Why isn’t natural hydrogen used as fuel?

natural hydrogen

Natural hydrogen, also known as white hydrogen, is found in underground deposits released via fracking, and in the air.  It is the lightest chemical element and the first on the periodical table of elements.

Although white hydrogen is the most prevalent element in the universe, it isn’t being collected to be utilized as an emission-free fuel since it is scarce in its pure state.

Natural hydrogen is usually combined with other atoms to create other molecules.  For example, an easily recognizable combination is H2O, better known as water. White hydrogen is not readily available for capture and use as a clean fuel source because it is rare in the air around us.

The natural hydrogen that exists on Earth is generated by various sources but the majority isn’t available in the atmosphere as much as it is found in difficult – or impossible or unfeasible – locations.

Know more about white hydrogen.

green ammonia

Natural hydrogen is not the same as fuel types like red hydrogen, which is created using nuclear power, or green hydrogen, which is created using methods driven by renewable energy. While the natural hydrogen may be renewable and is just as non-polluting as those forms made with renewable energy, it cannot be reasonably captured without other processes to extract it from where it has been combined.

To solve this challenge, a recent paper published in Nature Communications presents a new process that can produce hydrogen out of the humidity in the air. As it explains, the method produces natural hydrogen “from the air, namely, in situ capture of freshwater from the atmosphere using hygroscopic electrolyte and electrolysis powered by solar or wind with a current density up to 574 mA cm−2“.

Although the result is not exactly white hydrogen, it is as closed as it can be.

By extracting H2O directly from the atmosphere, the researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne have presented a notion in a study that might potentially help provide green H2 to isolated areas that are typically deficient in liquid water.

The scientists designed a Direct Air Electrolysis module that is “integrated with a power supply, for example, a solar panel, a wind turbine, and any other renewable generators”. The DAE was already successfully tested and “can be easily scaled to provide hydrogen to remote, (semi-) arid, and scattered areas”.

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Our work with hydrogen

Using hydrogen, Universal Kraft offers a large-scale, environmentally friendly substitute for fossil fuels while maintaining the same functionality. In addition to direct electrification, hydrogen allows the green industry to make an impact outside of the grid through the production of green hydrogen for energy storage, gas greening through hydrogen methanation, and feedstock for locally produced, high-temperature industrial processes that are challenging to electrify.

A comprehensive and sustained shift to renewable energy depends on these green power options. For a period of years, Universal Kraft has been developing novel and alternative energy storage technologies. We collaborate with  Universal H2, a partner company, to maximize the decarbonization potential of renewables for the production of green hydrogen and ammonia.

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