Blue Hydrogen, Substitute Natural Gas Can Lead the Energy Transition
This paper provides an overview on low-carbon-intensity technologies that are instrumental to the decarbonization of the energy industry. While hydrogen is the most promising low-carbon-intensity energy vector, substitute natural gas is the most promising and immediate solution among the hydrocarbon-based fuels.
The production of fuel and chemicals in many countries is based on fossil sources, but concerns about reservoir limitations and greenhouse-gas emissions are shifting the focus toward solutions to increase the efficiency of processes and decarbonize these markets. This paper provides an overview on low-carbon-intensity technologies that are instrumental to the decarbonization of the energy industry.
Hydrogen is the most promising low-carbon-intensity energy vector. However, it is mainly produced through hydrocarbon steam reforming, which generates 9 to 12 metric tons of CO2 per ton of produced hydrogen. A key factor in driving the energy transition and achieving a low-carbon future, therefore, is the potential to obtain low-carbon-intensity hydrogen—through carbon-capture solutions producing blue hydrogen, using biofeedstocks within adapted steam reforming applications to produce biohydrogen, or through water electrolysis using renewable power.
The blue hydrogen technology described in this paper results in more than 90% CO2 emissions reduction because of the integration of an advanced steam reforming solution with precombustion carbon capture. While blue hydrogen, which is produced from hydrocarbons, is able to significantly reduce the emissions to the atmosphere but still produces some CO2, biohydrogen instead is a carbon-neutral solution achieved through modified steam reforming of liquid biofeedstock. This technology has the potential to be carbon negative when enhanced with a carbon-capture system.
Another aspect of the decarbonization process, substitute (or synthetic) natural gas (SNG) from biomass gasification, biogas upgrading, and power‑to‑gas systems is the most promising and immediate solution among the hydrocarbon‑based fuels. SNG product has great market possibilities in refining and automotive sectors or for injecting into pipelines for the upgrading and repurposing of distribution networks. The product is a clean carbon alternative to conventional natural gas that can be distributed using the existing grid infrastructure.