Energy SecurityHydrogen Can Play Key Role in U.S. Decarbonization

Earlier this summer, Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm launched the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Earthshots Initiative, and the first Energy Earthshot is the “Hydrogen Shot,” with the goal of accelerating development and deployment of clean hydrogen across sectors.

DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) plays a leading role in the research and development of clean hydrogen, on both the fundamental science and applied technologies sides.

Adam Weber is Berkeley Lab’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Program Manager and leads Berkeley Lab’s Energy Conversion Group (ECG), and Ahmet Kusoglu is a staff scientist in the ECG, a multidisciplinary team of electrochemists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, theorists, and material scientists with active collaborations across industry, academia, and national laboratories.

October 8th is Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, chosen because the atomic weight of hydrogen is 1.008. Weber and Kusoglu took some time to discuss the benefits of a hydrogen economy with Berkeley Lab News Center’s Kiran Julin.

Kiran Julin: What makes hydrogen such a promising, clean energy source?
Ahmet Kusoglu: Hydrogen is not really an energy source. It is rather an energy carrier or what we often call an energy vector. So, you have to produce hydrogen from another energy source, store it, and then use or convert it. Hydrogen is a versatile and flexible energy carrier because it can be produced from various sources and for different applications. This flexibility is a key benefit of hydrogen versus other hydrocarbon fuels or energy storage technologies like batteries.

Adam Weber: Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier because it doesn’t contain any carbon at all. And so if we talk about decarbonized energy, it’s storing it all in a hydrogen-to-hydrogen bond. It’s also a relatively small and simple molecule, which makes it easier to put electricity or energy into the bonds and to remove it when we use it.