energy with hydrogen: fuel cells and combustion.
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that combine hydrogen and oxygen atoms to produce electricity, water, and a small amount of heat. This method does not release any greenhouses gases, so it’s a method of clean electricity production. Major CO2 emitting industries, such as power, transportation and construction have begun employing this technology to lower their carbon footprints.
On the other hand, combustion involves burning liquid or gaseous hydrogen, similar to how gasoline or diesel fuel is burned in traditional engines. When hydrogen is combusted, it reacts with oxygen to produce heat, which can be used to generate electricity or provide heat for industrial processes. However, unlike the combustion of fossil fuels, hydrogen does not emit CO2 when burned.