If the transport transition is all about moving people and goods while lowering emissions, the energy transition is about finding sustainable ways to power our world.
Hydrogen has a huge role to play – in fact, reaching net zero is not possible without it. As well as being used in fuel cells for vehicles and as a method to store and move power, hydrogen can replace natural gas as a fuel source for big industrial turbines. That’s why more and more industries are looking at hydrogen technologies to help them decarbonise.
Hydrogen – the wonder element
And no wonder. When burned as a fuel, hydrogen’s only byproduct is water. It’s the most abundant element in the universe, but it only exists in compounds, so, to be useful, it must be separated from other elements – think of the H in H2O (water) or CH4 (methane). So how that hydrogen is made – and the impact the process has on the planet – matters too.
Today, most hydrogen is made using fossil fuels, which comes with associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – this is known as grey hydrogen, and JM is a leading producer of the catalysts used to make grey hydrogen, with 40% of market share globally.
But it is also possible to make lower carbon ‘blue’ and ‘green’ hydrogen.
Leading in low carbon hydrogen
‘Blue’ hydrogen is made from natural gas with the associated CO2 emissions captured and stored away. Here too, we have leading technology to produce low carbon hydrogen that uses less natural gas, allows more than 95% of the CO2 to be captured, and costs less than the other options. The technology won us a prestigious IChemE Energy Award in 2020.
We are now commercialising that technology at scale and using it in the UK’s two flagship clean hydrogen projects – HyNet and Acorn.
Building towards the green revolution
‘Green’ hydrogen, meanwhile, is made using renewable energy, such as solar or wind, and water electrolysis. While this method is not as mature, it has the potential to help some of our biggest, hard-to-decarbonise industries reach their net zero targets.
Electrolysis and fuel cells share a lot of similar technologies, so we’re using our metals and catalysis expertise to develop the next generation of electrolyser catalyst coated membranes and help commercialise the production of green hydrogen.