Green Hydrogen: Making Fuel from Thin Air
Over the past few months, a collaborative team of researchers from around the globe have successfully produced green hydrogen directly from the air. Hydrogen fuel is made by splitting water molecules, which historically has required freshwater to accomplish. With this breakthrough, we now have the capability to produce green hydrogen fuel from the moisture in the air. Hydrogen is potentially an emission-free fuel source, and the industry has been making headway over the past few years as funding increases and technology improves. Until recent developments, hydrogen fuel production cost far too much to compete with oil and gas, but thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act from June 2022, subsidies are helping to fund the research that will lead to green hydrogen as a remarkably clean source of fuel.
How Does it Work?
Worldwide, there are approximately 13 trillion tons of water in the air at any given moment, and even some dry environments have a relative humidity of 20%. The ability to harness this moisture from the air allows for the possibility of creating hydrogen even in regions without access to freshwater. Using a hygroscopic electrolyte, the researchers were able to absorb the moisture from the air, and then use renewable energy harnessed from the wind or the sun to power the electrolysis. Recent tests showed that this process can produce almost 750 liters of hydrogen per day for every square meter of electrolyzer. The researchers that successfully demonstrated this process were able to produce 99% pure hydrogen from air with only 4% humidity.
Advantages of Green Hydrogen
Hydrogen naturally has a near limitless supply, and pound for pound contains nearly three times the amount of energy as fossil fuels. Unlike other energy sources, hydrogen fuel is easily transported and can store large amounts for long periods of time. With the new breakthrough of using water from the air, green hydrogen fuel can essentially be produced anywhere with moisture in the air and a source of electricity. Hydrogen can be used in many ways, from powering household appliances to fuel cells powering anything using electricity.
Utilizing Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells are very similar to batteries, but they don’t need to be recharged and won’t lose power if there is hydrogen fuel. Power is generated with a chemical reaction instead of combustion, only releasing water and heat as byproducts. Some industries are already starting to use hydrogen fuel cells in their practices. Here are 10 ways hydrogen fuel cells are already being utilized:
- Warehouse Logistics
- Used to power clean trucks, forklifts, and other tools.
- Global Distribution
- Fuel cells have the power and range needed for long-haul shipping.
- Currently testing hydrogen fuel cell buses in several major cities
- Germany has introduced the first hydrogen fuel cell trains.
- Personal Vehicles
- Nine major auto manufacturers are developing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
- Several experimental projects underway
- Backup Power Generation
- Hospitals and data centers are looking to hydrogen for uninterrupted power.
- Mobile Power Generation
- Versatile options for mobile power
- Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs)
- Both military and private industry plan to overcome the limited power of batteries with hydrogen fuel cells
- Boats and Submarines
- Alternative to nuclear power, onboard solar panels and wind turbines generate their own hydrogen.
Why Green Hydrogen is a Necessity
Many experts agree that green hydrogen will be key to reaching the goals set by the Paris Agreement and cutting emissions in areas of the economy which these emissions are difficult to eliminate. In the United States, the three sectors that release the most emissions are transportation, power generation, and industry. Renewable energy sources and direct electrification can easily reduce emissions from power generation and some transportation, but parts of the economy that require high energy density fuel or intense heat have more difficulty lowering emissions. Green hydrogen energy could be the solution.
Careers in Renewable Energy
As efforts expand to make renewable energy a reality after decades of progress, we are beginning to see positive impact on the nation in several ways. The initiatives currently underway will be a massive long-term benefit for the nation and are currently leading to lots of well-paying jobs in the energy industry.
At Progressive, we pride ourselves on connecting the best talent with great companies in important industries. As the shortcomings of the current power grid structure are brought to the forefront, we are proud to help staff the positions that will play a part in efforts to reduce carbon emissions and create a better world.
Does your company deal with renewable energy? Progressive has project teams across the United States with the expertise you need. Contact us to learn more about our services.
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