The biggest boost to the hydrogen fuel industry in the United States could come from a builder of trucks, Nikola Motor Co. They announced development of “Nikola One,” a hydrogen fuel cell tractor truck, which captured the public’s attention with its potential to radically improve emissions and efficiency.
New hydrogen truck from Nikola Motors
Even before a running prototype was shown, they received 7,300 pre-orders.
In December 2016, they presented their first heavy duty truck, which can travel 800 to 1,200 miles without refueling, while carrying a full load of 65,000 pounds. Moreover, Nikola revealed their plans to construct 364 hydrogen filling stations across the USA. They plan to start building new stations in January 2018, with the sites expected to be in service by late 2019. The stations will also be available to fill other fuel cell vehicles, with a refill time of only 15 minutes.
With 364 hydrogen filling stations in operation, production of natural hydrogen will perfectly fit into this emerging market of clean fuels with its much lower cost product.
A new study clearly indicates that hydrogen gas is seeping from Carolina bays. These are shallow, ovoid depressions on the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the USA. These depressions range in size from hundred meters to several kilometers wide. There are hundreds of thousands of them on the Atlantic coastal region. The origin of these structures is not clear and many hypotheses have been debated. Among them wind action, comet impact, dissolution effects and even fish nests. To date, no one expected that these features seep natural hydrogen.
Picture from the article: Satellite image of North Carolina, USA with Carolina bays encircled by orange lines.
Inspired by the recent discovery of hydrogen seepages on the European part of Russia, scientists (including researchers from our team) tested Carolina bays for the presence of natural molecular hydrogen. Their expectations confirmed the discovery of H2 gas inside and around Carolina bays, while outside hydrogen seepage was not detected. The results were published in Progress in Earth and Planetary Science journal.
The possible sources for this gas are discussed in the paper. First of all, authors checked for the possibility of biogenic production. This assumption was the first in the list taking into account that hydrogen was discovered near wetlands. It was demonstrated by experiments that hydrogen was not coming from biological activity. Moreover, field experiments showed that highest concentrations of hydrogen were recorded in the coarse sand bordering the depressions, which contained no organic material. Authors tested many assumptions as to the origin of hydrogen and concluded that is has a deep origin.
Hydrogen is a very reactive gas and cannot remain unchanged for long periods of time in the conditions of Earth’s crust. It was previously observed in very particular places, like rift zones or ophiolitic belts. Discovery of this gas in the heart of continents, where no one expected it, suggests that this is a newly recognized natural phenomenon.
According to the authors, there are tens of thousands of similar structures spread around the world. It is possible that we are faced with a significant and previously unknown new source of a natural gas. Taking into account that the age of Carolina bays (dated by other teams), it is possible that the hydrogen flow may last for thousands of years.
Hydrogen is the most energy-rich gas and currently considered to be a good candidate to replace fossil fuels. Major automakers are working on hydrogen cars, with some models already commercially available. The main problem remains the source of hydrogen, which is currently produced mostly by reformatting natural gas. This is considered by critics as neither “clean” nor energy efficient and results in considerable pollution. The discovery of substantial sources of natural hydrogen gas may result in a cost effective boost for the hydrogen economy.
The potential of these hydrogen gas seeps to be a source of a clean primary energy is the subject of current project of Natural Hydrogen Energy company.
A new book about natural hydrogen has just appeared in France. Its title is "Natural hydrogen. Next energy revolution?" (in French Hydrogène naturel. La prochaine révolution énergétique ?). The authors are from the French Institute of Petroleum and New Energies. They write about the discovery of natural hydrogen seeps, previously unknown to science, and discuss the possibility of natural hydrogen becoming the next significant source of energy.
Abstract: This book offers details about an exceptional discovery, the emissions of natural hydrogen from within our planet in large quantities. Five years ago, the authors of this book, both geologists, got a message from their Russian team that this gas escapes from the ground everywhere in Russia. In addition, satellite images and field measurements allowed them to detect significant flows on all continents! This was a big surprise to everyone because experts have always considered that this gas would not be formed in the crust. The benefits of hydrogen are numerous: its combustion does not release carbon dioxide, its genesis in the basement is ongoing - whereas oil reserves are being depleted - and its operation does not require deep drilling. How to explain such hydrogen flow? How to exploit this gas? Could the fact of finding it in abundance make it possible that this could become an industrial activity? It is to these questions and many others that this book offers answers. Are we are at the beginning of a new energy revolution?
Members of our venture took part in this research. We are proud that our company's name is figuring in this scientific article!
Recently published in the scientific journal Natural Resources Research article on natural hydrogen. This article reports natural hydrogen gas seepage from within the earth. A previously unknown natural phenomenon.
Image: Satellite picture of hydrogen-seeping structures.
Hydrogen was discovered seeping from within shallow, circular, surface depressions, ranging in size from 100 to 3000 m. Using portable gas detectors and sampling soil gas for analysis in the laboratory, authors found that concentrations of hydrogen were very high inside the borders of these structures, whereas hydrogen was not detected outside their borders. Estimates show the flow could be as high as 27 000 m3 hydrogen per day in one of these surface depressions.
To explain why the flow of hydrogen gas is so high inside the borders, authors examined several hypotheses. They say it is most likely that the hydrogen is rising from great depths and it may be of primordial origin, trapped by the Earth's during its formation. The examined flows appear to be sustainable, perhaps good for thousands of years.
The number of structures of these types is impressively large. They are detectable on all continents, including United States territory, where research work has been done and will be published soon.
A well drilled for water instead produced 98% pure hydrogen in 2012. The hydrogen was discovered at a relatively shallow depth in a small village in the south of Mali, Africa, by a local company, Petroma. It is the first and only hydrogen producing well in the world. It was estimated the well will produce hydrogen for another 15 years. The hydrogen is being used to power an electric generator and now is used only to power lighting and make ice. However, the village expects to eventually use the electricity to power water pumps, operate grinding mills and provide lighting for schools.
Picture of the wellhead producing natural hydrogen, which powers electric generating facility in Mali. Screenshot from the youtube video.