Hydrogen

Hydrogen (H) has atomic number 1 in the periodic table and is the lightest element of all. Hydrogen acts as a gas at standard temperature and pressure consisting of two atoms (H2). Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is believed to make up as much as 75% of the universe’s total mass. On earth, hydrogen usually occurs in combination with oxygen and forms water.

Today, hydrogen is mainly produced from natural gas, but can also be produced from electrolysis.

Depending on if the CO2 from this production is captured, the hydrogen is often called blue or gray, whereas blue hydrogen is where the C02 is captured and stored. Hydrogen from natural gas is made by steam methane reformating (SMR). Water electrolysis is a well-known technology that has been used in Norway on an industrial scale since the start of Norsk Hydro production from facilities at Rjukan in 1940 and Glomfjord from 1953. Hydrogen produced from electrolysis with renewable energy is called green hydrogen.

The electrolysis process needs electrical power.

Water is applied an electric charge, and water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen, as seen in the figure. If the applied electricity is from hydropower, solar, or wind turbines, the hydrogen is completely C02-free and called green hydrogen. Producing hydrogen from surplus power, such as wind or small unregulated power, is, therefore, a smart way to store energy that would otherwise be lost.

Hydrogen is a colorless and odorless gas.

Hydrogen is a gas that is lighter than air and rises. It is not dangerous in itself, but there is a risk similar to other energy-rich gases when pressurized. In Norway, we have almost 100-years of experience in handling hydrogen on a large scale. Hydrogen is a safe gas to produce, store, and use with solid risk evaluation studies.

The efficiency of electrolyzers is increased.

New electrolyzer technology is being developed, and the energy consumption is expected to reach 50kWh/kg H2 at the plant level within a few years. For the production of 1 kg H2, around 10 L of water is needed. Around 8 kg of oxygen (O2) is produced per kg hydrogen produced, and around 10kWh of potential heat per kg hydrogen.

Hydrogen fuel cells are currently commercially available for various applications and used in thousands of hydrogen-powered passenger cars in Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda brands. Various busses and trucks are commercially available today. Around 150 fuel cell buses were put in operation in Europe and have completed more than 12 million kilometers of service legg inn link.  Various hydrogen trucks are in operation from different brands. ASKO has 4 Scania trucks today in operation from their own hydrogen gas station in Trondheim.

The Hydrogen Electrolysis process

Electricity consumption: approx. 54 kWh/kg H2 at the plant level
Water consumption: approx. 10 liters of water/kg H2

1 kg produced H2 = approx. 8 kg O2

1 kg produced H2 = approx. 10 kWh in usable heat

A growing trend
Electrolysis plants are used in more and more countries to balance the power grid in regions with a large element of solar and wind power. It is beneficial to produce hydrogen during surplus power from renewable sources when electricity prices are low. In Europe, there are increasingly frequent examples of negative electricity prices in periods.

The energy loss in production of hydrogen is around 30% (HHV), both based on electricity and from natural gas. The energy loss is released in the form of heat from the electrolyser, and this can be utilized.

Fills the gap between diesel and electricity
Battery-powered electric vehicle cars utilize between 70-90% of the electricity they are charged under normal conditions, while hydrogen cars will utilize 30-40%. However, if compared with a diesel engine, hydrogen-powered fuel cells have higher efficiency. Hydrogen fuel cells are around 40-65% while diesel is 25-45% depending on the size of the engine.
A green, efficient and long-range alternative to diesel
or electric power.

Hydrogen is a green, efficient and long-range alternative
Using electricity directly or in a battery is therefore the most energy-efficient solution for propelling a vehicle, but the need to store more energy than is possible in a battery and the ability to fill the tank quickly are good reasons to invest in hydrogen. In addition, if this hydrogen is produced from surplus power, this is energy that would otherwise be lost.

In the figure, alkaline electrolysis is shown. An alkaline electrolyzer is a type of electrolyzer that is characterized by having two electrodes, operating in an electrolyte solution of typically potassium hydroxide (KOH). A reaction occurs between two electrodes in the liquid electrolyte. When sufficient voltage is applied, the water molecule is split into OH⁻ ions and H+ protons. These electrodes are separated by a diaphragm membrane but enable the transport of OH⁻ ions across it from one electrode to the other.

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Comparison of fuel prices with eqvialent hydrogen prices delivering the same amout of energy

As seen in the table, a comparison is made of a reference price at 17 NOK/Liter of diesel with equivalent hydrogen, which considers efficiency at the fuel cell. Today the tax included in the diesel price is around 3.6 NOK/Liter. A large part of the tax is due to the C02 emission price. In the Hurdalplatform, this price will increase in 2030 to 2000 NOK per ton C02. Today the C02 price is around 600-700 NOK per ton.

Fuel prices NOK/ Liter NOK/ H2 kg
Diesel 17,0 85,0
Diesel without added tax 14,0 70,0
Biodiesel (milesBIO HV0 100) 26,8 134,0
Maritim
Diesel 14,8 74,0
Biodiesel 22,0 90,0
Biomethanol 4,17 32,3