Michael Liebreich Profile picture
Nov 26, 2022 16 tweets 5 min read Read on X
A thread for those who think we're going to be importing lots of hydrogen over vast distances.

1. Shipping liquid hydrogen is not going to be a thing. To understand why, you need to understand that hydrogen is basically liquid, -253C escapey, explodey expanded polystyrene. Image
2. What this means is that any comparison with LNG is, ahem, bollox. We cracked LNG shipping, but it's the most expensive gas on the market. And shipping the same BTUs as liquid hydrogen would require 3-4 times as many ships. Because of physics, not lack of learning, scale, etc. Image
3. Liquifying hydrogen is also a complete bear. It currently consumes 35% to 45% of the Lower Heating Value of the input. If you don't know about LHV and HHV, or about ortho-para isomer conversion, please read more and tweet less about liquid hydrogen!
4. Then there's the fun stuff. Hydrogen, which is liquid at -253C and much less dense than LNG, is likely to have up to 9x more boil-off (ie loss during transit, of which only part fuels the ship) and 2x more "sloshing", which is dangerous.
5. Can liquid hydrogen re-use infrastructure created for LNG? Power supply and docks, sure; 70% of pipelines may be re-purposed. But not the liquefaction and gasification plants, compressors, storage tanks, etc. Vital to listen to independent experts!
6. OK, are we done with the absurd notion of transporting liquid hydrogen? In fact, LH2 will have no role anywhere in energy and transport. The only way to transport hydrogen economically is by pipeline. Or of course as ammonia, or in metal hydride or liquid organic carriers.
7. Let's deal with Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC). Bung H2 into benzyl toluene and it's stable at ambient temp & pressure. Great! Except you get just 54kg H2 for every m3 of solvent, even worse than liquid hydrogen. May work for stationary storage, useless for shipping. Image
8. Metal hydrides have the same problems as LOHC for shipping: the energy carried per unit volume is just too low to be economically viable. AND you have to send the ship back full (fuel cost), AND you have to apply heat at the destination to release the hydrogen (losses). #Fail
9. So that leaves ammonia. Yes, we can and will ship ammonia. The question is WHY SHIP AMMONIA? If it's for fertiliser or industrial use, go clean ammonia! But if it's to import green electricity, nested inefficiencies mean huge cycle losses - and HVDC kills it. Systems thinking! Image
10. Japan is hanging its entire decarbonisation strategy on clean ammonia imports. OK it can't import power via HVDC, but it can do nuclear and vast amounts of offshore wind. Betting on ammonia will mean punitive power prices and de-industrialisation. Sad.
11. Finally, efuels. Yes! E-methanol for shipping fuels solves the serious safety issues associated with ammonia. E-jet fuel may be needed for aviation if SAF is volume-limited. But e-fuels will be very expensive. You need HYDROGEN and CARBON and you need to COMBINE them.
12. So that's why imports of hydrogen and its derivatives will be far lower than you might think. Clean Hydrogen is vitally important to decarbonise certain sectors, but claims it can deliver 20% of CO2 abatement by 2050 are an order of magnitude too high. Electrify everything!
13. If there's one thing less likely than shipping liquid hydrogen, it's H2 for longhaul aviation. Again, it's volumetric density that kills it. And if you say 'flying wing', I say 'all tanks at -253C, all planes and airports redesigned from scratch.' E-jet maybe, probably SAF. Image
14. Finally (?) methanation. You could ship synthetic LNG, but why would you? Getting the carbon from DAC will be very expensive; from biomass, probably not available where hydrogen is cheap; from fossil fuels, WTAF! Easier to ship fossil LNG, then capture and return the CO2.
15. BTW, density is also a huge problem for truck fueling infra. Tube trailers carrying 750kg of compressed H2 would require 16x more deliveries than the equivalent energy via diesel tankers. Even liquid H2 tankers would need 4x as many deliveries. No H2 pipeline, no truckstop.
16. If you've got this far, thanks! You've earned this picture of our cats. Ragdoll girls, before you ask, called Sylvia and Christabel. Collectively "the Pankhursts". Image

