Green Hydrogen for Industrial Heating - For what industrial heating applications will Green hydrogen be economical and appropriate ? - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Themes and Topics

  • Green hydrogen economic viability
  • Green hydrogen in cement production
  • Green hydrogen in chemical industry
  • Green hydrogen in food industry
  • Green hydrogen in glass manufacturing
  • Green hydrogen in steel manufacturing
  • Green hydrogen industrial heating applications
  • Green hydrogen material compatibility
  • Green hydrogen safety measures.
  • Hydrogen combustion efficiency
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    For what industrial heating applications will Green hydrogen be economical and appropriate ?

    Green hydrogen is poised to play a significant role in decarbonizing industrial heating applications, especially where high temperatures are required that electric heating cannot efficiently or economically provide. The transition to green hydrogen for industrial heating is not just a matter of environmental sustainability but also hinges on technological readiness and economic viability, which are rapidly evolving with advancements in hydrogen production, storage, and utilization technologies.

    Unique Industrial Heating Applications for Green Hydrogen

    • Steel Manufacturing: One of the most promising applications of green hydrogen is in steel manufacturing, particularly in the direct reduction of iron ore. Hydrogen can replace carbon-intensive coke, reducing CO2 emissions to water vapor.
    • Cement Production: Hydrogen can serve as a fuel for the calcination process, where limestone (calcium carbonate) is heated to produce lime (calcium oxide), a process that currently emits a significant amount of CO2.
    • Glass Manufacturing: The glass industry requires high-temperature furnaces that could utilize hydrogen as a cleaner burning fuel to melt silica sand and other raw materials.
    • Chemical Industry: Hydrogen is crucial in high-temperature processes such as steam methane reforming (SMR) and in the production of ammonia and methanol. Transitioning to green hydrogen in these processes can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
    • Food and Beverage Industry: Hydrogen can be used in processes requiring high purity and precise temperature control, such as in baking and drying operations, where it can enhance efficiency and reduce carbon footprint.

    Economical Viability of Using Green Hydrogen in Industrial Heating

    The economic viability of using green hydrogen for industrial heating depends on several factors:

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    • Cost of Green Hydrogen Production: As the cost of renewable energy and electrolysis technology continues to decrease, green hydrogen is becoming more competitively priced. Economies of scale and technological advancements are expected to further drive down costs.
    • Carbon Pricing and Regulations: The implementation of carbon taxes or emissions trading systems increases the cost of carbon-intensive fuels, improving the relative economics of green hydrogen.
    • Energy Efficiency: While hydrogen combustion is highly efficient, the overall efficiency of the hydrogen supply chain (including production, storage, and transportation) and the integration into existing industrial processes are critical in determining cost-effectiveness.
    • Capital Expenditures for Retrofitting: The initial investment required to retrofit existing industrial furnaces and boilers to use hydrogen is a significant factor in economic viability. Financial incentives, grants, and technical support can help mitigate these costs.

    Using Hydrogen for High-Temperature Industrial Heating

    Hydrogen’s ability to achieve high temperatures is particularly advantageous for industrial processes that require heat above 1000°C. Unlike natural gas, hydrogen combustion produces water vapor instead of CO2, offering a pathway to decarbonize high-temperature industrial heating:

    • Combustion Characteristics: Hydrogen has a high flame temperature and a wide range of flammability, making it suitable for diverse heating applications. However, these characteristics also require careful management of combustion conditions to ensure efficiency and safety.
    • Retrofitting Challenges: Adapting existing industrial heating equipment for hydrogen use involves addressing material compatibility (to prevent hydrogen embrittlement), modifying burners and control systems, and ensuring adequate safety measures for hydrogen storage and handling.
    • Research and Development: Ongoing R&D efforts focus on optimizing burner designs, improving heat transfer efficiency in hydrogen-fired furnaces, and developing advanced materials that resist hydrogen embrittlement.


