Ebene Magazine – Hydrogen energy: what it is and why the future belongs to it ru

Ebene Magazine - Hydrogen energy: what it is and why the future belongs to it ru

One of the main ideas in the modern race of environmentally friendly energy technologies is the desire to further decarbonize the atmospheric air (to reduce the share of « greenhouse » emissions of carbon dioxide). For this purpose, the consumption of fuel oil, oil and coal is being reduced. They continue to be replaced with environmentally friendly natural gas. The positions of nuclear energy are being strengthened and the volumes of use of renewable energy sources (RES) are actively increasing. In the future, the struggle for efficient energy sources and progressive decarbonization of the atmosphere will inevitably continue in the process of active development of hydrogen energy. This will require a significant reduction in the cost of hydrogen production and the introduction of acceptable solutions for its transportation, storage and use.

Hydrogen is an ideal source of energy and an environmentally friendly fuel. Its heat of combustion (1.17 GJ / kg) is almost three times higher than that of oil and four times that of coal or natural gas. In 2018, the consumption of hydrogen in the world amounted to about 74 million tons. It was used primarily in the oil refining, chemical industry and metallurgy. By 2030, we can expect an increase in its annual demand up to 100-114 million tons of hydrogen (35-55% compared to 2018) at a production cost of about $ 2 / kg. Hydrogen Council experts in a recent report argued that by 2050, hydrogen will account for 18% of the world’s energy needs. According to other forecasts, by this time the world consumption of hydrogen will grow to 370 million tons per year (up to 800 million tons by 2100).

The large-scale introduction of hydrogen energy will require large-scale development of the following production technologies for hydrogen production: • hydrogen separation from produced natural gases; • hydrogen production from methane by pyrolysis (without oxygen access) without carbon dioxide emissions with the cost of electricity to obtain 1 cubic meter. m of hydrogen, according to PJSC Gazprom, at the level of 0.7-3.3 kWh; • production of hydrogen from water by electrolysis (using renewable (sun, wind, energy of sea tides, biomass, etc.) and traditional energy sources (hydrocarbons, coal, nuclear and thermonuclear energy). This most energy-intensive method is considered in the EU as one of the most promising. According to PJSC Gazprom, to obtain 1 cubic meter of hydrogen by electrolysis of water requires about 2.5 -8 kWh of electricity (almost three times more than in methane pyrolysis); • production of hydrogen in the process of steam reforming of methane with collection and disposal of carbon dioxide emissions; • creation of a special infrastructure for the transportation and storage of hydrogen; • use of hydrogen in industry, for transport (land, air, water and underwater), utilities.

At the same time, on the way to the environmentally acceptable use of hydrogen in the furnaces of power plants, in the engines of cars and other vehicles, there are rather high « barriers », the knowledge of which will allow to outline the ways to overcome them.

The combustion temperature of hydrogen in an oxygen environment can exceed 2800 degrees (a thousand degrees higher than the combustion temperature of methane). This temperature is typical for aircraft and rocket engines. It will require the use of heat-resistant metals in the construction of hydrogen furnaces.

In the process of hydrogen combustion, a certain amount of toxic nitrogen oxides is inevitably formed (the mechanism of Yakov Zeldovich). It will be necessary to develop and apply technologies for the environmentally sound combustion of hydrogen, eliminating the possibility of acid rain and dangerous consequences for human health.

According to astrophysicists, hydrogen makes up 99 percent of the mass of the Universe, and in the Sun’s atmosphere, the weight fraction of hydrogen exceeds 90 percent. Huge reserves of primary (cosmic) hydrogen – the main building « brick » of the Universe, are also stored in the bowels of our planet.

In the list of chemical elements that make up the minerals of the outer shell of the Earth (lithosphere and hydrosphere), hydrogen ranks second (after oxygen). Its most widespread and mobile formation is water – an almost inexhaustible natural resource for the production of hydrogen and oxygen. A special hydrochemical type of « hydrogen waters » associated with geological objects was distinguished at the beginning of the last century by V. I. Vernadsky. A high hydrogen content (up to 64 percent by volume) was discovered by G. Sigvaldasson in the thermal gases of Iceland, which are confined to areas of modern volcanism. Another practically inexhaustible resource for producing hydrogen (thanks to the continuous and abundant “gas breathing of the Earth) is the natural gases of the lithosphere and the interior of our planet. The theme of hydrogen degassing of the Earth is reflected in the works of Vladimir Vernadsky, Vladimir Larin, Leonid Perchuk, Peter Kropotkin, Vladimir Polevanov, Robert Bembel, Vladimir Megeri, Sergei Bembel and many others.

