BBC: Blend 20% Hydrogen in Natural Gas to Reduce Home CO2 Emissions

Hindenburg Hydrogen Explosion Disaster
Last time someone tried to create a Hydrogen economy – the Hindenburg Hydrogen Explosion Disaster – By Gus Pasquerella – http://www.lakehurst.navy.mil/nlweb/images/1213d.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=632191

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

BBC’s Roger Harrabin and Keele University thinks it would be a great idea to pump vast quantities of hydrogen into people’s homes, to reduce CO2 emissions from gas powered appliances.

Climate change hope for hydrogen fuel

By Roger HarrabinBBC environment analyst
2 January 2020

A tiny spark in the UK’s hydrogen revolution has been lit – at a university campus near Stoke-on-Trent.

Hydrogen fuel is a relatively green alternative to alternatives that produce greenhouse gases.

The natural gas supply at Keele University is being blended with 20% hydrogen in a trial that’s of national significance.

Adding the hydrogen will reduce the amount of CO2 that’s being produced through heating and cooking.

Why not add more than 20% hydrogen?

The 20% proportion was chosen because it’s an optimal blend that won’t affect gas pipes and appliances.

Currently, the UK has only small supplies of hydrogen, but the firm says increasing production would offer a quick way of cutting emissions from heating.

Consultant engineer Ed Syson told BBC News: “The prize is a large one. If we were to roll this system out across the UK it would be on broadly the same scale as offshore wind is today. So it’s a significant technology.

“What’s more, it makes those carbon savings without having customers change their behaviour in any way.”

Major drawbacks to hydrogen are cost and availability. The costs are much higher than for natural gas, although the differential will surely shrink as carbon taxes raise the price of burning gas to combat climate change over coming decades.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50873047

Hydrogen is dangerous. It damages metal pipes, it leaks prolifically through the tiniest cracks, cracks too small for other components of natural gas, it ignites easily and violently over a wide range of fuel air mixtures, and it burns with a flame so hot it is invisible. One slip-up and you are dead – a large scale hydrogen industry will kill people.

But human safety never seems to be the primary concern of climate activists.

Whether its opposing controlled fire safety burns because CO2 emissions, building unstable wind turbines in heavily populated areas, forcing families to install light bulbs which contain toxic mercury, killing people with a rushed climate friendly home insulation programme, and now mixing a dangerous explosive with home natural gas supplies, human safety seems to always come a distant second to a chance to shave a few percent off CO2 emissions.

182 thoughts on “BBC: Blend 20% Hydrogen in Natural Gas to Reduce Home CO2 Emissions

  1. Tried Hydrogen once before – Hindenberg! Didn’t work out well. Shall we forget what happened and do it again?

    • It seems as though the current generation of children have to touch the hot stove with their own fingers before being convinced it will leave a permanent scar. It’s the same with every aspect of this CAGW movement. All of the tried and rejected, inefficient, forms of energy generation … have to fail anew to convince the kiddies. Electric cars which were tried and ditched, have to become rusted heaps in suburban garages once again. And even suburbia itself is rejected in favor of the soul-crushing high density urbanism. The kids don’t understand just how nasty and uncontrollable their utopian cities have become. Oh wait!? Maybe they’ve gotten a glimpse on the streets of San Francisco. Nevertheless, they’ve learned nothing from History … so it will have to get worse … much worse.

        • There’s an old saying: “In avoiding the mistakes of our fathers we repeat those of their fathers.”

          There are quite a few things society has yet to sort out. One is the eternal battle between the ‘heart’ and the ‘mind.’ It mostly takes place between the young and inexperienced, and the old, those trained in the school of hard knocks. Add in a controlling elite that believe the common folk don’t need to know how to think rationally (i.e., it will just make them unhappy and harder to lead) and you’ve got the situation today.

        • The cycle breaks down this way:

          Hard times make strong men
          Strong men make good time.
          Good times make weak men.
          Weak men make hard times.

          Lather, rinse, repeat

      • The neighbors better hope someone takes the batteries out of the rusted hulks.

        Imagine having a lot off electric cars in a congested neighbor hood. It’s like starting a bonfire in an ammo dump.

      • I don’t get it. Natural gas used for heating is CH4 – methane. One atom of carbon bonded to 4 atoms of hydrogen.
        BTW, the Hindenburg worked just fine until a stray spark spoiled the party.

    • I live in Keele, a lovely little village in north Staffordshire which is dominated by the university (which has one of the largest campuses in Europe).

      I attended a village meeting in my unofficial capacity as WUWT’s representative in Keele (😇) at which the university was explaining this proposal and innocently asked if the scheme would help to reduce CO2 emissions. When the beaming university man said yes, that’s the point, I pointed out that the production of hydrogen actually creates large amounts if CO2.

      Stunned silence in the village hall. University man stops beaming and begins babbling and shuffling through his papers. Er…yes..that is true….but long term there were hopes of accessing supplies which did not involve CO2 production….early days…blah blah.

      The university man then quickly changed the subject and went on to more mundane planning matters. Later, I was able to explain to fellow villagers that the university’s plan to reduce CO2 by introducing hydrogen into the supply was obvious bollox.

      *sigh* – it’s so handy to carry a WUWT education around with you!

      • Of course, burning hydrogen forms the even more potent greenhouse gas, Di-Hydogen Oxide. Which in due course will need to be substituted for the relatively weak greenhouse gas, Carbon Dioxide.

        The whole idea is uneconomic. It’s just action for action’s sake.
        But it is technically feasible. 50 years ago the UK ran on Town Gas that was up to 50% Hydrogen.

        You can see why activists like the idea. It won’t fail immediately.

          • Yes, and lots of fires, explosions and deaths (including suicides). Natural gas or methane CH4 is somewhat safer -it is lighter than air so disperse to a great extent, and is not toxic
            It has an ignitio point around 650C and will explode if the concentration is sufficiently high as has occurred in poorly vented coal mines. Coal seam gas is extracted to make coal mining safer.

        • The Northeastern US ran on Town Gas from the mid 1800’s up until the natural gas pipelines extended north in the mid 1950s. Town gas (coal gas) was a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide made from cracking coal. The last coal gas plant closed in 1955.

          My old loft building had pipes for lighting and heat that predated the introduction of electricity. They were the hardest pipes I’ve ever seen after trying to cut one to clear the ceiling with a saber saw. Ruined a few blades that normally cut steel or black iron easily.

      • Sure, hydrogen is usually created by a ‘reformer’, which removes carbon from natural gas and releases CO2. But instead they could produce hydrogen by electrolysis and then burn it to produce electricity for more electrolysis. All it needs to make it affordable is lots of govt subsidies, just like all the other ‘renewable’ energy schemes. If taxes on coal energy are high enough, this perpetual motion scheme would actually be cheaper.

        The fact that this plan comes from a university is proof that universities have become fonts of stupidity – is there not ANYONE there who could have warned them ?

        • It’s probably an attempt at grant-farming. This is now what most effort is spent on in academia, and climate change is still the magic phrase to use in the grant application.

        • “All it needs to make it affordable is lots of taxpayer funded subsidies,” There, fixed it for you! Guvments have NO MONEY, it’s ALL taxpayers’ money!!!!!

        • If the electrolysis were done with surplus power during off-peak demand times (such as overnight) it could be cost-effective. Ideally, we’d use LFTRs to generate most of that power, but the hard-core greenies are allergic to anything “nuclear”.

          • There is no “surplus power”, just surplus capacity. In order to take advantage of that capacity, you have to burn fuel to generate power. That will also create more CO2 since most of our power is currently generated by burning carbon rich fuel.

