First peer-reviewed blue hydrogen efficiency article groups of scientists from Cornell and Stanford Universities crushes the myth about the environmental efficiency of its application. Detailed analysis revealed that blue hydrogen used for heating emits 20% more greenhouse gases than natural gas. Researchers called blue hydrogen a ruse, and called for an end to it.
At the moment, six conventional processes for producing hydrogen for the carbon-free energy industry of the future are presented. The safest for the environment is the production of green hydrogen by electrolysis using renewable energy sources (RES). Blue (blue) hydrogen is obtained by steam conversion methane from natural gas on condition of capturing and endless storage of derivatives of the process – carbon dioxide and emissions of other gases. This process releases as much carbon dioxide as the conventional combustion of natural gas. Therefore, the stake in this case is made on the efficiency of collection.
In their study, the scientists assumed that the efficiency of capturing carbon dioxide in the production of blue hydrogen would be 85% (today this figure ranges from 15% to 90%). The British company Equinor, which is developing one of the world’s first large-scale blue hydrogen projects in the UK (H2H Saltend), claims to be true that it will produce hydrogen with a minimum carbon capture efficiency of 95%.
However, even with a sufficiently high level of carbon dioxide capture, CO emissions2 from the combustion of hydrogen for heating purposes in total will be only 12% lower than from the combustion of gray hydrogen, when no one catches anything, and everything flies into the atmosphere. In other words, the efforts and energy costs of capturing have a very small effect, which may not be justified during the life cycle of the installation.
Moreover, burning blue hydrogen produces 60% more greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) than burning diesel fuel for heating. And when compared to natural gas, heating with blue hydrogen gives 20% more greenhouse gas emissions.
“Blue hydrogen really does not play any role in a carbon-free future, – stated the authors of the report. – We believe blue hydrogen should be seen as a red herring that can delay the necessary actions to truly decarbonize the global energy economy. ”
Adherents of the use of blue hydrogen, according to the researchers, turn a blind eye to the inevitable methane leaks during the extraction and transportation of raw materials to turn it into blue hydrogen, to the need to organize an “endless” storage of the captured processing products (carbon dioxide and methane), as well as to the energy consumption for capturing and storage of these products.
As a result, blue hydrogen turns out to be beneficial only to oil and gas companies, which lose little with such a course for decarbonization. Scientists are sure that there will be no real benefit for the environment when relying on this type of energy resource. The world will be saved only by green hydrogen with a complete transition to renewable energy in the production of hydrogen.