THP-E232: How Can AI Help Boost Hydrogen’s Economics?

July 24, 2023 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 232

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 232, Digital Twins can and will help ensure hydrogen success and Air Liquide hits it big in China. I’ll go over all of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy the podcast. Please feel free to email me at with any questions. Also, if you wouldn’t mind subscribing to my podcast using your preferred platform… I would greatly appreciate it.

Paul Rodden



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Start Here: The 6 Main Colors of Hydrogen


Digital Twins can and will help ensure hydrogen success and Air Liquide hits it big in China. I’ll go over all of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden. And welcome to the Hydrogen Podcast.

In an article in IIIE Spectrum, Tammy Xu writes, digital twins give hydrogen a greener path to growth. Tammy writes, hydrogen has great promise as a low emission fuel source its burns clean, generating only water as a byproduct and when it’s produced through electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, the entire lifecycle can be very environmentally friendly, but the use of hydrogen has never reached its potential as a renewable fuel, mostly because its production process drives up the cost. Most hydrogen today is still produced as a byproduct of hydrocarbon refinement using methane with carbon monoxide is a byproduct.

Meanwhile, the hydrogen produced by electrolysis represents less than 1% of all the world’s hydrogen production. In order for hydrogen to be a viable source of clean energy. The cost of electrolysis needs to be much lower. Sharaf Alsharif, a researcher at the Oldenburger OFFIS Institute for Information Technology in Oldenburg, Germany, believes digital twins can help bring down the cost of clean hydrogen production. digital twins are computer simulation programs that can track and adjust the operations of a physical device in great detail. The close monitoring of hydrogen electrolyzers that digital twins provides could help streamline the device’s operation and bring down the cost of electrolysis as a result. One way digital twins could reduce the cost of electrolysis is by monitoring the state and health of electrolyzers. digital twins can track the operations of electrolyzer components like electrodes, membranes or pumps to see which parts may be likely to fail and to proactively make recommendations for scheduling maintenance.

Alsharif says such prediction maintenance capabilities could save operators many hours of production time when electrolyzers would otherwise be taken offline to enable unscheduled troubleshooting. To encourage the adoption of digital twins for electrolysis, Al Sharif and his colleagues at OFFIS presented a software architecture a kind of architecture blueprint for building software systems for developing hydrogen electrolysis monitoring digital twins at the ETG Congress 2023 conference in Germany, the researchers envisioned a future where hydrogen electrolysis operators would have dashboards that would monitor the performance of electrolyzers running in the field. digital twins would provide the dashboard data by remotely monitoring electrolyzers and issuing alerts when anomalous behavior is detected, and having a well defined software architecture Alsharif says could help operators more easily build digital twins for their hydrogen electrolysis systems. digital twins can also help operators by having direct control over electrolyzers Alsharif against says one useful application of direct control is adjusting electrolyzers energy consumption based on the power grids current energy mix.

When more renewable sources of energy are part of the mix. digital twins can direct electrolyzers to ramp up production therefore making the production of hydrogen more green overall, production can also be decreased during usage peaks when the price of energy from the grid rises, which would lower the cost of hydrogen electrolysis production overall, researchers kept these cases in mind while they created a digital twin software architectures suitable with any type of hydrogen electrolyzer. This according to Alsharif, the architecture had a handle requirements. Like bidirectional data connections with electrolyzers live updates on the health of electrolyzer components and maintenance schedule recommendations. They settled on a service oriented architecture for building digital twins for hydrogen electrolysis. A service oriented architecture consists of a central software program that accepts requests from other smaller programs and orchestrates requests between all the components that design one over other architectural styles because of its flexibility, new capabilities can be added to the digital twin easily in the form of new services that simply plug into the central program. According to Alsharif Right now, we can’t think of all the use cases that make an electrolyzer, efficient, but that’s the point. You can actually apply any service and make it possible with this digital twin.

