TechEurope's largest hydrogen deposit discovered in France

Europe's largest hydrogen deposit discovered in France

They were looking for methane deposits. They stumbled upon massive hydrogen reserves.
They were looking for methane deposits. They stumbled upon massive hydrogen reserves.
Images source: © ARP
5:41 PM EDT, October 31, 2023

French scientists have accidentally discovered the world's largest supply of white hydrogen, potentially shaping the future of global energy. Located in Lorraine, the deposit is considered gargantuan in comparison to others known.

The vast hydrogen repository in Eastern France was stumbled upon by scientists during an expedition. Led by researchers from the GeoRessources Laboratory at the University of Lorraine and the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the initial motive of the expedition was to scout for methane.

A significant hydrogen deposit in France

While investigating the rock layers in Lorraine, scientists unearthed unusually high concentrations of hydrogen. At approximately 3,937 feet deep, the concentration reached levels of up to 20%, prompting researchers to delve deeper into the deposit.

Estimates suggest that at around 9,842 feet deep, hydrogen concentration may reach up to 90%. Augmenting the scope of their investigations, scientists also plan to scout for similar deposits in the Pyrenees, the Alps, and New Caledonia, making France a potential global powerhouse in energy.

The role of hydrogen in clean energy

Hydrogen holds promise as an eco-friendly energy source. However, its environmental footprint hinges on the methods used in its production. One method to produce hydrogen is steam reforming, which utilizes natural gas (grey hydrogen). Yet, this process results in carbon dioxide emissions and hence is not deemed a clean energy source.

A more costly yet environmentally conscious method is the production of green hydrogen. This is achieved through the electrolysis of water, which is an energy-intensive process. Nevertheless, the use of renewable energy sources enables emission-free hydrogen production.

Naturally occurring white hydrogen remains the most sought-after source of clean energy. Although its extraction doesn't result in carbon emissions, the real challenge lies in locating and mining these deposits.

The potential for hydrogen extraction in Lorraine

The deposit in France is extraordinary in this regard. Global deposits of white hydrogen, believed to be in the tens of billions of tons, are usually found in small clusters either offshore or too deep for mining to be viable.

However, the deposit in Lorraine may allow for the extraction of an estimated 3 million tons of white hydrogen annually. The deposit is projected to hold between 6 million and 250 million tons of the valuable gas. For comparison, the only hydrogen mine currently operational, located in Mali, yields about 5 tons of white hydrogen annually.

Before the French can revel in their find, more research is required. Scientists must ensure the even distribution of the white hydrogen, assess its concentration more precisely, and explore potential extraction methods.

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