Simanaitis Says

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ENCOURAGED BY MITCHELL/BORRONI-BIRD/BURNS, yesterday we began a discussion of hydrogen-fuel-cell trucking. Today in Part 2, evidence for and against various ideas is offered.

Is Blue Hydrogen Worth the Candle?  You’ll recall from yesterday that “blue” hydrogen is obtained from steam reformation of methane, a component of natural gas, the process earning a near-green moniker because its byproducts are sequestered away from the environment. 

Researchers at Cornell and Stanford, however, believe that “Touted as clean, ‘blue’ hydrogen may be worse than gas or coal.”


Blaine Friedlander reported in Cornell Chronicle, August 12, 2021, “The carbon footprint to create blue hydrogen is more than 20% greater than using either natural gas or coal directly for heat, or about 60% greater than using diesel oil for heat, according to new research published Aug. 12 in Energy Science & Engineering.”

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, more than 100 times stronger as an atmospheric warming agent than carbon dioxide when first emitted. Friedlander cites the researchers: “Blue hydrogen is hardly emissions free… Blue hydrogen as a strategy only works to the extent it is possible to store carbon dioxide long-term indefinitely into the future without leakage back to the atmosphere.”

“Emissions of blue hydrogen,” Friedlander says, “are less than for gray hydrogen [i.e., the conventionally steam-reformed variant], but not greatly so: perhaps surprisingly, only by about 9% to 12%.”

Researchers told Friedlander, “The best hydrogen, the green hydrogen derived from electrolysis—if used wisely and efficiently—can be that path to a sustainable future. Blue hydrogen is totally different.”

Image from AGRI-VIEW. 

Cooperative Efforts. In AGRI-VIEW, September 28, 2022, Chris Hubbuch reports that Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are banding together “to promote development of a ‘clean hydrogen’ economy. The Midwest Hydrogen Coalition—or M-H2 will identify production pathways, evaluate infrastructure and end uses, and may collaborate on one or more applications for a share of $8 billion set aside in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for creation of regional clean-hydrogen hubs. Clean-hydrogen production will benefit from tax credits authorized in the recent Inflation Reduction Act.”

In another cooperative activity, Bakken Energy, Bismarck, North Dakota, described plans on February 9, 2022, for a Great Plain Hydrogen Hub. It will involve the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Native Americans), Mitsubishi Power, and Bakken in transforming natural gas from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation into hydrogen. 

Bakken says, “By using state-of-the-art auto thermal reforming, carbon capture and sequestration, the hydrogen will be 96% carbon-free.” 

A Midwest Analysis. The Midwest Hydrogen Center of Excellence at Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs published “How the Midwest Can Lead the Hydrogen Economy: Matching Generation Assets to Distribution Markets in Planning Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure for Trucking and Transit,” by Mark Henning, et al. Their most informative 46-page paper includes analyses of Midwest production pathways; storage, delivery and dispensing; Midwest transit and trucking markets for hydrogen; and strategies for infrastructure buildout.

An example from Henning et al. of optimized hydrogen refueling sites across the upper Midwest.

The researchers note, “Fuel cell electric vehicles will likely constitute an appreciable portion of the transit bus and long-haul trucking fleet by the middle of the century as part of a strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions in transportation. For moving large volumes of goods and people, especially over longer distances, FCEVs may indeed end up over the long term being the primary zero-emissions power train replacement for conventional propulsion technologies that use fossil fuels.”

The Mitchell/Borroni-Bird/Burns predictions may well come to pass. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022

3 comments on “KEEP ON TRUCKIN’—WITH H2 PART 2

  1. Andrew G.
    November 1, 2022

    Agg, indeed!

    I recently drove by a midwestern oil field that smelled like there weren’t any hydrocarbon emission regulations like the ones in my home state. What’s the lesser of two greenhouse gas evils; a blue hydrogen process that accidentally leaks CO2, or waiting for the methane (at two orders of magnitude worse) to escape?

  2. Paul Davis
    November 1, 2022

    Dennis, I’m a regular reader of your publication (and of course in the old days of R&T). Regarding the large-scale production of green hydrogen, I suggest you Google “Air Products green hydrogen”. I’m a retiree, but my previous employer is seriously involved in building a green (and blue) hydrogen infrastructure on a global basis.

    Thank you for your excellent work!

    Paul in Arizona

    • simanaitissays
      November 1, 2022

      Thanks for your kind words, Paul. Agreed, Air Products is one of the promising cos in hydrogen infrastructure.

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