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Hydrogen Journey

Hydrogen - the first element of the Periodic System of Chemical Elements, its relative atomic mass 1.0079. There are two stable isotopes of hydrogen: H (protium) and H (deuterium), as well as one radioactive isotope, 3H (tritium).

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Methods of Production

Hydrogen rarely occurs in nature in its pure form and needs to be extracted from other compounds using various chemical methods.

With the development of hydrogen production on a large scale, its methods have changed.

The variety of methods for producing hydrogen is one of the main advantages of hydrogen energy. They include steam reforming of methane and natural gas, coal gasification, water electrolysis, pyrolysis, partial oxidation, biotechnologies.
Industrial Methods of Hydrogen Production
Electrolysis of water and aqueous solutions of alkalis and salts

Among the methods for producing hydrogen from water, electrolysis is of greatest interest in the context of hydrogen energy. Water electrolysis is the most promising technology for producing hydrogen in the future. However, today, the share of this method in the world’s hydrogen production does not exceed 5% due to its high cost,. The most attractive features of the electrolysis technology are as follows:

✓ It has a low environmental impact (provided that the generation of primary energy used for the electrolysis is not associated with pollution);

✓ Small, medium or large-output hydrogen plants (from several liters to hundreds of cubic meters of hydrogen per hour) can be built to suit specific needs;

✓ It is technically easy to run the process;

✓ The resulting hydrogen is of high purity;

✓ Valuable gaseous oxygen is generated as a by-product.

Passage of water vapour over hot coal at 1000°C

The process involves passing superheated water vapour through a layer of coke, bituminous or brown coal at temperatures above 1000° C without oxygen. The resulting mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is treated with water vapour. The process is power-hungry because it requires extreme heat.

Steam and steam-oxygen reforming of methane

Hydrogen production from natural organic fuels is currently the most widely used method. The leading technology is the steam reforming of methane. About 85% of the hydrogen produced in the world is obtained using this technology. It is owing to the high (more than 80%) efficiency of the process, its large-scale industrial implementation, relatively low cost, and well-established global infrastructure for transporting the source gases.

Coal gasification

Coal gasification is the oldest way of producing hydrogen. The first gas generator was built in Great Britain in the 1840s. The production of hydrogen from coal is based on the thermal decomposition of water. Coal is used as both an energy source and a chemical reagent: it is simultaneously affected by water vapour and oxygen – the process known as steam-oxygen conversion. Coal gasification plants are usually quite large and not that environmentally friendly. 

Use of nuclear power
All hydrogen production methods require a lot of energy, and most of them burn fossil fuels. The use of nuclear power could be the solution. Nuclear technology has virtually unlimited resources of cheap energy for hydrogen production, and nuclear power has a lower environmental impact compared to the use of fossil fuels.
Use of alternative energy sources
Given the prospects for the exhaustion of traditional – non-renewable energy sources (coal, oil, gas) and their environmental impact, methods of obtaining energy from alternative sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal and wave energy, are being actively researched and implemented all over the world.

Hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources using advanced electrolysis technology is the key to a clean and sustainable future.

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Hydrogen classification

Industrially produced hydrogen is classified by the production method and the primary energy source.

Green hydrogen is produced by water electrolysis using energy from renewable sources without CO2 emissions.
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Today, only 4% of the current production is environmentally friendly Green hydrogen. But this technology is the future of hydrogen production.

Electrolysers are ideal for balancing the growing share of renewable energy sources in the electricity grid. They make it possible to use excess energy from such sources to produce hydrogen and pump it into gas networks or store it for future use.

Blue hydrogen is produced in a similar way to Grey hydrogen (steam reforming of methane or coal gasification), but using carbon capture and storage technologies.
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Today, one of the main hydrogen production methods is steam methane reforming. The methane is obtained from natural gas or by coal gasification. However, the method has a significant carbon footprint.

