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As long as rigorous standards are applied, academics at the University of Aberdeen argue that blue hydrogen can help scale up the market ready for when green hydrogen can be produced at scale and cost-competitively.

By Joseph Murphy

Blue hydrogen can serve as an "attractive bridging technology", helping to scale up the hydrogen market for when green hydrogen can be produced at scale and cost-competitively, academics wrote in a University of Aberdeen blog post on July 19.

While some experts have dismissed blue hydrogen as incompatible in a decarbonised energy future, in light of associated methane emissions and limitations on how much CO2 produced during steam reforming can be captured, others have challenged this conclusion, arguing they are based on a first-of-its-kind steam methane reforming plant with CO2 capture, designed to demonstrate technical feasibility rather than optimise efficiency.

"They think the original findings lack scientific rigour and present an unrealistic picture and are potentially misleading," the academics wrote. "Instead, they demonstrate that the climate impacts associated with blue hydrogen can be mitigated by ensuring low methane emissions and high CO2 capture rates."

"Additional research supports this conclusion and presents blue hydrogen as an attractive bridging technology with similar climate change impacts to green hydrogen, compatible with low-carbon economies."

Given that blue hydrogen is two or three times cheaper than green hydrogen, the former can play a key role in scaling up the market until the later can be produced in enough volume and at a low enough cost, the academics wrote. But they stress that rigorous regulation is needed to ensure that the right thresholds for methane emissions and carbon capture rates are adhered to.

The blog post was written by Dr Alfonso Martinez-Felipe, professor Russel McKenna and postgraduate Anna Peecock at Aberdeen University's School of Engineering, and professor Angel Cuesta at the university's School of Natural and Computing Sciences. References for the research that the blog draws from can be found here.