The content of free hydrogen in methane gases from the coal basins of the CIS does not exceed nine percent (on average, 2-4 percent). A high concentration of hydrogen is found in volcanic chambers and explosion tubes (up to 50 percent of the total amount of gases. Increased concentrations and jets of hydrogen degassing are observed in the rift zones of the oceans. According to Viktor Gavrilov, in the rift of Iceland, the removal of hydrogen is up to 1,000 m3 / day In the Udachnaya kimberlite pipe (in well 42), the hydrogen flow rate reached 100 thousand m3 / day.

A number of geologists believe that the centers of seismic and volcanic activity are formed over local zones and channels of seepage and accumulation of deep, primary hydrogen, “stored” in the hydride core of the Earth. There was even a fantastic idea of ​​advanced drilling of wells to “unload” potential zones of critical hydrogen accumulation in order to prevent earthquakes and volcanic explosions. The existing complex of modern geophysical methods (gravimetry, seismic prospecting, magnetic prospecting and electrical prospecting) allows obtaining a detailed volumetric model of the volcano and even determining the location of the underground gas soliton (« gas pipe ») feeding the volcano. As for the subsequent work on the organization of drilling wells for the extraction of hydrogen, they seem to be technically feasible, but extremely dangerous.

At the same time, all hydrogen practically used today is produced only by a production (artificial) method. The expansion of the energy use of hydrogen and the organization of searches for natural deposits of this gas require state support. Japan was the first country to formulate its national hydrogen strategy in 2017. In 2019, the Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells was adopted here. In 2019, the Republic of Korea revealed its strategic plans for the development of hydrogen. The views of these largest developed importers of traditional energy resources on the role of hydrogen are similar: increasing energy security through diversifying energy sources, focusing on hydrogen imports, developing technologies for export, and fulfilling climate obligations to protect the climate. In 2019, a national hydrogen strategy was adopted by Australia, the largest exporter of energy resources, which organized a partnership with Japan to develop a pilot project to create hydrogen supplies and signed an agreement of intent with the Republic of Korea to achieve cooperation on the export and import of hydrogen. In March 2020, the strategy of the Netherlands was approved, in June – Germany and Norway, in July – Portugal and the EU, and in September – France.

In July 2020, European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “The EU’s goal is to be climate neutral by 2050. By this time, we will have phased out all fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources 0 (RES) and hydrogen should become an alternative to coal, oil and oil products, natural gas ”. Germany insisted on such a decision most of all, where, according to the national hydrogen energy program, by 2030, power plants with a capacity of 20 GW should be built, intended for the production of so-called « green » hydrogen (based on the energy of VIA), the combustion of which does not generate carbon dioxide. gas.

According to scientists’ calculations, this « green hydrogen », obtained on the basis of energy from solar panels, can compete with « blue hydrogen », which is produced from water on the basis of the use of other, non-renewable sources of electrical energy. According to the forecasts of scientists, by the end of the decade it is planned to increase the efficiency of electrolysers from 58% to 70% and to reduce the cost of electrolysis from $ 800 to $ 500 per kW. It is also expected that the cost of storing hydrogen in pressure vessels will decrease by 33%.

Presumably, the average cost of « green hydrogen » in the northwest of the United States will be $ 2.3 and in the southwest it will be in the range of $ 1.9 to $ 4.2 per kilogram. Scientists are also convinced that until 2030, natural gas will retain its position as the main energy resource in the production of hydrogen at a cost of only $ 1 per kilogram.

According to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), the production of hydrogen using energy from solar panels can become profitable over the next ten years. Hydrogen production will cost an average of $ 2.5 per kilogram – four times less than the current price of $ 10.6 (PV Magazine).

