‘Breakthrough in hydrogen: infinite natural hydrogen in Earth’s crust’
White hydrogen? Yep, you read it right. That term, of course, refers to hydrogen. Hydrogen found in the Earth’s crust. An October 2022 US Geological Survey (USGS) model shows that there is enough natural hydrogen to power the world for thousands of years. It may even be an inexhaustible source of renewable energy. White hydrogen is created as iron and water in the Earth react with each other under high pressure and temperature. Among other substances, hydrogen remains.
Successful field trial of white hydrogen on Mali
This white hydrogen is already used in the African country of Mali. Near the Malian capital of Bamako, a small generator is operating to generate electricity for the village of Bourakébougou. This generator – part of the African and European Union’s Hyafrica project – is powered by white hydrogen extracted locally from the ground there. So it appears to work, only further research is needed as to whether it can be extracted on a larger scale.
Energy density and cost important factors
Everything hinges on cost. If extracting this hydrogen is too expensive, the chances of success are slim. But because it is potentially infinitely created in the Earth, this may be the breakthrough that hydrogen technology needs. Experts estimate the cost of pumping up white hydrogen is relatively low. But the energy density of hydrogen is also an important factor. Dependence on fossil fuels must be phased out as soon as possible. White hydrogen could play an important role here, especially since it is potentially infinitely available.
On a large scale
The natural form of hydrogen will be investigated further in the near future. It looks at the energy density of the energy carrier and how it can be extracted. In Mali, there is already a lot of knowledge about this. Instead of drilling for natural gas or oil, new exploration methods have been developed to locate natural hydrogen. A fairly simple installation is sufficient to bring the hydrogen to the surface in a simple way. The next challenge is then to get this hydrogen through a pipeline network toward larger plants.
The reactions to the recently published driving test of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen on this website show once again that the debate between BEV and hydrogen is huge. The discussion is then mostly about the energy required to make hydrogen and that hydrogen is now mostly gray (made with natural gas) making it not really interesting. But that discussion point disappears like snow in the sun with white hydrogen. Because the Earth has already made it completely free. One only needs to transport it to hydrogen sites. That needs to be looked at smartly. Current refueling stations can be converted to hydrogen. So in that sense, hydrogen could really break through if white hydrogen turns out to work. After all, why shouldn’t we as humanity benefit from a free renewable energy source? And possibly even an inexhaustible source of energy?