THP-E65: The Massive Infrastructure Bill Incentivizes Adoption Of Hydrogen In The United States And Hydrogen Is Going To Save The Aviation Industry

November 18, 2021 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2021 • Episode: 65

Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 065, A big infrastructure bill in the United States gets passed and hydrogen plays a big part in it. And an article in The New York Times talks about how hydrogen can save aviation. All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

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A big infrastructure bill in the United States gets passed and hydrogen plays a big part in it. And an article in The New York Times talks about how hydrogen can save aviation. 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 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 a press release from Bill Cassidy, who is a United States senator for Louisiana, Cassidy, Coons, Cornyn unveiled infrastructure package to support hydrogen technologies for emissions reduction, lawmakers introduced bipartisan package of legislation to incentivize adoption of hydrogen in key sectors and infrastructure build out. On October 28. US Senators Bill Cassidy, Republican and a Louisiana Chris Coons Democrat out of Delaware and John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, introduced the bipartisan hydrogen infrastructure initiative, a package of three bills to support the adoption of hydrogen and energy intensive sectors. The bills are also co sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich Democrat from New Mexico and Ben Ray Lu Han Democrat from New Mexico.

The release continues by saying hydrogen is a high energy fuel source that does not emit greenhouse gases at the point of use properties that allow it to be used in intense and long duration applications. These traits make it an attractive fuel source, especially for hard to abate sectors like shipping and industry. As recent reports from clean task, Air Force resources for the future and energy Futures Initiative have made clear. Hydrogen is a sound solution for reducing emissions in sectors such as marine shipping, iron and steel and industrial process heating. According to Dr. Cassidy, these research and grant programs for ports shipping industry and hydrogen infrastructure are needed investments in the future of energy, Louisiana is already an energy powerhouse. These bills will allow Louisiana to continue to be a global leader.

And according to Senator Cornyn, hydrogen is a versatile energy source, but we lack the infrastructure to reap its benefits for ride range of industries. This legislation would help make hydrogen more accessible and cost effective so businesses and consumers can utilize this reliable energy resource. Years of r&d and recent private investment have brought a number of hydrogen power technologies closer to commercialization, and governments around the world have financed expansive hydrogen networks to integrate it as a carbon free fuel source. In the last year, hydrogen has seen a resurgence of interest in the policy community, and there exists significant momentum behind proposals to provide domestic federal policy support.

The bipartisan hydrogen infrastructure initiative is comprised of three components that address high value in use applications and the build out of infrastructure needed to transport store and deliver hydrogen, thereby providing critical support at multiple stages of the hydrogen value chain. The new initiative is focused on applications in energy intensive sectors for which hydrogen is particularly well suited, namely maritime and heavy industry and the infrastructure that is needed to get hydrogen from where it is produced, to where it can be used and stored. priority is given to projects that will maximize emissions reductions to deliver the greatest environmental benefits by lowering cost barriers and first mover risks. The package enables projects and partnerships that will move the us closer to meeting the demands of a robust hydrogen economy.

The legislation included in the hydrogen infrastructure initiative would a promote hydrogen and ammonia fueled equipment at ports and in shipping applications. Support commercial scale demonstration projects for in use industrial applications of hydrogen, including in the production of steel, cement, glass and chemicals, and C create a pilot hydrogen infrastructure finance and Innovation Act, which will be a program to provide grants and flexible low interest loans for retrofitted or new hydrogen transport infrastructure projects. This bill also includes a study to address outstanding questions related to technical requirements for transporting and storing hydrogen as an assessment of jurisdiction over siting construction, safety and regulation for hydrogen transport infrastructure. So to anyone in the hydrogen industry, this bill is big, and a very welcome bit of news.

And what I’m liking from this is one it being bipartisan, meaning it will have support on both sides of the aisle and to again, no discussion of any kind of color or where this hydrogen is going to be sourced. And well, it’s not a real surprise that senators from Texas and Louisiana are supporting this bill, but also two senators from New Mexico, which further solidifies that if you’re looking for geographic locations that are trying to progress a hydrogen infrastructure further, New Mexico is really vying to be that spot.

And next in an article from the New York Times, Roy Furchgott writes, can hydrogen save aviation’s fuel challenges? It’s got a way to go. Small experimental hydrogen powered planes are paving the way for net zero carbon aviation by 2050. But the route is Rocky. A fully fueled Boeing 787 10 Dreamliner can fly roughly 8000 Miles while fairing 300 or so passengers and their luggage. A battery with the energy equivalent to that fuel would weigh about 6.6 million pounds. That’s why despite environmental advantages, we don’t have battery powered electric airliners. But aviation companies working to make cleaner aircraft are exploring the use of hydrogen, the world’s most abundant element to power both electric and combustion engines and to make air travel more eco friendly. hydrogen powered planes are already aloft. Although mostly as small experimental aircraft, yet those planes are helping to pave the way for net zero carbon aviation by 2050. The goal set by many government and environmental groups, the hydrogen isn’t without controversy.

