THP-E323: Is The EPA Ruling On Hydrogen Trucking Unrealistic? Also, Is The US Truly Ready For Hydrogen?

Paul Rodden • Season: 2024 • Episode: 323

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 323, Will the US hydrogen infrastructure be ready when the generation plants get fired up? And is the timing of the latest EPA ruling on heavy duty trucks unrealistic? ExxonMobil and Chevron believe it is. I’ll go over this news and give my thoughts 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


Will the US hydrogen infrastructure be ready when the generation plants get fired up? And is the timing of the latest EPA ruling on heavy duty trucks unrealistic? ExxonMobil and Chevron believe it is. I’ll go over this news and give my thoughts 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. Before I get started today, I wanted to note a couple of things. The first is a huge thank you to the Consulate of France in Houston for inviting me to their networking reception at the residence of France. I had an amazing time getting to note the delegates and the work that they’re doing in energy, as well as talking to the other attendees there, it was exciting to see positive attitudes and collaboration opportunities developing between our two nations. I also wanted to say that I’ll be chairing the first day of the hydrogen and carbon capture technology expo next Wednesday, as well as moderating an incredible panel discussion on ports as a gateway to market liftoff for hydrogen and its derivatives. If you are able to attend, I highly recommend doing so, and now to today’s podcast. In an article in tech explore, Charlotte Vlek writes, We are betting the bank on hydrogen, but are we ready for it? Charlotte writes, green hydrogen holds many promises: it can serve as a “battery” for energy storage, it can be used in the chemical industry, and its only emission will be water vapor. But, unfortunately, green hydrogen is not yet widely used, because the production of gray hydrogen from natural gas is much cheaper. Moreover, it’s not trivial how we could store hydrogen and, as an indirect greenhouse gas, hydrogen is not as clean as it looks. Consequently, researchers of the University of Groningen have a lot of work to do. Hydrogen is the smallest, simplest element that was at the beginning of all other things. Just after the Big Bang, the universe was shrouded in a mist of hydrogen, and this oldest element is still all around us: in water (H2O), natural gas (with main component methane CH4), and ammonia (NH3). On its own, hydrogen hardly exists in nature: it is almost always bonded to something else. But it is possible to separate hydrogen from other elements and make it form a molecule of its own (H2). To make this happen, you need to add some energy. When the hydrogen molecule is allowed to bond again, this energy will be released, though with some energy loss. Now, the idea is that if you split water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules, using energy from renewable sources, the result would be a “green battery.” When the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, you can use the excess power supply of solar panels and wind turbines to make hydrogen. Allowing hydrogen to bond with oxygen again results in the production of water and the release of energy. Because hydrogen likes to bond to other elements, there are many more applications: think of farmers spreading fertilizer (based on ammonia (NH3) on their land, or hairdressers bleaching hair with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). For these products, we mostly use so-called gray hydrogen, obtained from natural gas, with carbon dioxide (CO2) as a by-product. The reason is simple: Hydrogen from water is currently about five times more expensive than hydrogen made from other elements. That is why researchers from the University of Groningen are working on the efficient and affordable production of hydrogen made from water as well as applications in, for instance, transportation and the chemical industry. Once we have determined how to produce cheap, efficient, green hydrogen, it needs to be stored somewhere, or transported to the place where it is needed. Would it not be convenient if hydrogen gas could simply be transported and stored like natural gas is now? We’d just transport it through our existing pipe lines and store it in empty gas fields underground. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Hydrogen is the smallest element there is and the hydrogen molecule (H2) is much smaller than natural gas. If we were to transport hydrogen through our existing pipe lines, it would possibly escape through tiny cracks. What’s even worse, it can affect other materials, making metal as brittle as glass, such that it can easily shatter into pieces. That is why UG researchers will also investigate what happens to the materials that may be used for storing and transporting hydrogen. Then, there is one question that remains: even though we call it green, is hydrogen really green? Hydrogen from water made with renewable energy sounds wonderful, as well as the emission of only clear water vapor when hydrogen is used in applications. Nonetheless, it is important to monitor what will happen in the atmosphere when hydrogen escapes through potential cracks. Hydrogen is an indirect greenhouse gas, which means that on its own, it does no harm, but through reactions that take place in the atmosphere, it does. Specifically, these reactions lead to more methane, ozone and water vapor high up in the atmosphere, which all result in global warming. For now, it is not really a problem if small amounts of hydrogen leak into the atmosphere. But what if we fully focus on hydrogen as a green solution for the future? Then, it will be very important that we monitor and understand what happens to hydrogen in the atmosphere, because of its potential climate impact. That is why UG researchers are taking measurements in the air, and developing models of hydrogen leakage to see how this affects the atmosphere. Okay, so when I came across this article, it struck me as odd that it was in the money section of MSN, and the title would lead you to think that it would discuss more on infrastructure investments to handle the influx of hydrogen coming down the proverbial pipe. But it didn’t. Instead, it focused on green hydrogen development, more specifically, electrolytic hydrogen from solar and wind. And I do realize that that is a focus of many listeners to