Blue Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel for the era and help in the fight to reach net-zero emissions.
Hydrogen has often been touted as a fuel of the future. Hydrogen has the potential to create limitless, emission-free, efficient energy. But when such statements are made, the Hydrogen that most people are thinking about is only one specific type of Hydrogen — Green Hydrogen.
But when policymakers, gas companies and many others are talking about Hydrogen, they are instead referring to Blue Hydrogen. Blue Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel for the era and help in the fight to reach net-zero emissions.
However, blue is not green and the difference between them can make a world of difference.
What is Blue Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is notoriously difficult to extract. The lightest element in the universe usually is found in water and hydrocarbons, the elements that make up fossil fuel, among many other substances. Extracting Hydrogen from water, H2O, is notoriously difficult since the water molecule is so stable and subsequently requires quite a lot of effort and energy, which usually comes from renewable sources. This is known as Green Hydrogen.
Other methods of hydrogen extraction include the burning of coal oil to produce Brown Hydrogen, using bituminous tar to produce Black Hydrogen, using Methane or natural gas (CH4) to produce Grey Hydrogen. All of these methods produce a significant amount of carbon emissions, making the process essentially pointless in terms of environmental impact.
Blue Hydrogen is extracted using the same method as Grey Hydrogen with the added step of capturing and storing the carbon dioxide released into the ground. It was held as being a cheap yet clean alternative to Green Hydrogen, which is still extremely expensive to extract.
What is the problem with Blue Hydrogen?
The issue with Blue Hydrogen used is that it is extracted from natural gas in a process that requires a lot of energy and releases a vast amount of carbon dioxide, offsetting whatever environmental benefits it could have had.
A new study from Cornell University found that the extraction process and the runoff are so harmful to the environment that Blue Hydrogen cannot even be classified as a “low-emission” fuel source. The study also found that it would be better for the environment to directly use natural gas in most cases as it was less harmful in terms of emission than the overall lifecycle of Blue Hydrogen.
The research highlights the need for rapidly emerging technology to make the process of extraction of Green Hydrogen, cheaper and more widely available.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST