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Economically advantageous pathways for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial hydrogen under common, current economic conditions

Finke, Cody E. and Leandri, Hugo F. and Karumb, Evody Tshijik and Zheng, David and Hoffmann, Michael R. and Fromer, Neil A. (2021) Economically advantageous pathways for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial hydrogen under common, current economic conditions. Energy and Environmental Science, 14 (3). pp. 1517-1529. ISSN 1754-5692. doi:10.1039/d0ee03768k.

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Hydrogen is a major industrial chemical whose manufacture is responsible for ∼3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. >95% of hydrogen is made via reforming fossil fuels which typically co-produces hydrogen and waste carbon dioxide. Nearly all other hydrogen is co-produced with other commodity chemicals. Unfortunately, many alternative, clean hydrogen production processes are small-scale because they require major reductions in capital cost or energy prices to be economical enough for industry. Because the climate problem is urgent, and the economics of future energy is uncertain, this paper seeks to expand the options for producing industrial-scale, clean hydrogen under common, present-day economic conditions. First, we build a model to understand the economic and carbon dioxide emissions constraints of sulfur electrolysis which is an emerging process that cogenerates hydrogen and co-salable sulfuric acid and has the potential to produce up to 36% of the world's current hydrogen demand under present-day, average US economic conditions. We also use our model to evaluate water electrolysis, which cogenerates hydrogen and waste oxygen, but is not economical under present-day average US economic conditions. We then propose criteria for identifying clean hydrogen production chemistries. Using these criteria, we find enough reactions to have the combined potential to make over 150% of the world's industrial hydrogen needs under present-day, average US economic conditions while reducing cost and reducing or eliminating CO₂ emissions. Given the urgency of the climate problem, we believe that an economic analysis, such as this is crucial to near-term CO₂ emissions reductions.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Information
Finke, Cody E.0000-0002-1343-1737
Hoffmann, Michael R.0000-0001-6495-1946
Additional Information:© 2021 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Submitted 01 Dec 2020; Accepted 03 Feb 2021; First published 15 Feb 2021. Supporting data referenced above may be found in the ESI. This work was supported by the Department of Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office Cyclotron Road Program. Funding was provided to C. E. F., H. F. L., and N. A. F., by the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech. In part, this material is based upon work by C. E. F., E. T. K. and H. F. L. performed at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, supported through the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy under Award Number DE-SC0004993. C. E. F. was the primary concept generator and modeler for this work. H. F. L. performed the electrochemistry. D. Z. developed early versions of the model. N. A. F. aided in idea development. C. E. F., H. F. L., E. T. K., M. R. H., and N. A. F. prepared the manuscript and helped with its reviewing. All authors reviewed and contributed to the final manuscript. We are grateful to Fanfei Li for helping acquire techno-economic data and Prof. Jess Adkins at Caltech for being willing to relentlessly talk shop with us. Conflicts of interest: H. F. L., D. Z., M. R. H., and N. A. F.'s institution (California Institute of Technology) has filed a U.S. patent application directly relating to the work described in the paper (patent application no. US20190376191A1, filed on May. 17, 2019). C. E. F., H. L., and E. T. K. are founders or employees of Brimstone Energy Inc., a company which has hydrogen cogeneration in its vision.
Group:JCAP, Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0004993
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210217-100658347
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Official Citation:Economically advantageous pathways for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial hydrogen under common, current economic conditions. Energy Environ. Sci., 2021, 14, 1517-1529; DOI: 10.1039/d0ee03768k
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108087
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Feb 2021 18:27
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:08

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