NewsSearching for white hydrogen: a potential breakthrough

Searching for white hydrogen: a potential breakthrough

The French government approved the first project to search for white hydrogen. Pictured is the president of that country, Emmanuel Macron.
The French government approved the first project to search for white hydrogen. Pictured is the president of that country, Emmanuel Macron.
Images source: © Getty Images | Anadolu
6:04 PM EST, December 3, 2023

The French government has approved its first project to search for white hydrogen, a geological variant. This is expected to pave the way for significant decarbonization of industry and transport, as reported by the French Ministry of Ecological Transformation.

An area of around 86.9 square miles has been made permissible for this project, located in the southwestern part of the country. It comes with a validity of five years. There are five more applications under consideration, indicating the increasing interest in natural hydrogen research in France, according to the ministry.

France's emphasis on white hydrogen

As per the details from the agency, the commencement of exploration work, which includes seismic research, has been given the green light. Drilling, however, isn't expected to start for another two to three years, pending further permits.

"White hydrogen, naturally present worldwide, is gaining growing attention as it doesn't release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, unlike 'gray hydrogen' which is hydrogen produced from fossil fuels," the agency highlights.

It further emphasizes that currently, 95% of the world's hydrogen production is gray hydrogen, primarily generated by the chemical or petrochemical industry.

The process of hydrogen production

Though it can be considered an alternative energy source, hydrogen production is not free from emissions. Annually, around 100 million tons of this fuel are produced globally, requiring natural gas and other raw materials for its production. Consequently, the production of one ton of hydrogen leads to roughly 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is the reason such fuel is labeled as 'gray.'

In addition to 'gray' hydrogen, there also exists 'blue' hydrogen. This type of hydrogen has a similar production process, but with the additional step of storing or utilizing the resulting carbon dioxide in industry. Nonetheless, a considerable amount of the greenhouse gas is discharged into the atmosphere even in this process.

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