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:
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.