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posted by hubie on Wednesday February 28, @10:34AM   Printer-friendly

https://newatlas.com/energy/geologic-hydrogen-gold-rush/

There's enough natural hydrogen trapped underground to meet all projected demands for hundreds of years. An unpublished report by the US Geological Survey identifies it as a new primary resource, and fires the starter pistol on a new gold rush.

The "black gold" oil rush in the US started in 1859, when one Edwin Drake drove a stake into the Pennsylvania soil and oil started flowing out. The gold hydrogen rush may have a similar moment to point back to; in 1987, as one Mamadou Ngulo Konaré tells the story, well diggers gave up on a 108-m (354-ft) deep dry borehole, but he and other villagers in Bourakébougou, Mali, noticed that wind was blowing out of it. When one of the drillers looked in, smoking a cigarette, it blew up in his face, causing severe burns as well as a huge fire.

That fire, as Science quoted Konaré, burned "like blue sparking water, and did not have black smoke pollution. The color of the fire at night was like shining gold." It took weeks to put the fire out and plug the hole, but subsequent analysis showed the gas coming out was 98% pure hydrogen. Celebratory mangos were served. Some years later, a little 30 kW Ford generator was hooked up, and Bourakébougou became the first village in the world to enjoy the benefits of clean, naturally occuring hydrogen as a green energy source.
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Either way, the situation has now changed, big time. Geoffrey Ellis, of the US Geological Survey, has been investigating the global potential of geo-locked "gold" hydrogen as a new primary resource. In a Denver meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he previewed the results of an as-yet unpublished study, according to the Financial Times.

In short, there are as many as 5.5 trillion tons of hydrogen in underground reservoirs worldwide. It may have been generated by the interaction of certain iron-rich minerals with subterranean water. In some cases, it may be mixed in with other gases such as methane, from which it would need to be separated. But it's there, in such extraordinary quantities that analysts are expecting a gold hydrogen rush at a global scale.

It may not be super easy to get to: "Most hydrogen is likely inaccessible," Ellis told the Financial Times. "But a few per cent recovery would still supply all projected demand – 500 million tonnes a year – for hundreds of years."

Gold hydrogen won't won't hog renewable energy like electrolyzers, or divert it away from other decarbonization opportunities. In that sense, you could argue it'll have the potential to be significantly greener than green hydrogen. On the other hand, if tapping it releases methane into the atmosphere, that's a serious issue; methane is around 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.


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  • (Score: 2) by quietus on Thursday February 29, @05:46PM

    by quietus (6328) on Thursday February 29, @05:46PM (#1346817) Journal

    Hydrogen appears to be a strong indirect greenhouse gas, by stabilising methane in the atmosphere and creating tropospheric ozone and stratospheric water vapour.

    The climate impact of hydrogen is about 34 times higher than CO2 when measured over a 20-year period, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Looking at the impact over 100 years, the global warming potential reduces to between eight and 13 times.

    And as production increases, the risk of hydrogen leaks increases as well. According to the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, the leakage rate could reach 5.6% across the economy, compared with an estimated 2.7% in 2020.

    There is hence a need to effectively monitor hydrogen leakage, especially considering what happened with methane: until quite recently, nobody really bothered to look into methane leakage associated with oil and gas exploration. According to the Environmental Defense Fund though, around half of global methane gas leaks could have been avoided at no cost because selling the gas would have recovered the cost of intervention.

    “Until we measured, people didn’t realise how their systems actually operated. They were losing product and would tell you they’re not,” recounts Hamburg.

    “We’re pretty confident that’s happening.”

    Source here [euractiv.com].

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