The strategic prospects for the use of hydrogen for developed countries are largely associated with the introduction of low-carbon hydrogen energy technologies, which makes it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most promising industries for using hydrogen as a means of decarbonization, along with applications in industry and energy, are transport, metallurgy and utilities. By the end of 2019, the fleet of hydrogen-fueled cars exceeded 25 thousand cars, with over 12 thousand sold over the last year. The leaders in the expansion of this park are the United States, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

In Japan, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) successfully tested a high-capacity gas turbine at one of its power plants several years ago, feeding natural gas with 30% hydrogen to the combustion chamber. The outlet gas temperature was about 1600 degrees. The old traditional equipment withstood such a load. The company’s recommendations state that the use of a fuel mixture of 80% natural gas and 20% hydrogen is economically and environmentally acceptable.

In 2018, the Japanese companies Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Obayashi conducted short-term tests of the turbine with 100% hydrogen supplied to the combustion chamber. As a result, the CHP plant in Kobe, owned by a consortium of companies, switched to operation on a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas in a ratio of 20% to 80%. Experiments with the addition of hydrogen to the fuel mixture for gas-fired CHP plants are carried out not only in Japan. In the UK, Belgium, the USA and New Zealand, the share of hydrogen mixed into the fuel is 0.1%, in Germany – 10%, the Netherlands – 12%. According to the calculations of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the creation of a large-scale European network of power plants with a gas-hydrogen mixture in the 80/20 ratio will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7% or 60 million tons.

South California tech company Hyperion has announced the development of the XP-1 electric supercar powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Carbon-titanium « Hyperion » accelerates faster than 355 km / h and can travel 1635 km at one gas station. The curb weight of the machine is less than 1032 kg. The all-wheel-drive Hyperion XP-1 features permanent magnet electric motors, a fuel cell stack and carbon hydrogen storage tanks. This car is another argument in a heated debate between proponents of battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

According to Rosstat, since 2010, hydrogen production in Russia has tripled and in 2019 amounted to 1.95 billion cubic meters. m. In Russia, hydrogen is mainly produced and used in the oil refining, chemical and petrochemical industries. In the Energy Strategy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2035 (ES-2035), hydrogen energy is designated as one of the promising areas of energy development. In October 2020, the Government of the Russian Federation approved the Action Plan (« roadmap ») for the development of hydrogen energy for the period up to 2024. It is envisaged to form and implement measures of state support for projects in the field of hydrogen energy, improve the regulatory framework, strengthen the positions of Russian companies in the hydrogen sales markets and conduct research and development. With the participation of Rosatom State Corporation and PJSC Gazprom, it is planned to implement a number of pilot projects, including the creation of low-carbon hydrogen production units, the development and testing of gas turbines running on methane-hydrogen fuel, the creation of a prototype railway transport using hydrogen and the production of hydrogen at the NPP. In accordance with this Plan, by April 2021, a concept for the development of hydrogen energy in the Russian Federation should be developed, which should formulate the priorities for the development of hydrogen energy in the country for the short, medium and long term.

The prospects for the development of hydrogen energy in Russia are mainly associated with the export of hydrogen, which is reflected in ES-2035, which sets the task of consolidating Russia among the world leaders in the export of hydrogen and sets the corresponding targets: 0.2 million tons (2.2 billion cubic meters) in 2024 and 2 million tons (22.2 billion cubic meters) in 2035.

The export orientation of hydrogen energy in Russia is associated with the presence of competitive advantages. These include, firstly, the presence of large reserves of natural resources (gas, coal and water). Secondly, it is advisable to note a significant reserve of generating capacities, which allows the development of hydrogen production in Russia using energy-intensive methods (steam reforming of methane, including in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and electrolysis. Third, it is advisable to note the geographical proximity production capacities of hydrogen to potential markets for its sales (APR and EU countries) Fourthly, certain advantages lie in the presence of the existing gas transportation infrastructure and the growing capacities of the LNG production industry, which create preconditions for the development of hydrogen production from natural gas and its export through pipelines and in liquefied form.

Along with the export direction, hydrogen energy has prospects within the country. First, it is the ability to reduce emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere, primarily from transport, which is important primarily for large cities. However, here hydrogen will have to compete with NGV fuel and electric vehicles based on lithium batteries. ES-2035 considers transport as one of the priority directions for using hydrogen in the domestic market.