          • No, Paul. We don’t need to burn fuel to make power. We produce the power from solar panels. Since there is less electricity used in the small hours of the night, the power the panels produce then will be available for hydrogen. No CO2 !

            You know it makes sense.

        • jo blo
          A problem is that as people become more educated, they tend to become more specialized. That is, they walk a path from knowing nothing about anything to everything about nothing. So, these revered fonts of knowledge may not realize that there are problems with their simplistic solutions because they only see a small part of the problem.

        • “… fonts of stupidity …”
          When clever people do stupid things suspect corruption.

          This is just a new part of the plan is to push up UK energy costs in general so our industry doesn’t outcompete with China which runs on coal because it’s cheaper and reliable.

      • Good show 🙂

        Its always ‘In the long term’ with these CC hucksters. And also interesting that the cost of Hydrogen will be made more attractive not by lowering its own, but by raising those of its alternatives.

        Lets not even touch on the fact that Hydrogen sees most containment methods as distinctly permeable.

    • Come one people! You are being as dumb and hypocritical as the Climate Cultists here! Using fear mongering and the Hindenburg disaster as the focus of that fearmongering, along with questionable “science” sprinkled on the poorly fashioned argument – is precisely the kind of schist we are supposedly trying to combat!

      The Hindenburg was in large part due to using extremely flammable “thermite” in the dope applied to the fabric covering – NOT because it was hydrogen filled.

      Hydrogen burns red, not brilliant orange which thermite does burn white/orange…. Furthermore landing too close to an active thunderstorm, creating huge electric field gradients – making sparks – is as bad as some hillbilly yahoo lighting a cigarette while filling gas cans. (i.e. it is not the hydrogen, but the decision to land in a thunderstorm that caused the disaster)

      Hydrogen has a flame temperature on par with gasoline and less than acetylene (saying it is so hot it burns invisible is simply idiotic – it burns red because of the emission spectra of hydrogen not because of it’s flame temperature)(furthermore, only alcohol burns invisible, H2 burns red):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adiabatic_flame_temperature

      Don’t be using stupid fear mongering examples to counter the warmist arguments – you are no better than they are when you do so…

      Yes, if embrittles steel, yes it easily leaks, yes it has a low ignition energy – but a dangerous “explosive” it is not by itself. The exception is when it is mixed with a precise stoichiometric ratio with O2 – then it’s a serious hazard – but even disasters like Challenger or other failed liquid fueled rocket catastrophes – the result is mostly deflagration not detonation….

      It is certainly no more dangerous than all manner of fuels we use effectively every day, everywhere on earth. Propane, methane, butane, gasoline, acetylene, – any one of these can be made to ignite or detonate and cause catastrophic damage when handled incorrectly.

      Hydrogen is no different than what we have effectively learned to use safely.

      You can make scary arguments against every one of the examples I use above as follows:

      Propane – can produce a catastrophic explosion in two ways – with a “fuel-air” detonation as in allow a building to fill with propane gas until the right fuel air mix is reached and a spark ignites it, and the building itself detonates, with bits thrown 1/4 mile away.

      Likewise with propane/LPG storage tanks – caught in a fire – can become a BLEVE – Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuPVEsQaGB0

      This video alone makes my point about the numbskull argument against hydrogen as “dangerous” – any one of these BLEVE explosions makes the Hindenburg look like a boy scout starting a camp fire!

      Or the stories every year about natural gas leaks destroying a house or several houses leveled from a fuel-air detonation….

      Hydrogen can be dealt with safely – an on a relative scale, is not as dangerous as most of what we use routinely now.

      Safety is not the argument – adding hydrogen to natural gas for homes is stupid – as CO2 is not an issue regards Climate, and the only cost effective way to make hydrogen – is reforming from natural gas….

      Conventional hydrolysis is not very efficient and way more costly than just using the electricity directly.

      Make better arguments, and stop being as full of hot air as the Climate Cult!

      • You forgot to mention it does not have the density of Natral Gas and therefore you need a lot more of it to get the same energy out of it.

      • If you had actually read the article, you would have known that all of your points are addressed.
        Two big ones:
        Because hydrogen molecules are so small, they leak much more easily than all other gasses.
        Most flammable gasses have a narrow range of concentrations at which they will ignite. Hydrogen has a very large range.

        Your confidence that we can easily overcome the dangers of hydrogen is cute.

      • Sorry D Boss I beg to differ, I work with hydrogen gas at work and I have to carry infrared monitors because a hydrogen flame is indeed invisible in daylight or bright indoor lighting. I have seen it with my own eyes or should I say detected but not seen. That detector has saved my life more than once since keeping hydrogen inside the pipes is so difficult.

        • I forgot to add, The flame is invisible because the the product of the flame is steam, and as everyone knows steam is invisible. There are no other elements in the hydrogen (duh) to colour the flame.

      • Methane/Carbon Capture and Storage. The fiddle here being perpetrated by Lord Deben to claim Net Zero Co2 status is to replace methane with hydrogen. If you burn one tonne of methane directly you emit 2.5 tons of Co2. The only economical method of generating hydrogen is by steam reformation of methane. You need to burn 3 tons of methane to generate 1 tonne of high purity hydrogen. But this process emits 12.5 tons of Co2 for every tonne of hydrogen generated. Hydrogen is not energy per se it is an energy carrier like batteries.

        Therefore, to make this conundrum work Deben will need to find a way of making CCS work or just ignore the Co2 emitted by steam reformation which is what happens now. The Petrochemical industry generates hydrogen to clean petroleum spirit but like Drax burning wood pellets but renewables legislation allows Drax to ignore the Co2 emitted because of the belief it gets reabsorbed but that takes decades and the Co2 is emitted immediately now.

        Parasitic Load. The problem with Carbon capture and storage is easily explained. If you connected 5 coal fired stations to a CCS system you would need the energy generated by 2+ to power the capture sequestration, compression and transmittance into storage of the compressed Co2. Therefore, instead of burning 3 tonnes of methane to get one tonne of hydrogen you would need to burn 4.5 tons of methane to make one tonne of hydrogen and power the carbon and capture storage. Lord Deben easily ignores the reality that methane is also a finite commodity but if you want to appear green everything is up for grabs including deceit, deception, mendacity and duplicity.

        Professor Mark Ormerod and Professor Chris Fogwill Director of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures said that: “HyDeploy demonstrates the sort of infrastructural changes required as a stepping stone to achieving the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments and a more sustainable future. It also highlights the need for research across both the technical and social challenges associated with changes to our energy systems. Having HyDeploy here at Keele, also provides the opportunity to educate our students, staff and surrounding communities about the shifts in our energy systems which are needed.”

        Hydrogen is not sustainable because methane is a finite commodity. We cannot use surplus wind power in the UK for generation of hydrogen because wind power by legislation is given first crack at generating electricity. Note “provides the opportunity to educate our students staff and surrounding communities about……………” Another opportunity to brainwash ordinary folk to believe in the froth that is the precautionary principle.

        (Rescued from massive spam list) SUNMOD

      • The embrittlement and leaking problems can’t be easily overcome. Because of these issues alone, using hydrogen as a fuel is a bad idea. We have enough problems with leaking natural gas causing home explosions, as you have already pointed out. Adding hydrogen into the mix will only exacerbate that.

      • Well written.

        You read my mind regarding how extremist this article sounds, and the inclusion of Hindenburg references and photos was inane.

