The Power of Hydrogen: From First Element to Green Energy Catalyst
Hello, everyone. And welcome to ACS Webinars, connecting you with the best and brightest minds in chemistry and other sciences, live from Washington DC. I'm Michael David, and I will be your host for today's broadcast, which we are proudly co-producing with the Science History Institute and Chemical & Engineering News. From revolutionizing transportation to energy storage, hydrogen has long-held promise to replacing traditional fossil fuels in various applications. Today, Vijay Kapur, the retired CEO of International Solar Electric Technology, will cover the energy content of hydrogen compared to natural gas, its cost comparison with fossil fuels and the role of hydrogen for energy storage, as well as some safety issues concerning the use of hydrogen in these various applications.
And now, I'm pleased to turn the time over to Lisa A. Grissom who is the senior philanthropy advisor at the Science History Institute, to give us more info about today's speaker and moderator as well. Thank you, Mike, and welcome to the Science History Institute in Philadelphia and to our Joseph Priestley Society Program series. We are delighted to be co-producing with the ACS Webinars. It is my pleasure today to introduce our program leaders.
Dr. Vijay Kapur will be our speaker. Vijay is the retired CEO of International Solar Electric Technology, ISET, which operated in Los Angeles for 27 years; developing and patenting low cost photovoltaic technologies as alternatives to silicon solar cells. Dr. Kapur and his team developed a cost effective technology for manufacturing thin-film CIGS solar cells using printing or spraying techniques.
For these activities, Dr. Kapur secured multiple contracts from the department of energy, department of defense, national aeronautics and space administration, the ballistic missile defense organization and the state of California. ISET's concepts and accomplishments influenced other solar companies worldwide.
Prior to starting ISET, Dr. Kapur was the director of applied research at ARCO solar in Los Angeles. And before coming to the US, Dr. Kapur worked as a scientific officer at the Baba Atomic Research Center in Mumbai, India; researching new methods to fix radioactive waste and solid media.
Dr. Kapur received his PhD in Physical Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and executive MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. We will be taking questions at the end of the presentation and the Q&A will be conducted by Dr. Bill Tuszynski.
Bill is a partner at The UNAMI Group, LLC. He started his career at Penn World Corporation, now part of ARCAMA, and later managed the industrial division at Intellects Chemical Company. Bill co-owned Ivanhoe Industries and retired to form The UNAMI Group.
He holds a BS in Biochemistry from Manhattan College and PhD in Organic Chemistry from Cornell University. Bill serves on the executive committee and is the program chair for the Joseph Priestley Society. Now, to begin our program, I present Dr. Vijay Kapur. Vijay! Thank you, Lisa. It is quite an honor to speak in front of this large audience and talk about the power of hydrogen.
As you see on the slide, number one is the climate change issue; is the real main driver for the hydrogen in the energy transition. And hydrogen actually is going to be in the near future, uh, quite a, uh, an act of a medium to change the entire, uh, energy system all over the world. The main reason for that is that the global warming is becoming a serious issue. And a number of countries that you'll see later on are beginning to realize that it is a very serious matter and they need to take some actions on it.
Some of you probably know, there is a whole lot of large corporations all over the world; are getting very conscious of what's called ESG, environmental sustainability governance, and they are also looking into various ways of getting involved with the environmentally sound technologies. Now, if you wanna actually keep the climate under control, meaning less than two degrees centigrade warming, then you have on this, uh, screen the goals that by 2030, the carbon emission should decline by 25%. And by 2070, it should become, uh, almost nil. But if we wanna be in the aggressive mode, that mean keep the global warming less than 1.5 degrees centigrade, then we wanna have the carbon emission declined by 45%
by 2030 and net zero by 20-and by 2050. Energy-related carbon dioxide emission amount to two-thirds of global greenhouse emissions; I mean energy in general, whether it's transportation, whether it is producing power or heating, the buildings or industrial usage, you will see later on the slide, and this is the major concern. But this transition is going to be a little challenging, but nonetheless, hydrogen does offer all the benefits for the economy. If you look at the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, historically, up until the time when we-the-the population started the, uh, industrial revolution, the average constitution of carbon dioxide was around 250, 253 ppm. But after the industrial revolution, it boosts-I mean, it really increased significantly.
