Possible applications in industry, mobility and the energy sector
Hydrogen offers a wide range of possible applications. However, case-to-case assessments are required to decide whether its use in a specific field makes sense on various levels.
- Heat: When hydrogen and oxygen are combined in a fuel cell, heat is one of the by-products. This can be used for heating systems in vehicles, homes or industrial facilities.
- Industry: The industrial sector currently uses a huge amount of fossil fuels in the production of, among other things, steel, glass, synthetics and ammonia. Hydrogen offers the potential to replace these raw materials. Furthermore, it makes an excellent process gas for various applications.
- Electromobility: E-vehicles powered directly by a battery are more efficient than those using hydrogen as an energy source. The latter, however, have the advantage that they can travel longer distances and recharging is considerably faster. Hydrogen, therefore, is ideal for buses, lorries and long-distance vehicles, as well as for air and sea transport.
- Generating electricity: Hydrogen and oxygen can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity. Heat and water vapour are by-products. Unlike batteries, which run down after longer periods of time, hydrogen stores the energy it contains with almost no loss.
- Intermediate storage for electricity: Surplus electrical energy from other energy sources, such as photovoltaic, wind or hydro power, can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. It is easy to store and transport the hydrogen. When required, it can be re-converted into electricity with the aid of fuel cells.
From an ecological viewpoint, so-called green hydrogen offers a wide spectrum of worthwhile applications. Obtaining hydrogen, however, requires a very large amount of electricity. As long as this is not available in abundance, it is important to carefully assess the areas in which hydrogen should be used.
Hydrogen in all its colours
Hydrogen is present in numerous chemical compounds. To use it as an energy carrier, it must be separated from the compounds. These processes result in so-called grey, blue, green or turquoise hydrogen. The processes used differ, above all, in terms of their environmental and energy footprint. Below is an outline:
is produced from fossil energy carriers or through the use of fossil energy. CO2 is a by-product.
is produced in the same way as grey hydrogen. The CO2 emitted, however, is captured during the production process and does not enter the atmosphere.
is created when water is split into hydrogen and oxygen by means of electrolysis and when this process is carried out using only energy from renewable sources.
is obtained from methane. The by-product is solid carbon, as opposed to CO2. If the process is carried out using renewable energy sources only, turquoise hydrogen also ranks as CO2-neutral.