ECTL Working Paper
Economic and Environmental Supply of Hydrogen Fuels in Comparison with Conventional Fuels
ECTL Working Paper 40, Hrsg.: Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Logistik, Hamburg 2008.
In the last few years a series of demonstration projects have taken place that have demonstrated the potential of a transport energy system based on hydrogen. These have seen the development and demonstration of different hydrogen infrastructures, buses and cars powered by hydrogen fuel cell and internal combustion engines. Today, there are about 100 Fuel Cell (FC) and internal combustion engines (ICE) cars, a few FC delivery vans in operation around the world. Most of the buses are in regular public transport and airport trolley service. Target of these projects was to implement a demonstration of state-of-the-art hydrogen technology by running part of the transport system with hydrogen fuels. This is because, it is assumed that hydrogen fuel offers large potential benefits in terms of reduced emission of pollutants, greenhouse gases and diversified primary energy supply.
However, current supply of hydrogen is either not economical or not environmental. Some production methods of hydrogen damage the environment three times more than combusting diesel fuels in conventional vehicles. Besides this, production cost of one kilogram H2 is three to four times more than one kilogram diesel fuel.
Objective of this thesis is to develop hydrogen supply chain concepts that will obviate the problems and is competitive with the existing conventional fuels both from economic and environmental perspectives. Therefore, hydrogen supply chain is reviewed in detail (Well-to- Wheel) by breaking it down into subsections like production, logistics and utilization in transport. After the analysis, new concepts are developed and benchmarked with the conventional fuels via decision model.
At the end, it was clear that the hydrogen production pathways through reformer or electrolyzes do either cost more than conventional fuels or cause higher emission during the whole supply chain. Therefore, for the initiation phase, it was suggested to capture hydrogen that is released as byproduct from the chlor alkali process with low cost and install the fuelling station close to the plants to save transportation cost. Besides this, utilization of the existing hydrogen pipeline should also be considered for future extension. Region North Rhine Westphalia in Germany with 30% of the chlor alkali industry and installed hydrogen pipeline fits to this description and has an economically competitive pricing structure with a high environmental benefit. Therefore, attention should be given in regions with these characteristics for the initiation of hydrogen powered transportation sector.