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Podcast / Audio

So, what’s the big deal with hydrogen?

image credit: Inspiratia

So, what’s the big deal with hydrogen? - Inspiratia's experts explore why hydrogen and fuel cells are booming - listen to Everything About Hydrogen - an inspiratia podcast  

Almost exactly 6 months ago Christopher Jackson, CEO and Founder at Protium Green Solutions, launched the "Everything About Hydrogen" podcast, the World's only 100% dedicated hydrogen podcast. The series is broadcast in over 90 countries and has enjoyed the insights of fantastic experts such as Nicolas Pocard, Enass Abo-Hamed, Graham Cooley, Amanda Lyne, Bjørn Simonsen, Adele Lidderdale, Jon Clipsham, Mike Muldoon and Jigar Shah. From topics covering solid state storage to hydrogen trains, dual fuel technologies, material handling, scaling electrolysis to GWs, transforming heavy duty trucking, powering remote communities on 100% renewables and more, the podcast has been greatly informative and has lined up a range of fantastic guests for the rest of 2020. Enjoy listening!


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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 22, 2020 1:46 pm GMT

Thanks for sharing Rami. The buzz around hydrogen certainly remains palpable-- what do you expect to be the short-term outlook for progress? What headlines might we hope to see in 2020, for example?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 22, 2020 5:59 pm GMT

Rami, "What's the big deal about hydrogen?" is exactly what I've been wondering myself. I was hoping you'd provide a text summary of your podcast for busy people who don't have the time to invest in listening to audio, and have often been disappointed by a high ratio of marketing to information.

So forgive me if I speculate on what we might expect from your presentation, something to the effect of:

"Hydrogen is a potentially lucrative marketing opportunity for oil companies with an abundant supply of extracted "natural gas" (methane).  After decomposing methane (CH4) into elemental hydrogen and carbon, the hydrogen can be used as a liquid fuel, due to the energy released when it is oxidized.

"Because the only product of oxidizing hydrogen is water, consumers can easily be led to believe it's a "clean" fuel. When hydrogen is produced, however, leftover carbon is released into the air, where it quickly combines with oxygen to form carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Both are potent greenhouse gases. Decomposition of methane is accomplished by the process of steam reformation, requiring separate combustion of methane for process heat, and more carbon emissions.

"For hydrogen to be used as a liquid fuel it must then be liquefied by cooling/compression, then trucked or pumped to the point of consumption, three more energy- and pollution-intensive processes.

"Because the well-to-wheels carbon footprint of hydrogen is (in many pathway analyses) worse than gasoline, hydrogen's value as a 'clean' fuel is solely the product of duplicitous, dishonest marketing."

Does that capture the gist of your podcast? If so, thanks - this scam being perpetrated on the public needs to be called out wherever possible!

Rupam Wani's picture
Rupam Wani on Jan 24, 2020 2:39 am GMT

Very inspirational podcast for the person like me who always thinks that only electricity cant fulfil future demands of the world. We have to look at other alternative sources like hydrogen, biodiesel etc.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 25, 2020 1:21 am GMT

Rupam, hydrogen is not a source of energy (pure hydrogen doesn't exist in nature). We must put energy into it by separating it from water or methane. Then, when it's combined with oxygen or carbon, we get the energy back.

Why not just use the energy we used to separate it in the first place, to achieve what we needed the hydrogen for? We usually do, it's far more efficient that way. But renewable solar and wind energy aren't always available, so we have to make hydrogen from them so we can use the energy when we need it.

You might think, "That's a lot of effort to go through just to make a clean source of energy available when we need it. It must be very wasteful! Why not just use nuclear energy instead, which doesn't emit any carbon, and can be generated any time of the day or night, in any weather?"

I don't know. Do you?

Bob Nikon's picture
Bob Nikon on Jan 25, 2020 2:55 am GMT

It is very big deal when it comes to hydrogen because hydrogen is the one and only to allow all of us to break-free out of this entrapment for humans. The only reason for us to be in this trap because we need to live on with the energy that is compatible with our needs. The needs that are demanding and unpredictable. Right now the only way to attain that energy is to burn the fossils. Hydrogen can do just like the fossils but the big obstacle is where to get the supply of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is an ubiquitous element on earth but not in a form we can use as our energy. It has to be extracted from something by some kind of energy. That energy has to be reliable, clean and free of costs. If we have that it will make sense to produce hydrogen in which we don't have that kind of energy. The only sensible way to produce hydrogen is to extract it out of water. Again, it requires a significant amount of energy to extract a usable amount of hydrogen out of water. There is no any known energy on the planet available for us to do that. The energy that has nothing to do with carbon at production. The energy that is unconditionally produced and no running costs.

Hydro-Electrenergy is the only system being able to provide that kind of energy because it is the only system that uses the powers of Mother Nature as the impetuses( Gravity and Buoyancy ). When we have the source of energy like this the house can be powered and hydrogen will be extracted in a significant amount also. So who needs the fossil fuels when we have a compatible energy we need and to produce hydrogen to run anything in our lives. 

Hydro-Electrenergy is the only one system to open a threshold for us to recycle water for all our energy needs and also to decentralize our energy structure which is righteous for human kind.

Klaus Schollmeyer's picture
Klaus Schollmeyer on Jan 25, 2020 2:29 pm GMT

 Thanks for sharing!

