The first and most popular way is through its combustion, a process that has a number of characteristics. The main advantage of burning hydrogen to generate electricity is its high calorific value, which makes the efficiency of the hydrogen plant significantly higher than other alternatives.
The combustion of H2 does not emit carbon dioxide, it is not a poisonous gas and there is no danger of poisoning in the presence of a leak in the system. The main disadvantages are several, the most important of which is the presence of increased levels of nitrogen oxides in the combustion of hydrogen, which is due to the rapid combustion of hydrogen and the high temperatures at which it burns. Another disadvantage of burning hydrogen for electricity generation is the additional safety measures that must be taken, as it is a highly flammable gas.
The most significant hurdle today for the commercial combustion of hydrogen for electricity is related to its physicochemical properties, which does not allow a 100% use in the current gas power plants, which leads to the need to develop a new type of turbine that will fully absorb hydrogen as a raw material. For turbines used in current gas-fired power plants, it is possible to blend hydrogen with natural gas in small quantities of 5 to 20% without the need for any change in the production process.
We must also consider hydrogen-based fuels and feedstocks (such as synthetic methane, synthetic liquid-fuels, ammonia or methanol), which are those resulting energy carriers that can be produced from H2. An interesting point is that except for ammonia, the other 3 require carbon (C) for its production, meaning these can also be integrated in a wider process that includes carbon capture and storage (CCUS), proving once again that H2 has an immense an ample potential across industries. These types of fuels have the added advantage of having a higher energy density, so they are easier to store, transport and use, some of pure H2 drawbacks. And not only this, but existing infrastructure already processes them for ongoing operations or require less capital intensive investments to do so. They can be consider as stepping stones towards the widespread use of H2.