The photo is sourced from geoscientist.online
Getech’s innovative solution is designed to reduce the cost of low-carbon hydrogen production. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global hydrogen production in 2021 totaled 94 million tons, of which 81% came from the coal gasification (brown hydrogen) and methane reforming (grey hydrogen) processes, which produce large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. The third most popular source of hydrogen production was naphtha processing (18%), which had this gas a byproduct. Meanwhile, the overall share of green hydrogen, which is produced by electrolysis of water using renewable energy sources, and blue hydrogen, which is produced from gas using CO2 capture systems, made up a mere 1%.
The small share of the last two sources results from the high costs of obtaining H2. According to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, it costs between $1.5 and $1.8 per kg (depending on the cost of gas) to produce grey hydrogen, while it takes $2.1 to $2.4 per kg to produce blue hydrogen and $3.3 to $6.5 per kg to produce green hydrogen. The wide range of costs is caused by, among other things, the use of various types of electrolysis plants that split water into hydrogen and oxygen: for instance, alkaline electrolysers use a liquid electrolyte solution, while electrolysers with a proton exchange membrane use a solid polymer electrolyte.
Getech experts are proposing to reduce costs by mapping the areas of Earth’s crust, which would be most favourable for hydrogen production. The experts estimate that natural hydrogen (also called “white hydrogen”) can be formed through the decomposition of organic matter, as well as serpentinisation (hydration of iron-rich minerals) and radiolysis (splitting of water molecules during the radioactive decay of uranium or thorium). The latter two methods require the presence of igneous rocks such as ultrabasites and granitoids. These rocks are characterised by high magnetic susceptibility, which makes them easier to map out. Temperature in some parts of Earth’s crust could also be key to success in pinpointing hydrogen, since H2 formation occurs at temperatures from 160 to 250 degrees Celsius. The hydrogen that has already formed could serve as a food source for certain bacteria, which are most active at temperatures from 60 to 100 degrees Celsius.
By taking into account these and many other parameters, Getech experts should be able to start creating maps with the designation of areas where it would be feasible to produce hydrogen. One such location could be Lorraine, which forms part of the Grand Est region in northeastern France. It was in Lorraine that a 46-million-ton hydrogen deposit was recently discovered at a depth of 1,000 to 3,000 metres. The volume of this deposit equates to almost half of annual H2 production worldwide.