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Hydrogen, the energy source of the future for the transportation sector… and much more

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Currently, aviation is responsible for 3.6% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions due to the use of kerosene as fuel. Concern for environmental sustainability, also in the field of air and maritime transport, is an issue that occupies and worries European institutions. In this sense, an actor appears as the energy source of the near future (2030): renewable hydrogen.

As we will recall, hydrogen is the first element of the periodic table. It consists of one proton and one electron, making it the simplest and most abundant atom in the universe. Under normal conditions, it is found in the form of the gaseous diatomic molecule H2, and its light density makes it necessary to store it in large-volume containers. In addition, hydrogen offers the highest energy-to-weight ratio of any fuel known to date.

However, this element is not found in nature in its pure state, but forms compounds such as water or hydrocarbons, among others. This is why it is called an energy vector and not a primary energy source (as is the case with oil or natural gas). In other words, hydrogen has to be “manufactured”.

Current uses of hydrogen

Hydrogen is part of city gas, where it is mixed with methane. It is also used, for example, in refineries or as a raw material for the production of ammonia (NH3), from which fertilizers are produced. It is even used in metallurgy to obtain steel from iron ore (iron oxides): about 100 kg of hydrogen can be used to produce one ton of steel; therefore, if hydrogen were used instead of coal, direct CO2 emissions would be reduced.

In short, this element is present in various markets and industries, in the tertiary and residential sectors, as well as in? In mobility. It should be noted that the use of fuel cell electric vehicles or hydrogen-based synthetic fuels could decarbonize transport in all its forms (light and heavy-duty road, rail, maritime, air, etc.).

Advantages offered by green hydrogen as a fuel

Some of the main advantages offered by hydrogen are:

  • Clean, non-polluting fuel with no greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Its reserves are inexhaustible. 

Hydrogen generated by renewable energies, green hydrogen, is produced by electrochemical methods in which only water is used as a raw material. This aspect is key to making hydrogen the energy of the future, replacing fossil fuels and thus contributing to the fight against climate change. It is well known that the high demand for energy over the years will lead to the use of alternative renewable energy sources¹.

The hydrogen value chain (image above) ranges from production, storage and application to transportation. Some fields of this fuel have developed rapidly, but there are others that face many challenges, so there is still a lot of research ahead for this fossil fuel substitute². However, it is worth noting that, for a transportation application and compared to gasoline, hydrogen is capable of releasing three times as much energy.

What is M&M’s relationship with green hydrogen?

M&M Group is part of the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2), an organization that is committed to this sustainable energy paradigm shift. Thus, members of the R&D department of the company participate in the research of new technologies or developments where hydrogen is the protagonist, being part of this developing industry.

In this sense, M&M is in continuous development training with skills, especially in hydrogen storage solutions according to the applicable requirements, as well as in the control systems involved in the process. In this way, our company is involved in three parts of the hydrogen value chain: storage, integrated systems and control systems.

Currently, M&M is part of the work for the elaboration of the “Study/Report on the regulatory treatment of projects incorporating hydrogen technologies”, which is estimated to take six months to develop. This project is carried out at the initiative and with funding from the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2) and will be coordinated by the Foundation for the Development of New Technologies in Aragon together with SEDIGAS and BIP Consulting, who assume the development of the same.

Our commitment to environmental sustainability is unwavering, and this is an example of our strategy in this regard.

[1] K. Shashikala, Hydrogen storage materials. Elsevier Inc., 2012. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385142-0.00015-5.

[2] X. Li, “Status and development of hydrogen preparation, storageand transportation,” Kexue Tongbao/Chinese Sci. Bull., vol. 67, no. 4–5, pp. 425–436, 2022, doi: 10.1360/TB-2021-0715.