Hydrogen – Hype, Hope, or something in between

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I last talked about hydrogen and its potential in the energy revolution.

The world has changed in the past couple of years, and instead of gradual steady development, we were forced to take leaps to adjust. This, in turn, has paved the way for hydrogen economy and solidified its necessity in terms of holistic sustainable development.

Engineering problems remain the same

The physics of hydrogen have remained the same throughout the years, which has been a good thing in terms of engineering, as it is easier to find workarounds for constants instead of variables such as politics and whatnot.

The first and foremost issue to tackle is the production of hydrogen by electrolysis which takes ridiculous amounts of electricity. A rule of thumb with current methods is 50 kWh per kilogram of hydrogen.

Astronomical numbers that keep on growing

To put this in perspective, the current annual production of hydrogen is roughly 90 million metric tons, which is almost entirely grey hydrogen made from natural gas by steam methane reforming.

If we converted this production to electrolysis, it would require 4 500 TWh of electricity, or roughly 18 % of the annual consumption of electricity worldwide. Big numbers grow even bigger if we account the need to replace fossil fuels in all relevant industries, not just the ones that currently use hydrogen. Rumor has it that 500 million tons per year would be in the ballpark.

Endless possibilities require thorough research

At least we at TT Gaskets are not afraid of big numbers. Instead, we regard them as big possibilities. Hydrogen seems to pop up in virtually every discussion we have with our clients and other stakeholders. And as always, sealing is usually the last thing that pops to mind when our clients develop and test new hydrogen applications. Naturally this is good news for us as otherwise our services wouldn’t be required.

Our current focus is in finding hope from all the hype surrounding hydrogen. We are heavily invested in co-operation with academia, research institutions, and engineering partners. We are not going big – instead, we are going do our homework and scale our solutions from the ground up. The devil is in the details, and we cannot aim high before we have laid down the groundwork.

Our niche is a constant

Although the numbers loom large, our niche within the sealing business won’t change. Our partners and competitors supply large volumes of standard gaskets for distributing and storing hydrogen, and our focus is on special solutions that we do best.

To provide a small teaser, the big three electrolyzers and fuel cells as well as P2X applications are currently of interest to us, but don’t hesitate to contact us on other matters. There’s also a major nomination coming soon regarding our expertise in the field, so stay tuned to hear more about Smarter Sealing for a Safer Tomorrow.