August 11 (UPI) – Energy researchers insist the green economy needs hydrogen, and according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Joule, the hydrogen economy needs a 10-year plan.

The document, a scientific commentary, sets out the necessities for a sustainable hydrogen economy, including development details related to infrastructure, transportation, storage and use, as well as production targets and criteria. economic viability.

“An H2 economy already exists, but it involves a lot of greenhouse gas emissions,” commentary lead author Arun Majumdar said in a press release.

About 70 million metric tons of hydrogen are produced globally each year, but U.S. producers only make up about one-seventh of that total.

The vast majority of this hydrogen is used to make fertilizers and petrochemicals, and almost all of it is associated with significant CO2 emissions. This is called the “gray” H2.

“Almost everything is based on the H2 in methane. A clean H2 economy does not exist today,” said Majumdar, co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

Efforts to end the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels have primarily focused on the adoption of solar and wind power.

But even after the world’s power grids are fully supplied with green energy, energy experts insist that environmentally friendly fuel will be needed for industrial heating, long-haul heavy haulage, and fueling. long-term energy storage.

Many energy researchers and policy makers are convinced that hydrogen can be this fuel.

Some researchers argue that the best way to jumpstart a hydrogen economy is to invest in “blue H2,” which involves capturing and using CO2 emissions to synthesize H2. Unfortunately, producing blue H2 costs 50 percent more than gray H2.

“To make Blue H2 a viable option, research and development is needed to reduce the costs of CO2 capture and further improve the completeness of capture,” the researchers write in the commentary.

The cleanest form of H2 is “green H2,” which involves the use of electricity and electrolysers to split the water.

The production of green H2 does not generate greenhouse gas emissions, but it costs $ 4 to $ 6 per kilogram. Researchers suggest that production costs could be cut in half as the price of green energy drops.

“Turquoise H2” is produced by pyrolysis of methane, or methane cracking, which involves the separation of solid carbon from natural gas.

The economic value of solid carbon can help offset production costs, but the demand for solid carbon is currently insufficient to make turquoise H2 economically viable.

To make turquoise H2 a reality, policymakers will need to lead efforts to develop new markets for its use.

Regardless of how H2 is produced, manufacturers will need to approach $ 1 per kilogram in order to build an economically viable hydrogen economy. An economically viable hydrogen economy will also require pipelines, as well as storage and distribution facilities.

“Developing and implementing new pipeline infrastructure is generally expensive and involves challenges of social acceptance,” the researchers write.

“Therefore, it is important to explore alternative approaches for a hydrogen economy that does not require new H2 pipeline infrastructure,” they write.

According to the authors of the commentary, the US Geological Survey should be called upon to conduct a nationwide survey of suitable underground hydrogen storage locations.

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