Is White Hydrogen the Energy of the Future?

Drawing attention worldwide as a potential future energy resource is white hydrogen, also known as natural hydrogen.

There is a rising number of companies that are currently exploring their potential deposits in a bid to tap into this promising market. Their operations are not limited to just one region, but span across eight different countries globally.

Commercial Viability of White Hydrogen

The existence of white hydrogen deposits is not merely theoretical, there is one that is commercially viable. It is located in Mali, near the village of Bourakébougou. This operation is under the management of a Canadian company, Petroma Inc., through its Malian subsidiary named Hydroma SA.

Cost of Extraction and Purification

Among the selling points of white hydrogen is its affordability. It costs around 1 $/kg to extract and purify. In comparison, grey hydrogen costs less than 2 $/kg while green hydrogen costs thrice as much.

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Carbon Emissions from White Hydrogen

Another notable feature of white hydrogen is its low carbon footprint. Its emissions largely depend on the purity of the deposit. For instance, if the deposit has 85% hydrogen content and low methane contamination, it will result in a carbon intensity of roughly 0.4 kg CO2e per kg of gaseous white hydrogen. Contrast this with a deposit with 75% hydrogen and 22% methane, which increases intensity to 1.5 kg CO2e per kg H2.

Major Challenges

Despite its great potential, extracting white hydrogen on an industrial scale is still fraught with significant challenges. Some of the issues faced include extraction, transportation, distribution, and storage.

Potential Impact on Clean Hydrogen Sector

Despite these challenges, there is a belief that white hydrogen has the potential to revolutionize the clean hydrogen sector.

White Hydrogen and Global Energy Geopolitics

White hydrogen's potential isn't just confined to the clean energy sector. It could drastically alter the landscape of global energy geopolitics. According to a model by the US Geological Survey in 2022, if global reserves of natural hydrogen are captured efficiently, they could fulfill global energy demand for several millennia.

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