Service Oriented architectures are als o fast enough to support the live bidirectional data connections needed by el ectrolyzers. That’s unlike a microservice architecture, for example, which causes delays due to a higher volume of requests sent between services. This again, according to Al Sharif, operators who want to use digital twins to monitor electrolyzers can follow this architectural blueprint when building the software for their digital twins. Future research, he says might include the using of digital twins to help with the manufacturing process of electrolyzers. To really scale up clean hydrogen production. The manufacturing of large electrolyzers, which is currently a semi manual process needs to scale up as well. Again, according to Al Sharif, that’s where the digital twins technology comes into play by supporting this whole process, not only the operation and maintenance of the electrolyzers, but also from the very beginning of the production or the manufacturing process. All right, well, I really love this article. And I’ve been waiting for some kind of information like this on digital twins and hydrogen to get released to get a better feel for how this tech will incorporate itself and the hydrogen industry. digital twins is one of the key factors that I’ve mentioned over the last two years, that could drastically affect the success of the hydrogen industry. It’s a critical component of successful scaling, and one of the prime components that will drive the end user of clean hydrogen to affordable prices.

As you all know, I believe economics will be the deciding factor in the success of the hydrogen industry, and the use of digital twins will ultimately lower the startup costs for construction of facilities. Now, this article focuses on electrolytic hydrogen, and that’s fine, but its application can and should be technology agnostic. As different hydrogen tech begins to scale, digital twins needs to be at the forefront of all developments. This article covers renewable powered pem in good detail, but think it needs to be in front of SMR to ensure that there are no methane leaks and that co2 is properly captured and then ultimately stored, or that hydrogen transportation networks will function properly, either at the pipeline level, heavy duty transport or shipping. It also needs to be leveraged at the end use level making sure that hydrogen pumping stations work as intended, or ammonia conversion equipment and transportation will function properly. But the software isn’t just there to adjust flow rates or valve performance. This tech will be able to determine system faults due to errors and maybe design construction materials. Anything. Think of digital twins as technologies answer to Murphy’s law, which says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. A digital twin can help ensure that doesn’t happen.

So what does that mean for the economics of a project? Well, every project inherently has a risk profile associated with it. And so by leveraging a digital twin, that risk is reduced, therefore, lowering the risk profile for investment and increasing your net present value of a future project. And that is why digital twins will help hydrogen succeed. And lastly, in just a quick press release from Air Liquide. Air Liquide signs new green financing for low carbon hydrogen production in China aligned with EU taxonomy. Within the context of its project to build two low-carbon hydrogen production units and related infrastructure in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (SCIP), Shanghai Chemical Industry Park Industrial Gases Co., Ltd (SCIPIG), a subsidiary of Air Liquide (Paris:AI), signed a bilateral green loan for 500 million RMB (around 67 million euros) with BNP Paribas as the sole lending bank. This green loan follows the China-EU Common Ground Taxonomy, with stringent criteria on hydrogen production and an emission threshold for the definition of low-carbon hydrogen. It is as well aligned with the international Green Loan Principles 2021 and the Equator Principles (2020). It has received a Second Party Opinion from the independent expert DNV.

It is the first green loan worldwide to support low-carbon hydrogen production in alignment with the new China-EU Common Ground Taxonomy. SCIPIG will monitor the environmental benefits of this project on a regular basis and will report annually to the lender on selected indicators, including the annual avoided greenhouse gases emissions and the hydrogen annual production volume. As they will replace a third party coal-based gasification unit, the new units will avoid the emission of 350,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the electricity related emissions of 1 million Chinese households. Well, a huge congratulations to Ariela keyed on this big win. And this will be a benchmark for global hydrogen generation for end users in Europe. It’s really no surprise that a deal like this will begin in China as they lead the world in low cost hydrogen development, I’m going to be paying close attention to the greenhouse gas emission reports on this project. But on paper, at least, the project looks like a huge win for global hydrogen development. I just hope that everything stays above board, as early deals like this are needed for global hydrogen trade.

Alright, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to Apple podcast, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at So until next time, keep your eyes up and honor one another.

Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.