Hydrogen will be one of the critical assets in the energy stream in the coming decades for the sustainable development of society. The abundant availability of hydrogen and its application in electricity production using fuel cells without any harmful emissions makes it distinct. It can be produced from renewable and sustainable resources, thus promising an eco-friendly solution for the energy transition in the coming years.
Currently, hydrogen production using the electrolysis of water is most preferred. However, hydrogen production can vary in the range of sectors. Hydrogen can be used in electricity production, biomass, solar and wind power application.
Despite its advantages, two significant issues hinder its commercialisation and generalisation as an efficient fuel, and energy transition toward zero-emission and fossil-free energy solutions. The first is hydrogen is an energy vector, which means hydrogen needs to be produced before its use and eventually lead to energy consumption in hydrogen synthesis. The second is the low volumetric energy density of hydrogen, which leads to hydrogen storage and transportation issues because of its lowest volumetric energy density (0.01079 MJ/L)
Researchers have suggested several solutions to attempt to increase this value:
- compression in gas cylinders;
- liquefaction in cryogenic tanks;
- storage in metal-hydride alloys;
- adsorption onto large specific surface area-materials
- chemical storage in covalent and ionic compounds (viz. formic acid, borohydride, ammonia)
Applications of Hydrogen
The hydrogen applications are in the food industry to turn unsaturated fats and oils present in vegetable oils, butter into a saturated state. In the metal forming industry, atomic hydrogen welding is used as an environmentally sustainable welding process. In the manufacturing industry, hydrogen and nitrogen are used to create a boundary and prevent the oxidation of metals.
The recent advancements in hydrogen applications in the steel manufacturing industry are one of the most significant hydrogen applications for low or zero-emission iron ore conversion.
The potential use of hydrogen can play a vital role in reducing greenhouse emissions and the global target of achieving a minimal no emission target by 2050. However, the automotive industry is still the largest consumer and most attractive sector in the current scenario. But with the future forecast of reducing hydrogen fuel cost can do wonders with the goal set during Paris Climate Summit.
Hydrogen use in stationary and automotive applications, such as fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations above all, has shown to be hindered by its volumetric energy density – the lowest among all the standard fuels nowadays used. Compression seems to be the most efficient solution to reach high storage levels, thus making hydrogen more common as a renewable and sustainable fuel.
The availability of several hydrogen compression technologies makes the development of new innovative and environmentally-friendly solutions for the use of energy possible, leading to a transition towards a fossil fuel divestment and making a critical contribution to sustainable development