        With friends like these…

    • Let’s not misinterpret the Hindenberg. The hydrogen balloons in the structure were not the problem. It was the frames of the outer structure that were painted with a paint based on thermite that were the problem. A simple static imbalance among the plates during landing of the dirigible and charge equilibration sparked the plates, and the fire was on. It is not needed that there was any hydrogen gas leakage at the time as the fire from the plates might quickly have compromised the balloons.

      Hydrogen under pressure is indeed intrusive into metals and thus not a safe proposition.

      Hitler only used hydrogen because the US would not sell him the helium he wanted—we did not like him. The Hindenberg would have still burned on schedule, but more slowly.

    • Really, don’t you realize that they did it in the UK for over a century without any of the problems mentioned in the article!

      • Correct and they have reports on test on the current UK pipe system which is mainly PVC in the report.

        • Most of those pipes would still be steel (Whatever), with a PVC liner. Simply too expensive to re-lay an entire pipe network.

          • Simply too expensive to re-lay an entire pipe network.

            No reason to do so, of course if you were right and some of the hydrogen leaks then there will be no hazard and the supplier won’t be able to sell that product.

          • All of the burners were changed from “Town gas” Natural gas when the UK changed over.
            So were most of the meters.
            Hydrogen gas has less energy than natural gas by volume, so adding it make everything using it less efficient.

    • That’s where most comes from and a lot of CO2 is produced in the process. They probably want to use water electrolysis but that is expensive.

      There is no free lunch.

      • If we can make hydrogen, we can make methane (natural gas). Hydrogen is just a medium, not an energy source.

        Adding hydrogen is nuts for the reasons given in other posts. But the idea of using the existing natural gas distribution system to distribute energy is fine – just do it with CH4. Hydrogen is simply the wrong choice for what to put in the pipelines.

    • Of course not. It is just a belated attempt to improve the dreadful economics of wind-generated electricity.
      As highlighted above, the BBC takes a gloating pleasure in asserting that carbon taxes are going to make natural gas totally unaffordable in years to come. (Reality may have some unpleasant surprises in store).

      It’s also good example of not just the supreme arrogance of the BBC and its so-called “science” journalists, but also an indication of the BBC’s naked political bias and ambitions. The new government needs to quickly sharpen their funding axe. Nothing else will bring the BBC to heel.

      • Michael:

        Or keep the funding and axe the rot and replace it. It’s pretty obvious where the rot is at the BBC …. and there is a lot of it.

        Go for it Boris – you have the mandate.

        • Indeed, Boris made the statement before election day; it was widely covered in the newspapers and the BBC carried it themselves in their broadcasts and on their website, so that’s a mandated change. Crack on Boris.

        • The funding causes the rot.
          You can weed out the dead wood, but within a decade they will be back, as noxious as ever.
          There is no reason for the funding anyway.

    • Oh, this will be Green Hydrogen – produced with all the excess renewable energy that powers the UK and beyond!! They will be able to export this of course too!! They will build Titanic ships loaded with Hydrogen and send it to Green Energy impoverished places like Tuvalu, Bangladesh, India or Japan!! Save the Planet – Go GREEN!!!
      /s

    • PaulH
      January 2, 2020 at 6:12 pm
      Are the going to generate the hydrogen from natural gas?

      No, they generate electric power from natural gas. Then they use the electric power generated to perform electrolysis of water and that produces the hydrogen.

      • Methane/Carbon Capture and Storage. The fiddle here being perpetrated by Lord Deben to claim Net Zero Co2 status is to replace methane with hydrogen. If you burn one tonne of methane directly you emit 2.5 tons of Co2. The only economical method of generating hydrogen is by steam reformation of methane. You need to burn 3 tons of methane to generate 1 tonne of high purity hydrogen. But this process emits 12.5 tons of Co2 for every tonne of hydrogen generated. Hydrogen is not energy per se it is an energy carrier like batteries.

        Therefore, to make this conundrum work Deben will need to find a way of making CCS work or just ignore the Co2 emitted by steam reformation which is what happens now. The Petrochemical industry generates hydrogen to clean petroleum spirit but like Drax burning wood pellets but renewables legislation allows Drax to ignore the Co2 emitted because of the belief it gets reabsorbed but that takes decades and the Co2 is emitted immediately now.

        Parasitic Load. The problem with Carbon capture and storage is easily explained. If you connected 5 coal fired stations to a CCS system you would need the energy generated by 2+ to power the capture sequestration, compression and transmittance into storage of the compressed Co2. Therefore, instead of burning 3 tonnes of methane to get one tonne of hydrogen you would need to burn 4.5 tons of methane to make one tonne of hydrogen and power the carbon and capture storage. Lord Deben easily ignores the reality that methane is also a finite commodity but if you want to appear green everything is up for grabs including deceit, deception, mendacity and duplicity.

        Professor Mark Ormerod and Professor Chris Fogwill Director of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures said that: “HyDeploy demonstrates the sort of infrastructural changes required as a stepping stone to achieving the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments and a more sustainable future. It also highlights the need for research across both the technical and social challenges associated with changes to our energy systems. Having HyDeploy here at Keele, also provides the opportunity to educate our students, staff and surrounding communities about the shifts in our energy systems which are needed.”

        Hydrogen is not sustainable because methane is a finite commodity. We cannot use surplus wind power in the UK for generation of hydrogen because wind power by legislation is given first crack at generating electricity. Note “provides the opportunity to educate our students staff and surrounding communities about……………” Another opportunity to brainwash ordinary folk to believe in the froth that is the precautionary principle.

  2. Let’s see… Hydrogen leaks like water through a sieve in ordinary iron gas pipes… Birthday cakes could be a real blow out.

      • That would have been town gas, certainly in the UK and the burners were different. When natural gas replaced town gas in the UK in the 70’s, all the gas appliances had to have their burners replaced that were jetted for natural gas.

        • Yes they did have to be replaced because of the higher burning velocity of hydrogen flames, methane flames tended to ‘blow off’ which didn’t happen with hydrogen flames. Just needed a different jet diameter to get the right velocity match, standard combustion science, not such a big difference in this case and will be less likely to ‘blow off’.

          • He’s right, actually. Most of the gas infrastructure in the UK is built to a much higher spec than the stuff that was around when town gas was the norm, so a hydrogen mix at about the same ratio won’t cause any problems. If they were using water electroysis to generate the hydrogen (ideally from nuclear) then it would be a net good, because part of the energy would be coming from a source independent of the vagaries of the oil markets.

          • “… (ideally from nuclear) …” how so? Surely coal would be cheaper. Also coal power stations don’t suffer the same insurance issues as nuclear.

          • Nuclear has a constant load, so using it during low periods to electrolyse hydrogen would be more efficient.

          • Some gen 4 nuclear designs function at a high enough temperature to DIRECTLY CRACK H2O.

            No electrolysis required. It can function as part of the cooling system for the core.

            No other power generation comes close in temperatures. Coal cannot directly crack water, sorry.

        • To burn Hydrogen – as a flame – like a gas burner is a difficult thing to do. The jets need to be small in relatively large copper heat sinks to prevent the flame “blowing back” – if its mixed with air in a ratio that will burn, it will explode.

          I have used Hydrogen flames to activate plastics and its tricky and dangerous. Hydrogen flames are also used in gas chromatography – with a wide thin nozzle and relatively large dense porous metal flashback arrestors / blenders.

          Not something to be trusted to Joe Citizen’s kitchen.

          Explosive limits are 4% to 74% – I don’t know any flammable gas that is worse.

          Large scale use of Hydrogen by your average Joe is going to lead to a large scale disaster somewhere along the way.