And I-on the slide you'll see that in October, 2020, the level was 411 ppm. But in the recent news that I have seen, that the level has gone up to 415 ppm. Now, the net effects of all of these is that there are some extreme weather, uh, events that are taking place. People think of warming as the global warming, but then you see, it actually is deception of the-of the climate in such a way that some parts get to be too hot and other parts got to be overly cold.
And you have a flooding in certain area that never seen, and then you also seen the melting of glaciers which causes a serious problem for the availability of clean potable water. Sea level is rising. And then, quite a number of island countries are really facing a challenge of extinction, and that will create a sizable number of climate refugees. So, if you look at the-the-the-at the the that the slide shows, the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is over 3200 billion metric tons. And we keep, uh, adding, every year, roughly around 40 billion metric tons.
And, if you look at the different contributors; on the left side you see the pie chart and the-the combination of electricity and heat production, plus the transportation almost accounts for 40% of the total contribution. There are some agriculture activities, whether it's fertilizer making or the-the getting rid of a lot of greenery, which actually does the fixation of carbon dioxide; that coupled with the industry that uses, uh, all kinds of che-chemicals, add to the carbon dioxide. And of course, we do have, uh, um, other minor, um, contributors like the building heating and-and the energy issue. But, if you look at the right side, the-the pie chart there shows that they are transportation distribution. And majority of the transportation is tied up with the light and, uh, light duty vehicles; which include the passenger re-passenger cars and what have you.
Of course, there are aircraft and rails and ships and boats, but it does make a significant contribution to the carbon dioxide. Moving on, so what are the other directions that we need to take the-at least correct the climate change or-or stop it from further degradation. And the number one is the curtail, uh, local emissions of greenhouse gases and establish systems for carbon dioxide sequestration. The reason why I say carbon dioxide sequestration is because carbon dioxide is a very stable, uh, compound-molecule. Those of you are chemists already know that it's a very stable molecule and it can stay there in the atmosphere for a very long time, perhaps even hundreds of years.
So, we have to figure it out, in fact, some countries are already beginning to look at the carbon capture or carbon sequestration rates. And, in the same time, we have to minimize the use of the fossil fuels because most of the carbon dioxide comes from the use of fossil fuels. And on this-and, we can talk briefly how forestry answered this and replenish the lost greenery by planting trees, and we should really look into sustainable agriculture and promote vertical farming, and pay a lot of attention to the public transportation. As I pointed out on the previous slide, that transportation is also a big contributor for the greenhouse gases. Hydrogen is the simplest of-also the most abundant element in the universe.
Stars such as Sun consistent mostly of hydrogen. The Sun's energy is a-is a fusion of hydrogen isotopes, and it's a ball of hydrogen and helium gases. Hydrogen occurs naturally on earth, but not as a free hydrogen gas, but it occurs only in compounds with other elements, in-either in the form of liquid, gas, or solids. Hydrogen combined with the oxygen is water, as we all know.
And, when it's combined with the carbon, it is all kinds of hydrocarbons found in natural gas, coal, and petroleum. Hydrogen, actually, is a quite a unique element in the sense that it acts as a carrier of energy. It is produced by some form of, uh, energetic activity from some other substances, but then it can be subsequently used to provide energy.
Hydrogen can be produce and separated from variety of sources including water, fossil fuels, biomass, and used as a source of energy and fuel. What is very interesting though, hydrogen is the-the simplest element, but on weight basis, it had the highest energy content. It's about three times more than gasoline, if you talk about weight, not the volumetric. And, of course, from the volumetric sense, it is just that hydrogen in the form of gas, it-it is not as energy dense as it is in the form of liquid or solid. Hy-hydrogen is a versatile in terms of supply and use. It's a free energy carrier that can be produced by many energy sources, including renewables.
