Hydrogen: a powerful tool for decarbonising industry?

Very light, but with high gravimetric energy density, hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth. At Actemium, our experts are looking into the role the gas can play in decarbonising industry.

In the race against time to accelerate the energy transition, hydrogen has been considered a miracle bullet for some years now. Bruno Nicolas and Nicolas Dattez, Actemium’s brand director and development director respectively, talked to Leonard* about hydrogen’s characteristics and its use in various business activities.

Hydrogen’s characteristics

Hydrogen, with its very high gravimetric energy density, is the most abundant element on Earth. However, it is difficult to find in usable form, in other words as H₂. In order to obtain it in this form, the hydrogen atoms must be extracted from the molecules that contain them. This can be achieved using various procedures: “The most obvious way to make green hydrogen is through electrolysis, using electricity generated from renewable energy sources,” says Nicolas Dattez.

Opportunities offered by hydrogen

With 90 million tonnes produced each year, hydrogen has been utilised for decades, mainly in the chemical industry. According to Nicolas Dattez, the gas is set to be used on a much larger scale in the future for example to produce fuel and gas from CO2 captured from industrial emissions or to replace fossil fuels as a fuel.

Hydrogen also offers opportunities in maritime transport. Since it is responsible for emitting 535 million tonnes of CO2 each year, the sector needs to review how it operates.

“Transformation in the maritime transport sector will be driven largely by the use of sustainable fuels like biofuels and e-fuels. E-fuels are produced from low-carbon electricity, particularly low-carbon hydrogen and all of its derivatives like green ammonia and green methanol,” explains Bruno Nicolas.

*Leonard is the VINCI group’s foresight and innovation platform.