Hydrogen leaks continue to worry scientists

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Les fuites d'hydrogène continuent d'inquiéter les scientifiques

According to a recent study carried out by the Environmental Defense Fund, the US environmental protection organization, several measures must be put in place to reduce the negative impact of hydrogen leaks on the environment. EDF’s study assesses the climate impact, at different time scales, of hydrogen deployment, taking into account various leakage rates. Their results reveal that hydrogen emissions can seriously compromise the climate benefits offered by this energy carrier, especially in the decades after its deployment. Only in the United States, very large investments are accelerating its future democratization. However, the harmful consequences that hydrogen could have Indeed, this molecule is very small (almost eight times less than a molecule of methane). Therefore, it can easily escape into the atmosphere,” explain EDF scientists Ilissa Ocko and Steven Hamburg in their paper entitled “Climate consequences of hydrogen emissions” and published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. A new UK government report also reveals that hydrogen is 11 times more powerful than CO2 over a century and 33 times more powerful over a 20-year period. This would be because it reacts with other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increases its GWP (Global Warming Potential). it lasts longer”, continue the EDF researchers. “This would allow progress in the study of the indirect effects of hydrogen on the environment and improve the calculation of its emissions from its production to its final application”. Reduce the leakage rate Although the total amount of hydrogen leakage is currently unknown, the US organization estimates that an average leakage of 1% would be ideal, but could be as high as 10% in specific cases. The study indicates that, by 2050, an average leakage rate of 1% would add only about 0.025 °C to global warming. However, according to her, the most important leaks of 5 or 10% would increase global average temperatures by 0.1°C and 0.4°C respectively.Building rather than converting Ilissa Ocko and Steven Hamburg also explain that reducing hydrogen leakage is more effective when designing a new system than when an existing system is adapted, alerting in particular of conve projects rsion of existing gas pipelines. However, converting old pipelines is much cheaper. that build new hydrogen pipelines. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, almost 12.5% ​​of the world’s hydrogen (about 77 million tons per year) will be transported through converted pipelines by 2050.” Hydrogen has been deployed from moment in the world. Therefore, we still have some time to solve this leakage problem,” the two scientists state. Game-changing steps Scientists recommend implementing five key measures to reduce hydrogen’s effects on global warming: Advance research into hydrogen’s indirect radiative effects and temperature responses to its emissions by adding new parameters to the chemical and climate models. Use climate parameters not limited to a 20-year or 100-year horizon, but including both, to investigate the role that hydrogen can play in achieving different net-zero emissions goals. Improve the assessment of hydrogen leak rates by developing field-usable technologies that will accurately measure hydrogen emissions at very low detection thresholds. Include a probability of hydrogen leaks and a consideration of their consequences in making decisions about hydrogen deployment areas and methods. Identify leak mitigation devices prior to infrastructure construction. “The short- and medium-term climate impacts of these emissions must be taken into account to optimize the climate benefits of replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen,” the EDF researchers conclude. “A scientific approach to understanding and addressing the effects of these leaks will enable hydrogen to fulfill its promises of environmental preservation for all time scales.” Other studies to come EDF is not the only structure interested in the issue of hydrogen leaks and their impact on the environment. In a note published earlier this year, the France Hydrogène association indicated that this is a point of surveillance “that should not be overlooked”. Hydrogen Europe, JRC, Hydrogen Council, MarcoGas, Gas Infrastructure Europe and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, also launched a study on the topic in January 2022, the findings of which will be published in the coming months.
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