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Wednesday 6 July 2022

Green Hydrogen (GH2) - The Next Frontier of Energy?


Hydrogen is slowly emerging as a key source of fuel for the future. Green hydrogen (or GH2) has attracted a great deal of interest from AA (Ambani-Adani). Mukesh Ambani started off with an announcement of $10bn into green energy which was upped by Gautam Adani at $20bn. Ambani then announced a $75bn investment in the entire ecosystem of electrolyser manufacturing to solar panels.
ACME just announced a 52K cr investment in India. GAIL is getting into manufacturing electrolysers, Oil India is looking to build a GH2 plant in Assam, and NTPC is looking to set up H2 fuel stations across India.
This is an effort to understand at a very high level and in simple terms what the whole GH2 is all about.
The Green Hydrogen Opportunity
India plans to manufacture around five million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by 2030 according to the power ministry.
Solar and other forms of renewable energies are now available at cheaper rates in India, making producing green energy a cheaper and climate-sensitive decision.
Green hydrogen energy models are substituting coal in the steel industry. With shortages of coal across the country the demand for green hydrogen might increase.
Green Hydrogen is expected to capture the fertiliser production to substitute natural gas.
Customers of green hydrogen arise from various industries. Steel, Fertilisers, Transport, retail consumption etc. India has the highest growth in demand for energy resources and green hydrogen has the potential to meet the market needs.
Industrial Gas (IG) companies have core competencies in managing networks, distribution, providing storage, liquefaction technology, and the ability to sell oxygen that will be generated along with hydrogen and backup supply. 
Hydrogen Fuel
  • Hydrogen fuel is a clean fuel alternative whose by-product is only water and not CO2
  • It can act as a carrier to deliver energy from other sources
  • Can be produced from Natural gas, Biomass, Nuclear power and renewable energy like sun and water.
  • Can be categorised into grey, blue and green hydrogen based on the carbon emission incurred 
  1. Grey Hydrogen: production results in emissions of large volumes of Carbon dioxide. Produced from natural gases and are widely used as of now.
  2. Blue Hydrogen:  A cleaner version whose carbon emissions can be stored or reused,
  3. Green Hydrogen: Pure fuel which emits no carbon and is energy efficient. However, it is expensive to produce and store due to its highly inflammable nature.
Green Hydrogen Production Process
Green Hydrogen Production Process
Production Methods:
  • Creation of hydrogen from water by passing a current through an electrolyser.
  • Expensive process
Thermal Processes
  • Steam reforming where steam reacts with hydrocarbon fuel to produce hydrogen
  • Hydrocarbon fuels which can be reformed include natural gas, diesel, renewable liquid fuels, gasified coal or gasified biomass
  • 95% of hydrogen is produced by reforming Natural gas.
Biological processes
  • Uses microbes such as bacteria and green algae to produce hydrogen
  • Microbes surviving and feeding off of wastewater produce hydrogen as a by-product. 
  • In photobiological processes, the microbes use sunlight as the energy source.
  • Expensive and limited resources available
Solar processes
  • Using light to produce hydrogen
  • Photobiological as explained above
  • Photoelectrochemical processes use specialised semiconductors to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen
  • Solar thermochemical hydrogen production uses concentrated solar power to drive water splitting reactions often along with other species such as metal oxides.
  • Present technology doesn’t facilitate large-scale production using this method.
Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Fuel
Pros of using hydrogen fuel
  • Renewable
  • Readily available
  • Zero carbon byproduct meaning it doesn’t harm the environment
  • More powerful and efficient compared to traditional fossil fuels
  • No noise, visual pollution
Cons of using hydrogen fuel
  • Infrastructure to transport highly flammable hydrogen
  • Extraction of hydrogen
  • Costs involved
  • Regulatory issues
  • Storage
Use of Hydrogen Powered Vehicles
Hydrogen cars require a generator within the chassis to bring the rotational movement whereas in the case of EV the battery provides the charge required to move directly. The reason why hydrogen cars are less popular is because of the same reason. In future, hydrogen can be used to produce the electricity used in EVs
Commercial Uses
Commercial uses of hydrogen can be seen in 
  • Health Care, Food and beverages - hydrogen is required in medicines and pharmaceuticals. Example hydrogen peroxide and the creation of margarine and similar foods, where unsaturated fatty acids are hydrogenated from oils to form a solid product.
  • Metallurgy - in production processes of steel, and aluminium.
  • Space operations require higher power which is provided by hydrogen
  • Power Generation.
Green hydrogen is the fuel of the future. It only produces water as a by-product. It is renewable but requires fossil fuels and coal for the separation of hydrogen.
Research is now being done to eliminate the requirement for fossil fuels in producing hydrogen fuel.

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