The Hydrogen Economy: Current Reality and Future Prospects From the Perspective of a Major Producer.

CIM Montreal 2007
Abstract By: Pierre Gauthier
Air Liquide Canada Inc. (2006)

Is the hydrogen economy of the future just another fish story? Absolutely not! There have been many changes affecting the energy equation over the last 10 years and conditions have changed. In this presentation, we will examine the reasons why, in the very near future, hydrogen production and distribution will be increasingly visible on many industries’ radar screens.

Our presentation provides an overview of;

• The technical challenges with hydrogen;
o making hydrogen without CO2
o reducing cost of hydrogen for the end user around $5/Kg
o increasing pressure in current hydrogen distribution architecture from 160 bars to 350 bars and 700 bars
• The economical challenges;
o Who should invest first?
o What should come first?
o When will fossil fuel prices intersect hydrogen prices?

We will seek to confirm that experimental projects are now behind us. We will demonstrate that we are ready to move rapidly towards the pre-commercial applications that will eventually provide significant savings and other benefits to a wide variety of industries.

• The AC back-up power market
• Fuel cell powered fork-lifts
• The DC back-up power market
• The micro fuel cell power market

Beyond our ability to produce and deliver hydrogen, Air Liquide is an enabler of the H2 economy. We are actively developing the H2 architecture and infrastructure that will allow many Canadian firms–who have already demonstrated leadership in H2 technologies–to expand their markets and grow into highly successful organizations.

As an enabler, we believe that finding hydrogen producers and hydrogen loads (vehicles and stationary power) will be the way to go for the next 5-10 years. On one hand, those that can produce hydrogen at a lower cost (using waste or off-peak energy) and on the other hand, those that can benefit from lower cost hydrogen to run their operations. We have identified two dozens of these ‘loops’;


Some examples;

• The mining sector can use hydrogen from electrolysis with off-peak river power or wind turbine to fuel a number of underground applications running on hydrogen. Benefits derived from use of hydrogen are numerous;

o Reduced ventilation costs
o Reduced contaminants in air
o Reduced costs from purchase of fuel
o Reduced costs from transportation and inventory of fuel

• Municipalities stuck with solid waste can use plasma to create a gas that can be used to produce electricity and hydrogen to fuel a number of field vehicles.

• Industrial sites with digesters can use the methane produced to make hydrogen that can fuel a number of field vehicles and reduce overall GHG emissions.

• Landfill sites with membranes can use hydrogen produced to power a number of field vehicles as well.



We believe the mining sector has a great opportunity to devote few resources to test and validate the use of hydrogen underground. A solid business case could be made that hydrogen will save money on the short and long run for the mining operators. We would like to enable a mining project and demonstrate its success.

Air Liquide has the strength of 104 years of scientific achievement, technical excellence, and business success. The Air Liquide Group is dedicated to devoting the necessary resources–on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world–to ensure the successful implementation of a number of innovative H2 projects. Our presentation includes a brief description of some of these projects. We think you will be surprised at their variety and impressed by how these projects are closely related to today’s energy issues.

We hope to convince you that the hydrogen economy of the future is filled with promise and potential. Thank you for your attention.

Keywords: hydrogen
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