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Hydrogen Production, Transportation and Storage in Hydrogen Energy Industry Analysis

2023.03.28 Hits : 9

At present, hydrogen energy, as one of the ultimate energy of mankind in the future, will usher in explosive development in the next 10 years, especially the application of high purity hydrogen in fuel cells and the large-scale application of electrolytic hydrogen as a way of energy storage.

Viewpoint: Focus on the large-scale application of alkaline electrolysis water hydrogen production technology in the short term; Long-term focus on PEM & SOEC electrolytic water technology; Domestic substitution: electrolytic cell, proton membrane, bipolar plate, fourth generation hydrogen storage tank, high pressure hydrogenation equipment.

Industry prospect: Under the dual-carbon target, domestic hydrogen energy has a huge space for development. Hydrogen energy will be mainly used in transportation, industry, electricity, construction and other fields. According to the White Paper on China's Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cell Industry (2020), it is predicted that China's demand for hydrogen in 2030 will be 37.15 million tons, accounting for about 5% of the end-energy consumption. 130.3 million tonnes in 2060 (about 25 million tonnes in 2019).

Hydrogen energy industry chain: upstream, hydrogen production; Midstream, storage and transportation of hydrogen and hydrogenation; Downstream, hydrogen energy storage, fuel cells and other traditional chemical industries. Our focus is on the upstream of hydrogen energy in the emerging field.

Preparation of hydrogen - core ring

Conclusion: The short-term concern of this link is that gray hydrogen and blue hydrogen meet the short-term demand of fuel cells, and the medium-term and long-term concern is the cost reduction parity of green hydrogen. Focus on the subdivision of alkaline water electrolytic cell equipment supplier (Longji), PEM proton membrane supplier (Dongyue Group), PEM bipolar plate supplier (Antai Technology), PEM catalyst (platinum industry test stage), PEM electrolytic cell (sunlight power).

At present, there are more startups in the field, so we can pay more attention to related new companies.

Classification of hydrogen production: According to carbon emission, it can be slightly divided into gray hydrogen, blue hydrogen and green hydrogen.

Gray hydrogen, as its name suggests, is gray hydrogen, which emits a lot of carbon dioxide in the process of producing hydrogen. The main preparation methods include: hydrogen prepared from fossil raw materials (coal, natural gas) and by-produced hydrogen in the chemical process (coke oven gas, chemical fertilizer industry, chlor-alkali, light hydrocarbons, etc.)

Blue hydrogen is the hydrogen produced by reducing carbon dioxide emissions in gray hydrogen production through carbon capture technology. The main source of hydrogen production is coal and natural gas.

Green hydrogen is the hydrogen production method with no carbon dioxide emission in the preparation process, in fact, it is the hydrogen production by electrolytic water, especially referring to the hydrogen produced by wind power and photovoltaic power generation (grid electricity involves the tracing of coal power to the source, and still emits a lot of carbon dioxide in the whole process). The preparation of green hydrogen is in line with our long-term value investment direction.

Current situation and trend of hydrogen production technology:

Coal to hydrogen, natural gas to hydrogen: foreign main natural gas to hydrogen, domestic main coal to hydrogen, mainly because domestic coal resources are rich. The technology is mature, the cost is low, but the disadvantage is still very obvious, that is, the whole process is still emitting carbon dioxide, in the long term does not meet the goal of carbon peak and carbon neutrality. In the short term, there are still good demand prospects, because of the high price of electrolytic water hydrogen production, in order to promote the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, some of this hydrogen has to be used in the early stage. The combination of carbon capture technology can effectively reduce overall carbon emissions (by more than 90%), but the cost increases significantly.

Industrial by-product hydrogen: In the original process, most of the hydrogen is discharged into the atmosphere as waste. Therefore, in the short term, recycling, purification and reuse of this waste is a better path. The disadvantage is that the cost is higher than that of coal and natural gas for hydrogen production (comparable to the cost of fossil hydrogen production with superposed carbon capture), and the advantage is that there is no additional carbon dioxide emission.

Electrolytic water hydrogen production: large-scale rapid application and development of AWE in the short term; concurrent outbreak of PEM after its reduction to domestic production in the medium term; long-term attention to the commercialization process of SOEC

The three technical paths, AWE(alkaline hydroelectrolysis for hydrogen production), PEM (proton exchange membrane point hydrolysis for hydrogen production) and SOEC(solid oxide electrolysis for hydrogen production), are all based on the basic principle of separating hydrogen from the cathode and oxygen from the anode after water electrolysis.

The difference lies in the diaphragm, electrolyte and catalyst of electrolytic cell. AWE uses asbestos diaphragm, alkaline water and non-metallic catalyst, PEM uses perfluorosulfonic acid proton exchange membrane, pure water and platinum catalyst, and SOEC uses solid oxide ceramic material structure as diaphragm.

Comparison of advantages: AWE technology mature, relatively low cost, high localization rate, has been widely used and promoted; PEM has high efficiency, high hydrogen purity, the highest coupling with new energy power generation, no pollution, low operation and maintenance cost, and has initially realized commercial application; SOEC, the highest efficiency, the lowest power consumption, no pollution, low operation and maintenance cost, suitable for photothermal hydrogen production.

Comparison of disadvantages: AWE, pollution, high energy consumption, high operation and maintenance cost; PEM, high cost of equipment and catalyst, low localization rate; SOEC, still in the laboratory stage.