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    • Material Compatibility: Hydrogen can cause embrittlement in certain metals, posing a challenge for equipment and infrastructure used in hydrogen storage, transportation, and utilization. Developing materials that are compatible with hydrogen and resistant to embrittlement is crucial for ensuring the safety and durability of hydrogen systems.
    • Safety: Hydrogen has a wide flammability range and low ignition energy, making it potentially more hazardous than other fuels. Proper safety measures, such as leak detection systems, ventilation, and explosion-proof equipment, are essential to mitigate the risks associated with hydrogen handling and storage in industrial settings.
    • Combustion Efficiency: Achieving efficient combustion of hydrogen in industrial heating applications requires optimizing burner designs and combustion conditions. Hydrogen has different combustion characteristics compared to conventional fuels like natural gas, requiring adjustments in burner technology and control systems to ensure optimal performance and energy efficiency.
    • Heat Transfer Efficiency: Maximizing heat transfer efficiency in hydrogen-fired furnaces and boilers is essential for achieving desired process temperatures while minimizing energy consumption. Designing heat exchangers and insulation materials that are optimized for hydrogen combustion can help improve overall system efficiency.
    • Integration with Existing Infrastructure: Retrofitting existing industrial heating equipment to use hydrogen may require modifications to burner systems, control systems, and fuel supply infrastructure. Ensuring compatibility and seamless integration with existing equipment and processes while minimizing downtime and disruption to operations is a significant challenge.
    • Scale-up and Cost Reduction: Scaling up green hydrogen production and reducing its cost are critical challenges for widespread adoption in industrial heating applications. Advancements in electrolysis technology, renewable energy integration, and economies of scale are needed to drive down the cost of green hydrogen production and make it economically competitive with conventional fuels.
    • Regulatory and Policy Frameworks: Developing supportive regulatory frameworks and policies, such as carbon pricing mechanisms and incentives for hydrogen adoption, can facilitate the transition to green hydrogen for industrial heating. Clear and consistent regulations addressing safety, emissions, and infrastructure standards are essential for building confidence and enabling investment in hydrogen technologies.


    • Air Liquide: Air Liquide is a global supplier of industrial gases and services, including hydrogen. The company has been involved in various projects and partnerships aimed at using green hydrogen for industrial heating applications, particularly in sectors such as steel manufacturing and chemical production.
    • Siemens Energy: Siemens Energy is a global energy technology company that has been involved in the development of hydrogen-related technologies, including hydrogen production and utilization. The company has been exploring the use of green hydrogen for industrial heating as part of its efforts to decarbonize various sectors.
    • McPhy Energy: McPhy Energy is a French company that provides hydrogen production and storage solutions. They have been involved in projects related to using green hydrogen for industrial heating, particularly in sectors such as steel manufacturing and chemical processing.
    • Haldor Topsoe: Haldor Topsoe is a Danish catalyst and technology company that specializes in the production of ammonia, methanol, and other chemicals. The company has been exploring the use of green hydrogen in its chemical processes as part of its efforts to decarbonize its operations.

    Case Studies:

    a) Steel Industry: ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, is exploring the use of green hydrogen for industrial heating in steelmaking processes. They have initiated pilot projects to test the feasibility of replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen in steel reheating furnaces.

    b) Chemical Industry: BASF, a leading chemical company, is investing in green hydrogen projects for industrial heating applications. They are collaborating with partners to develop integrated solutions for using green hydrogen in chemical processing plants to reduce carbon emissions.


    Green hydrogen holds great potential for replacing fossil fuels in industrial heating applications, but significant challenges remain in terms of cost and infrastructure. However, ongoing research and development efforts by universities, companies, and industry partners are driving innovation and progress in this field. With continued investments and advancements in technology, green hydrogen is expected to become increasingly economical and appropriate for a wide range of industrial heating applications in the future.

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    About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

    Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

    Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

    Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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