          • Ken Irwin January 3, 2020 at 3:27 am
            To burn Hydrogen – as a flame – like a gas burner is a difficult thing to do. The jets need to be small in relatively large copper heat sinks to prevent the flame “blowing back” – if its mixed with air in a ratio that will burn, it will explode.

            No problem with town gas in the uk, no elaborate burners needed, the one’s on my mom’s cooker were just cast iron. Those burners were diffusion flames so no blow back, used it premixed in Bunsen burners which were really easy to use and not elaborate, if you did get blow back just momentarily hit the rubber hose feeding it and all was well.

            Not something to be trusted to Joe Citizen’s kitchen.

            Wasn’t a problem in millions of homes for over a century, early it was even used for lighting the houses.

            Explosive limits are 4% to 74% – I don’t know any flammable gas that is worse.

            Here’s a couple of examples:
            Acetylene 2.5-100
            Ethylene oxide 3 100
            In any case hydrogen diffuses so fast that it rapidly reaches non-combustible concentrations.

      • There is a hidden assumption that the pipes used for “town gas” are still in a functional state to handle hydrogen after…50 years? I would be cautious about using hydrogen in them again without some wide scale testing. Metals become brittle, and tiny cracks can appear once exposed to hydrogen – this might or might not affect its use with methane (depends on the size of the cracks).

        The real problem lies with how to produce the hydrogen gas. I guess you could build nuclear power plants to produce electricity to split water…but then you don’t need the hydrogen, just use the electricity (it would be a lot more efficient anyway).

    • There is almost no iron pipes in a modern gas system including the UK … read the report or else you are just acting like CAGW activists and shooting from the hip.

      • LdB Modern gas systems include the high pressure cross country pipelines all of which are high strength steel (concern for hydrogen embrittlement). If the “town border station” is to be the hydrogen injection point you are correct. Non-metallic lines operating at <60 psi are great for local distribution piping systems. But, the new push for hydrogen is the last gasp for worth less than nothing renewables. Germany has proven that intermittent and unreliable wind and solar can not be saved by prohibitively expensive storage. Producing hydrogen when wind and solar generation exceeds demand is the latest green dream (nightmare) for "saving the planet". Voter stupidity in support of a economy killing carbon tax has always been and continues to be the only hope for "renewables".

      • Just recently removed lots of steel gas pipe work with iron fitting, and gate valves, (and also removed the gas appliances) from a hospital in the UK due the safety concerns, I had to point out that any leak in such a large space and with a simple spark would be the biggest bang for miles around.
        I`ll go and check for any other Iron fittings left dotted around on the system before the Hydrogen gets here.

      • Seems strange then that roads have been closed around the City of London to replaced the cast iron gas mains that are now repeatedly cracking so that no sooner is one leak fixed another one occurs and this is just with methane.

        Hydrogen embrittlement comes from processing steel such as casting, rolling, etc but one of the major areas where it is a concern is welding. Hydrogen inclusion in the HAZ can cause welds to fail.

        Working in the ExHaz industry, hydrogen is used to give peak explosion pressures within flameproof enclosures because of its explosive energy. Just what you want at home.

      • Key word: Modern

        There are lots of systems out there that have been in the ground for decades, perhaps even a century or more. Not every system is “modern”.

    • I think they are claiming that using a blend doesn’t cause problems with pipes. I still find it remarkable that the article doesn’t address safety concerns.

      • Over a century of experience supplying Hydrogen mixtures to houses with less combustion safety issues than natural gas alleviates the safety concerns. Those raised in this post are mostly fictional or exaggerated, having to go back to 1937 to find an accident involving hydrogen illustrates that. Also exaggerating that accident and calling it an explosion rather than the fire it actually was with 36 fatalities out of 96 on board. An emergency landing by an Aeroflot airliner less than a year ago resulted in more casualties due to fire, should we ban kerosene?

  3. Last time I checked, we were suffering from a debilitating shortage of hydrogen mines.

    Before hydrogen can be burned, it has to first be created. And just about every method of creating hydrogen releases large amounts of CO2.

    • Water Electrolysis doesn’t from all that cheap renewable unicorn energy 🙂
      Hey look on the bright side do it from sea water and you can help decrease rising sea levels, you can build such a green wet dream around this idea.

      Little bit dangerous but they have to save the planet 🙂

    • Helium. Hydrogen isn’t mined.

      And it’s a myth anyway. Helium sources are as plentiful as natural gas and oil sources, as the helium tends to get trapped in the same formations that trap hydrocarbons. The helium “shortage” is a ginned up story about the US strategic reserve running down its primary storage facility. There are plenty of private facilities taking up the slack.

      • “Helium. Hydrogen isn’t mined.”

        It’s a joke

        I’m pretty sure that most helium is a byproduct of oil DRILLING.

  4. And yet, with the latest climate cataclysm now pegged at 2050, giving us 30 years to roll out non-emitting nuclear power plants everywhere, we’re tooling about with windmills and sunlight to meet our 24×7 electricity needs.
    We are determined to extinct ourselves, aren’t we?

    • Mr
      30 years? My God man I will approaching 108 by then, and there was I thinking we had only 10 years left.

  5. Ooooopsie, did they forget that their main conjecture – that increasing the potent greenhouse gas water vapour – causes climate change. Way to go climate crusaders. Combat this …..

    (PS no one mention nitrogen oxides)

    • I was hoping to add this comment, but I was late to the party.

      The warmistas’ preoccupation with CO2 is seen here as intellectually debilitating: Water vapo(u)r is believed by many to be far more potent as an “insulating” gas….like 40x as much as CO2 I’ve read.

      So…..what is/are the product(s) of combustion of H2 ??? Anyone ???

      More junk conjecture. There is no semblance to Science here.

  6. How to test the efficacy of this, I think stupid, idea:

    1. Introduce 20% H2 into the university gas supply.
    Measure the proportion remaining at the burner tips. I’d bet on a 50% loss.

    2. Count the explosions and fires that occur. I’d wager they go from zero to at least one in a year.

    I guess all these folks have never seen H2 spontaneously ignite.

    • You’d lose your bet, replacing a hydrogen gas mixture with natural gas in British households led to an increase in explosions (up from ~zero). By the way by volume methane contains about twice as much energy as hydrogen. This guy has seen H2 spontaneously ignite as well as methane!

      • In Britain, town gas did not to the best of my knowledge contain hydrogen to any significant extent

        It was generated by the distillation of coal and consisted mainly of methane and carbon monoxide (poisonous, hence the expression for commiting suicide “put your head in the gas oven”).

        The area around the gasworks of a town was always very smelly.

    • “John MacDonald January 2, 2020 at 6:23 pm
      How to test the efficacy of this, I think stupid, idea:

      2. Count the explosions and fires that occur. I’d wager they go from zero to at least one in a year.

      Alarmists, devotees, faithful, and renewable trough parasites have a bad habit of never testing their theories. They’ll write a confirmation bias model/simulation. Run the model a hundred times; average their preferred runs and predict success for the next two hundred years.

      “John MacDonald January 2, 2020 at 6:23 pm
      How to test the efficacy of this, I think stupid, idea:

      I guess all these folks have never seen H2 spontaneously ignite.”

      Soon, they’ll shut off their burners and hydrogen will continue leaking past the valve, leaving that invisible flame flickering at up to 2,200°C.
      Burners, pipes, stove, heaters, etc. will all melt.

      PS Hydrogen auto-ignites at 500°C.