Notably, the hydrogen produced in the preparation of gray and blue hydrogen is not naturally pure enough and requires additional purification to achieve the 99.999% purity required for hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen production from electrolytic water is naturally pure enough, and PEM hydrogen production technology requires almost no purification to be used. There is no purity requirement for solar energy storage hydrogen production, but it is limited to electrolytic water hydrogen production path. Therefore, from the perspective of domestic replacement demand and growth, PEM is our focus.

The core of PEM is electrolytic cell, and there are almost no domestic electrolytic cells. At present, only $solar power (SZ300274)$PEM electrolytic cell products have been released, and $Longji Green Energy (SH601012)$is a technical research and development cooperation with foreign leading companies. The core structure of the electrolytic cell is almost the same as that required by PEM fuel cells, including: proton exchange membrane (only Dongyue Group can make it among domestic listed companies), bipolar plate, catalyst (completely imported, your platinum industry has been developing, currently in the test stage). The bipolar plate is classified into graphite bipolar plate (domestic replacement has been realized) and metal bipolar plate with higher efficiency (domestic replacement has just started, $Aetna Technology (SZ000969)$has realized batch supply).

One of the startups of SOEC is Beijing Sewitt, which has cooperated with Guangdong Power Grid. SOEC's chairman is a former vice president of Weichai Power (Weichai Power is one of the country's best sellers of hydrogen fuel cells, especially for heavy trucks and engineering machinery). At the same time, the second shareholder of Beijing Thwaite is Yihuatong. It is worth mentioning that Yihuatong has a good layout in the whole hydrogen energy industry

Storage and transportation: Currently there is no separation between storage and transportation, but pipeline transportation will become the main form of long-distance hydrogen transportation in the future.

Conclusions: In the near term, focus on the fourth generation of 70MPa hydrogen tanks (for vehicle use, may focus on: Sinoma Technology, Jingcheng Stock, CIMC Anric and Yap Stock, the commercialization and mass production of related products) and corresponding hydrogenation equipment; in the medium and long term, focus on the technological breakthrough and commercialization progress of solid hydrogen storage, as well as long-distance pipeline hydrogen transport.

Classification of hydrogen storage technology: high-pressure gas hydrogen storage, liquid hydrogen storage and solid hydrogen storage, focusing on high-pressure gas hydrogen storage related hydrogen storage bottles and hydrogenation equipment

High pressure gas hydrogen storage is the main form of hydrogen storage at present, as the most mature and widely used technology.

Liquid hydrogen storage: low temperature liquid and organic liquid hydrogen storage, low temperature liquid hydrogen storage density, but high technical requirements and costs (high energy consumption, high cost of liquid hydrogen storage), only applicable to the space field; Organic liquid hydrogen storage, hydrogen storage capacity, high hydrogen storage density, suitable for long-distance hydrogen energy transportation, but the equipment is more complex, high operating costs, reaction process to use catalyst, and catalyst activity is not stable enough, in the demonstration stage.

Solid hydrogen storage: The theoretical unit volume hydrogen storage density is high, low energy consumption, good safety, but the current technology is not mature, fuel cell submarine commercial use overseas, distributed power generation demonstration application in China.

Commercial high-pressure hydrogen storage cylinders are divided into four types:

Type I cylinder is full steel cylinder, heavy weight, only suitable for stationary hydrogen storage in hydrogenation station; The type II cylinder is surrounded by carbon fiber with steel liner. Compared with type I, the weight of the cylinder is reduced, but the hydrogen storage density is still low, which is difficult to meet the requirements of vehicle hydrogen storage. Type III bottle and Type IV bottle are suitable for on-board hydrogen storage. The plastic inner liner of type IV bottle subverts the original gas cylinder technology and has the advantages of excellent hydrogen embrittleness corrosion resistance, high hydrogen storage density and light weight. China has just achieved the technological breakthrough of IV bottle. Sinoma Technology, Apu and Jingcheng Share have completed the breakthrough of 70MPa through technological research and development. Cimc Anruike has set up a domestic production plant in the form of joint venture with a leading Norwegian enterprise.

Hydrogen transport: consistent with the classification of hydrogen storage, in the mode of transport more pipeline transport mode. High pressure gas hydrogen is the main transportation way of hydrogen, can not meet the large-scale transportation, long-term pipeline and liquid transportation.

Pipeline transport: gaseous transport. Conventional pipelines have "hydrogen embrittlement" reaction, which requires special treatment of pipeline materials, leading to high cost of hydrogen transport pipeline, which is the main constraint factor. Mixed hydrogen transportation in natural gas pipeline network is a research hotspot at present, but it is still in the experimental stage, and technical problems such as gas separation need to be overcome.

Gaseous high pressure transportation: Our country now generally uses 20MPa gaseous high pressure hydrogen storage and tube truck transportation, transporting hydrogen by bike about 300-400kg, mature technology, low cost, but only suitable for the near distance transportation.

Hydrogenation: localization rate is very low, highly dependent on imports

Hydrogenation equipment: the domestic is still mainly 35MPa, 70MPa technology breakthrough. According to the disclosure of Hopu Stock, the company developed a 70MPa prototype and developed a 100MPa hydrogenation flowmeter, which is expected to break the overseas monopoly.

Hydrogen compressor: is still highly monopolized overseas, hydrogenation station equipment is almost all imported, the road to localization is blocked and long.

Technical path: There are three kinds of liquid drive, diaphragm and ionic liquid compressor. The ion time used in hydrogenation stations with high hydrogen storage pressure (generally about 90Mpa) has not been applied in our country.


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