this show. And at an extremely large scale, green hydrogen can make sense, ie, the hydrogen operations in Oman, but at a more localized scale, electrolyzer efficiency just isn’t there yet, and there are better alternatives to begin the hydrogen transition. And I’m not just talking about Blue hydrogen, as mentioned at the top of the show. When I was at the French residence, I had the opportunity to speak with a representative from SMO solar process. They leveraged solar energy to generate hydrogen from waste using plasma gasification, and they also have a landed cost of $3 per kilogram and generate their energy off the grid. I’ve also talked quite a bit about pyrolysis as an option, and it’s looking like natural hydrogen is more abundant than we ever thought possible. All of that to say that there are many quote, unquote, green options that don’t involve electrolyzers that can be leveraged now economically, but that also means that we really need to understand everything downstream of that hydrogen generation. And this article does touch on that subject. Just where is our infrastructure in terms of handling hydrogen? Yes, embrittlement can and will occur in standard natural gas pipelines, if the line goes stagnant for a given period of time, in other words, if there is no turbulence in the line, the hydrogen will float to the top and eat away at the metal. Although, with that being said, I’ve talked with gas companies testing hydrogen blending at up to 50% and they haven’t noticed any embrittlement in the lines, but that was with a system that was always turbulent. And there is also good news on the storage front, as more and more fabricators and tank manufacturers are developing hydrogen storage tanks for both compression and liquefaction. So we do have solid progress on both understanding the effects of hydrogen on our existing infrastructure, as well as new innovations for other types of storage and transportation. Next, in an article in the Houston Chronicle, James Osborne writes, is the oil lobby’s EPA suit over clean fuel trucks at odds with industry goals. James writes, Exxon Mobil and Chevron have been among the large oil companies championing clean hydrogen fuel as a means of decarbonizing shipping, long haul trucks and other parts of the transportation sector that are not easily electrified. But in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency filed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, the oil sector’s chief lobbying arm, questioned the speed at which the technology could be developed. Speaking on new emissions rules designed to shift trucking to hydrogen and battery technology, Ryan Meyers, general counsel at API, said in a statement that EPA is “forcing a switch to technology that simply does not presently exist for these kinds of vehicles. “Even if it were someday possible, it will almost certainly have consequences for your average American,” he added. That analysis stands in contrast to Exxon and Chevron’s public statements about the future of hydrogen. On its website, Exxon describes hydrogen fuel as “versatile — suitable for power generation, trucking, and heat-intensive industries like steel and chemicals,” and says it is “scaling up production of low-carbon hydrogen to reduce CO2 emissions in our own facilities, and helping others do the same.” Chevron is likewise touting hydrogen projects in California, Utah and the Gulf Coast as “laying the foundation for growth.” “Chevron is well positioned to bring lower carbon intensity hydrogen solutions to the world,” Austin Knight, vice president of hydrogen, said in a statement. Exxon and Chevron representatives declined or did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Scott Lauermann, a spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute, of which both companies are members, said while hydrogen is “well-positioned to be a leading source of emissions reductions from heavy-duty trucks,” the state of the technology, along with permitting and infrastructure hurdles, will “make it challenging to meet EPA’s compliance timeline.” The new EPA rules for heavy-duty vehicles, announced in March, are to go into effect in 2027. They require new truck models to substantially improve upon current pollution standards, with delivery fleets required to reduce emissions 40% by 2032 and sleeper cabs by 20%. “The standards are technology-neutral and performance-based, allowing each manufacturer to choose what set of emissions control technologies is best suited for them and the needs of their customers,” EPA said in March. However, that optimism is not shared by many in the oil and trucking sectors, with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association warning that “mom and pop trucking businesses would be suffocated by the sheer cost and operational challenges.” It has joined API in its lawsuit. “You cant buy a hydrogen truck right now. They’re just not available. Nor is the infrastructure,” said Frank Maisano, an energy consultant with Washington-based law firm Bracewell. “In the long term, hydrogen is a way to decaorbonize heavy-duty vehicles, but in the short term it creates a challenge.” Okay, so, interesting news on the oil lobby and their effort to push back on EPA regulations for heavy duty trucks. Now, I would say this is a bit misleading, as there are heavy duty trucks available now, and class eight heavy duty trucks before the 2032 deadline, we’ve had Parker Meeks, the CEO at Hyzon, on the show twice, to discuss their trucking platform, and just this week, Hyundai announced their hydrogen trucks in Switzerland have hit 10 million kilometers. The trucks are out there with more on the way. But there is something to be said for the lack of infrastructure to support the EPA ruling that will have to be built up before hydrogen class eight trucks can really hit the road, and for mom and pop shops that can’t afford these trucks, well, from what I’m hearing, government subsidies will effectively make these trucks the same cost as traditional diesel. But with that being said, the effective date of 2027 is unrealistic, and the 2032 is a stretch for fleet operators to hit 40% reductions in their delivery fleets. Hopefully there will be some wiggle room, and the EPA can push those dates back a bit for the infrastructure to get developed. All right, 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 podcasts, 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 and 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.