‘Gold’ hydrogen: natural deposits are turning up all over the world – but how useful is it in our move away from fossil fuels?

(The Conversation, 12 Jan 2024) Hydrogen will play a role in weaning us off fossil fuels. It can be used to power trains, planes and HGVs, as well as being a low-carbon alternative to coke in steelmaking and a way to warm our homes.

But where will we get it? The latest geological research suggests that cheap and plentiful supplies of naturally occurring hydrogen could be found right under our feet – although there’s a long way to go before we can say for sure how useful these stores of “gold” hydrogen will be.

The many ways to obtain hydrogen have an informal, colour-based naming scheme. At present, most of our supplies are “grey” hydrogen, which is made from natural gas. Grey hydrogen does nothing to reduce the climate impact of fossil fuels, because carbon dioxide is produced as a waste product and dumped into the atmosphere.

However, when this waste is captured and buried, what’s then known as “blue” hydrogen is a big improvement. It will allow rapid and relatively climate-friendly growth in hydrogen production in the short term.

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The Conversation, 16 Jan 2024: ‘Gold’ hydrogen: natural deposits are turning up all over the world – but how useful is it in our move away from fossil fuels?