And I'll touch upon the renewables quite a bit. Okay. Let's just quickly look at the properties of hydrogen, the first element in the periodic table. On Earth, as we already said, is found only as a compound-in compounds. It's colorless odorless and non-toxic gas, under normal temperature and pressure conditions. If it were to be liquified, you really have to chill it down to 253 degrees, minus 253 degree centigrade.
Hydrogen has the highest energy density, um, but it's the lowest volume density. Highly effective reducing agent; it's used in the metal industry and a number of other industries to, as the feed stock. And it is the most abundant element in the entire universe. When you look at the mass fraction of hydrogen, 739,000 ppm, which amounts to around 75% of the normal map. Here, again, is a really quick comparison.
If you look on the-the slide on the left hand side, it just shows that, um, per gram, hydrogen has the highest content of energy, 34 kilocalories. Compared with the wood, petroleum, oil, coal and paraffins, hydrogen has the highest content. Again, the same thing is represented on the slide on the right hand side, both the gram metric and the volumetric density is shown. And the gravimetric density is very high, as you can see on the right hand corner on the bottom.
And, pictorially, if you look at hydrogen, it is three times more, uh, in terms of energy content compared to gasoline, diesel and natural gas. In the blue box, hydrogen, compared with gasoline and diesel it is about three times the content that those, uh, fossil fuels have. Okay. So the reason behind the growth of the hydrogen economy, the World Economic Forum in 2017, laun-launched this concept of hydrogen economy.
The idea was to really promote the use of fuels for cell-based electric vehicles, uh, both for the private vehicles and for the long distance commercial transport. Renewable energy produced by, uh, produce hydrogen can-hydrogen produced by renewable energy can replace the dirty hydrogen that is produced from the fossil fuels and industrial processes, and can supplement gas for heating. Hydrogen is being he-heralded as the solution to many issues faced by our transitioning global energy, particularly when produced by the renewable energy; including the intermittency risk for renewables.
You probably know that Sun and wind, though they are becoming already very cost-effective, but they are intermittent. So, hydrogen can be used to store the energy during the time when they are producing excess energy, and then you use it later on. It will be the-the agent for reducing the emissions in passport-in the transport sector by the use of fossil, uh, fuel cells, which are run electric vehicles. And, thus it becomes a major de-carbonization, uh, agent for manufacturing sector, once we substitute, um, the coal and the existing natural gas. Here's a-an overall picture of hydrogen production and also how it can be used, on the left-hand side.
You see hydrogen is being produced by renewables. Also, the excess energy in nuclear reactors can be used to produce hydrogen. It's produced from fossil fuels. But then, on the right-hand side, you see hydrogen as being, uh, as a fuel for [inaudible 00:16:50].
Um, it is also used for metal refining and very big component for making ammonia which is used in the fertilizer. Also used for the upgrading of oil and biomass synthetic fuels. And of course, definitely, hydrogen vehicle are coming on-on, uh, on the market very quickly, charged by the fuel cells. So, as an energy carrier, you produce hydrogen from a renewable sources, and then it is, uh, stored in some convenient mode of storage, and then you used for ultimate use; uh, whether it is for industry, whether it is for vehicles or whether it's for, uh, heating purposes. Moving on, which are the following methods are-following are the methods of production hydrogen? You can let us know what your response is, and actually can select as many of these as you have.
Right. And it looks like 76% said from fossil fuels, 87% said from electrolysis of water, photochemical and photoelectrochemical got 63%, direct thermal decompensation of water got 46%, and trash to hydrogen got 44%, and those are all actually correct answers, but for today's broadcast, we're going to be focusing on the first two. And with that, I will turn it back over to you, Vijay.
So, as we discussed the various approaches for producing hydrogen, hydrogen from fossil fuel, hydrogen by electrolysis of water, photochemical production of hydrogen photoelectrochemical. Photoelectrochemical one uses semiconductors that have to absorb the sunlight. So, it has to depend on the band gap of the semiconductor. Biological and biochemical methods and direct thermal decomposition of water. And the super green hydrogen, it is called, because it is a trash by way of processing and plasma that produces hydrogen, but they collect the, uh, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide separately. However, in this presentation, we're gonna cover the first two topics.
