November 17, 2019


Fuel for Rockets and Zeppelins Points Toward Green Heat Solution: Hydrogen emerges as the most practical way to generate the 1,000-degree temperatures heavy industry needs. (William Wilkes, Vanessa Dezem, and Anna Shiryaevskaya, November 17, 2019, Bloomberg)

Under mounting pressure from protesters and climate-conscious investors, major industrial companies and governments are scrambling for a solution. They're finding the most likely alternative may be hydrogen.

"Hydrogen has a big advantage," said Markus Krebber, the finance director of RWE AG, Germany's largest electricity generator. "You can use it in everything that's difficult to electrify, from long distance trucks, barges, trains, maybe planes one day. It will be needed to decarbonize the power sector 100%."

The gas is the world's most abundant element and powered rockets and airships in the last century. It flames at 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) while giving off no more than water vapor as exhaust.

The biggest problem with hydrogen is that it's currently expensive to make -- and most often is derived by splitting up molecules of natural gas, producing carbon dioxide in the process.

But that's changing. Some of Europe's most important names in energy and industry are racing to develop emissions-free ways of producing hydrogen. They're focused on using electrolysis, where an electric current passes through water, splitting off hydrogen atoms from oxygen. That technology is well known and growing cheaper by the year. When it's driven by renewable energy, it makes what the industry calls green hydrogen.

"It's not witchcraft," said Thomas Kolf, a professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. 

Posted by at November 17, 2019 9:28 AM