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Air Compressors

Understanding Hydrogen Technologies


All information for this blog was obtained from a special feature Atlas Copco partnered with gasworld for. These articles appeared in the March 2023 and April 2023 editions. North America (gasworld.com)

Hydrogen is something we have been hearing and will continue to hear a lot more about in the next decade. With the implement of the Inflation Reduction Act, confirming the federal government’s massive financial commitment to sustainable growth and investment, governments and industries worldwide are turning to hydrogen for its potential to deliver a clean and secure energy future.

The US Inflation Reduction Act offers incentives in the form of tax credits for producing green hydrogen.

It is important to understand that hydrogen is the cornerstone of decarbonization efforts. Energy sufficiency can only be achieved by using renewables. Hydrogen is much more predictable and stable than solar or wind power. To move renewables in mass we need a sustainable way to store large amounts of energy and hydrogens stability makes it the most complete solution.

Atlas Copco has been actively researching and developing hydrogen technologies for more than 10 years. Today’s challenge is to scale up hydrogen production and industrialize it at a record pace to keep up with the growing demand.

North America and Europe are currently at the center of hydrogen production, but soon these projects will spread all over the world and need to be bigger and better.

One application with room for tremendous growth is using hydrogen in fuel cells for mobility. We are seeing a lot more movement in this industry with a lot of room for growth.

The US government has also put money into building out hydrogen hubs across the US to supply to utilities via a hub-and-spoke system across the country.

Currently the biggest end users today are chemical plants, refineries, and fertilizer producers. In this space, the challenge is to move from grey hydrogen to a greener hydrogen. Grey hydrogen is created from natural gas, or methane, using steam methane reformation but without capturing the greenhouse gasses in the process.

To combat this challenge would be to build out large-scale green hydrogen plants to replace grey hydrogen with green. A massive undertaking, but one we already see happening.

To turn grey hydrogen into green hydrogen – the first step is to capture the CO2, that is being emitted by the hydrogen production. This is just the first step out of many needed to make major carbon-neutral strides by 2030 and to achieve Net Zero thereafter.

While capturing CO2 is a cost to a business up front, there are many benefits beyond public perception and the climate. It’s removal from the air means it is not contributing to global warming, but there are more applications where the CO2 has a function and is even being permanently stored.

So, what does a plant do with CO2 that is being collected onsite? You can compress it, liquify it and then transport it to where it can be used which can be used for a commercial sale. Or it can also be sequestered underground and receive a government payout.

Atlas Copco is gearing up for the next wave of green hydrogen plants, which should be GigaWatt-scale water electrolysis plants powered by wind and solar power. These plants won’t be up and running before 2030, but there is a lot of work to do in delivering to them and we will be ready for it.

While the future need of hydrogen and CO2 capture will surely increase, Atlas Copco is planning for and expecting to see the surge, already adapting current equipment, and designing new equipment to fit into this ever-changing market.

If you have any questions about the future of hydrogen, CO2 capturing or how to take the first step in going green, reach out to an expert today.

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