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Hydrogen

The Texas petrochemical industry uses hydrogen to remove sulfur impurities in the oil refining process. It is also used to make fertilizer.

Texas makes no significant use of hydrogen as transportation fuel today. A hydrogen fueling station is being built in Austin with three hydrogen-fueled buses scheduled to operate there in 2008. Large warehouse operators and distribution centers are considering replacing battery-powered forklifts with hydrogen-powered units.

Research and demonstration projects using hydrogen fuel cells are under way at Texas universities, energy companies and scientific laboratories.256

Official studies show that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles powered using hydrogen created from natural gas emit less carbon than conventional internal combustion engines after the entire production cycle is taken into account.257 Fuel cells are more efficient in converting fuel to power than internal combustion engines. They yield almost no pollutants and are quiet.258 When hydrogen is used in a fuel cell to power an electric vehicle, the emissions include only water and heat. The biggest hurdle to widespread commercial use of hydrogen for power is cost reduction. Durability of fuel cells and the size and weight of storage tanks are barriers to retail hydrogen use.

Cost

Per Million Btu Data comparable to other fuel sources not available.
Per Gallon (motor vehicle fuel) Data comparable to other fuel sources not available.
Per Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent $17.69 (based on a DOE survey with only seven respondents).259
Direct Subsidy Share of Total Consumer Spending N/A
Notes The cost of hydrogen for large industrial applications is dependent upon the cost of the feedstock. Hydrogen at refineries may be produced for under $2.00 per gallon equivalent. Transportation and storage add costs to a delivered price of hydrogen (up to $30 per gallon of gasoline equivalent). Consequently, on-site hydrogen generation from either water or natural gas is viewed as a more commercially viable choice for transportation fuel applications.

Economic Impact and Viability

Wages and Jobs Economic data on the hydrogen energy industry in Texas are not available. Hydrogen is not widely used as an alternative fuel today. Economic impact is from federal, state and privately funded hydrogen research and product development activities.
Regulatory Climate Local safety code officials in Texas generally have more experience with hydrogen than in most parts of the nation. Industrial hydrogen codes are well established, but codes development organizations are currently modifying building, fire, electrical and mechanical codes and standards for emerging “retail” hydrogen applications. This effort is being performed in national forums with help from the U.S. DOE.
Texas Competitive Advantage Texas has about 1,000 miles of hydrogen pipeline in place and a workforce skilled in handling hydrogen.260 The state has an extensive production and distribution network for natural gas, the most common feedstock for hydrogen.
Notes More research is needed to determine whether hydrogen can become economically viable in the U.S. or Texas.

Availability and Current Infrastructure

Estimated Resources in Texas Hydrogen must be produced from a fossil fuel, biomass or from water using electrolysis.
Current Fuel Production N/A
Consumption in Texas Texas consumes only tiny amounts for purposes such as fuel cell demonstration projects.
Number of Fueling Stations in Texas One permanent hydrogen fueling station is being built in Texas today; a number of temporary fueling sites have been established for vehicle demonstrations in the state.
Vehicle Availability Commercial buses are available on a custom-order basis. Major auto makers are beginning to distribute hydrogen-fueled vehicles to selected markets in other states such as California and New York on a limited basis. 261 Hydrogen-fueled forklifts are commercially available.
Notes Hydrogen is very expensive to store and move in useful amounts because it has a very low energy density in terms of volume, and thus large volumes are needed to generate power, necessitating expensive methods to compress or cool the gas for fuel use.

Environment, Health and Safety

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Production of hydrogen using hydrocarbons produces greenhouse gases, but in lower quantities than with conventional fuels. The use of hydrogen in vehicle applications produces no emissions.
Air Pollution (Non-Greenhouse Gas) The use of hydrogen produces no significant emissions. Hydrogen production can generate emissions from most production methods, except for 100 percent renewable sources.
Solid Waste No significant issues.
Land Use Generally, the storage and production of hydrogen is much cleaner than for conventional fuels as there are no soil or water contamination issues to address. Because hydrogen is not typically stored underground, slightly larger “setbacks” are required for hydrogen stored for transportation applications.
Water Withdrawal Aside from the water that is consumed in the production of hydrogen, there are no significant issues related to water withdrawal.
Water Consumption On average, 43 gallons per million Btu generated are required for hydrogen produced through the steam reformation of natural gas.262 Production of hydrogen from water via electrolysis, by contrast, requires 21 gallons per million Btu, or as much as 100 to 200 gallons per million Btu.263
Water Quality Pure water is needed to produce hydrogen. All current production technologies use commercially available water purification and filtration as part of the hydrogen generation process.

Fuel Characteristics

Energy Content Between 113,400 (lower heating value) and 134,200 (higher heating value) Btu per kilogram (2.2 pounds).264
Renewability Hydrogen can be produced from renewable, nuclear or fossil fuels.

Other Issues

Dependence on Foreign Suppliers No significant issues.
Price and Supply Risks Supply is abundant, but the price to produce and use hydrogen for power purposes is higher than for conventional technologies.
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