Energy researchersAddressing climate change requires not only a clean electrical grid, but also a clean fuel to reduce emissions from industrial heat, long-haul heavy transportation, and long-duration energy storage. Hydrogen and its derivatives could be that fuel, argues a commentary by four energy researchers in the journal Joule. However, they note, a clean US hydrogen economy will require a comprehensive strategy and a 10-year plan. Energy researchers
Energy researchersThe commentary suggests that careful consideration of future hydrogen infrastructure, including production, transport, storage, use, and economic viability, will be critical to the success of efforts aimed at making clean hydrogen viable on a societal scale.
Energy researchers – Arun MajumdarArun Majumdar, a Jay Precourt Professor and Co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University and lead author of the commentary. He served in the Obama administration as the Founding Director of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) (2009–2012), as the Acting Undersecretary for Energy (2011–2012), and as the Vice-Chair of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (2014–2017).
Energy researchers – John DeutchJohn Deutch, an emeritus Institute Professor at MIT. He has Energy researchers served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, Dean of Science, and Provost. In the Carter administration, he served as Director of Energy Research (1977–1979), Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Technology (1979), and Undersecretary (1979–1980) in the US Department of Energy.
Energy researchers – Ravi PrasherRavi Prasher is an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Energy researchers Berkeley. He has more than 20 years of experience in working in R&D in a large industry, startup, government, and academia. He was one of the first program directors at ARPA-E. Prasher has published more than 100 papers on thermal energy science and technology and holds more than 30 patents.
Energy researchers – Tom GriffinTom Griffin specializes in identifying high-impact technology investment opportunities in the manufacturing sector for Breakthrough Energy Ventures. He has more than 25 years of industrial experience in applied technology development and deployment, including contributions over a wide range of energy and environmental sectors. He served as CTO at both Edeniq and Pennsylvania Sustainable Technologies (where was also co-founder), pursuing capabilities and applications in biofuels and catalytic fuel upgrading.
Energy researchersAbout 70 million metric tons of hydrogen are produced around the world each year, with the US contributing about one-seventh of the global output. Much of this is used to produce fertilizer and petrochemicals, and nearly all of it is considered “gray H2,” which costs only about $1 per kilogram to produce but comes with roughly 10 kilograms of CO2 baggage per kilogram H2.
Energy researchersEnergy Researchers have plenty of colorful visions as to what a clean H2 economy might look like. “Blue H2,” for example, involves capturing CO2 and reducing emissions, resulting in H2 with less greenhouse gas output. However, it currently costs about 50% more than gray H2, not including the cost of developing the pipelines and sequestration systems needed to transport and store unwanted CO2.
Energy researchers“Green H2” has also captured scientists’ attention. Green H2 involves the use of electricity and electrolyzers to split water, without any greenhouse gas byproducts. However, it costs $4 to $6 per kilogram, a price that Majumdar and colleagues suggest could be reduced to under $2 per kilogram with a reduction in carbon-free electricity and electrolyzer costs.
Energy researchersWhether blue, green, or turquoise, greenhouse gas-free hydrogen or its derivatives could be used in transportation; the chemical reduction of captured CO2; long-duration energy storage in a highly renewable energy-dependent grid; chemical reductants for steel and metallurgy; and as high-temperature industrial heat for glass and cement production. But for these applications to become a reality, H2 production will have to hit certain cost benchmarks—$1 per kilogram for the production of ammonia and petrochemicals or for use as a transportation fuel or fuel cells.
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