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A Team of Scientists May Have Discovered the World’s Largest Deposit of White Hydrogen in France

By October 2, 2023 3   min read  (510 words)

October 2, 2023 |

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While investigating the state of methane in the subsurface of Lorraine, a team of scientists from the GeoRessources Laboratory at the University of Lorraine and CNRS experienced what is known as a “serendipity.” While exploring the subsurface from the town of Folschviller, they stumbled upon an astonishing amount of white hydrogen, potentially the largest deposit in the world.

Innovative Technology

Thanks to the tool called SysMoG, developed in collaboration with the company Solexperts, these researchers were able to analyze dissolved gases in geological formations up to 1,200 meters deep. This state-of-the-art device, with a diameter of only 6 cm, is a marvel of miniaturization and environmental sustainability.

Implications of White Hydrogen

Unlike gray hydrogen, which is produced industrially and has a high environmental cost, white hydrogen already exists naturally. Its existence in its pure form makes it a perfect candidate to replace fossil fuels in energy-intensive industries, such as glass, steel, and cement production.

Origin of Hydrogen in Lorraine

Current theory suggests that this white hydrogen is the result of reactions between water molecules and minerals composed of iron carbonates. This combination generates an almost “renewable” production of hydrogen, with chemical processes occurring over weeks or months.

The Future of Research

The next step for scientists is to demonstrate the homogeneity and quantity of hydrogen in the 490 km2 area. They plan to conduct a deep survey of 3,000 meters, and if all goes well, they could begin a realistic assessment of this resource in 2024, with financial support from various industrial and institutional partners.

Redefining Natural Gas Exploitation

This deposit, although with lower pressure than conventional ones, extends further. It could provide opportunities for innovation, such as the selective extraction of specific gases to reduce the impact on agricultural lands.

Although hydrogen may be viewed with caution due to historical incidents such as the 1937 Hindenburg explosion, it is actually safe underground as there is no oxygen. Preventing it from coming into contact with the air will be crucial in any future extraction process.

The discovery has been welcomed with enthusiasm in Lorraine, especially in Folschviller. Given its mining history, the region sees this find as an opportunity to revitalize an economy affected by deindustrialization.

What is “White Hydrogen.”

“White hydrogen” refers to hydrogen that is naturally occurring in nature, without the need for industrial processes to produce it. It is essentially pure hydrogen found in underground reservoirs or other natural sources.

In the context of hydrogen production and use, different “colors” are used to describe how it is produced:

  • Grey Hydrogen: produced from natural gas in a process that releases CO2.
  • Green Hydrogen: produced through water electrolysis using renewable energy.
  • Blue Hydrogen: similar to grey hydrogen, but with carbon capture and storage to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Black Hydrogen: produced from coal.

White hydrogen is particularly valuable because its extraction does not involve carbon emissions, unlike some other methods of hydrogen production. Its availability in nature makes it a potentially important resource for the transition to cleaner energy sources.

 

SOURCE: EcoInventos

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