Experts from many countries foretell a bright future to the hydrogen power. Some forecasts say that it will become one of the most promising fuels of the 21st century.
The EU countries, the US, Canada, Japan, and China have been developing the boundless potential of hydrogen power for more than 30 years. In Europe, the hydrogen energy sector is estimated to be worth billions of EUR in investments in the coming years, create millions of new jobs and generate thousands of TW of electricity per year. And this is just for balancing the energy system.
Mobile mini hydrogen power station H2One from Toshiba supplies electricity and hot water to a railway station in the city of Kawasaki, Japan. Source: https://habr.com/
Having low viscosity, hydrogen is easily transported through pipelines. It can be stored in liquefied or gaseous state. Moreover, it is light enough, and has a long period of storage.
Hydrogen power sector was formed as one of the directions of scientific and technological progress in the mid 1970s. With the expansion of research on production, storage, transportation and use of hydrogen, the environmental benefits of hydrogen technology have become increasingly evident.
What Are the Advantages of Hydrogen Power?
Interest in hydrogen as a fuel and energy is constantly growing due to its following features:
- Hydrogen reserves are virtually limitless, easily accessible and renewable. It is produced through the decomposition of water molecules. In fact, the algorithm for obtaining energy from hydrogen is: “Water – Hydrogen – Energy and Water again”;
- Hydrogen is a universal type of energy resource, since it can be used as a fuel for electricity production in various operating cycles and as an energy carrier for transportation in gaseous, liquid and bound states;
- Hydrogen can accumulate energy;
- Hydrogen technology has a very high efficiency. Transforming hydrogen into electricity can be done with an efficiency of 80-90%, and then the efficiency of the whole process is above 60%. Hydrogen is 50% (and sometimes 200%) is more efficient than natural gas or oil derivatives. Among other types of organic fuel, hydrogen has the highest calorific capacitance per unit mass and the least negative environmental impact;
- The main advantage of hydrogen is its environmental friendliness: as a result of its production, ordinary water is formed. This water can be used for economic purposes and even for drinking.
Hydrogen Power Today and Tomorrow
The two main markets for hydrogen consumption today are production of ammonia and methanol, accounting for up to 80% of hydrogen’s total consumption. In the chemical industry, hydrogen is also used in production of carbamide, soap, and plastics. In the natural gas conversion, hydrogen is used for mixtures, for instance, of methanol, ethylene and propylene.
Significant increase in demand for hydrogen is expected in the oil-refining industry, where it is used to improve the quality of oil.
Among the sectors ready for transition to hydrogen power, automobile transport has been the most attractive industry for decades. In autumn of 2014, Toyota Corporation introduced the first production hydrogen fuel cell car, Toyota Mirai, at Los Angeles Auto Show. The main motivation for manufacturers and buyers of such vehicles is their environmental friendliness, that is, zero emissions.
In the long run, hydrogen is predicted to be used as fuel in the transport sector. Automobile corporations are already actively experimenting with hydrogen engines. At least three of them manufacture hydrogen fuel cell car: Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell that costs $ 53 thousand, Toyota Mirai – $ 57 thousand, and Honda Clarity – $ 59 thousand.
Hydrogen fueling stations work in the USA, Japan, China and some EU countries.
Shell Hydrogen fueling station, Great Britain. Source: https://cikavosti.com/
A number of European companies are involved in the development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure – Danish Hydrogen Fuel, H2 Logic, Hydrogen Link, Hydrogen Sweden, Icelandic New Energy, Linde, McPhy are among them.
However, the hydrogen energy’s expansion is still limited by the lack of infrastructure. The oldest hydrogen pipeline in the city of Ruhr (Germany) is only 50 years old, and the longest pipeline of this type extends only 400 km.
According to the report of Navigant Research analytical and consulting company, by 2024, the number of vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells will increase to 580 thousand all over the world, by 2026 – to 800 thousand, and by 2030 – to about 1.5 mln.
However, this technology is unlikely to be implemented on a massive scale in the near future. The thing is that there is a number of problems to be solved first – related to the production and operation of special power facilities as well as to reducing their cost.