Hydrogen production & storage
Hydrogen is an energy carrier. A key question is often raised about where it will come from. In fact, it can be produced in many different ways from different energy sources, including fossil, renewable and nuclear. Some technologies are established whilst others need considerable research and development. Currently, most hydrogen is produced on a large scale by reforming hydrocarbon fuel using heat and steam.
Other hydrogen production options being studied include: gasification of heavy hydrocarbons or biomass; electrolysis of water using off-peak electricity; water splitting through thermochemical cycles using high-temperature heat from nuclear or solar energy; and biological production with algae or bacteria under controlled conditions.
Because hydrogen can be produced from a wide range of primary sources, it can contribute strongly to improving energy supply security.
Hydrogen has been stored safely in bulk industrial units for many decades. It can be stored in underground caverns or in high-pressure tanks. A main challenge is to provide enough storage capacity for automotive applications that allows for a comparable driving range with acceptable storage space.
Conventional storage, such as compressed gas cylinders and liquid gas tanks, can be made stronger, lighter and cheaper. Novel technologies, including hydrogen absorption using metal hydrides, chemical hydrides and carbon systems, are also under development.
The duality of electricity and hydrogen, which is foreseen for the future, means that it will be possible to bulk store hydrogen and convert it into electricity. This will ease the greater use and integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, which are intermittent in nature.