Military Hydrogen Tanks

Hydrogen storage tanks inside the HyHauler May 21 at Robins Air Force Base. US Navy amd Air Force officials continue to explore the use of hydrogen aboard military ships and planes. DOD photo bySue Sapp

Hydrogen Is Not A Green Alternative For Ships Says New Study

John Konrad
Total Views: 6792
August 13, 2021

Hydrogen is the most abundant substance in the universe but a new peer-reviewed study suggests that using it to propel ships may create more climate problems than it solves.

What is the main problem with using hydrogen as a green alternative to Diesel? According to a new peer-reviewed study, hydrogen is extracted mainly from natural gas, a process that consumes massive amounts of energy and emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. Natural gas production also emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

One solution to this problem is extracting “blue hydrogen” from CO2, however, claims it is emissions-free are misleading. According to new research emissions from blue hydrogen still contribute to climate change once you factor in the entire supply chain.

To call it a zero-emissions fuel is totally wrong,” Robert W. Howarth, the study’s lead author, told the New York Times. “What we found is that it’s not even a low-emissions fuel, either.”

Howarth expects most hydrogen fuel will be made from natural gas in the foreseeable future by a process known as steam reforming. This is a polluting and energy-intensive process for converting methane into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

The best case for hydrogen is that new technologies are invented to improve the process of creating hydrogen. In that case, Fuel-derived hydrogen might still act as a transition fuel. The worst-case scenario for shipping is that truly green hydrogen production technology is never found and new hydrogen propelled ships that are built today are banned from entering ports tomorrow.

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