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February 04, 2019

Hydrogen: Realistic Game Changer?

Hydrogen has many potential applications but can it be supplied economically and in sufficient quantities?

Traditionally, hydrogen is used in the chemical industry for the production of several important products such as ammonia, methanol, cyclohexane, hydrogen peroxide, aniline, oxo alcohols and TDI, amongst others.  Hydrogen is also used in the refining sector to decrease the sulfur content of certain fuel streams as well as in many other industries including in food production, electronics, polysilicon, vegetable oil processing, float glass, steel processing, and power generation, among other applications.

Adopting hydrogen as an energy carrier in fuel cell applications would open up a potentially huge new market.  This leads to the question: where should the hydrogen be sourced from?

Global production of hydrogen is ca. 60 million tons per year (2017).  Currently, most hydrogen globally is produced from conventional hydrocarbon sources, (e.g., natural gas, oil, and coal) through the use of thermocatalytic and gasification processes.  More than 90 percent of all hydrogen is derived from fossil fuels, with natural gas being by far the most frequently used, followed by liquid hydrocarbons, coal, electrolysis and other by product sources of hydrogen.

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