      • ATheoK January 2, 2020 at 9:56 pm
        Soon, they’ll shut off their burners and hydrogen will continue leaking past the valve, leaving that invisible flame flickering at up to 2,200°C.
        Burners, pipes, stove, heaters, etc. will all melt.

        And yet during over a century of supplying hydrogen to houses in the UK your scenario didn’t occur! Not even in my mom’s kitchen with a 1930’s technology cooker, the real risk was the associated CO. There’s a reason why the hypothetical lab experiment wasn’t repeated, it had been carried out millions of times before.

        PS Hydrogen auto-ignites at 500°C.

        And methane auto ignites at 537ºC.

  7. OR… just give consumers huge subsidies from taxing fuel-oil, coal, petrol … in terms of discounts on new-and-far-more-efficient appliances. With non-diluted CH₄.

    Just Saying,
    -= GoatGuy ✓ =-

  8. Eric – you are being overly hard on hydrogen, just because this is being proposed as a “solution” to a climate “problem”.

    Typical composition of coal gas (which is what we used for heating and cooking before the arrival of natural gas in the UK) from Wikipedia:

    Hydrogen 50%
    Methane 35%
    Carbon monoxide 10%
    Ethylene 5%

    We survived. Obviously, the toxicity of carbon monoxide was a problem and caused many deaths and was handy for more than a few a few suicides too. But I don’t recall many gas explosions; my unreliable memory seems to recall more explosions due to natural gas leaks than there were back in the coal-gas days, but I could well be wrong and I won’t labour the point.

    My unreliable memory seems to be telling me that the trace gases they put in coal gas gave it a much stronger smell than is given to natural gas, perhaps leaks were more detectable in those days for that reason.

    • Hydrogen is dangerous. I’m being hard on it because the proposal is to add a dangerous gas to a system which is largely not designed to handle it (at least since they stopped using town gas), because CO2.

      Maybe hydrogen embrittlement etc. won’t turn out to be the problem I fear, but IMO its stupid to take a risk which is completely unnecessary. There is no way of knowing ahead of time whether changes in home construction, changes in pipe materials, etc. will cause a problem other than to pump hydrogen enriched gas into the pipeline and see whether anybody dies.

      This silliness IMO is yet another case where climate religion trumps sanity.

      • The poster child for climate change induced insanity has to be Grenfell Tower.

        All my life I have read stories of natural gas explosions. Wikipedia has a list. The list is long and the number of casualties is pretty impressive. Natural gas has to be treated with great respect all by itself, never mind with extra hydrogen added.

        Hydrogen embrittlement is a thing. I have no idea how badly it affects gas pipes but it seems to act with just the amount of hydrogen available in the atmosphere.

      • You avoided the challenge.
        in the past gas contained 50% hydrogen. No apocalypse. Even today in Hong Kong for example town gas with 49% hydrogen is manufactured and sold to about 2 million households.
        huge pipeline network that starts in the plant in Shenzhen, like over 3000 km of pipe.

        you say 20% is dangerous. Hong Kong says different. Ever been there?

          • got any evidence that the current system in england cannot utilize NG that is 20 percent hydrogen. besides speculation and scary misleading hindenberg photos…i thought warmist were craven using polar bears… but that photo jumped the shark

          • MarkW
            There is the inconvenient thing called the Precautionary Principle that alarmists are always giving lip service to. It would seem that the academics and Mosher have an obligation to prove absolutely that there is no risk from adding H2.

        • Yeah, Mosher, I lived in Hong Kong for two years!

          Somehow you think that gives a person sime sort of authority so based on that, my turn to ask you:

          Ever been there?

          • all the time. i live in seoul, hong kong and beijing.

            so did 50 percent hydrogen NG cause problems for you mr alarmist?

        • https://www.towngas.com/getmedia/16572f0c-9e01-4003-a2c3-4cd392dd65f2/Fuel-Mix-Eng_1.PNG.aspx?width=400&height=424

          The descriptions for “town gas” simply count the hydrogen atoms for the percentages.

          Town Gas vs LPG
          Town gas is lighter than air (0.55 the weight) so it can easily dissipate into the air. Both LPG and town gas have an odourant added to aid in leak detection. Town gas is methane vs LPG – liquefied petroleum gas – which is propane, butane or a mix of the two.
          Comparing town gas vs LPG, LPG is more dense (has a higher specific gravity) than town gas. Town gas (methane) is less dense than air, at a relative density of 0.5537 to 1. LPG (propane) is more dense than air, at a relative density of 1.5219 to 1. Energy content of LPG vs town gas (93.2MJ/m³ vs 38.7MJ/m³) has LPG with a higher energy content.”

          Methane is CH₄ which explains the high percentage of hydrogen.

          • Town gas in the U.K. is different to town gas in the USA. Here it was produced by coking coal, and it had a distinctive odour of its own. When we converted to natural gas they added a chemical that had a similar smell to town gas. Each town had its own gasworks, and the smell was distinctive and not very nice.
            John Christie used town gas to render his victims unconscious before strangling them in 10 Rillington Place.

          • Town gas in the early twentieth century in the U.S. was made with the water gas reaction using coal as source material. Unless it was followed with a shift reaction it contained a large proportion of carbon monoxide (CO) in addition to hydrogen. These facilities often became superfund sites because of the coal tars left behind (i.e. Pueblo, CO).

      • Eric
        You remarked, “… whether changes in home construction …”

        I can’t speak for other countries, but I know that there has been an effort in the US to tighten up homes to reduce the loss of heat. That has resulted in some homes accumulating radon and volatiles from synthetic materials. So, newer or retrofitted homes might be better at retaining H2 today than they previously were when other gases were the norm.

    • Here’s the link to the wiki article.

      I was initially surprised at the 50% figure for hydrogen. Well, OK. Counter to Wikipedia policy, that part of the article does not supply any references.

        • I don’t doubt that’s true.

          I was surprised twice though.
          1 – I wasn’t expecting that much hydrogen. My recollection from my childhood chemistry set was that heating wood produced a rather dirty product. It seemed to burn clean with a visible color but it left a residue on the glassware.
          2 – The wiki article didn’t provide a reference and wasn’t flagged.

    • But I don’t recall many gas explosions; my unreliable memory seems to recall more explosions due to natural gas leaks than there were back in the coal-gas days, but I could well be wrong and I won’t labour the point.

      You’re not wrong, the replacement of coal gas by natural gas did cause an outbreak of explosions requiring a replacement of piping across the country over the next few years. Low pressure hydrogen doesn’t pose the problems the poster believes. The reason the hydrogen flame is invisible is not because of the high temperature, it’s because of the lack of carbon, which of course won’t be the problem with a methane/hydrogen mixture.

    • Crucially, there is a seven-fold increase in the LEL to UEL range of Hydrogen vs. Methane.

      H2 will combust at: LEL 4% and UEL 75%. A methane hydrogen mixture (dangers aside) might work in a boiler, but would be problematic in an internal combustion for several reasons. Foremost, is the propensity to pre-combust as cylinder temps increase.

      Compression and pipeline transfer is yet another problem. Let us hope this heroic attempt at virtue signaling doesn’t kill anyone.

      • I have worked with hydrogen from -100 oC to 630 oC and pressures from ambient to 300 bar without any problem. You only have to keep in mind with what you are working.

  9. Major drawbacks to hydrogen are cost and availability. The costs are much higher than for natural gas, although the differential will surely shrink as carbon taxes raise the price of burning gas to combat climate change over coming decades.

    The environmental think tank E3G said in a statement: “Going for hydrogen entails massive infrastructure expenditure. In many cases the additional costs make it look unattractive compared with alternatives (like renewables).

