December 3, 2022

The US wants to become a powerhouse in hydrogen production

Increase fuel production from Hydrogen The U.S. government is now a high priority in trying to end it Pollution Fossil fuels cause climate change.


Department Energy The US wants to produce 10 million metric tons of “clean” hydrogen by 2030. project Strategy and National Roadmap for Clean Hydrogen released this Thursday (22).

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About 10 million metric tons of hydrogen is already produced in the United States each year, but it’s mostly “gray” hydrogen, made from dirty natural gas.

The change is to combine that natural gas with controversial technologies that capture carbon dioxide emissions and use renewable energy sources and nuclear power to produce more hydrogen.

Clean hydrogen is “a high-priority technology for this administration,” U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told a news conference. “I’ll say one word about why, and that’s diversity.”

Hydrogen, the fuel of the future?

Hydrogen is seen as an alternative fuel to fossil fuels. For example, it can be a clean fuel for airplanes or ships.

There is also hope that using such hydrogen could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes, which must reach very high temperatures, something that is too difficult for renewables like wind and solar.

When hydrogen is produced with excess wind and solar energy, it acts as a kind of “energy storage” much like a battery, so that plenty of renewable energy isn’t wasted when electricity demand is low.

Hydrogen emits steam when burned, so it is sold as a clean fuel. The big caveat is that hydrogen is only as clean as the energy source used to produce it.

US hopes to turn “gray” hydrogen into clean (Image: Shutterstock)

One way to produce hydrogen is through electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. “Green” hydrogen can be produced by splitting water molecules using renewable energy. There is also “pink” hydrogen produced by nuclear-powered electrolysis.

However, most of the hydrogen produced today is “ash” and an emitter of greenhouse gases. To produce ash hydrogen, methane gas reacts under high pressure with high-temperature steam, which releases carbon dioxide while producing hydrogen.

Now, President Joe Biden’s administration wants to rely on technologies that remove CO2 from smog emissions to try to clean up that gray hydrogen.

It is considered controversial, as critics argue that it will perpetuate, rather than phase out, the “reign” of fossil fuels. CO2 capture does not address methane leakage, a major problem for natural gas infrastructure.

There are also concerns that a new hydrogen industry could create its own problems. Citing safety concerns about leaks from pipelines and hydrogen storage facilities, several environmental groups sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm earlier this week urging the Department of Energy to drop hydrogen projects from justice efforts.

Biden is moving forward with the plan

However, the Biden administration appears ready to move forward with the plan. The published roadmap includes clean hydrogen production targets that will grow over time: 20 million metric tons of clean hydrogen by 2040 and 50 million metric tons by 2050.

The Department of Energy hopes this will reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2050. However, the roadmap is still a draft, and the DOE says it will seek feedback before finalizing the strategy.

The US already has plans to build ten regional centers for hydrogen production. At least one center must use renewable energy to produce hydrogen fuel, the DOE says, while another center must use nuclear power.

But the DOE is looking at at least two centers in regions with “abundant natural gas resources.” This Thursday (22), DOE opened up $7 billion in funding opportunities to upgrade these centers, which the agency says will be “one of the largest investments in DOE history.”

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Featured image: Audio and Verbung/Shutterstock

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