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CPOTE2020 logo
6th International Conference on
Contemporary Problems of Thermal Engineering
Online | 21-24 September 2020

Abstract CPOTE2020-1299-A

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Comparison of hydrogen production methods basing on thermo-ecological cost

Wojciech STANEK, Silesian University of Technology, Poland
Tomasz SIMLA, Silesian University of Technology, Poland

Hydrogen as an energy carrier is currently receiving growing attention, which is emphasized by the recent “Hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe” published by the European Commission. It is perceived as one of the main vectors in energy transition from fossil fuel based energy systems to fully renewable ones. One of the main applications of hydrogen is storing excess renewable energy by converting it in an electrolysis process. However, to this day the main method of hydrogen production is through various reforming processes of fossil fuels. While the “renewable” hydrogen is perceived as nearly zero-emission and much more environmentally friendly than the fossil-based hydrogen, such statement needs not necessarily be true. Proper comparison of solutions based on renewable and non-renewable energy requires a careful adoption of a balance boundary. The presentation discusses the available pathways of hydrogen production and evaluates them using the concept of thermo-ecological cost (TEC). Thermo-ecological cost analysis is a form of extended cumulative exergy analysis, which evaluates products in their whole life cycle. For the case of hydrogen produced from electrolysis, the main factor affecting the TEC is the actual source of input electric energy. Additionally, the by-production of oxygen should be considered in the analysis. The results confirm that the “renewable” hydrogen is indeed more environmentally friendly than the fossil-based hydrogen, but the conditions of qualifying the input electric energy as renewable are debatable.

Keywords: Hydrogen, Renewable energy, Efficiency, Thermo-ecological cost, Electrolysis