Story on Hydrogenius with Helsingin Sanomat
Hydrogen balances wind power
Companies are starting to use hydrogen as a pollution-free fuel for the production of electricity and heat. Hydrogen is needed to balance fluctuations in wind and solar energy.
Clean hydrogen from natural gas
In the future, hydrogen will be produced by wind and solar power. The technology, called electrolysis, produces hydrogen and oxygen from water – with zero emissions. In this decade, such production facilities will be built around the world. However, as the planet warms, this worldwide transition to hydrogen power needs to occur much sooner than possible with the construction rate of new wind and solar power plants. At best, switching the whole world to renewable energy will take a few decades. During this time, another, faster solution is required to produce hydrogen.
In the Kokkola laboratory, Hydrogenius CEO Laura Rahikka presents pure carbon from a glass bowl. With the new technology developed by Hydrogenius, natural gas can simultaneously be converted into hydrogen, which is suitable for clean energy production, and clean solid carbon, which can be consumed by industry as a raw material – without emissions.
For years, the world has been producing hydrogen for various uses, such as fertiliser manufacturing. Hydrogen has thus far been mainly sourced from natural gas, but with different technology. Most natural gas is methane, which comprises hydrogen and carbon. Once hydrogen is recovered from the methane, the released carbon is then released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
‘In this case, carbon dioxide accelerates the greenhouse effect. At the same time, a precious raw material, coal, is lost. This problem needs to be solved’, Rahikka says.
Biogas can be used instead of natural gas. If biogas from landfill compost is captured, for example, the hydrogen is available for energy and coal can be used for products, such as batteries, and a carbon sink is created. Carbon is then not spread into the atmosphere.
With the new technology, hydrogen can also be produced using existing gas pipelines or where biogas is currently collected, avoiding the introduction of hydrogen transportation problems.
The demand for new technology is high, Rahikka has noticed. Companies are investing significant funds in cutting emissions. For example, the Finnish-Swedish company SSAB plans to switch the coal and coke produced for steel mills in Raahe to hydrogen, which alone will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Finland by 7%.
‘If natural gas producers also control the leaks at gas fields, we have an environmentally friendly and affordable way to produce hydrogen for the next few decades,’ Rahikka says.