Hydrogen and industry
Besides being a viable alternative energy source, hydrogen is also a raw material with numerous industrial applications. It is used in the production of ammonia, which is required for making fertilizer and plastics. Oil refineries also use hydrogen to remove sulphur from crude oil (hydrotreating) and to convert heavier hydrocarbons into lighter hydrocarbons (hydrocracking) and so obtain more gasoline from crude oil.
From grey to green hydrogen
Dutch industry generates 800,000 tonnes of hydrogen annually using the Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) method. Natural gas is converted into hydrogen at high temperatures. The process to produce this so-called grey hydrogen is not ideal as seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted every year. These emissions can be reduced significantly by switching to hydrogen generated by electrolysis.
Natural gas replacement
In the chemical industry, in blast furnaces and in refineries, many processes require a high temperature for the required reactions to take place. At present, such temperatures are achieved by the combustion of natural gas. Hydrogen also burns at a high temperature and is a viable alternative in applications requiring a temperature of more than 250°C.
The sustainable generation of energy from renewable sources is not at a constant rate so supply and demand are not always in balance. Power to Gas (P2G) systems make it possible to store excess energy. For seasonal storage, energy buffering is more useful than battery storage (more suited to short term storage). The hydrogen produced in a P2G system could be used in a controllable gas plant to generate energy as needed.