    Richard Black from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) told BBC News: “We will and should have hydrogen in the mix of energy options, but it’s not a wonder solution to everything, which you sometimes get the impression from the rhetoric. There is hope – but too much hype.”

  10. And even if you were able to develop a good source of hydrogen, the combustion of hydrogen produces H2O, which is a MUCH more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. So what would be the point?

    • It’s not more powerful a GHG than CO2. It just there is more H2O in the air, covers more of the IR spectrum than CO2 and absorbs most of that IR leaving a small gap at around 15 microns for CO2.

      • Don’t forget about specific heat:

        H20: call it 1.85 kJ/kg K
        C02: call it .846 kJ/kg K

        Assuming 80deg F at nominal AP.

        Then there’s thermal conductivity:
        Co2: .016 W/MdegC
        H20: I can’t find a measurement below the boiling point, so let’s just assume it’s really low…

        Yeah, I think H20 wins this round.

        • From a pure IR absorption and “heating” perspective, CO2 at ~410ppm/v is insignificant in the face of H2O.

  11. Well they’ve replace non-flammable HCFC refrigerants with highly flammable butane leading to an explosion hazard in these appliances. It’s already set of a major building fire in the UK. What’s a little extra risk from hydrogen? By the way, do they plan on making the hydrogen from steam reforming of natural gas?

    • Define the extra risk the adiabtic flame temperature doesn’t change very much 1960 degree for natural gas versus 2254 for pure hydrogen. So at 25% it is going to be somewhere between those two and they will both ignite by exactly the same sources. They have checked the pipe system is fine with the change so I am curious where you see the extra risk?

  12. Well who is going to recalibrate all of the gas burners. If you don’t I am willing to bet that carbon monoxide emissions go way up.

      • Mr166 is correct as there is a dramatic difference Stoichiometric ratios between NG and H2.

        These differences must be programed into boiler controllers.

        The flame temperatures you mentioned are calculated at stoichiometric.

    • It’s not recalibration that is the problem. It is changing the jets in the appliances so the same amount of heat is generated. Every time the percent of hydrogen is changed, new jets are required.

  13. Hydrogen is tiny.
    Compared to hydrogen most gas distribution lines would leak like sieves.
    The graphite cooled Fort St Vrain high temperature gas nuclear reactor was abandoned for, among several problems, the challenge of keeping helium in the system.
    Hydrogen would be worse.

  14. If memory serves me correctly, H2 as a free molecule doesn’t last long in the Earth’s atmosphere before escaping to space and being lost forever. H has to be bound to something to keep it here, within Earth’s gravitational field. To create free hydrogen creates requires input – think H2O electrolysis. I’m not sure what the hydrogen economists are smoking when they write those energy balance equations, but my guess is something doesn’t add up. Not to mention every H+ or H2 lost to space is one less potential molecule of H20 available here on Gaia.

    Of course, I only took Freshman Chemistry, so YMMV.

  15. As a former submarine officer I recall the many pictures of submarines totally destroyed by hydrogen explosions. Hydrogen does not merely burn, it explodes at anything between 4% and 96% hydrogen in the air. Thus 50% is just a short distance away from a detonation. There is a reason that battery charging is a very closely watched evolution, but still accidents happen.

    Hindenburg was not the result of hydrogen escaping – the hydrogen escaped and would tend to rise away from the airship. It was caused by static electricity igniting the coating which was chemically similar to a thermite bomb (rust and aluminum powder). (and a hydrogen flame is colorless – what the newsreel showed was the colors of the covering burning.)

  16. Where is the hydrogen coming from? If from natural gas, then what is the point? If it is going to be created from renewable energy (wind and solar) through electrolysis, why not just use the electricity since there is a major cost to manufacturing hydrogen from electricity. That will be real expensive hydrogen.

    Wouldn’t it be better to keep using natural gas from conventional sources, and begin to develop floating liquified NG (FLNG) facilities from sites that would otherwise not be able to pipe the gas from deep off shore locations that would otherwise never be developed? There is an incredible amount of NG available left in the world for hundreds of years, especially in areas that can’t be accessed with piping and floating liquefaction facilities are already being built and put into production that can access this abundant clean burning fuel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_liquefied_natural_gas

    NG is already ultra clean burning, and if manufactured with care and control, there is very little fugitive methane emissions. If the nat gas is nearby, then abandon the liquefaction process, and just compress it (CNG) rather cheaply and barge it to ports that can pipe it off to markets. Adding 20% hydrogen to it seems to make it more expensive and volatile and there is little CO2 savings anyway if this is analyzed where and how the hydrogen is produced.

    Demonizing nat gas by some of these alarmists should be considered a hate crime since humanity relies on it for our survival. Compared to coal which it is replacing, it is a miracle. I have a better idea…why don’t the alarmists donate their expired bodies to making bio-oil and methane. Then they would be useful, in so far as their logic is concerned.

  17. Honda on Hydrogen …
    https://global.honda/innovation/FuelCell.html

    Toyota on Hydrogen …
    https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/fuel.html

    Wikipedia on Hydrogen Infrastructure …

    Hydrogen pipeline transport is a transportation of hydrogen through a pipe as part of the hydrogen infrastructure. Hydrogen pipeline transport is used to connect the point of hydrogen production or delivery of hydrogen with the point of demand … pipeline transport costs are similar to CNG … the technology is proven … As of 2004, there are 900 miles (1,448 km) of low pressure hydrogen pipelines in the US and 930 miles (1,497 km) in Europe.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_infrastructure

  18. So these people are so imbued with the dangers of carbon that they will go to horendous lengths to minimuze it?

    Why don’t the just burn natural gas and let mother nature turn the exhaust into food?

    I hear that’s a distinct possibility! /s

  19. The whole concept of reducing gas usage is founded, because the research group want to reduce CO2.
    The real question, that must be resolved, if we are to advance or cancel this kind of proposal is. Does CO2 in any way, endanger the Earth’s ecosystems?
    Here is the thing.
    If the answer to the question is yes? Then we have to find energy sources free of CO2 that can provide replacement energy, for all fossil fuel generation and use. The only energy option available that is proven, is safe and is economic, is nuclear power.
    If the answer is no, i.e CO2 is not endangering the Earth’s ecosystems? Then we should simply carry on as we are, and green up the planet using the release of CO2 as the key driver of increasing lush growth. I hope all will agree, CO2 is benefiting plants, animals and the environment in general.
    Now, as there are no XR demonstrators demanding more nuclear power plants to save the planet, we must conclude, they do not think CO2 is a planet threatening issue.
    Trying to solve imaginary everyday problems, is not something we should be focusing on, when there are plenty of actual issues to be dealt with, in the real world.

    • A voice of sanity – unfortunately we’re living in a world that’s gone made and is being run by the lunatics amongst us.

  20. Putting aside the CO2 driven global heating alarm for a moment (Because making H2 right now consumes vast amounts of energy and currently H2 is cracked from NG. Even if it were cracked from water, the process still consumes vast amounts of energy more than is typically extracted from that energy source alone), *IF* H2 in domestic gas supplies is so good/reliable and cheap etc why are we not doing it now?

  21. “A tiny spark in the UK’s hydrogen revolution has been lit”

    Prophetic words considering Hindenburg..

  22. Hydrogen contains less energy than it takes to make it, so what’s the point? Where does the needed extra energy come from, fossil fuels?