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More from @MLiebreich

Feb 22, 2023
It will take until 2030 to reign in the current bout of hydrogen mania, embark on a real plan to eliminate the 2.3% of emissions currently caused by 94 Mt/year of grey & black hydrogen, and target its use on a few otherwise hard-to-decarbonise sectors. We are in the foothills. 1/
Let me be quite clear - we will need clean hydrogen. But fantasies of a hydrogen economy, hydrogen society and globally traded hydrogen market need to be abandoned. There will be a global market in ammonia, but mainly for fertilisers, chemicals, shipping fuel and some storage. 2/
Again, to be clear. The issue is not production cost. Learning curves mean green hydrogen will end up cheaper than grey. But nothing will change the physics and thermodynamics of hydrogen: low density; escapey; explodey; embrittley; NOx-producey if burnt; greenhouse gasey. 3/
Read 18 tweets
Feb 11, 2023
Looking for something to read or listen to this weekend? I've been busy, released a whole load of stuff you won't want to miss. So much, in fact, that I've listed it all in a🧵. So pour yourself that cup of 🫖 or a glass of 🍷🍺🍸 and let's get started...
First up, my piece for @TheEconomist. It's a response to Vinod Khosla, who believes we should stop deploying wind and solar because they can't deliver "baseload" (🤣), and in a few decades something better might come along. We need research AND deployment. economist.com/by-invitation/…
Next, there were so many loose ends after my @MLCleaningUp conversation with Jorgo @Chatzimarkakis, CEO of @H2Europe, that I just had to write a piece summarising my key takeaways and debunking some of his wild claims. One for hydrogen realists everywhere!
Read 9 tweets
Dec 10, 2022
What bollox. Which other "heating alternatives" require you to change your oven, hob, gas meter and fireplaces, bring all old pipework up to standard, repair all micro-leaks, add Excess Flow Valves and ventilation, and still leave you buying more expensive fuel and breathing NOx?
If you really want to know what safety measures are required to make hydrogen as safe as gas in your home (though still less safe than eliminating gas altogether), read the report by @Arup on behalf of the government. Particularly section 14 on p101.
Fuel cost will also be 2-4 times as high. If it's blue hydrogen, you have to start with 47% more 'natural' gas for the same heat - simply chemistry - plus you have the cost of CO2 capture and storage. If it's green hydrogen, you're talking 4-6 times the electricity of heap pumps.
Read 4 tweets
Nov 28, 2022
Only Secretary of State for @beisgovuk, explaining how to turn down boiler flow temperatures. Nothing to see. Congrats @betateach @heatpolicyrich @theheatinghub @_heatgeek @GreenAlbionLtd @AbigailDombey @janrosenow @mikefosterEUA @ClemCowton @nesta_uk @EarthOrgUK and many more!
How it started (at least for me: lots of others had already been trying to address the UK heating industry's scandalous mis-selling, mis-installing and mis-maintanance of condensing boilers for years).
Read 4 tweets
Oct 30, 2022
Confused by "Hydrogen Ready" or "Hydrogen Blend Ready" boilers? Then @HelloHydrogen #HelloHydrogen is working!

Facts: There is no H2/gas blend today and may never be; no boilers are ready for 100% H2. 57% of UK power is renewable or nuclear; heat pumps multiply its impact by ~3
Now #HelloHydrogen are lobbying for blending, which would require £ tens of billions investment in electrolysis or CCS.

Facts: 20% H2 by volume would reduce emissions by 7%, less the impact of pumping load, H2 leaks and, if it's blue H2, methane leaks and incomplete CO2 capture.
#HelloHydrogen @HelloHydrogen want you to believe we have to blend #Hydrogen into the gas grid to create a market for clean hydrogen. Nonsense.

Fact: There's a 94 million tonne, $120 billion, global market for hydrogen today, almost all made from fossil fuels. Clean it first!
Read 7 tweets
Aug 24, 2022
Hilarious. Any engineer can tell you hydrogen is not like LNG. 30% energy lost in liquefaction; 38% of the volumetric energy density; 6x the boil-off; embrittles; -253C; etc. Transport cost 2-3x production cost? No more than homeopathic quantities of H2 will ever move by ship.
And if it's ammonia, then they should just call it fertiliser, not hydrogen. There will only ever be homeopathic volumes of ammonia shipped for power generation because power->H2->ammonia->liquid->shipping->power currently has a round trip efficiency of ~15% vs ~85% for HVDC.
Nope, not just ammonia: "The Participants aim to closely collaborate on all aspects necessary to kickstart the hydrogen economy and to create a transatlantic supply chain for hydrogen well before 2030, with first deliveries aiming for 2025." Homeopathy! nrcan.gc.ca/climate-change…
Read 6 tweets

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