For now. It’s expensive, not always green, and some say dangerous. According to Amanda Simpson, who leads green initiatives for the aircraft manufacturer Airbus says there are three ways of using hydrogen as fuel onboard an aircraft. Hydrogen can be a source of power for battery like fuel cells, and hybrid aircraft or as combustion fuel. Alternative fuel technologies are well established in the automotive world of course, cars can burn alternative fuels. Remember diesel is converted to burn used French oil had been around since the earliest days of horseless carriages, and hybrid gas and electric cars, such as the Prius have been available since 1997. But only a few models including the Toyota Morai and Hyundai Nexo use hydrogen fuel cells.

When Val Miftakhov founded ZeroAvia to develop electric aircraft he first considered battery power, a Siberian immigrate and physicist his earlier startup converted gasoline cars to electric then incorporated an improved charging system. But batteries can sustain only the shortest excursions like training flights where quote emission is an hour batteries might work he said, battery powered trainers also exist such as the Pipistrel Alfa Electro, which claims one hour flight time, ZeroAvia instead chose fuel cells, which are essentially a chemical battery that substitutes lighter than air hydrogen for the weighty lithium ion. Hydrogen is notable for its energy density, the amount of energy per kilogram, which is about three times that of jet fuel.

The byproduct of burning hydrogen is water. Hydrogen can be made from water and renewable energy, although most now is made from natural gas, which this article says is not particularly green. Mr. Miftakhov acknowledged that hydrogen storage containers which were generally designed for ground transportation, were not practical for aircraft. He says we need to focus on reducing the weight we have some fairly low hanging fruit. Unlike electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells can be recharged in minutes, but there’s a lack of fueling stations and building them would be a huge undertaking. That problem is less critical for hybrid aircraft, which use a combination of electric and combustion power, said Pat Anderson, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, it can pull up to a fuel pump that exists today and fill up Mr. Anderson students use the hybrid system and a 2011 ecoflight competition.

They didn’t win but it sold Mr. Anderson on the merits of hybrid power engines, which he now builds at VerdeGo Aero, a Florida company that counts Erik Lindbergh, an X-Prize Foundation board member and Charles Lindbergh’s grandson, as executive chairman. And speaking of aircraft safety, more recently, ZeroAvia experienced a bad news good news scenario when its hydrogen fuel cell powered Piper Malibu Mirage M 350 crashed landed last April. The good news was that no one was hurt despite the plane losing a wing. Better still, with no fuel to leak and no hot engine to ignite it. There was no disaster. The hydrogen system itself all held up perfectly.

According to Mr. Miftakhov. The emergency crew said that if there were any traditional fuels present, it would have been a major fire. But the big argument against hydrogen has not been safety but cost although green hydrogen can be produced with water and renewable energy. Most produce now is from grey hydrogen, which is made using hydrocarbons which is not as clean as burning those fuels themselves. Hydrogen proponents say that technological improvements and larger scale facilities could bring the cost down to $1 per kilogram, the point at which it’s competitive with hydrocarbons, part of the Biden’s administration’s Earth shot initiative has proposed a $400 million investment in 2022 toward reaching the $1 per kilogram Mark within 10 years.

So overall, a very uplifting article for the hydrogen space from the New York Times. And well I’m really not surprised to see the arguments that they’re Talking about on the gray versus green versus blue sourcing of the hydrogen. If we put that to the side, what they’re talking about on aviation and using hydrogen fuel cells for that application is being seen around the world with very good results. And some of the interesting alternatives to this are a lot of modular hydrogen units right now can also make Fischer–Tropsch fuels from either solid waste, or hydrocarbons.

And then the nice thing to keep in mind about the Fischer–Tropsch fuels are that they are lighter per unit volume, but they’re also more energy dense in that same volume. So planes can also fly farther on less fuel. And what that really plays into is the whole energy transition and moving away from traditional fuels, going to a Fischer–Tropsch fuel for current planes and then migrating to hydrogen for fuel cell planes with the same equipment. And yes, there are already companies making these modular units and deploying them in the United States.

Alright, that’s it for me everyone. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about today’s episode, come and visit me on my website at or email me at I would really love to hear from you. And as always, take care. Stay safe. I’ll talk to you later.

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