Hydrogen from fossil fuel, why? Because that's the current practice that's being used, uh, all over the world to produce hydrogen. And, hydrogen by electrolysis has the potential to be the cheapest way of producing clean hydrogen. And I will begin to talk about the different kind of a, uh, color arnorm-title that the hydrogen gets.
And let's move on to that. Again, this is a summary of the overall picture. You see on the left, the yellow bands. Uh, solar and wind are the renewable sources of producing hydrogen, algae, from and sunlight, the biochemical and biomass.
And then, the bottom three are all fossil fuel. And, it is only the-the, at this point, the hydrogen produced by the electrolysis is the clean and green hydrogen. We'll see that now. Again, uh, going over to the fact that the current production of hydrogen is better than 95% from fossil fuels. You can see that in this pie chart. The renewable section is only a very small green section, but it, as the time goes on with the-for the development, we will see the-the renewable, uh, energy will play a significant role in the hydrogen production.
This again is a-a-a way of looking at the hydrogen produced by-from the fuel, fossil fuels. It produces carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, uh, but the green hydrogen, which is produced by electrolysis, does not create any, uh, any carbon dioxide. But this is an old slide.
It-it shows the-the, uh, the cost of green hydrogen being very high. However, as we go along, we'll see that-that actually there are way that it-cost is gonna come down, really significantly, primarily for the fact that the solar and wind energy cost, actually as it stands today, solar produced electricity is the cheapest of all the ways of producing electricity. Uh, we will talk about that a little more. Okay. Now, hydrogen from fossil fuel are the two terminologies called steam methane reforming. That's the first reaction, really, like the natural gas, uh, which consists of a significant amount of methane.
It is made to react with water. It produces carbon monoxide and hydrogen that requires higher temperature; temperature within 700 to 1000 degrees centigrade. And then, the subsequent carbon monoxide is made to react in the water shift, um, program, uh, reaction, to produce more hydrogen. So this is the overall basic approach of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels. Now what you see here is that the one where you have, um, just a pure natural gas, that is some carbon dioxide, but if you wanna capture the carbon dioxide and capture carbon dioxide for subsequent use, then that-that gas is considered blue gas. The-the one that is coming straight from the fossil fuel is coal or natural gas and releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that is considered the brown gas.
And, if you look at the hydrolysis, I mean, electrolysis, there are a number of different approaches of electrolysis; alkaline uh electrolyte and uh proton exchange membranes and all these approaches, as you can see from the-the slide, the equations of anodes and cathode, there's no carbon dioxide. So that hydrogen produced is actually green hydrogen, and it is called green and clean hydrogen. You might've seen a lot of news about the green hydrogen. This is what the green hydrogen is. It's produced by electrolysis.
Now, if you look at the cost of glo-loc LCO stand for Levelized Cost of Energy. And if you look at the comparison here that hydrogen produce by wind, solar, natural gas geothermal wind offshore, that is wind onshore, coal, nuclear, natural gas. Look at that. I mean, it is the wind onshore and solar at this moment already, the cheapest rate is, are producing, you know, 46. Uh it's uh, I think it's dollars per megawatt hour and solar is $51 per megawatt hour. But look at that, the rest of the stuff is still really expensive.
So, uh, what is happening is a lot of attention is being paid to the renewable sources of energy to produce hydrogen. And there is some further development going on. And as a result, you will see that these numbers have further drop down and they will continually being lower.
And that way they will become the main approach for producing hydro. Just to make that point again, the cost of solar and wind power generation makes, uh, by for making hydrogen, uh, via electrolysis. If you look at that, look at the, uh, the, the this yellow line is PV, uh, flat plate uh, photovoltaic. And then this slightly brownish, yellow is it's concentrated PV and the-the-the gray line is the onshore wind and blue line is the offshore wind but as you can see in the last 10 years, from 2010 to 2020, all of these costs have come down significantly, both wind in photovoltaics, but the wind onshore wind offshore photovoltaics flat panel or concentrated, you see a significant drop from 2010 onward, and this drop is continuing further, and it will go even further with the new development that are taking place.
