Guest contribution by Eric Worrall
A few months ago, a colossal explosion from a suspected hydrogen coolant leak at a power plant in Australia that caused power outages along the east coast reminded us that hydrogen is not a gas to play with. But nothing seems to stand in the way of BoJo’s rush to inject pressurized hydrogen gas into British vehicles and homes.
Green hydrogen ‘transition from a scale-based industry,’ says one researcher as the UK secures its H2 strategy
Am i blue Am i green Government report is not entirely transparent
The UK government has released its delayed hydrogen strategy which – in a strange move for a colorless gas – hedges its bets between green and blue.
The government claimed the UK’s hydrogen economy would be worth $ 900 million by 2030 to help these sectors move away from fossil fuels, it said.
Lightweight, energy-intensive and carbon-free hydrogen-based solutions could account for up to 35 percent of UK energy consumption by 2050 and help the country meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050, according to the government paper.
But navigating from the current state of the hydrogen industry to this worthy destination can require some tricky maneuvers. The majority of industrial hydrogen is obtained from natural gas [PDF] in a process that releases greenhouse gases and requires energy, often from carbon fuels.
In theory, the easiest way to solve this problem is to use renewable electricity to generate hydrogen from water through electrolysis – the so-called green hydrogen. The problem is that while the process works in the laboratory, it does not yet need to be industrialized on a scale comparable to other fuels in the global energy supply chain. Green hydrogen got a boost as researchers found ways to make electrolysis more efficient with a lower capital cost.
An alternative is to continue to use natural gas as the hydrogen source, but capture and store the methane and CO2 by-products and power the process with renewable energy. However, a recent study found that the production of blue hydrogen is 20 percent more harmful to the climate than the sole use of fossil gas over its entire life cycle.
Read more: https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/17/uk_government_hydrogen_strategy/
As a kid I played with hydrogen, used a cheap chemical reaction with ingredients most people have at home to fill party balloons with hydrogen and tie birthday cake candles or fireworks to the balloons. Many balloons exploded while filling, if we forgot to squeeze the balloons together before filling, or if the rubber doesn’t seal well with the tube, the gas in the balloon swirls and mixes with a trace of air enough to make an impressive bang. Once we loaded 5 balloons tied together with so many crackers that the balloons didn’t rise above head level – we all hit the deck face down very quickly. The explosion rattled the windows of my parents’ house and startled my mother.
The thought of piping pressurized hydrogen into houses or parking a car with dozens of liters of compressed hydrogen in the gas tank in an enclosed space or anywhere near a house is utter madness. The blast of fuel from an entire leaky gas tank full of hydrogen would likely destroy the house and break the windows of every neighboring house, with obvious consequences for everyone nearby.
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