Steam methane reforming results in carbon dioxide emissions of 10 kg of CO2 for 1 kg of hydrogen. Therefore, such hydrogen is called Grey – depending on the raw material (gas or coal), it is either comparable to ordinary natural gas or 2.5 times worse than it in this indicator. Clearly, it is better to use natural gas to decarbonise the economy than to use Grey Hydrogen. It is unlikely to form a part of the hydrogen economy of the future.

An alternative is to combine the production of Grey Hydrogen with technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide. It results in the so-called Blue Hydrogen. In the best scenario, the method reduces emissions to 0.71-0.76 kg of CO2 per 1 kg of H2.

Pink hydrogen is produced using atomic energy.
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Nuclear technology offers virtually unlimited resources of cheap energy for hydrogen production while having the lowest environmental impact compared to the use of fossil fuels.

Using nuclear-generated electricity, one can separate water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis. If electrolysis involves high-temperature steam, then the thermal energy obtained from a nuclear reactor can replace some of the electricity. The net efficiency (the ratio of high-heat hydrogen produced to the electricity consumed) will increase. With thermo-chemical water separation cycles, it is possible to obtain all the input energy from the heat produced in nuclear reactors. Complex, thermally driven chemical reactions decomposing water into oxygen and hydrogen have an efficiency of around 50%.

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Supply & Distribution

Hydrogen has a combination of properties that determine its industrial application with the environmental safety of energy conversion processes in which it is used.

From the concept of industrial gas
to a new energy source

If hydrogen was thought of as an “industrial gas in the past, now it is becoming a“new energy source.

Hydrogen can be used to store and then generate energy where and when it is needed. The ease of accumulation and storage makes it possible to design and build hydrogen-based energy storage and supply devices. 

Hydrogen is one of the most efficient ways to store power. It can compete only with pumped-storage hydroelectricity, which now accounts for more than 99% of the storage capacity in the world.

Hydrogen can be easily transported over long distances in cylinders or using the existing pipeline infrastructure associated with natural gas. Hydrogen transportation thus becomes an alternative to the expansion mains electrical grids. This opens up new opportunities for a many regions of the world rich in renewable energy but remote from electricity generation centres.

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END USE OF HYDROGEN

Hydrogen is a universal energy carrier that can be fed into the gas distribution network, used in fuel cell vehicles, converted into synthetic fuel or electricity for the grid. But more importantly, it is an excellent long-term storage tool for clean energy.

Hydrogen has a variety of end uses. Hydrogen released from a chemical compound can be used in vehicle fuel cells. It can be added to natural gas to reduce carbon emissions from heating. Hydrogen can be used in its pure form or converted to other compounds such as synthetic methane or diesel fuel. Through these transformations of hydrogen, opportunities arise for reforming various parts of the global energy system. 
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HYDROGEN IN TRANSPORT

Hydrogen can power internal combustion engines, turbines, and fuel cells. Hydrogen buses, cars and vans powered by internal combustion engines appeared in the middle of the last century. Still, fuel cells eventually became more widespread because of the absence of noise, emissions, and high theoretical efficiency of energy conversion.

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HYDROGEN IN INDUSTRY

For centuries, the chemical industry and metallurgy have been using coal, oil and gas both as a source of energy and as chemical raw materials. The potential for electrification in these industries is limited. It is impossible to completely “electrify a blast furnace or a coke oven, just as it is not feasible to obtain ethylene from electricity. It is necessary to design and implement fundamentally new technological processes that will permit the use of “green” or “blue” hydrogen. Only then it will be possible to achieve deep decarbonisation of the industry. Hydrogen may be used to generate synthetic gases, which in turn become raw materials for the chemical industry.

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HOME HYDROGEN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

Hydrogen is potentially invaluable as a clean-energy storage and supply source in the residential or business environment, able to generate electricity and heat. H2 4HOME™ has been engaged in research and development in the field of stationary and portable hydrogen-powered appliances designed to provide electricity, heating and hot water at your home, office and even outdoors.

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POWER YOUR LIFE WITH H2 4HOME™
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