That is an example. Again, they look at the, I want to point out the thing this, um, brown line is for photovoltaic. Look at that from 2009 to 2019, what a drop it's down to $40 per megawatt hour.
It used to be about $360 per megawatt hour. Same thing about the wind. This is onshore wind, 135 down to 43. Now this trend will continue, and it is likely to bring this cost down to a level that will begin, begin to really challenge the production from fossil fuels.
So, that's the excuse me. So you see in the electrolysis area, that's how the renewable energy will be used to produce hydrogen. There are a number of issues. One is the Capex, equipment cost for the capital equipment that you're going to buy for the electrolyzer, operating costs, and then the cost of electricity. Now, this chart is quite old. It is showing that it's, uh, uh, in around 2040-2050 the cost or production of hydrogen per US dollars per kilogram will be down to dollar 38.
And this brown band here, on this double band is the cost of producing hydrogen on the fossil fuels. I believe this thing is already beginning to happen. We are far away from 40 it's beginning to happen in India and China. They, I saw some reports that the cost of production of, uh, uh, th the solar electricity and rent, the generator activity is much lower. So this is the trend, and that's when the hydrogen will become a key player. Now, let's look at the existing and emerging demand for hydrogen.
Uh, the top blue band here is the existing growing demand material handling equipment, but this in the transportation buses and light duty vehicles, can we call it an industrial application, all refining ammonia and retinol stationary power generation and distributed generation primary and backup power. And actually it is being also looked at some major fields that there can be integrating with the existing bridge and the emerging demands are going to be definitely in transportation, the medium and heavy duty vehicles that we run by fuel cells actually turns out some of the countries in Europe are already using, uh, uh, they will sell hydrogen for light rails or mass transportation. It will be also in maritime.
Actually, what is interesting, I came across some news from Airbus. Airbus is already experimenting with planes flying with the, uh, fossil fuel cell hydrogen. And so I, some of you are quite familiar with the chemistry of cemen-cement. Cement is considered to be one of the major contributor of the carbon dioxide. So in the future, it will be thinking about using hydrogen for a steel and cement manufacturing in addition to others. And of course, industrial heat will also be carried out by, by hydrogen.
Um, again, there you can read this, I mean, stationary, um, power supply hydrogen can remember, we'll, we'll talk about hydrogen can be stored in solid media, and it can be used on a stationary application and then of course it's also getting into the hydrogen for integrating the power generation with the grid. Let's see. Okay. Energy storage for hydrogen? The physical methods are of course, compressed gas, cold cryo, um, compressed, and then liquid hydrogen. Although there are some recent studies going on that are even trying to figure out how to put hydrogen in the solid phase and in the material base there are adsorbent these are, um, metal organic framework, liquid organic, and just interstitial, hydride and complex hydride and chemical hydrogen chemical hydrogen within-within ammonia.
Now those of you are familiar with particularly the, uh, the, uh, hybrid cars coming out of. I remember I bought a car, Prius more than 11 years ago that was running on nickel hydride batteries, and it still is running. And so there is a lot of promise how hydrogen can play a significant role in a variety of different applications. Now, let's, let's briefly going into the fuel cell. Fuel cells is just providing hydrogen as a fuel and using air as the source of oxygen.
Here's a schematic of a hydrogen fuel cell, from Airbus. Remember I mentioned the Airbus, the big, uh, in manufacturing in Europe, and these are basically the, the equations, and this is the schematic of the fuel cell. Now what is very interesting though, the, the electrical efficiency of the fuel cells, uh, you might see here that different then use anywhere on the lower and from 35%, uh, to almost 60%. And that compared with the internal combustion engine, which runs typically on the higher end, within 25 to 30%. And these efficiencies are likely to go up. In fact, some reports that I have seen are talking about this efficiency going up to 80%.
So fuel cell technology and hydrogen, [???] Here are examples of the, uh, buses and the trucks. And of course, this is the Toyota most recent, uh, hydrogen run a hydrogen fuel cell run car [???] 2020. And I do not know maybe some of you have heard the news that GM the major auto manufacturer in the U S announced that by 2030, they will stop producing cars or vehicles that run on gasoline. This is a pack of fuel cell. That GM is going to supply to a trucking company. Okay.