Rami Reshef's picture
Rami Reshef on Jan 26, 2020 9:50 am GMT

Hi Bob,

First, let me say that I really appreciate your knowledge and enthusiasm to encourage the Energy Central community to examine every technology carefully and be aware of the pros and cons so that we learn from our mistakes and move to ever better solutions. When man "discovered" fire he was able to cook food and heat himself but he also contributed to wildfires. When Thomas Edison (or Nikolas Tesla - not here to argue the history of science) discovered electricity he significantly advanced human civilization, urbanization, literacy, etc. and at the same time advanced the wasteful consumption of natural resources that destroy wild habitats of many species. Probably the first coal miners and oil drillers couldn't have predicted the awful consequences of strip mining and coal miners' contracting lung cancer and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I won't argue with you as to when our world became cognizant of climate change, but today there are few left who still contend that it isn't happening. So we need to leverage new solutions and technologies to combat it. 

No technology is perfect. Every technology has shortcomings offsetting its benefits, including nuclear energy with its safety concerns. That doesn't mean we shouldn't continue developing nuclear energy technologies and resolving the downsides as we become aware of them. The same with hydrogen. Steam reformation is a pollutant process. Electrolysis is still costly and the first electrolysis plants are using pollutant energies to initiate the processes. But already today there are new electrolysis plants that leverage surplus solar and wind energy to produce green hydrogen.  The market will reward them for their efforts and the LCOE will decrease and there will be more clean green hydrogen. Just as the market will punish those fossil fuel manufacturers that are continuing to pollute our Earth when better options are becoming available. 

Perhaps marketing unduly emphasizes benefits and downplays shortcomings. After all, we live in a commercial and competitive world. However, it is the value imparted by the benefits, offset by the shortcomings, that determines true market value. So now after many years of research, caution and skepticism we see the growing acceptance and development of a real and growing market for hydrogen fuels, which are gaining traction for their advantage in transporting and storing energy.  We don't have to discredit the many energy professionals of the oil and gas world from the generation before us who worked hard to create value and finance jobs and push science forward - but we should encourage them - and everyone - manufacturers, investors, consumers -  to accelerate change and find new technologies to remove pollution from the equation at every step so that we can indeed realize the great potential that hydrogen offers us to transition to a clean and sustainable renewable energy future. 

To enable the rapid pace of development necessary to combat climate change, we need broad application in parallel of many diverse clean technologies - wave energy, wind turbines, hydropower, fuel cells, solar farms, nuclear power, rechargeable batteries and many more I can't list - and we need to continue the spirited dialogue and debate about their advantages and disadvantages to keep our researchers busy at work resolving the problems we discover in our continued efforts to leverage technology to take better care of the Earth that enables human life. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 27, 2020 10:58 pm GMT

Rami, thanks for your thoughtful response.

I would disagree that a market-driven solution to climate change is even possible. Energy markets, by default, require consumption of fuel to function, and the most effective solutions to climate change don't use enough fuel.

"But already today there are new electrolysis plants that leverage surplus solar and wind energy to produce green hydrogen."

There are experimental plants in Germany which generate quantities of hydrogen measured in liters/day.

The market will reward them for their efforts and the LCOE will decrease and there will be more clean green hydrogen."

There's no evidence clean hydrogen's LCOE will decrease to a point it could ever be price-competitive with fossil fuel-based hydrogen. And unfortunately allowing a free market to decide between the environment and profit will choose profit. Every time.

"Just as the market will punish those fossil fuel manufacturers that are continuing to pollute our Earth when better options are becoming available."

I've been seeking market-based ways to punish fossil-fuel manufacturers since the first Earth Day in 1970, Rami, and do you know what I've realized? Fossil-fuel manufacturers do not care a whit about polluting our Earth. What's more, they're exceptionally skilled at presenting the illusion they do care, at creating pseudo-solutions like hydrogen with no intent other than finding another way to monetize extracted fossil fuel.

It may sound cynical but no - that's the cold, hard truth.

Bob Nikon's picture
Bob Nikon on Jan 30, 2020 2:47 am GMT

Thanks for comments, guys. But you are missing some points here. Bob, please stop finger pointing because all of us depend on the dirty fuels to live on including yourself. The fossil fuels people don't have to do anything against the clean fuels from all renewable methods available on earth. All of us will have to come to them to pay for their products for our living. No matter you would agree or not. that is a fact. Especially, our transportation. 95-97% depend on crude oil. Rami, everything you have said I have heard very long time. They have been the endless discussions time after time. That means no solution and end up with hope, development on technologies as time goes by. I don't care how far technologies have developed but your power sources to produce energy are not reliable. We will end up with the same result every time. Remember Albert Einstein has said "any problem will be resolved only by the level of cognizance higher than the one that created it". What you have said are on the same level of the one that created it. (burning fossil fuels for a living).

I wonder when I came here to introduce a working system that can resolve this tenacious conundrum in our lives. The system being able to render the steady flow of electricity unconditinally because the whole system are controlled and driven by the power of Mother Nature. It works with her not against her (burning her stuff for a living) or trying to work with something out of her control ( all known alternative methods). When we have the apparatus like this we can have the right energy to extract hydrogen out of water. Since we now have the steady flow of electricity we can extract hydrogen in a significant amount. This gives way to remove a roadblock standing between us and the beautiful (HYDROGEN) for century. Nobody has ever come up on the discussion about it. Instead, finger pointing and still talk about "same old same old" that will never take us any where. Is that the attitude to come together trying to solve this most tenacious conundrum in our lives?

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