Thoughts on hydrogen and carbon

by Bill Haaf

Carbon capture is being recommended by climate scientists as mandatory to keep earth from overheating. There are lots of techniques with trade-offs and potential misuse by oil/gas companies but we still need it.

I am preparing a PowerPoint reviewing both nature-based and man-made technologies to capture CO2 and sequester it. This will review pros/cons and potential misuses. I could present a 45-minute talk to any groups that wishes, with Q&A on various carbon capture types including trees and soil and oceans.

in addition to the fact that climate scientists say we need carbon capture to stop the planet from overheating, the oil / natural gas companies are moving fast to build these units..

The government must require the fossil fuel industry to capture all the CO2 from the burning of their products – not just their site energy use but from the end users as well.

Green Hydrogen is overhyped and way too much $$ being  spent on it.

We should not use renewable electricity to manufacture green H2 — IF this means grid electricity is dispatched to fill those energy needs, since then non-renewable electricity will be used. Much better to send as much renewable as possible to the grid to lower carbon footprint.  

So when should renewable electricity be used to generate green H2 ? When the grid has excess renewable energy from too much wind at night or sunny days.

Some relevant questions:

• Why make green H2? What end uses of green H2 would lower the carbon footprint?

• H2 is the smallest molecule; it leaks easily and explodes easily. Facilities need special metal or plastic so the process does not embrittle metal or leak out of valves, etc.

• H2 takes energy to compress and pump.

• It does not contain as much energy as methane. so can only displace 5-10% methane in boilers. 

* Most H2 these days is used in refineries for fuel (which we hope will go away)

* EV cars are more efficient. 

• H2 is good to replace coke in steel manufacturing and to use in fuel cells; maybe for heavy trucks (or will batteries win?)?

• Good for making NH3 as fertilizer OR use NH3 as fuel in ships or large vehicles.

Some background info:

“Hydrogen Folly Grows: 55% Used In Oil Refineries — Demand Will Drop, Not Rise,” by Michael Bernard, CleanTechnica, 1/13/21.

Summary: “Governmental expenditures on hydrogen are very useful, … but should be very carefully targeted to where they actually add value, which is almost entirely in displacing black and gray hydrogen in non-oil and gas markets with green hydrogen.”

“Should We Really Use Renewable Electricity to Make Green Hydrogen? Not Always,” by Gary J. DiElsi,  Power Magazine, 1/3/23.Summary: “There’s a growing belief that hydrogen will play a key role in lowering CO2 emissions. However, there are several caveats in realizing that vision, and in some cases, hydrogen may not be the right choice.” In addition, “Green hydrogen is not always free of CO2.”

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