Now energy source, the question comes up, well, how long will it take me to fuel my hydrogen fuel cells? And here's an example, how much energy it carries and as I pointed out in this liquid and solid battery has a very high density compared to gasoline diesel ethanol. And, uh, it doesn't take very long time to pump. It's, it's very comparable charging the you're filling your gas tank. Same thing as filling with the hydrogen, for the fuel cell Here an example. They're looking at some, uh, th this is a yeah, and that is done entirely by hydrogen.
This is an example of a, a home system that can carry 40 kilowatt hours of energy that comes on a house, a complete house, at least two days, but it has its own built-in electrolyzer. And these red things are solid. Um, hydrogen storage packages. Now, the question comes out, well, how safe is hydrogen? Surprisingly higher than, I mean, I, in my own career use hydrogen a lot in our processing, and you have to be careful, but once you are careful, hydrogen is, is just as good or as bad as it, any of the other fuels that you come across. But number one, it's not toxic, and it is benign to the environment.
Uh, and we already talk about it has a lot more energy, and it's no danger than the other fuels that store chemical energy. And the other interesting thing is that hydrogen of course being a light element, there's a very high buoyancy. So if at all, if it comes out somewhere it will quickly, disperse in the, in the atmosphere, however you have to be. And then sometime people think, Oh, hydrogen bomb. Hydrogen bomb is not made out of ordinary hydrogen, ordinary hydrogen is called protium the same, uh, the hydrogen isotope.
It is the tritium that is the one that's used for the, the fusion of the nuclear reactors. But it is the caution here is that it must be used pretty carefully. Make sure that it doesn't mix up with the, uh, air and oxygen there is a wide range of flammability of hydrogen.
If ox air mixes up with this and the Toyota guys, did some testing of the new fuel cell powered uh, hydrogen fuel cell powered cars and during the crash testing. And they found out that, there was no problem. And they actually talk about that the Mirai's tank is safer than a conventional fuel tank. Okay. So the key developments as we talk here are number one, the cost of hydrogen supply coming from the renewable sources has come down significantly and it is coming. It's going to go down even further.
And the other, how, other issue was, no greenhouse, greenhouse emission and people are now concerned all over the world, how to mitigate the, uh, the carbon uh the greenhouse emissions. So these are the key developments in the hydrogen economy that are going to go play a key role. And as a result, you see a number of countries are now being very active in pushing the hydrogen, hydrogen as a fuel to be used. So we wanted to ask you, which of the countries is currently the most active in the hydrogen economy. Would that be South Korea, France, the United States, Saudi Arabia or India? 33% of the audience said South Korea, 6% said France, 12% said the United States, 15% said Saudi Arabia and 33% said India. So it was tied with South Korea.
The answer actually is South Korea, although Japan is doing a lot of work to catch up. So as I said because of these key factors and the overall cost of hydrogen production is coming down and it can be used in the fuel cells. It can be used as a feed stock.
A number of countries are taking very, very proactive approach to set up the infrastructure in their countries and use of hydrogen. So here are the countries listed that are most active in hydrogen economy, South Korea, Japan, Germany, France, United States, UK, Canada, China, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and India. But what is really interesting is that in fact, in Japan, they are basically talking about completely, switching over to hydrogen economy. In the US, uh, I know the state of California is very, very active in that area, but it will take some time.
The main key issue is, is the, the cost. And then of course, there's the politics because we in this country we have a lot of locations where we have suppliers or source of fossil fuels, state of California, Pennsylvania uses a lot of fracking, and there is a lobby from those people to go there and stuff. But I think once the cost factors are brought under control and it is demonstrated that it runs a really cost effective way.
Then there is a possibility that even the powerful lobbyist for the fossil fuel will think differently. And the example in that as I'll show you some highlights. I mean, headlines, the countries like Dubai and UAE area and Saudi Arabia, of course, Saudi Arabia. Also, you may or may not know uses lot of solar to-desalinate a lot of energy to do desalinate water because they don't have as much water. So they take water from the ocean and desalinate, but they are also thinking very seriously going into renewable energy, but there is a until the time the fossil fuel production is completely phased out. There's a market for these fossil fuel rich countries.
