MOU-Hydrogen Commentary and Summary

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350 Santa Fe, June 1, 2022

This MOU is between the following organizations:

The MOU is focussed on the science, technologies and policy impacts of hydrogen as it relates to areas of shared interest. Policy impacts include, but are not limited to, climate, economy, energy, environment, equity, research, water, and the workforce. There is a focus on test-bed models for hydrogen production and carbon capture and sequestration. The size of the 'test-bed models' is not included. Normally, process development leads from the R&D labs through pilot plants to full-scale commercial adoption. Investments in 'test-bed models' may be problematic since neither size nor funds invested are specified or limited. Such arrangements risk stranded assets that taxpayers may be responsible for.

Specific areas of cooperation are:

  • Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Generation from Methane and Biomass [methane] and Carbon Capture and Sequestration
  • Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Generation using Concentrating Solar Thermochemical Methods
  • Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Generation from Brackish and Saline Waters
  • Large-Scale Hydrogen Storage
  • Hydrogen Distribution
  • Production of Carbon-neutral Alternatives to Petroleum-based Products [i.e. bio-sourced chemicals instead of petro-sourced chemicals]
  • Direct Air Capture (DAC) of CO2.
  • Fit for Purpose End Use Applications [unexplained]
  • Safety, Codes and Standards [for hydrogen handling]
  • Monitoring [for safety and emissions]
  • Lifecycle Analysis of Zero Carbon Hydrogen Emissions [including legal issues]

The first of these is problematic because it expands the use of fossil-fuels and attendant methane emissions, and relies on developing technology for costly carbon capture and sequestration facilities. The third of these speaks to brackish and saline waters. Most of the time both of these contain chlorides such as sodium chloride. Electrolyzing salt water is one way to manufacture chlorine and a valuable chemical product. Efficient electrolyzers require pure water to avoid degradation of the electrolyzer electrodes. Most of the world is electrolyzing clean water to meet their hydrogen needs.

Lead coordinators will be designated for this work but the MOU doesn't say who or how. No money is to be provided to fund any of the work and all work will fall under existing contracts with the national labs. So it's not clear who is going to pay for any test-bed or pilot plant. The MOU does include provisions for ownership of intellectual property.

What's missing is any effort to work on the technologies of electrolyzers and fuel-cells. The rest of the world see these as essential areas for development and the role hydrogen can play.