White Hydrogen?

A deposit of naturally occurring hydrogen has been found under France.

I have to admit. I was unaware that pure hydrogen gas can be found by itself. But it seems to be a real thing. It even has a wikipedia entry.

  • Pete

We wonder how often “white” hydrogen occurs in natural gas wells. If in the US it probably gets sold as natural gas.

Monsanto developed Prism filters that can be used to separate hydrogen from mixed streams (because its a very small molecule). If white hydrogen is out there capture and distribution should be feasible.

Probably easy to detect. Businesses need to know there is a market. And if a premium over natural gas prices investment may follow.



Although ALL gaseous products coming from the ground are MIXED, there are no specific regulations other than market heating content specification to drive any effort to classify or separate them in the production stream.

In a field I was working in 2015, the gaseous products were so heavy, they were running hot (heating content was much higher than “natural gas” market specs.) At that time, we were getting paid a premium for the additional propane, ethane and butane contents.


Fuel Gases - Heating Values (engineeringtoolbox.com)

See the Natural Gas entry in the table - it’s a range. Also note: Hydrogen’s specific heating value is relatively low, however, it’s so light, it’s also the highest heating value per lb.

Thanks. Yes natural gas in interstate pipeline must be minimum 1000 btu/cu ft. Mush natural is below that. So its common to leave in ethane to make the minimum. Or sometimes propane is added. In fact there is a plant in southern Illinois where two pipelines intersect that removes ethane to make derivatives.

The very low heating value of hydrogen makes you think people would be eager to remove it if they can find a market that pays.

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Re: heavy natural gas

Yes, “wet” natural gas contains higher hydrocarbons that can be separated. That is a major source of ethane that usually gets cracked to ethylene. And the rest can become LPG ie propane to consumers. Or can be processed and sold as individual chemicals. Such as propane for polypropylene.

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Interestingly, there are many situations where it is economically negative to provide “extra” heating value.

The streams my company were providing were running less than .3% water and less than .7% condensates.

Our regional market advertised rates from all producers into the pipeline and docked those over 1% water and 1.5% condensates.

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My gas bill routinely reports my gas usage in therms. That is the volume of gas used multiplied by its fuel value. We are forever talking about the price per million BTUs, but that assumes 1000 btu/cu ft, ie the minimum. The actual market price uses the actual measured (or calculated?) fuel value.

Its fairly easy to measure the fuel value of a fuel in a bomb calorimeter. You burn a sample in a vessel (that withstands pressure–hence the “bomb” name) and measure the amount of heat released as the temperature rise in a known amount of water surrounding the chamber using a special thermometer. That is easy to do when you have a lab with the right equipment.

But it is also possible to come up with formulas to calculate the fuel value based on composition by gas chromatography. Quick and easy. And can be run frequently as the composition of gas in the pipeline can vary depending on the sources and blending in transit, etc.

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You might be interested in the following link from the Energy Information Administration. It shows the average heating value of natural gas in each of the 50 states.


The latest data for 2022 shows Hawaii with the lowest heating value of 917 BTU per cubic foot. The highest is Washington state at 1088 BTU/ft3. Hawaii and Alaska seem to be the outliers. Alaska can probably drill for its own gas, but Hawaii needs to import the fuel. The Hawaiian electric utilities don’t burn natural gas for power generation. There might be some industrial use of natural gas in the islands somewhere. I’m guessing Hawaii probably imports gas from Asia, which might explain the low heating value.

  • Pete

Interesting. I think the 1000 btu/cuft minimum refers to natural gas that moves in interstate pipelines. Hawaii and Alaska are the two states not connected to interstate pipelines. Hence, they need not blend to reach the 1000 btu minimum.