Did you know that coal, which is commonly used for traditional energy production, might have a new and exciting use?
Scientists at Penn State University have made a remarkable discovery while working on renewable energy sources.
They have found that coal can store hydrogen gas, offering a clean energy solution and economic opportunities.
Storing hydrogen efficiently and economically has been a challenge, which has hindered the development of a sustainable energy supply chain.
But this discovery could change that.
The lead researcher, Shimin Liu, explains, “We found that coal can be this geological hydrogen battery. You could inject and store the hydrogen energy and have it there when you need to use it.”
This means that coal could play a significant role in the future of clean energy.
Hydrogen has the potential to power high-consumption industries like transportation, power generation, and manufacturing because it burns cleanly.
However, a significant obstacle is creating a hydrogen infrastructure, including storage solutions.
Geologic formations have shown promise for storing large amounts of hydrogen to meet varying energy demands.
Coal is an excellent candidate for storing hydrogen in geological formations because it is readily available and has existing infrastructure.
After examining different types of coal, researchers found that low-volatile bituminous coal from eastern Virginia and anthracite coal from eastern Pennsylvania were the most suitable.
Similar to how methane is stored in coal, depleted coalbed methane deposits could be used for hydrogen storage. These formations act as seals and are often covered with shale or mudstone layers.
Specialized machinery has been developed to overcome the specific challenges of storing hydrogen in coal.
This discovery not only opens up possibilities for building a hydrogen infrastructure but also offers opportunities to revitalize coal mining towns.
It’s a step towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.
Researchers also plan to study the rate at which hydrogen can be injected into and recovered from coal in the future.
They are investigating dynamic diffusivity and permeability to better understand the process.
Additionally, they highlight the economic opportunities for coal mining areas that have been greatly affected by the changing energy landscape.
By repurposing these areas and building hydrogen storage infrastructure, new possibilities can emerge while utilizing the skills of existing energy engineers.
Penn State University is well-positioned to lead this research and contribute to the nation’s hydrogen infrastructure.
They have abundant natural gas and coal supplies, along with the necessary engineering and business expertise.
With coal acting as a geological hydrogen battery, the possibility of a cleaner and more sustainable energy future becomes more achievable.