And they are talking about producing hydrogen exporting to the countries that are not able to produce hydrogen in large quantities so, here are some of the he-headlines: oil rich Abu Dhabi is targeting the hydrogen future for export fuel, the Chinese Sinopec is really getting really active. China and Guangdong is trying to be the leading player in the clean energy. Saxony areas is, uh, moving forward with a hydrogen train and it's really interesting. I was quite amazed when I found out that in Netherlands, in Germany, in Austria, they are running light trains that run entirely on the fossil, um, I mean, fuel cell; hydrogen fuel cells. And here is Toshiba is accelerating the fuel cell development.
Interestingly enough, now, Russia is also trying to be a leader in this hydrogen tech. Siemens Energy is thinking of earning a billion dollar in hydrogen. So, there are quite a few, uh, interesting, uh, um, headlines that basically, uh, endorse the fact that this is coming. This is something that's gonna come in the very near future, perhaps faster than-than most of the people think.
Just wanted to make a quick point of, uh, the symbol for the Science History Institute is John Dalton's representation of the hydrogen atom. So, we've-we've come full circle here. A lot of interesting questions, Vijay, some of which you've answered during the talk. But one question that stood out was, what where will ammonia play in this new future and how will this impact fertilizer? Ammonia is, as we all know, is used for the fertilizer industry and hydrogen used to produce ammonia by the Haber process. It's also ammonia is used as a medium of transporting hydrogen, but which is kind of a little expensive way of doing it because you first to use Haber process using hydrogen to produce ammonia, and then ammonia can be transported easily.
It is done quite a bit. And then you-there are now developments going on how to extract hydrogen in a cost effective way, back from ammonia. Ammonia will be there for quite some time to come. Well, there are a number of questions related to transportation. One was a comment that hydrogen seemed to be making headway in cars, 15 years ago.
Why did this stall? Well, I think, 15 years ago, probably it was not really cost-effective and gasoline was cheap enough. But now, the concern with the greenhouse gas emission and simultaneously, the overall cost of producing hydrogen and the fuels, cells hydrogen fuels are coming down, is making it more attractive. And, you know, Toyota is now very active and the-even Mercedes is coming out with the cars that will run on fuel cells. And, I mentioned that GM is saying that they're gonna completely phase out the gasoline powered vehicles. With respect to transportation, there were a number of; and not just transportation, there were a number of questions with respect to transportation or how best to safely, effectively, cost effectively, move hydrogen from the point of generation to consumption, including filling stations for automobiles and building that infrastructure.
There is gonna be challenges for infrastructure for supplying hydrogen for the fuel cells. I think when I was living in LA, Honda had some hydrogen fueling stations for the-at that time introduced a car called Clarity, which was a-a hydrogen fuel cell. But I-as the cost become a lot more attractive, we will see the infrastructure will be built, and I have no doubt that it will catch on and it will be cost effective. Okay, another question was; I'm in an area that is-has an arid climate, is it still feasible to-to produce hydrogen from water electrolysis under those conditions? Well, question will be, what will be the source of water in-in say, like in a desert area somewhere? Frankly speaking, I-I think there is something very interesting. If you carefully look at, besides the ocean, how do we get water on this planet Earth? Water comes from what is called a terminology, air well. That means, the-the atmosphere that is moving above us is carrying trillions of gallons of water.
It either come down as snow or come down as rain. So, there are actually technologies, using solar, particularly, that you can extract water out of the air. So, I think I'm-this is my just projection. I think the chances are, that those kinds of technologies will also move forward, that you can extract a water out of air and use it for hydrogen production.
Chemical question, hydrogen can be decomposed by causing palladium on a copper surface. How does this compare with photochemical in terms of cost and feasibility? Well, I think, palladium catalysts have been used in the past. Now a number of research groups are developing concepts of nano particle catalysts that will allow the sunlight or photo I mean photo electrochemistry is a question of using some semiconductors, but there are photochemical techniques which are using some nano-particle materials and along with sunlight and produce hydrogen. Also, in what aspects can organic chemistry contribute to this, in developing this technology? Well, I am not an organ... But I think what is interesting in one of my slides, I was pointing out the hydrogen in the stored in chemical materials, and there was a organometallic framework.
