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What is Hydrogen Power Used For

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  • 21-09-2020
What is Hydrogen Power Used For

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when it is consumed in a fuel cell, it produces only heat, water and electricity. Hydrogen and fuel cells play an essential role in the strategy of our national energy.

It also has the potential for use in a broad range of applications, across almost all sectors, including commercial, transportation, residential, industrial and portable.

What is Hydrogen Power Used For?

Hydrogen and fuel cells applications

Hydrogen and fuel cells can also provide energy for use in many diverse applications, including backup power, the systems for storing and enabling renewable energy.

Portable power, this is auxiliary power for trucks, speciality vehicles such as forklifts; and passenger and freight vehicles including cars, trucks, and buses, aircraft, rail, and ships; distributed or combined-heat-and-power.

Hydrogen is the most simple and most abundant element on the earth. It consists of just one electron and one proton.

Hydrogen can deliver and store usable energy; however, it doesn't typically exist in nature by itself and has to be produced from compounds that contain it.

Hydrogen is very high in energy, and yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen will produce almost no pollution. NASA has been using liquid hydrogen since the 1970s to propel their space shuttle and many other rockets sent into outer orbit.

The hydrogen fuel cells produced are used to power the shuttle's electrical systems, creating a clean byproduct – pure water, which the crew drinks.

Almost 75% of the hydrogen currently consumed by oil refineries worldwide is supplied by extensive hydrogen plants that will generate hydrogen from natural gas or several other hydrocarbon fuels.

How is Hydrogen Produced?

Hydrogen can be produced from domestic, diverse resources. At present, most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels and specifically natural gas. Electricity, from a grid or renewable sources such as geothermal, biomass, wind or solar, is also currently used to produce hydrogen.

In the long term, biomass and solar energy can be used more directly to generate hydrogen as new technologies are making alternative production methods far more cost-competitive.

Most hydrogen is also produced through steam methane reforming; this is a high-temperature process in which steam will react with a hydrocarbon fuel to produce hydrogen.

Another standard hydrogen production method takes water and then separates the molecule H2O into hydrogen and oxygen through a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis takes place in an electrolyzer.

This function is similar to a fuel cell in reverse, instead of using the energy of a hydrogen molecule, similar to how a fuel cell does, an electrolyzer will produce hydrogen from water molecules.

Biological hydrogen production

Biological processes can also produce hydrogen.  It is produced through biological reactions using microbes such as microalgae and bacteria.

By using these processes, microbes will consume plant material and then create hydrogen gas.

There are several different ways to produce hydrogen using sunlight; this includes photoelectrochemical, photobiological, solar thermochemical processes and photovoltaic-driven electrolysis.

Hydrogen isn't an energy source; it is an energy carrier and can deliver or store a copious amount of energy.

Hydrogen is used in fuel cells for the generation of heat, power or electricity. Today, hydrogen is most commonly used in fertilizer production and petroleum refining, while utilities and transportation are emerging markets.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

A fuel source, like hydrogen, is fed to the anode (An anode is an electrode through which the conventional current enters into a polarized electrical device).

Air is then fed to the cathode (A cathode is an electrode from which a conventional current leaves a polarized electrical device).

Within a hydrogen fuel cell, the catalyst at the anode will separate hydrogen molecules into electrons and protons,  which will then take a different path to the cathode. The electrons then go through an external circuit, creating a flow of electricity.


Primary uses of Hydrogen in the UK

Due to their high efficiency and zero or near-zero emissions operation, hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in many applications.

Energy Department-funded analysis has shown us that hydrogen and fuel cells have a high potential to achieve and reach the following reductions in harmful emissions:

  • Light-duty vehicles have shown to have a more than 90% reduction in emissions over today's petrol vehicles.
  • Speciality vehicles have shown to have a more than 35% reduction in their emissions over current battery-powered, diesel and petrol lift trucks.
  • Transit buses have demonstrated that their fuel economies are approximately 1.5 times greater than diesel internal combustion engines (ICE) buses and around two times higher than natural gas ICE buses.
  • Auxiliary power units (APUs) have shown to have a more than 60% reduction in emissions compared to truck engines during rest periods.
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) systems have shown a more than 50% reduction compared to conventional heat and power sources.

One of the most significant challenges for hydrogen production, particularly from renewable resources, is providing hydrogen at lower costs.

When it is used for transportation fuel cells, the hydrogen must be cost-effective with conventional fuels and technologies on a cost-per-mile basis.


If you are looking for hydrogen production services in the UK contact our specialist team today for information and advice.