Transporting Hydrogen

 The form of hydrogen transportation depends on the form of hydrogen being transported. There are different methods for transporting gaseous hydrogen and liquid hydrogen. Most of these methods are still being developed and refined; they are not yet in large-scale use.

Transporting gaseous hydrogen

In its gaseous form, hydrogen could be transported over a network of pipelines. Pipelines are commonly used today to distribute hydrogen over a short distance for industrial use, but a wider system would have to be introduced if hydrogen becomes the fuel source of choice for vehicles, homes, and businesses. This pipeline system could be similar to the way that natural gas is distributed. The hydrogen pipeline system also would need more compressors than a natural gas system. A small amount of hydrogen that is traveling along the pipeline would have to be used to power the compressors. Some experts believe that one way to address the distribution question is by converting natural gas pipeline systems to hydrogen. These supporters believe that only the seals, the meters, and the equipment at the end of the pipeline would have to be modified to support hydrogen. There are also trucks that transport hydrogen as a compressed gas, but they hold a much smaller quantity than a gasoline tanker.

Transporting liquid hydrogen

Transporting the liquid form of hydrogen could take many forms. As gasoline is now, hydrogen could be transported via truck, railcar, or ship. This method could be expensive and difficult. It would take about 21 tanker trucks of hydrogen to carry the equivalent of one gasoline tanker because hydrogen has a low density.

Benefits and drawbacks of hydrogen transport methods The infrastructure to transport hydrogen does not yet exist. Some experts believe that the questions about how to produce, distribute, and store the hydrogen have to be answered all at once for the infrastructure to be properly implemented. Regardless of which methods are eventually used, it will still cost billions of dollars to create this transportation infrastructure. That cost is one large obstacle to the development of better transportation methods.


Transporting Hydrogen copyright 2011