March 28, 2021 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2021 • Episode: 1
Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!
In this episode I discuss the 6 main colors of hydrogen as it pertains to the energy industry. My goal is to give you a basic level understanding of the process involved to create the different colors of hydrogen and explain the importance of each.
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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? Where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters 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 answer. My name is Paul Rodden, welcome to hydrogen podcast.
Okay, so I was riding my bike the other day. And I was remembering this time when I was consulting with an energy producer, and they were looking at getting into hydrogen. I walked in, and I really wasn’t sure where they were, as far as as having any kind of background in Hydrogen kind of knowledge, anything at all. And I wasn’t sure where to start. And so I just kind of started very high level, you know, kind of asking them about questions and where they were historically on any kind of hydrogen knowledge. And really, they knew a little bit about what green was what blue was, and that was that was about it, they really didn’t know that much. And for a company who’s looking to invest in hydrogen, it was pretty clear that that they needed a lot of work to catch up to where other companies are. And so it just kind of started at a high level and it got me thinking while I was on the bike, that’s probably a good place to start, at least as an introduction, you know, I know a lot of you probably know what I’m about to cover, but but a lot of people may not. And so for those of you who don’t know, what the different colors of hydrogen are, I figured I’d just go ahead and start talking about that kind of a real high level. So go through the some of the the main colors, what they are kind of the the the pluses and minuses of each one. And, and finish up there.
The first one we’re gonna start with is kind of the the grandfather of hydrogen, it’s the gray hydrogen and gray hydrogen has been used for a long time as a feedstock for ammonia. And that’s where you just you take your your hydrogen, you mix it with nitrogen and you get ammonia, it’s it’s a lot easier to compress. And ammonia works as a as a great fertilizer. So the current solution is gray to produce hydrogen now gray takes usually it’s a steam methane reformer, and you run natural gas there and it separates out the carbon dioxide and the hydrogen, the carbon dioxide in a gray plant just gets released. So that’s that’s where you get your, your, your negative downside on the grays is you’re releasing the carbon into the atmosphere. So to make that clean, they’ve introduced the blue hydrogen. And what that is, it’s the SMR, that the steam methane reforming with some sort of carbon capture.
And usually a carbon capture is just going to be a set of equipment that you add to a gray plant to capture the carbon and then what happens is that the hydrogen goes out as it always does, whether it’s put into pipes or compressed and trucked out or or railed out then the the carbon can be either utilized as in EOR wells, or anything anything else that you know compressed for fire extinguishers, or can just be put back into the ground and into some kind of storage unit, like like under a salt dome. So that’s that’s blue hydrogen so the co2 is captured and stored. It’s extremely cheap compared to the other solutions that we’ll get into later. And again, that that cost is going to vary depending on on how much natural gas is you know, right now it’s so low that it makes a lot of sense to keep creating hydrogen from natural gas. The downside of it is the the hydrogen isn’t as pure and carbon capture technology, it’s not widespread yet. A lot of gray plants are moving to blue, but it’s still it’s a there’s a pretty substantial cost associated with it.
And and not a whole lot of people are doing it. So going from there is green, blue and the green are kind of the the big ticket items. On green, what what usually happens is you have some kind of renewable energy source usually it’s it’s either wind farms or solar farms, and when you have excess capacity, run that through saltwater, so you electrolyze the salt water through a process it’s it’s p e m is the initials. And what that does is there’s there’s no co2 emissions to worry about. It’s very high, pure hydrogen. The problem with that is it’s not a real long term solution, it’s it’s not going to happen anytime soon. That to where it’s cost effective, because it is extremely expensive to do this process. Most of the reasons are it’s, you know, wind doesn’t generate as much electricity as it could. And it’s the same with the photovoltaic cells in solar farms.
So right now it’s just a high cost solution to create hydrogen. Now, in the future as costs drop to create wind and solar farms, then your cost of creating hydrogen will drop also making it the long play. But in the near term blue is really the one that shines as a way to create hydrogen. Next from that is something that I think should be given a lot more attention than it’s getting in the media and that’s yellow hydrogen. Now yellow hydrogen is done in the same way that green hydrogen is except instead of coming from a wind farm or a solar farm, it’s coming from a nuclear facility. And so you have the same positives of no co2 emissions, high purity, the downside is is coming from a nuclear plant. So there’s still the the nuclear waste that you have to dispose of. Other than that, though, the nuclear waste is going to be there one way or another with the nuclear plant.
The other issues are, nuclear is very, very high startup cost. But then again, if the nuclear plant is going to be there, why not just go ahead and use any excess capacity to charge salt water and, and make hydrogen with it. The other two that I want to talk about, the next one is brown hydrogen, or black hydrogen, either one. Now those are made from coal. And so there’s the plus side is there is a large abundance of coal, especially if it’s if it’s local. The downside is the co2 still gets released till it’s just like gray except instead of natural gas, using coal to create it. So it’s very, very unhealthy for the environment. And you’ll find a lot of these brown projects in places like China, where coal is readily available, and natural gas, not so much.
The last one, I think, is really an interesting one. And that’s, that’s called turquoise hydrogen. Now turquoise hydrogen is, it’s a process that I’m not entirely familiar with, but you take natural gas, and you run it over molten metal. And what’s cool about that is it separates out the hydrogen, but the carbon also separates from the oxygen, and you just get a solid carbon as a byproduct, and the oxygen just gets released. And there’s no problem just releasing oxygen is a very cool process. I haven’t heard of any major project in the world that’s actually going to scale with it. There are some test facilities and some demonstration facilities that are set up doing it, but I don’t see anything really hitting as far as large scale investments. Okay, well, you know, that’s, that’s really the the really high level coverage of six different types of colors of hydrogen. I know there are groups out there that even that don’t even like the colors, they would rather use the technologies to identify the hydrogen versus the colors and to their May, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do it that way. But what when you’re when you’re just talking to a group of investors or general public, no one wants to hear SMR, CCUS 100 times an hour. So it’s just easier to say blue.
That being said, something to keep in mind on on blue is the carbon capture, not all carbon capture is created equal, just because it says carbon capture doesn’t mean that all the carbon is getting captured. It could be 20%, it could be 80%, could be 100. But that’s that’s kind of the big caveat for blue, is you need to make sure if you’re looking to invest, and you’re you’re using this as an ESG source, that you’re capturing a significant amount of carbon, not just the the 20% or whatever to get it some kind of tax credit. All right. That being said, we’ll we’ll keep coming back for some more hydrogen chats. Talk to everyone later. Bye.
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 www.hydrogenpodcast.com. Thanks for listening. I appreciate it. Have a great day.