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hydrogen

Green hydrogen, is it a viable alternative in the fight against Climate Change?

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The temperature on Earth has risen 1.5°C since pre-industrial times, and is expected to rise another 1.5°C by 2050.

These are some of the catastrophic environmental and social consequences, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The land, sea and air transport sector is responsible for approximately a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, since it depends almost entirely on fossil fuels, according to the United Nations Program for the Environment. Environment (UNEP).

That is why, given this scenario, there has been a growing interest in the application of hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels, mainly gasoline, according to the National Institute of Electricity and Clean energies (INEEL). It is a fuel that does not emit GHG emissions and that can be transported in pipelines or tanks and is easy to store.

Hydrogen is the third most abundant chemical element on Earth, behind oxygen and silicon. It is a safe, colorless and odorless gas. However, on Earth it is not easy to find hydrogen in its pure state, it is always found in more complex molecules such as water.

• 1 liter of water contains approximately 111 grams of hydrogen (11%), according to INEEL

To use it as fuel, a chemical reaction called electrolysis is carried out, that is, the rupture of the water molecule, releasing the hydrogen from the oxygen. This means that it is not a primary source of energy, because to carry out this process, electrical energy is necessary.

Although currently the production of hydrogen for energy purposes is not free of generating CO2, one of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect, it is not an impossible task to use it as a renewable energy source. Thus, the so-called black hydrogen is obtained from fossil fuels, compared to green hydrogen that is produced through sources that do not generate emissions, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy.

• One gram of hydrogen contains 0.03 KWh, more than twice the energy of diesel, gasoline or natural gas, according to INEEL

Its global demand as a fuel has tripled since 1975, reaching 70 million tons per year in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Black hydrogen is responsible for 2% of total CO emissions2 in the world annually. If it were obtained from renewable sources, up to 830 million tons of CO could be mitigated annually2.

Green hydrogen-based fuel is a reality in countries like the United States, Russia, China, France, and Germany. This last country considers Mexico as one of its future partners to undertake green hydrogen production projects, since they expect that in the coming years this type of fuel will be more in demand. The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) estimates that 90,000 direct jobs will be generated, from production, recharging stations, operation and maintenance if this collaboration occurs.

However, there are still challenges that must be overcome before hydrogen can be used as a fuel in Mexico. Miguel Ángel Santinelli, director of the Faculty of Social Responsibility of the Anáhuac University, told us that the development of clean energies should be strengthened in order to extract hydrogen in a way that does not negatively affect the environment. “Without a doubt, a strong public, private and even international investment will be necessary for Mexico to be able to explore new fuels that do not release GHGs,” he mentioned.

For INEEL, considering hydrogen as a fuel with costs close to 41 pesos per kilogram (according to the IEA) produced with renewable sources can mean great benefits for the country as a producer of sustainable fuel. However, its high price compared to gasoline (22 pesos per liter) and natural gas (25 pesos per kilogram), turns out to be the greatest impediment to making its production and use a reality in the country.

These price problems remain pending, but if sufficient infrastructure is developed, and there is a demand and widespread use of hydrogen, it can be used as a fuel supplement for vehicles in the same way that currently occurs with electric cars and those that use gas. lp, added Santinelli.


About the Faculty of Social Responsibility of the Anahuac University:

The Faculty of Social Responsibility of the Universidad Anáhuac México, is a Leader in the professional training of people and organizations in matters of Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development at a national and international level, being the only faculty of social responsibility in the world. Our graduates are leaders with a solid human formation but also with extensive training in social responsibility, who from each of their fields of activity, promote actions so that Mexico grows sustainably.

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