Hydrogen is gathering significant momentum globally as it shifts to becoming an economically-viable and flexible fuel, energy carrier and enabler for the rapid and widespread deployment and international trade of renewable energy.
The evaluation of commercial business opportunities for hydrogen will rely on the critical evaluation and interrogation of technological, economic, social, environmental and political drivers and barriers. This article provides a broad overview of these drivers and barriers and covers recent developments across the emerging hydrogen industry.
Other than in a few isolated cases, most of the necessary technology underpinning the development of a hydrogen industry exists and has been operated safely with acceptable performance on at least the pilot scale. The distributed use of hydrogen as a fuel and energy carrier to service mobility and power generation markets leverages off its extensive utilisation across a number of process and manufacturing industries (chemicals, petrochemicals, hydrogenation of oils, glass, pharmaceuticals, microchip cleaning, space industry, turbine cooling). It also benefits from the various production options available including the gasification of coal, steam reformation of methane, partial oxidation of hydrocarbons, electrolysis of water and biological production. The Hazer Group based in Western Australia has developed a novel process to produce low emissions hydrogen from methane (such a biogas from wastewater treatment plants) using iron ore as a catalyst.
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