Cómo se obtiene el hidrógeno verde

What is Green Hydrogen and what’s its importance for the future.

What is green hydrogen? Forbes magazine baptized green hydrogen as “the fuel of the future”. That’s because this whole “green hydrogen fever” has only just begun. Green hydrogen is an environmentally friendly source of energy, since it does not produce carbon dioxide in its production: it is obtained through a non-polluting process.

One of the greatest challenges for the future is to find a way to produce green hydrogen competitively, through a cheap and efficient process. This is where engineering should take part.

How is green hydrogen obtained?

Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe. However, we only find it in combination with other elements. For example in water (H2O) or in methane (CH4). Therefore, some kind of chemical process will always have to occur in orden to obtain hydrogen.

The surname “green” is not just a metaphor for the color of nature, but also part of a color-based convention that is used internationally to classify and differentiate hydrogen production methods:

  • Grey (or black): Gasification of coal or reforming of natural gas without carbon capture
  • Blue: Reforming of methane  with carbon capture and storage
  • Pink (or red): Electrolysis of water using nuclear power
  • Turquoise: Pyrolysis of methane which produces hydrogen and solid carbon as a by-product
  • White: Gasification or other process using 100% biomass as a feedstock
  • Green: Electrolysis of water using renewable power

Until now, the most widespread methods are still highly polluting. In fact, hydrogen production is responsible for around 830mill tons of CO2 emitted per year. Obtaining green hydrogen, on the other hand, would be completely clean and would only release water steam.

What challenges does this method face?

The electrolysis process by which green hydrogen is obtained is much more expensive than those that use fossil fuels, and is only used to obtain small amounts of hydrogen.

The real challenge therefore lies in finding a way to make green hydrogen production a competitive and efficient process that can be developed on a large scale.

The way we can achieve that is by deploying infrastructures and projects that would lower costs, and standardizing processes and operations for the highest possible efficiency. This is where the role of engineering comes into play, as there is still a long way to go, and a lot of work to do. Energy efficiency and smart building professionals need to research, develop, and study on this energy source.

Many countries are already launching initiatives to make this possible. The European Union, for example, in the recent publication of its “Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate Neutral Europe”, pledged to invest $430 billion in green hydrogen over the next decade.

Keyplan believes that this sort of initiatives are fundamental and should be implemented as soon as possible.

Future prospects

Green hydrogen produces three times the energy of gasoline, so its development is especially interesting when it comes to making this dream of ​​a “sustainable future” a reality.

This energy, which can also be stored for long periods of time, could be used for industrial sectors (as an alternative to natural gas or as a raw material) or transport (naval, land, air …

Green hydrogen could have many applications, and it is an energy with enormous potential.

“Most of the hydrogen used nowadays is gray, and it comes from non-renewable sources. In the future it will be green” – Emilio Nieto Gallego, National Hydrogen Center’s Director.