It is the oldest and most abundant element in the universe. It exists in the stars, but it is not easy to find on its own, due to its very strong gregarious tendency. Incidentally, pure hydrogen is only available on our planet in the molecular form H2 (dihydrogen), or in other words, in sets of two atoms, the smallest and lightest that exist.

 

In isolation, hydrogen does not exist naturally in the biosphere. A good companion, it associates with other elements, mostly non-metals, to make life on Earth possible. Combined with oxygen it is water, where two atoms are bonded to one oxygen atom (H2O). With carbon it forms methane (CH4), coal and petroleum. It is in everything that grows (biomass).

Only becoming liquid at temperatures below -258.8oC, the first element of the periodic table of modern chemistry has among its properties excellent flammability, which forces one to handle it with care, and the fact that it is a good energy carrier. In other words, a substance that contains energy that is convertible into other forms, such as mechanical work or heat. And this is while emitting only water vapour, a huge advantage over coal and oil, which leave residues in the air.

 

Hydrogen can be produced through various processes and different primary energy sources can be used. Currently, the most common are fossil fuels, with natural gas (70% of cases) coming well ahead of diesel and coal and energy made through the reforming process, in which water vapour reacts with methane (natural gas) at high temperatures.

 

With the price of renewable energy becoming increasingly competitive, its use for hydrogen production through water electrolysis is gaining more and more interest, combined with the inherent environmental gains.

Hydrogen can be removed from water by electrolysers, machines that use an electric current to split its two components. When the electricity used in this process (electrolysis) comes from renewable sources and without carbon emissions, as is the case of solar or wind energy, the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) is close to zero and therefore this gas is known as "green hydrogen".

 

Biomass is also being considered, where there is this sustainable (but limited) resource available in abundance.

 

The environmental advantages of green hydrogen are undeniable, at a time when climate change mitigation and the fight against global warming have forced the adoption of tight decarbonisation targets and have become imperative for the very survival of humanity. Hence the investment in research and development of hydrogen production techniques, increasing the economic competitiveness of this energy.

The high energy efficiency of hydrogen, combined with the fact that it is low polluting, makes its use highly recommendable in transport (heavy-duty, maritime and air) and heating, especially in places where it is difficult to get electricity.

 

Given that hydrogen is produced in its molecular form (H2), it is possible to release the energy present within the molecule by reacting with oxygen to produce water. This is possible using traditional internal combustion engines or with devices called fuel cells. This ability to simultaneously produce electricity and potable water, in a sustainable way, has been very convenient in space missions.

 

The possibility of transporting hydrogen through pipelines and other existing gas networks, mixed with natural gas in a portion up to 15% (in volume), is particularly favourable. In this way, the current natural gas infrastructures will play a fundamental role in enabling higher levels of incorporation of hydrogen

and therefore of renewable sources in final consumption.

A very advantageous aspect of hydrogen-based chemistry is the potential it has to decarbonise much of the petrochemical industry, acting as a carbon sink.

 

Hydrocarbons (containing hydrogen and carbon) are present in almost all fuels, plastics, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals produced with petroleum-derived feedstock.

 

When carbon capture and use technologies evolve in the move towards a circular and decarbonised economy, (green) hydrogen will be needed to convert the captured carbon into usable chemicals such as methanol, methane, urea or formic acid.

 

With hydrogen, the use and valorisation of carbon will be a viable alternative for industries where decarbonisation is difficult, such as cement and steel.

Regarding the mission of creating an innovative and sustainable chemistry that contributes to a better world, Bondalti sees an opportunity in hydrogen production to enhance advanced, intelligent and efficient technologies, with low environmental impact, guiding the company towards more qualified products with higher added value.

 

Aligned with the European decarbonisation and reindustrialisation goals, Bondalti submitted the project "H2Enable - The Hydrogen Way for Our Chemical Future" to the expression of interest for participation in the future Hydrogen Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

 

Bondalti's project stands out for its coverage of the hydrogen value chain, including the production of photovoltaic energy, the production of green hydrogen for direct sale on the market and for the manufacture of green ammonia, as well as the incorporation of these raw materials into the aniline production chain.

 

In the case of green ammonia, the "H2Enable" project also aims to replace imports with domestic production, positioning Portugal as a net exporter of this product.