HYDROGEN 101

Hydrogen is a sustainable and clean energy carrier. As the most abundant element in our universe, with only one proton and one electron, hydrogen has no harmful carbon atoms and offers 2-3 times more energy than any fuel in use today. Most of the hydrogen produced in Canada is used to refine fuels, treat metals, produce fertilizer, and process food. Recently, blue hydrogen has been used to displace natural gas, which emits much more CO2 when combusted. ATCO has recently used zero-emission hydrogen to blend into the natural gas system in Fort Saskatchewan, AB. This reduces the amount of GHG emissions released into the atmosphere. Several countries in Europe, and the state of California, have rapidly begun to build hydrogen distribution stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles. 

 

Today in California, there are over 10,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road, and that number is growing fast. Vancouver, Montreal, and Quebec City now have several fueling stations to provide zero-emission fuel to the growing number of hydrogen vehicles on Canadian roadways. SpectrumH2 is here to create abundant and inexpensive hydrogen for all these sectors.

Various industries use colour codes like ‘green hydrogen’ to distinguish between the different types of technology used to produce H₂ gas. Hydrogen has the potential to become a key element of the transition to a climate-neutral economy, and this comes with a colour spectrum of hydrogen names.

 

Although hydrogen colours may seem to be a rather plain topic, it’s one that strikes at the heart of the value that a hydrogen economy can offer.

 

Whether as a source of power generation, a vector for energy storage, or fuel for transportation, hydrogen can play a variety of roles to help meet the decarbonization challenges faced in today's global economy.

THE HYDROGEN SPECTRUM 
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Blue Hydrogen

'Blue' Hydrogen is produced mainly from natural gas using a process called steam reforming, which brings together natural gas and heated water in the form of steam. When the CO2 from Brown or Grey Hydrogen is captured and stored, it is known as 'Blue Hydrogen'. While adequate carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity is required for this method, and it is currently more expensive and less efficient to produce than 'Grey' Hydrogen, it is considered an important step in the energy transition.

Pink Bubbles
PINK, PURPLE, RED HYDROGEN

'Pink’ Hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using nuclear power (SMR – Small Modular Reactor). It is important to note that nuclear energy could play a role in hydrogen production (referred to as pink hydrogen) as it emits virtually no pollutants. Various factors are relevant to the analysis of the economic viability of nuclear hydrogen production. 

TURQUOISE HYDROGEN

'Turquoise' hydrogen is created when natural gas is broken down with the help of methane pyrolysis into hydrogen and solid carbon. The gas can be decomposed at very high temperatures. Methane pyrolysis is a non-polluting industrial process for hydrogen production 

from methane by removing solid carbon from natural gas. This one-step process produces non-polluting hydrogen in high volume at a low cost.

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Green Hydrogen

Renewable or ‘Green’ Hydrogen is hydrogen made with renewable electricity via electrolysis. H2O molecules split into Hydrogen and Oxygen, using electricity from renewable sources to pass a current through water. This method results in zero carbon emissions throughout the production process. Green hydrogen currently makes up less than 1% of overall hydrogen production. 

Grey Hydrogen
GREY HYDROGEN

'Grey' Hydrogen is essentially any hydrogen created from fossil fuels without capturing the greenhouse gases made in the process.  Hydrogen has been made from coal through the process of ‘gasification’ for more than 200 years. Grey hydrogen from steam reformed natural gas without CCUS accounts for around 71% of all hydrogen production today, while coal gasification makes up the majority of the rest. Methane in the natural gas reacts with steam to cause a reaction, hydrogen (and Carbon Dioxide) is produced.