Production of Hydrogen

Hydrogen can be produced in large “central production” plants and transported to the point of end use. Liquid hydrogen is the most cost-effective form of hydrogen to transport. Hydrogen may also be produced in smaller “distributed production” facilities, very near or at the point of end-use.

In North America today, more than 95% of hydrogen is produced by large-scale steam methane reforming (SMR). This is the most cost-effective method of hydrogen production.

Hydrogen atom

What is hydrogen (H2)?

  • Simplest element on earth – made up of one proton and one electron
  • Third most abundant element on the earth’s surface – makes up 98% of the universe
  • An energy carrier – like electricity, Hstores and delivers energy in an easily usable form

Why hydrogen?

  • Renewable – H2 can be produced from renewable resources (e.g. wind, solar, and hydro-electric power)
  • Efficient – H2 fuel cell products are significantly More efficient than internal combustion engines
  • Clean – H2 is a carbon-free fuel
  • Safe – H2 is safer than conventional hydrocarbon fuels

Hydrogen characteristics

  • Colorless
  • Odorless
  • Tasteless
  • 14x lighter than air
  • Carbon-free
  • Non-toxic
  • Non-corrosive
  • Non-irritating
  • Non-radioactive

Hydrogen Facts

Cost of hydrogen

The choice of a hydrogen production strategy greatly affects the cost and method of delivery. Central production plants can produce hydrogen at relatively low cost due to economies of scale, but the delivery costs are significant since the point of use is farther away. In comparison, distributed production facilities have relatively low delivery costs, but the hydrogen production costs are likely to be more significant than centralized production, as lower production volume means higher equipment costs on a per-unit-of hydrogen basis.

Hydrogen safety (Source: National Hydrogen Association)

Hydrogen is no more or less dangerous than other flammable fuels. However, its unique characteristics should be viewed as advantageous. Hydrogen is lighter than air and therefore it rapidly disperses in the event of a leak. This minimizes the possibility of accumulation and ignition. In the event that hydrogen does ignite, its flames generate low radiant heat due to the absence of carbon. This makes hydrogen substantially safer than conventional hydrocarbon fuels (such as gasoline) for users and first responders in the event of any accident.

Download our full fact sheet

Stay Up to Date

* fields are required.