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Study: Underground Hydrogen Storage is Cheapest, but Hard to Implement


underground-hydrogen-storageJust like natural gas is being stored for eons in the underground, hydrogen could too one day be stored the same way. This is the conclusion reached by a Sandia National Laboratories study that was sponsored by DoE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

The underground storing solution comes at a very low cost, and could be crucial to the development of a future H2 distribution infrastructure. More research is still needed to determine if the solution is a viable one, whether “hydrogen gas mixes with residual gas or oil, reacts with minerals in the surrounding rock or poses any environmental concerns,” before implementing it at a large scale.

Toyota Mirai, Hyndai Tucson Fuel Cell or Honda’s FCV are the three candidates that will soon emerge on a market that is not quite ready for them yet. All of them have high hopes for California, where a modest hydrogen infrastructure has already been built in recent years.

However, even for California, the nearest salt caves are in Arizona, and no salt caverns exist “in the Pacific Northwest, much of the East Coast and much of the South, except for the Gulf Coast area,” according to the study.

Others have debated the solution of pumping hydrogen gas in existing natural gas pipes for transport.

All of this wakes up just one memory in my mind: Elon Musk’s statement that “hydrogen is BS.” Well, that’s debatable, too.

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  1. Under ground storage of hydrogen and carbon dioxide is a bad idea on a geologically active planet. There is no way to predict the stability of the surrounding area. Either option is just plain disturbing to say the least. Hydrogen is stored best combined with another element such as carbon and better yet with oxygen. Carbon dioxide can be dwelt with in much the same way. There are natural processes that work very well for the sequestering of carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is an excellent fuel for the future but also is highly energy dependent meaning it takes energy to break the bond where it is combined with another element. This is all 8th grade science. The cost to generate hydrogen from water is a fairly solid figure, one could use this established point to eliminate the cost of production. (cost being the energy required to break the bonds holding the molecule together) The key is to extract energy or work from the process of hydrogen production and use this energy to feed back into the production of additional hydrogen. The concept is simple: energy into the process is a set amount with a set amount of production as a result. So in order to change or increase the amount produced you have to increase the power inputted to the process. Think about it this way normally 2+2=4 but in hydrogen production 2+2=3 because you use or loose part of of what you started out with during the process. (it has a cost) Now here is the question “can the thermodynamic losses associated with the production of hydrogen via electrolysis be off set or eliminated?” The answer of course is no, the losses will always exist. This equation is pretty much set in stone. So here is your answer….. expand your equation. The production process or equation does not need to stop there it needs additional steps to make it more efficient and maybe even over efficient. Hydrogen represents energy potential on many levels. We know we can burn it either in a application that produces heat or electricity by oxidizing it. What I’m telling you is the produced hydrogen represents additional potential energy prior to using it. Imagine a tanker truck full of gaseous hydrogen, now imagine that same tanker under 100 ft of water. That tanker truck wants to rise to the surface and the power or force it will exert to do so is based upon the water displacement. There is a tremendous amount of potential energy there, simply put the amount of water the gas filled tanker displaces is the same amount of weight or water it will lift outside the water. So now I’ve lifted a large weight that can drive a generator and produce additional energy and additional energy equals additional hydrogen. So with the same amount of energy required to produce a set amount of hydrogen I have produced the hydrogen and additional energy that will produce additional hydrogen. Did I break the laws of thermodynamics? Can I use the produced hydrogen in additional stages to make even more energy that can be used to make even more hydrogen? Of course I can.


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