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   제목: Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, other than a few small hitches
Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, other than a few small hitches
Liquid hydrogen carrier being developed by Hyundai Mipo Dockyards, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering and others.


HYDROGEN ECONOMY

Hydrogen is often hailed as the fuel of the future, one that will ultimately replace fossil fuels and make the earth greener.

Unlike natural gas and coal, hydrogen produces neither pollutants nor carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. Water is its only by-product.

Volatile supply is also not a concern for this fuel because it is the most abundant element in the universe. It is free of the main drawback of other renewable energy sources, which is their high dependence on the weather and terrain.

Deployment of hydrogen as a fuel is expected to cut up to 34 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a study by BloombergNEF.

Regardless of its prospects, hydrogen as a fuel is still more hope than reality due to high costs and technological hurdles.

Korea has been trying to get a jump on the world in the race toward the hydrogen future, establishing a "hydrogen economy" as a national goal since 2019.

Over a dozen major Korean companies came together recently to form a committee and pledged to cooperate to take an upper hand in the global race toward achieving an economy where hydrogen is used as the main fuel. They pledged 43 trillion won of investment in the development of the hydrogen ecosystem by 2050.

There are largely four main components to the hydrogen economy — manufacturing, storing, transporting and utilizing — and without a balanced development of each step, the hydrogen economy initiative would be nothing more than slogans and idle tinkering.

"Most of the hydrogen business in Korea is concentrated on end applications such as hydrogen fuel cell electric cars or hydrogen fuel cell systems," said Lee Ho-geun, an automotive engineering professor at Daeduk University.

"But in terms of manufacturing, storing, shipping and retailing it, Korea is a bit behind. Fuel cell electric vehicles are made 99 percent from our own proprietary technology, but charging infrastructure is made from technology imported from Europe or the United States. A more balanced development is needed."

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy admitted recently in a release that Korea's progress toward the hydrogen economy is unbalanced and is concentrated on end-products.


Gray, blue and green

There are basically three types of hydrogen — grey, blue and green — depending on how they are made and their resulting eco-friendliness

Green hydrogen, which uses renewable energy such as solar and wind for its production, would be the ultimate eco-friendly option, but due to technological and geographical limits, making green hydrogen to meet demand is currently impossible, especially in Korea.

At the moment, gray hydrogen accounts for almost all of hydrogen usage around the world. Ninety-six percent of the global hydrogen production is gray hydrogen.

Gray hydrogen is manufactured from a process that involves natural gas and generates CO2.

It also includes hydrogen that's a by-product of chemical production and steelmaking.

Manufacturing 1 ton of gray hydrogen results in emission of 10 tons of CO2, so it does not help in achieving zero emissions.

Enter "blue" hydrogen.

Blue hydrogen is manufactured in the same way as the gray hydrogen but utilizes carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies to capture and bury the emitted CO2 deep underground or convert it into other elements through chemical reactions.

Petrochemical and steelmaking companies have the upper hand in this segment because they already possess manufacturing capacity for gray hydrogen in their existing businesses.

In order to create a well-functioning ecosystem for hydrogen, they are developing various CCUS technologies and marketing them.

Lotte Chemical, which is able to produce 30,000 tons of gray hydrogen per year, pledged to make 160,000 tons of blue hydrogen by 2025.

It is looking to build new facilities for making blue hydrogen, but the candidates for the site haven't been confirmed, according to Lotte Chemical.

The company is focusing on developing CCUS technologies using gas separating membranes.

Early this year, Lotte Chemical built facilities to test the technologies at its chemical plant in Yeosu, South Jeolla, which makes synthetics.

The company plans to have the facilities in operation by 2023 after collecting and analyzing data.

It says it can collect 60,000 tons of CO2 per year.

"The collected CO2 can be used by our company or can be sold to other small and midsized chemical companies that need CO2 when making various synthetics products," said a spokesman from Lotte Chemical.

The collected CO2 can be used for making polycarbonate, dry ice and washers for semiconductors, according to the spokesman.

It plans to expand the carbon capturing technology to its other chemical factories, in Daesan and Ulsan, and capture more than 200,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Posco and SK E&S pledged production of 500,000 tons and 250,000 tons of blue hydrogen, respectively, by 2030 and 2025 using CCUS technology.

The Ministry of Industry pledged to raise the portion of blue and green hydrogen usage from the current zero to 50 percent by 2030. By 2050, blue and green hydrogen will account for 100 percent of all hydrogen usage in Korea, the ministry said.

Cimarron's Type 4 tank for hydrogen storage and transportation. Hanwha Solutions acquired Cimarron last year.

Selected articles from Korea Joongang Daily
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