Five ways to reduce carbon emissions with hydrogen

Hydrogen is abundant virtually everywhere and could replace fossil fuels in a variety of industrial processes, materials and products and thereby reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, it is only now that hydrogen production and use are taking off in earnest.

This might be something of an exaggeration, but if you wanted to describe the formation of the universe in simple terms, you could do worse than saying: first came the Big Bang, then hydrogen, then everything else.

Hydrogen is fundamental to our entire existence, the most abundant substance in the universe, and it may also be set to play a key role in our future. This chemical element, which does not exist freely in nature, but which can be relatively easily extracted from water, could become a way forward for so-called hard-to-abate sectors where there are simply no other ways to become fossil-free and eliminate, or minimise, carbon dioxide emissions.

“In the past, there has not been political support or commitment for us to make a transition from fossil fuels, because they’ve been both cheap and easily accessible, and infrastructure and transport systems have been built around the world for them. You didn’t have to think about it. Now there’s a willingness, where the EU, for example, is pushing to ensure that we will deal with climate change. And then there’s the desire to build the alternatives even if they cost more.”

That is the message from Cecilia Wallmark, Operations Manager for the Centre for Hydrogen Energy Systems Sweden at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, who has worked with hydrogen issues for more than 25 years.

By Mattias Dahlström