Hydrogen warming?

Hydrogen Can Actually Make Climate Change Worse
But now scientists are warning that hydrogen leaked into the atmosphere can contribute to climate change much like carbon dioxide. Depending on how it’s made, distributed and used, it could even make warming worse over the next few decades, even if carbon dioxide poses the bigger long-term threat.

Any future hydrogen-based economy, they say, must be designed from the start to keep leaks of the gas to a minimum, or it risks adding to the very problem it’s supposed to solve. Some ideas now being tested, like shipping hydrogen in pipelines built to hold natural gas or burning it in individual homes, could cause an unacceptable level of leaks.


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Oil refineries routinely use a campaign system to deliver products. Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel all use the same pipelines. One product at a time. Product being pumped goes to local storage tank.

Natural gas pipelines could do the same with hydrogen.

Or more likely hydrogen from cheap electricity will be blended into natural gas to extend availability.

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Carrying hydrogen in existing NG pipelines has problems


"Research today therefore focuses on overcoming technical concerns related to pipeline transmission, including:

The potential for hydrogen to embrittle the steel and welds used to fabricate the pipelines
The need to control hydrogen permeation and leaks
The need for lower cost, more reliable, and more durable hydrogen compression technology."

first, compressor stations don’t work as expected…and you need them in long haul NG pipelines.

second, pure hydrogen attacks normal welds in pipelines… oops…


Diatomic hydrogen (H2) is a small molecule. It tends to leak through connections that would otherwise keep in other gases. Below is an article that puts some numbers on it.


Common figures for methane leakage range between 0.5% and 3%, according to a recent paper by Ueckerdt. Since hydrogen molecules are significantly smaller than methane, one ton of hydrogen consumption could leak between 5-30kg of the gas.

That 5-30kg range would have the same climate impact as 1-6 tons of CO2-equivalent, according to the 200x greenhouse effect potency put forward by Hamburg and Ocko.

Leaking 6 tons of CO2-equivalent for every ton of delivered H2. Doesn’t sound like a path to success.

  • Pete

This is similar to the arguments against ethanol in gasoline.

Once again, the fossil fuel industry is extremely resistant to any change.

But some do have clever engineers who can figure out how to adapt.

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“And what will they burn instead of coal?”

“Water,” replied Harding.

“Water!” cried Pencroft, “water as fuel for steamers and engines! Water to heat water!”

“Yes, but water decomposed into its primitive elements,” replied Cyrus Harding, “and decomposed doubtless, by electricity, which will then have become a powerful and manageable force, for all great discoveries, by some inexplicable laws, appear to agree and become complete at the same time. Yes, my friends, I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. Someday the coal rooms of steamers and the tenders of locomotives will, instead of coal, be stored with these two condensed gases, which will burn in the furnaces with enormous calorific power.”

Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island

“This is similar to the arguments against ethanol in gasoline.”

Ethanol in gas ruins 30-40-50 year old engines and there is no ethanol in aviation gas. It’s 100% pure gasoline, 100 octane.

Boat motors, both inboard and outboard, are often old and weren’t built to handle ethanol. You can buy ethanol free gas at many marinas…at Buc’Es truck/car stops, and other locales for generators and other motors not equipped to handle ethanol polluted gas.

You can buy pure gas at most stations in Oklahoma. Your ‘fuel mileage’ on trips goes up a few miles a gallon when you do.


Common figures for methane leakage range between 0.5% and 3%, according to a recent paper by Ueckerdt. Since hydrogen molecules are significantly smaller than methane, one ton of hydrogen consumption could leak between 5-30kg of the gas.

Hydrogen Leakage: A Potential Risk For The Hydrogen Economy
Fan et al.
There is a risk of increased leakage rates in the future mostly because the leaking processes that will be key by 2050 do not exist at scale today. A high-risk scenario based on hydrogen demand from the International Energy Agency (IEA) net-zero scenario (528 million tons [Mt] by 2050) could potentially lead to a 5.6% economy-wide leakage rate, compared with an estimated 2.7 percent in 2020…

Production Leakage Risks
Gray and blue hydrogen production…leakage rate has been estimated to be approximately 1.5%…Green hydrogen…resulting in a total loss of about 4%…

Delivery Leakage Risks
Pipelines, including both dedicated hydrogen pipelines and natural gas blending systems,
are the most important systems for hydrogen delivery…life-cycle loss of hydrogen from integrated transportation/storage systems is estimated to be 2%…Another hydrogen delivery method is truck delivery to fueling stations…an average leakage rate of 5% for truck transport and storage systems…

End-Use Leakage Risks
Combining knowledge of integrated systems with that of gray hydrogen production leakage, this analysis assumes a leakage rate of around 0.5% for industrial facilities…the process of converting hydrogen to power based on gas-turbine technology has a 3% hydrogen leakage rate…This study assumes that road transport leakage is similar to hydrogen storage tank leakage during delivery, with the exception of potential boil-off loss during charging, leading to a leakage estimate of 2.3%…Buildings using hydrogen represent a relatively small risk of leakage…a leakage rate of about 0.8%…