Before hydrogen makes it big, we have to overcome a massive, ocean-sized challenge: Transporting the fuel between continents. 

The places that will be best suited to produce hydrogen via renewables-powered electrolysis, like Australia and Egypt, will have to ship that hydrogen to demand centers in Japan, Europe, and elsewhere.

And it turns out that shipping hydrogen is way harder than shipping oil or natural gas. Hydrogen has a very low volumetric energy density. Compared to one barrel of oil, the equivalent amount of gaseous hydrogen takes up way more space to transport.

Fortunately, a range of technologies could solve this problem. Will one become the dominant means of transporting hydrogen across the oceans?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy. Anne-Sophie recently wrote about hydrogen transport for Cipher News

They cover the five leading contenders for transoceanic transport:

  • Liquified hydrogen
  • E-methane, also known as synthetic methane or carbon neutral gas
  • Liquid organic hydrogen carriers(LOHCs)
  • Methanol
  • Ammonia

They also discuss topics like:

  • Why good old fashioned pipelines might be a viable option for transport, even between continents
  • The challenges of converting natural gas infrastructure into hydrogen infrastructure
  • Why hydrogen exporters might be better off producing products made with hydrogen, such as steel, rather than the hydrogen itself

Recommended Resources:

  • Cipher News: Global hydrogen trade may be just a pipe dream
  • IRENA: Global Hydrogen Trade to Meet the 1.5°C Climate Goal: Technology Review of Hydrogen Carriers
  • IEA: Global Hydrogen Review 2022

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