    • This is the crux of the matter where any energy is concerned. To be viable the energy expended in harvesting the energy into a stored and useable form MUST be less than the energy harvested. This is where fossil/nuclear wins out as the the storage aspect has already been carried out and all one has to to do is dig it out and use it. Sadly the thermodynamic laws make harvesting renewables generally non viable at scale and only useful on an opportunist basis, such as in sailing ships and pumping water.
      Bending the thermodynamic laws by financial manipulation is a fool’s errand, now rife amid the alarmist contingent.

    • “Hydrogen is dangerous. It damages metal pipes, it leaks prolifically through the tiniest cracks, cracks too small for other components of natural gas, it ignites easily and violently over a wide range of fuel air mixtures, and it burns with a flame so hot it is invisible. One slip-up and you are dead – a large scale hydrogen industry will kill people.”

      Oh lord. Scarmongering, or else all the gas and steelworks that the UK had been utterly irresponsible. Cog is 60 percent hydrogen.

      The big issue is hydrogen is that the rotating equipment is not compatible. Also the energy levels from hydrogen per volume, are lower.

  23. What is missing from the extract is how the hydrogen is going to be created. “ The hydrogen could be generated pollution-free by using surplus wind power at night to split water molecules using electrolysis.”.

  24. This idea needs a pilot study.
    Couldn’t Mr Harrabin’s house and that of the Keele University person be adapted to take such a mixture? Run the study for a year or two and make sure Mr Harrabin, his family and likewise the Keele University chap and family occupy their respective houses for the duration of the study.
    I’d recommend that nearby houses are vacated while the study is in progress.

    • Keele University has its own private gas supply and is a large campus(625 acres) and is 3 miles away from Newcastle under Lyme although Keele village is closer,which is why it was chosen.

  25. Can I suggest that readers Web search Wirral UK gas explosion, to see just what devastation plain old “North Sea Gas” can bring to a community. How much worse if big cousin H2 joins in.

    BBC Look North West has reported on this for over three years. It was also a national story. The locus of the explosion is about 50 miles from the Uni in Stoke.

    • That was the problem of replacing town gas by natural gas, the risk of explosions became much higher. From the perspective of explosions hydrogen is safer.

      • From the perspective of explosions hydrogen is safer.

        Nonsense. Hydrogen is THE most volatile substance.

        • From the perspective of explosions hydrogen is safer.

          Nonsense. Hydrogen is THE most volatile substance.

          So what if it were (that is Helium actually), Hydrogen diffuse very rapidly so doesn’t maintain combustible mixtures when compared with methane and propane, both commonly supplied to houses and more dangerous from an explosion perspective.

          • Maybe in the open, but the situations of concern are in enclosures where hydrogen will accumulate against ceilings and other catchments. I dealt & worked w/hydrogen-filled generators for decades, and hydrogen is more dangerous than other gaseous “fuels”.

          • Maybe in the open, but the situations of concern are in enclosures where hydrogen will accumulate against ceilings and other catchments. I dealt & worked w/hydrogen-filled generators for decades, and hydrogen is more dangerous than other gaseous “fuels”.

            Just like methane and propane will accumulate except they contain more energy, also hydrogen diffuses so fast that it will not accumulate against a ceiling.

    • The Wirral explosion was the result of arson, a guy took off a cap on the gas supply to the building and disabled the safety switch in order to destroy the building and make an insurance claim. No reason to assume that the explosion would be any worse, if there were 20% hydrogen present the volumetric energy content would be less. One of the advantages of replacing town gas with natural gas in the UK was the fact that the energy content approximately doubled thereby increasing the effective rate of supplying energy through the pipes.

  26. If we are ever able to make cheap hydrogen without generating CO2; then the sensible thing to do with it would be to crack heavy hydrocarbons. Take the goo that comes from tar sands and turn it into natural gas. With more effort we could even turn coal into natural gas.

  27. Which chapter of the Bright Idea Club does this dude belong to? Doesn’t matter: they’re all operating out of greed and ignorance, with no thought to the consequences because they’re “insulated” from them somehow, when they should be the first to try them, just as a demonstration of good faith.

    Used to be that balloons were inflated with hydrogen gas, but the molecule is so small it leaked right through the balloon in a heartbeat and balloon vendors wen to helium, which is slightly larger and more stable and doesn’t set the house n fire.

    Hey, I have a really, really Great Idea: Let’s have all these geniuses do the conversion to their own households first and watch what happens. If they survive the disastrous fires, pat them on the head and ask them “What else have you got?” Seriously, using hydrogen gas as a fuel will NOT reduce carbon emissions.

    All life on this planet is carbon-based, so what are these clowns going to do about that?

    Since none of these ideas are thought through, and the known impracticalities are ignored by the Bright Idea Club, just make sure we’re aware of it and can point out the fail rates and the REAL dangers, and point and laugh at them when it all goes BOOM!!! Hearing “told you so!!” is not something they want.

    • Sara January 3, 2020 at 4:21 am
      Hey, I have a really, really Great Idea: Let’s have all these geniuses do the conversion to their own households first and watch what happens. If they survive the disastrous fires, pat them on the head and ask them “What else have you got?”

      I grew up in a house supplied with town gas (~50% Hydrogen) until about 1970 when it was replaced by natural gas. The ‘disastrous fires’ you refer to just didn’t happen.

  28. One loves the economics – sure, it’s high cost compared to natural gas but when huge taxes are placed on natural gas then hydrogen will appear cheaper and everyone and everything will be all peachy.

  29. Yes. Let’s split water into oxygen and hydrogen so the hydrogen can slowly leak off into space and the entire planet goes dry. Gets rid of that nasty dihydride pollutant that causes global warming.

  30. If implemented
    with relatively low concentrations, less than 5%–15% hydrogen by volume, this strategy of
    storing and delivering renewable energy to markets appears to be viable without significantly
    increasing risks associated with utilization of the gas blend in end-use devices (such as
    household appliances), overall public safety, or the durability and integrity of the existing natural
    gas pipeline network. However, the appropriate blend concentration may vary significantly
    between pipeline network systems and natural gas compositions and must therefore be assessed
    on a case-by-case basis. Any introduction of a hydrogen blend concentration would require
    extensive study, testing, and modifications to existing pipeline monitoring and maintenance
    practices (e.g., integrity management systems).

    NREL

    Changes made to housing construction methods and appliances always lead to some unintended consequences (low flush toilets, over insulated homes, compact fluorescent lights all come to mind). This shouldn’t be done without building some test homes and studying the heck out of them. I don’t see why it couldn’t be done safely, eventually, but is it a wise choice? IS there really a benefit/cost ratio > 1?

    Even if tests show no unexpected behavior over a wide variety of conditions, one still has the issues of intermittency (necessitating large scale hydrogen storage), and the wisdom of putting availability through a long chain of conversion to deliver the lowest quality energy (low temperature heat).

  31. Just wait until the new refrigerants get implemented.
    They call them mildly flammable.
    but a least they have low global warming potential

    R32, R1234ze, but maybe cooler heads will prevail, implementation has been delayed…

  32. D boss above said hydrogen burns with a red or coloured flame, sorry buddy NOT SO, what you observed was not pure hydrogen. Part of my responsibility included the production and use of 180 million scf per day of hydrogen at up to 1600 psig, I assure you that in normal daylight a pure, better than 98%, hydrogen flame is invisible.

    If you have ever seen the results of hydrogen blistering in the middle of a 4 inch thick steel wall of a high pressure vessel then you would not consider the proposals of these raving idiots, the only way to transport and combust hydrogen safely is the way we have done for centuries, it’s called hydrocarbons.

