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02 October 2010

 

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The Market need for Hydrogen

 

In terms of the existing market need let alone the proposed market, the following came from Universal Industrial Gases web site that lists uses of hydrogen as:

Metals:

Hydrogen is mixed with inert gases to obtain a reducing atmosphere, which is required for many applications in the metallurgical industry, such as heat treating steel and welding.  It is often used in annealing stainless steel alloys, magnetic steel alloys, sintering and copper brazing.

Hydrogen can be produced by dissociation of ammonia at about 1800˚F with the aid of a catalyst - which results in a mix of 75% hydrogen and 25% mononuclear nitrogen (N rather than N2). The mix is used as a protective atmosphere for applications such as brazing or bright annealing.

Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Petroleum:

Hydrogen is used in large quantities as a raw material in the chemical synthesis of ammonia, methanol, hydrogen peroxide, polymers, and solvents.  

In refineries, it is used to remove the sulphur that is contained in crude oil.  Hydrogen is catalytically combined with various intermediate processing streams and is used, in conjunction with catalytic cracking operations, to convert heavy and unsaturated compounds to lighter and more stable compounds.

The pharmaceutical industry uses hydrogen to manufacture vitamins and other pharmaceutical products.

Large quantities of hydrogen are used to purify gases (e.g. argon) that contain trace amounts of oxygen, using catalytic combination of the oxygen and hydrogen followed by removal of the resulting water.  

Glass and Ceramics:

In float glass manufacturing, hydrogen is required to prevent oxidation of the large tin bath.  

Food and Beverages:

It is used to hydrogenate unsaturated fatty acids in animal and vegetable oils, producing solid fats for margarine and other food products.  

Electronics:

Hydrogen is used as a carrier gas for such active trace elements as arsine and phospine in the manufacture of semi-conducting layers in integrated circuits.

Miscellaneous:

Generators in large power plants are often cooled with hydrogen, since the gas processes high thermal conductivity and offers low friction resistance.

Liquid hydrogen is used as a rocket fuel.

The nuclear fuel industry uses hydrogen as a protective atmosphere in the fabrication of fuel rods.

The Market need for Oxygen

 

 

Oxygen is much cheaper than Hydrogen and is approximately 10p/kg.  The global market has been difficult to research and no known global production figure was found.  From the Chemical and Engineering news it was possible to ascertain that oxygen production is triple that of Hydrogen: 150 million tonnes.

From the same source as the above, the uses for Oxygen are:

Metal Fabrication:

Oxygen is used with fuel gases in gas welding, gas cutting, oxygen scarfing, flame cleaning, flame hardening, and flame straightening.

In gas cutting, the oxygen must be of high quality to ensure a high cutting speed and a clean cut.

Metals Manufacturing Uses for Oxygen:

The largest user of oxygen is the steel industry.  Modern steel making relies heavily on the use of oxygen to enrich air and increase combustion temperatures in blast furnaces and open hearth furnaces as well as to replace coke with other combustible materials.  During the steel making process, unwanted carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon oxides, which leave as gases. Oxygen is fed into the steel bath through a special lance.  Oxygen is used to allow greater use of scrap metal in electric arc furnaces.  Large quantities of oxygen are also used to make other metals, such as copper, lead, and zinc.

Oxygen enrichment of combustion air, or oxygen injection through lances, is used to an increasing extent in cupola furnaces, open-hearth furnaces, smelters for glass and mineral wool, and lime and cement kilns, to enhance their capacity and reduce energy requirements.  Smelting times and energy consumption can also be reduced by special oxy-oil or oxy-gas burners in electro-steel furnaces and induction smelters for aluminium.  A high thermal efficiency is achieved by these “oxy-fuel” burners, which mix fuel and oxygen at the tip of the burner.  As a result, rapid combustion occurs at approximately 2800o C (5072oF).

Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Petroleum Uses:

Oxygen is used as a raw material in many oxidation processes, including the manufacture of ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, synthesis gas using partial oxidation of a wide range of hydrocarbons, ethylene dichloride, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, vinyl chloride and phthalic acid.

Very large quantities of oxygen are used in coal gasification to generate a synthesis gas that can be used as a chemical feedstock or precursor for more easily- transported and easily-used fuels.  

Oxygen is used to enrich the air feed to catalytic cracking regenerators, which increases capacity of the units. It is used in sulphur recovery units to achieve similar benefits. Oxygen is also used to regenerate catalysts in refineries.

Oxygen is used to achieve more complete combustion and destruction of hazardous and waste materials in incinerators.

Glass and Ceramics Industry Uses:

Conversion of combustion systems from air-fuel to oxy-fuel (and construction of new furnaces and tanks around this technology) results in better control of heating patterns, higher furnace efficiencies (lower fuel consumption) and reduction in particulate and NOX emissions.  

Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Uses:

Oxygen is increasingly important as a bleaching chemical.  In the manufacture of high-quality bleached pulp, the lignin in the pulp must be removed in a bleaching process.  Chlorine has been used for this purpose but new processes using oxygen reduce water pollution.  Oxygen plus caustic soda can replace hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide in the bleaching process, resulting in lower costs.

In a chemical pulp mill, oxygen added to the combustion air increases the production capacity of the soda recovery boiler and the lime-reburning kiln.  The use of oxygen in black liquor oxidation reduces the discharge of sulphur pollutants into the atmosphere.

Health Care Uses:

In medicine, oxygen is used during surgery, intensive care treatment, inhalation therapy, etc. High standards of purity and handling must be maintained.

Oxygen is typically supplied to hospitals though bulk liquid deliveries, then distributed to usage points.  It assists with respiratory problems, saving lives and increasing patient comfort.  

Small portable air separation units are gaining wide use in homes. Compact non-cryogenic units, typically producing 93% purity medical grade oxygen, are being utilized in small and/or remote hospitals where demand is high enough to make cylinder deliveries a logistical problem but where liquid deliveries are unavailable or very costly.  

Environmental:

In the biological treatment of waste-water, the use of oxygen instead of air permits increased capacity in existing treatment plants.  Injecting oxygen into sewers reduces hydrogen sulphide formation, which results in reduced corrosion and odour.

Ozone is used for drinking water treatment, in particular when alternatives, such as chlorine, are undesirable.

Miscellaneous Uses for Oxygen:

Oxygen has many uses in breathing apparatus, such as those for underwater work, refinery and chemical plant self contained breathing apparatus.

Aquaculture, the cultivation of fish in ponds uses oxygenated water to increase yields.

Liquid oxygen is used in liquid-fuelled rockets as the oxidizer for liquid hydrogen and liquid methane.

The market for oxygen is similarly well established and increasing.  55% of oxygen is used in furnaces to increase burn temperatures.  22% of the market is for chemical feedstocks, whilst the remainder is for welding, diving, and medical uses.  

 

So we hope you will agree that there is an established and increasing market for Hydrogen and Oxygen.  

 

If we are to produce Hydrogen and Oxygen using renewable energy, we have to produce it in large quantities and the only space left is far offshore.