Low-carbon hydrogen continues to gain traction as a favourable solution to accelerate the decarbonisation of high CO2 emitting industries.
A recent report by the Capgemini Research Institute has highlighted that 62% of heavy industry companies in various sectors are contemplating implementing low-carbon hydrogen to replace carbon-intensive systems. (1)
According to the report, energy and utilities companies anticipate that low-carbon hydrogen will account for on average 18% of total energy consumption by 2050. As a result, energy and utilities companies are increasing investments in the hydrogen value chain. Their aim is to advance infrastructure development whilst increasing the availability of cost-effective electrolysers and fuel cells.
The continued demand for hydrogen over the last three years has seen the global demand surge by over 10% across various industries and regions.
The increased demand for hydrogen is especially noticeable in the heavy-duty transport, aviation, and maritime sectors.
Heavy-duty is one of the most challenging sectors for developing zero emissions fuel/energy options. The UK Hydrogen Strategy recognises that due to their long journey distances, heavy payload requirements and the need for fast refuelling; the heavy-duty sector requires a sustainable alternative to electrification.
With this in mind, as part of the UK Gov. Hydrogen Strategy 2021, it was announced that the UK Gov. would be “investing up to £20 million this financial year (21) in designing trials for electric road system and hydrogen fuel cell HGVs and to run a battery electric trial to establish the feasibility, deliverability, costs and benefits of these technologies in the UK”
Despite the push for hydrogen fuel cell technologies to be ramped up, the transportation and movement of hydrogen still poses logistical challenges for industry and refuelling capabilities.
However, despite the inherent logistical challenges of transporting hydrogen, on the 27th of March 23 EU nations agreed to install hydrogen fuelling stations in all major cities and every 200km along core routes.
Following an agreement between the Council of ministers and the European Parliament the new Regulation for the deployment of the alternative fuel infrastructure regulation has been reached.
The agreement sees EU states agree to build hydrogen fuelling stations in all major cities and at least every 200km along the core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
The regulation stipulates that the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can serve both cars and heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and trucks and must be deployed from 2030 in all “urban nodes” — an EU term for 424 major cities in the bloc with ports, airports and rail terminals. (2)
The hydrogen economy continues to grow worldwide and so does the innovation in hydrogen production and transportation.
However, there is still a considerable way to go to ensure that renewable, emission free (processing) and sustainable hydrogen is more readily available to support a global renewable hydrogen economy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) for example reports that only 0.7 % of global hydrogen production in 2020 was considered to be low-carbon, and came mostly from installations and even then, this was produced using fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Alternative projects for producing low-emission hydrogen are increasing rapidly and in 2021 the volume of hydrogen production with the use of water electrolysis grew by 20 %. However, according to the IEA it still only accounted for only around 0.1 % of global hydrogen production.
One of the innovators in hydrogen transportation is Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies (PMT) who have recently announced the development of their Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC). LOHC is a new solution to enable the long-distance transportation of clean hydrogen.
Hydrogen in standard conditions being a flammable gas with low density, cannot be transported efficiently in a gaseous form. The current solutions for transport include liquified hydrogen and chemical carriers such as ammonia. Both of these formats require additional infrastructure to accommodate new volume.
In the Honeywell LOHC solution, hydrogen gas is combined chemically through the Honeywell UOP Toluene Saturation Process into a convenient liquid carrier compatible with existing infrastructure. The carrier can then be transported in the same way as gasoline or similar hydrocarbons. (3)
Once at its destination, the hydrogen is recovered from the carrier using the Honeywell UOP Methylcyclohexane Dehydrogenation Process. Existing idle oil refining assets can be revamped to release the hydrogen from the liquid carrier for use in multiple commercial and industrial applications. (3)
The Honeywell LOHC is another option for industries seeking to reduce their CO2 footprint whilst supporting the growth of the hydrogen economy. The Honeywell LOHC offers a long-distance hydrogen transport option which could support the development of international hydrogen economies. Furthermore, the Honeywell LOHC could support the off-highway sector where onsite fuelling can be challenging.
Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.