    The concept of hydrogen as an energy carrier keeps rearing its head every ten years or so when the morally bankrupt unemployable grant grabbers hope that the current crop of technically illiterate politicians have forgotten the pain of the last time they were suckered into literally burning money.

    The green meanies are just yelling “look squirrel” as they rearrange deck chairs on the not so good ship climate change as it sails deeper into iceberg alley.

    • What’s being discussed is not pure Hydrogen but a mix of Methane and Hydrogen which will burn with a blue flame just like natural gas and the town gas which was ~50% Hydrogen. Hydrogen was used for over a century as an energy carrier and a means of lighting houses quite safely, replacing it with natural gas led to multiple explosions.

    • Quite right. Adding carbon to hydrogen (a hydrocarbon as you say) makes it progressively safer to transport/store & easier to handle as a fuel.

  33. Just another completely idiotic idea from people that have no idea about energy production/use or even basic grade-school science.

  34. I turned on a furnace that the previous day had been overhauled when the engineer guy had put 2 pipes on the wrong way round so instead of air coming out the hole it was propane.
    Off I go to have a cigarette and a meander and when I come back to light the thing it didn’t go bang but there were clouds of swirling flame all around me which was quite interesting to look at.

  35. And where will all this hydrogen come from? Can’t use solar – too expensive and not reliable. Wind is almost as bad, but at least the wind sometimes blows at night. Hydrogen is not cheap to produce in the first place, but the two least expensive methods are from natural gas or coal via steam reforming. The side product is carbon monoxide. Have they included the cost of distilling the CO from the hydrogen so they don ‘t poison us? This might be one separation that can be done with pressure-swing adsorption, given the large difference in size between hydrogen and CO. Either way, it will cost even more money. Better to reduce the CO2 output by not building useless windmills and solar panels.

  36. Another idea from the Department of Solutions to Non Existent Problems. Why cut the Carbon Dioxide
    emissions, they are only a problem to the Scientifically Challenged, the Politically Deranged and the Chemically
    Addeled. To those of us who have a science rather than a liberal arts based education they are plant food. The increased levels of which allow the plants to make better use of the available water. Hence the recent greening of the planet.

  37. Mixing hydrogen with natural gas lowers its heat of combustion on a per-volume basis. Methane (the primary component of natural gas) has a lower heating value of 909 Btu per standard cubic foot (Btu/scf), while hydrogen has an LHV of only 274 Btu/scf, or only about 30% of that of methane. A mixture of 20% hydrogen and 80% methane (by volume) would have an LHV of 782 Btu/scf, or about 14% less than that of pure methane. In order to obtain the same heating value, a greater volume of the hydrogen / methane mixture would have to be burned.

    Free elemental hydrogen gas (H2) is rare in nature, since it tends to rise through the atmosphere and escape from Earth’s gravity into space. It can be generated by electrolysis of water or by steam-methane reforming.
    Electrolysis of water requires the same input of electrical energy as can be obtained by burning hydrogen, so that electrolyzing water to obtain hydrogen for burning is self-defeating, due to the inevitable losses of energy in both processes. The only way that this would reduce CO2 emissions would be if the electricity used in the electrolysis was generated using nuclear power.

    Steam-methane reforming reacts one mole of methane with two moles of steam to produce four moles of hydrogen and one mole of CO2, in a three-step process, whose first step requires heating to about 1400 F over catalyst, and is endothermic (consumes heat). The heat that can be obtained by burning the hydrogen is less than the sum of the heat of combustion of methane and the net energy input to the process, so that if combustion is the only goal, it is more efficient to burn the methane directly without generating hydrogen. Both steam-methane reforming and direct combustion of methane result in the same emission of CO2 (one mole CO2 emitted per mole CH4 consumed).

    Steam-methane reforming is useful in petroleum refineries to generate high-purity hydrogen, which can then be reacted with distillate fuels to remove sulfur (hydrotreating), and the desulfurized fuels do not produce sulfur dioxide when burned.

    Hydrogen can also be generated by catalytic naphtha reforming, where petroleum compounds boiling between 180 F and 350 F are converted to aromatic compounds (benzene, toluene, xylenes, etc.) by removal of hydrogen. This process also consumes more heat than can be generated by burning the hydrogen, but is used in petroleum refineries primarily to increase the octane rating of the naphtha to produce high-octane gasoline.

    Blending hydrogen into natural gas does not reduce total CO2 emissions, because the processes used to produce hydrogen result in CO2 emissions. Hydrogen is not very useful as a fuel, but it is a useful intermediate product in petroleum refineries, to reduce the emission of other non-CO2 pollutants.

    • Well stated sir. The town gas consumed in Hong Kong is most likely one of many hydrocarbons produced at a local refinery.

      I’ve sailed into HK many time but don’t recall seeing a refinery.

      As you noted; the bottom line here is, Adding H2 to NG is hardly a free ride and stunting naphtha for H2 production will raise gasoline prices.

  38. How did such a rubbish article make it on to this site? It is pure, uninformed scaremongering straight out of the green propaganda playbook, complete with misleading caption pic – just like the cooling tower shots beloved of the warmists. The author must have been moonlighting from a day job at the Guardian or BBC.
    This sort of tripe undermines the scientific integrity of this site. It should be taken down.

    • I completely agree. I wrote a similar evaluation. This decade may be our last chance to get emissions down to proper levels, and uninformed scaremongers are sabotaging the likelihood of a swift transition to renewables. This is just embarrassing, and it should be taken down before even more people read this.

  39. Back in the 80’s I was project manager on a semiconductor plant. They used hi purity hydrogen as part of the process. The piping was silver soldered and tested to within an inch of its life. I can’t image having that kind of quality control in residential construction.

  40. I know this is obvious if one thinks about it but many, especially the CLIMATE CROOKS might not:
    A mixture is a mixture so its constituents will act independently of each other.

    Therefore, although hydrogen will leak through even the tiniest opening or any material which is, to a degree porous to it, the other constituents in the mixture will not.

    In particular this will include the substance that adds odour to the mixture so we can smell a gas leak.

    virtually anything

  41. Hydrogen is a very aggressive gas that makes pretty much anything it touches brittle. You don’t want to have too much of that stuff in your high-pressure steel pipeline. Has anyone properly tested out material fatigue as a result of so much hydrogen?

  42. This an embarrassingly poor evaluation and journalists like Eric Worrall are ruining the chances of a swift transition to renewables. Not only is this article basically catastrophizing for no reason whatsoever, but there is no explanation or science backing his argument. This is just horrendous. Eric Worrall, this is not the tone of your writing you should be aspiring for. Less-informed individuals may believe your analysis and it could stifle much-needed development in the renewables sector. If you believe hydrogen is dangerous, compose an argument with sources and let people discuss, but DO NOT catastrophize when you do not have all the facts. It is a shame how commonplace this is.

  43. While the proposal to add hydrogen to the CH4 is supply is green tinted nonsense, the notion that it technologically impractical is equal nonsense and nay-saying.

    Coal gas/Town Gas was used in America’s Northeast from the mid 1850s until the last coal cracking plant closed in 1955. It was about 50% hydrogen along with carbon monoxide and other combustibles. That we were able to use hydrogen for a 100 years with far more rudimentary technology, certainly does not suggest that the technology being beyond us is a valid argument.

  44. Well while I have no time for the green meanies I do feel compelled to point out that before natural gas was available town gas was around 20% hydrogen. The process involved alternately blowing stean and air over a bed of coke. The resulting gas was 80% carbon monoxide (producer gas) and 20% hydrogen (water gas) The hydrogen was no problem, the carbon monoxide on the other hand was a killer,
    .

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