Blue hydrogen technologies and distribution

Hydrogen can emerge as a major energy carrier of the net-zero future and play a significant role in decarbonizing several key sectors, such as power generation, petroleum refining, chemicals, fertilizers and long haul heavy-duty transport. The present world demand for pure hydrogen is about 80 mtpa, primarily from oil refining and ammonia production. This hydrogen is also referred to as black or grey hydrogen, as it is almost entirely produced from coal or natural gas without any carbon capture and is very carbon-intensive, globally contributing to about 830 mtpa of CO2 emissions. The share of green hydrogen or hydrogen produced from electrolysis of water using renewables is minuscule, at less than 1 mtpa.

The growing interest and potential of hydrogen as a pillar of the clean energy future wrests on its high energy intensity, absence of emissions & pollutants and the potential of carbon-neutral H2 production from a variety of fuels and sources. Also, hydrogen is light, can be conveniently stored and can be produced at scale. With these properties, hydrogen can substitute fossil fuels in transportation, power generation and heating purposes. As a low-carbon energy source, hydrogen has a distinct advantage over renewables: compressed H2 can be transported over long distances and stored at scale, thus providing a solution to the spatial and temporal imbalances in energy supply and demand.

 Apart from the current industrial uses of hydrogen, which all have daily end-use applications and hence are expected to remain steady and grow incrementally, emerging trends suggest that new applications are expected to grow exponentially beyond the year 2030.

  • Transport sector: Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles or FCEVs driven automobiles (especially long haul heavy-duty transport) and shipping & aviation (hydrogen converted to synthetic liquid fuels).

  • Power generation: Hydrogen-rich syngas is used to operate IGCC power plants, and evolving gas turbine technologies are likely to be able to handle 100% hydrogen in the future.

  • Baseload power demand: Compressed hydrogen can be stored and transported and can complement renewable power for meeting seasonal and geographical energy imbalances.

  • Buildings: Blending or replacement of natural gas used for heating purposes.

With supporting policy interventions and stricter control on emissions, the demand for hydrogen can grow exponentially from 2030 onwards.

The growth in hydrogen demand as a clean energy carrier of the net-zero future would depend on how cost-effectively it can replace the current fossil fuel-based energy ecosystem. While the cost economics of green hydrogen (produced from the electrolysis of water using renewables) is expected to improve in the future, blue hydrogen i.e. production of hydrogen from fossil fuels integrated with carbon capture can have an important role to play in the interim and complement existing renewable sources of energy in providing a cost-competitive alternative to fossil fuels.

Dastur Energy has extensive knowledge and experience in designing clean hydrogen generation systems for its clients based on the gasification of fossil fuels combined with carbon capture. We have recently successfully concluded two independent feasibility studies for the production of clean hydrogen with an estimated cash cost of less than US$ 1/kg, using coal and petroleum coke based gasification systems. We are also designing India’s first industrial-scale carbon capture system for one of our refinery clients for enabling the production of blue hydrogen with a carbon capture cost of around US$ 30/tonne of CO2. We are also working with the US DOE and the 5 mtpa Burns Harbor steel plant in Indiana for designing a BF gas carbon capture system to enable the production of low emissions steel and hydrogen-rich clean fuel gas streams for meeting the plant’s energy requirements.

Dastur Energy uses its intellectual property, know-how, and models in gasification, carbon capture, gas conditioning & enrichment and system engineering & optimization to fashion and architect blue hydrogen projects that are scalable, flexible, and techno-economically feasible. Our solutions and frameworks can be applied to solve the clean energy transitions challenges faced by several industries such as petrochemicals & chemicals, oil & gas, clean power systems, transportation and other sectors where hydrogen can play a key role in transforming the existing energy systems.

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