So perhaps some of the smart organic chemists can figure out a clever way of making this metal organic framework in which hydrogen can be stored, they can make the contribution there. What technical breakthroughs are needed to bring the cost of hydrogen per unit, -er energy unit, down to the cost of natural gas? As I pointed out in that slide, where we talked about the cap rates of the electrolyzer and the cost of energy, I think, if you look at the thermodynamic value of breaking hy- water for hydrogen and oxygen it is much lower than what actually is practiced and that is the, in the process of electrolysis you have overpotential built up, which gets the some of the electrodes polarized and it uses more electricity. Now, there are a number of research groups that are working on to modify those electrodes so that the overpotential is lower. And then in that is also when we have high overpotential, you are actually producing a lot of heat. And there is a concern about coming up with electrodes such that it's over potential is lowered, and there's a lot of energy is not wasted as heat.
And that result will result in lowering the cost of electrolyzer and the cost of electricity, I'm already pointing out, it's coming down very significantly. So that way, the combination of these two, the improvement electrolyzers, and the overall cost of lowering of renewable energy will make it very cost effective. You showed a system of hydrogen for renewable-for residential use. It-can comment about the long term prospects for that? Can it be blended with natural gas? Well, in that part, I mean, that's a device that I came across that somebody is producing, actually, it has a built in electrolyzer in it.
And what you can do by just putting the proper kind of a electrolyte in there, you can produce hydrogen, and then store it. But you can also use hydrogen for heating the homes. Now, just on a side note, I came across a-a yacht company that actually it's a catamaran, the catamaran had its solar panels on it, and it also had windmills on it, and it was going in the ocean, and it will take water from the ocean and produce hydrogen with that energy, both solar and wind and store hydrogen for its propulsion. And so there are a lot, I think, a lot of room for innovation, and creating new approaches in a cost effective way.
And the bottom line is to show the world that it is cost effective, and it can be done in a safe way. And then we'll see the big transition taking place. I think, most it covers most of the questions. Here's one, is there a future for hydrogen combustion engines? So, direct combustion of hydrogen rather than going through fuel still? See, there are some companies that are looking into it. And I think there will probably somewhere will come across that there are ICE units being used internal combustion engines being used for with hydrogen. As of right now, I think you're still in the development stage.
Okay. Well, I think that covers the questions that we had. I appreciate everyone asking such thoughtful questions. So, we'll turn it back to you for some final thoughts, Vijay. I-well, I'd like to summarize by saying that the access to renewable with solar and wind electricity has made the cost of production of green and clean hydrogen by electrolysis competitive with hydrogen from fossil fuels. It will keep on further improving and it will go down; the cost would be reduced further.
Technologies for hydrogen storage have established-have been established; hydrogen as an energy carrier that offers flexibility and portability. High efficiency of power generation of-by fuel cells, from conveniently stored, cost effective hydrogen, has offered zero emission fuel for the transportation sector, for the global economy. Green and cleanly produced hydrogen is use as a feedstock for steel, cement, fertilizer and chemicals; will help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Long term energy storage with hydrogen provide a solution for capture of intermittency of power from, you know, as you all know, both solar and wind have intermittent power generation because sun-when the sun is shining you get power produced, but in the nighttime, what do you do? But then, if you have excess energy being generated during that time, you can store that in hydrogen, and then hydrogen fuel cells can be used up as a backup power both for standalone and on the grid connected to the integration.
The combined effect of these issues is to establish a clear approach to adopt the hydrogen economy, minimize the use of fossil fuels and stop for the degradation of climate change. Thank you for watching this presentation. ACS webinars is provided as a service by the American Chemical Society as your professional source for live weekly discussions and presentations that connect you with subject matter experts and global thought leaders concerning today's relevant professional issues in the chemical sciences, management and business.