The most technologically advanced methods to date are methods of producing hydrogen from fossil raw materials. These mastered methods also have standard disadvantages. To obtain hydrogen with a low carbon footprint, the use of carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) is required with a significant consumption of raw materials for process heat and the need for additional purification of the produced hydrogen. Promising methods of hydrogen production (pyrolysis, plasma conversion, thermochemical cycles) have positive aspects: there are no CO2 emissions, there is the possibility of obtaining by-products, etc. At the same time, these methods are very energy-consuming, they are characterized by high temperatures (as a result, high losses for thermal radiation), requiring the use of special construction materials. The use of nuclear power in the production of hydrogen can increase its efficiency, taking into account the possibility of providing cheap energy.

Hydrogen has a high potential for use as a means of storing and storing energy, as well as balancing the load of power grids under conditions of instability in electricity consumption when it is generated using renewable energy sources.

In the shadow of the large-scale use of hydrogen (as an environmentally acceptable fuel), there is an insufficiently studied, but, presumably, serious danger of reproduction in the process of high-temperature combustion – the synthesis of nitrogen oxides toxic to biota. A similar negative effect unexpectedly manifested itself at one time when CHP and GRES were converted from coal to more environmentally acceptable gas.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the success of the milestone transitions of mankind to more and more new types of fuel and energy (from firewood to coal, to oil and natural gas, and finally to nuclear energy, the 75th anniversary of which we have just celebrated), the desire to the careful and environmentally acceptable development of renewable energy sources, as well as the effective development of technologies for the overdue introduction of hydrogen energy, required and require the implementation of comprehensive mobilization measures to solve the task of all mechanisms of the modern economy. An important role in this lies on the shoulders of domestic geology, whose task must inevitably include the task of searching for natural hydrogen deposits. We need a nationwide program and organizational coordination of all research and production work on the search, exploration, production, transportation, storage and use of hydrogen. With the introduction of hydrogen energy in transport, it seems economically acceptable not only to widely use fuel hydrogen cells (HFCs), but also to equip vehicles with electric batteries (EA), which will be charged using RES and hydrogen. Both of these options (the use of fuel elements and AE) do not exclude the parallel use of replacing gasoline and diesel fuel with natural gas.

Hydrogen energy does not cancel and does not devalue the need for prospecting and exploration of effective deposits of traditional hydrocarbon raw materials. Its ecological significance and focus allows to organize in a new way a successful complex synergy of traditional and renewable energy sources.

It is necessary to pay attention to one more circumstance that has an important geological and exploratory meaning. The geotech seismic survey area is located on the northern flank of the unique areal development of the Siberian trap formation. These lava flows poured out 250 million years ago with a volume of up to 4 million cubic meters. km are covered with a thick cloak, difficult to penetrate for geophysical research methods, over two million square kilometers of strata, promising from the point of view of oil and gas production. The established presence of unoxidized inclusions of native metals (aluminum, copper, and iron) in igneous rocks suggests that the eruption of traps was accompanied by a large-scale supply of hydrogen to the magma reservoir, which provided a reducing environment for the melt. In this regard, it is possible to predict the discovery of not only hydrocarbon deposits preserved under the impermeable cover of traps in the region designated for seismic exploration, but also industrial deposits of hydrogen and helium.

Hydrogen energy is not only an overdue transition to the development of a new environmentally acceptable source of energy, but also an incentive to achieve more efficient use of traditional fuels, increase the efficiency of the engines used and ensure a higher degree of environmental safety for fuel and energy enterprises and transport.

1. Polevanov V.P., Glazyev S.Yu. Searches for natural hydrogen deposits in Russia as a basis for integration into a new technological order. Global Subsoil Use, August 2020, pp. 10-23.

3. Konoplyanik A. A, Pure hydrogen from natural gas // Corporate magazine « Gazprom », No. 9, September 30, 2020.

5. International Energy Agency. The Future of Hydrogen. Seizing today’s opportunities. Report prepared by the IEA for the G20. IEA Publication – Japan, June 2019.

6. Order of the Government of the Russian Federation dated October 12, 2020. No. 2634-r “On approval of the action plan“ Development of hydrogen energy in the Russian Federation until 2024 ”.

8. Martsinkevich B.L. Hello, wonderful hydrogen world. Author’s blog of Boris Martsinkevich dated July 28, 2020.

9. Yakutseni V.P. The raw material base of helium in the world and the prospects for the development of the helium industry // Neftegazovaya Geologiya. Theory and Practice, 2009 (4)

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