Did you know? Air Liquide and hydrogen go back a long way

Published on March 10, 2022

5 mins

There is a lot of talk about hydrogen at the moment, but where does it actually come from? What is it made up of? And what are the possible uses of this gas in France and around the world? The below Q&A will help you to better understand this hot topic and what is at stake.

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen was discovered by Henry Cavendish in 1766. It was given its name by Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier, based on the Greek word for “water”, “hydro”, and “produce”, “genen”. The simplicity of the hydrogen atom makes it the lightest chemical element; it is made up of one proton and one electron.

When did Air Liquide start producing hydrogen?

Hydrogen is often presented as a new energy carrier, however, we have known about this for several hundred years. In the XIX st century, hydrogen was already being used to light up cities. As for Air Liquide, we started developing our unique know-how in the management of the entire hydrogen value chain, from production to storage and finally to distribution, over 50 years ago.

Can hydrogen reduce industrial emissions?

Hydrogen is often described as a clean energy carrier in the transportation sector. But did you know that it can also help to decarbonize certain industrial processes? For example, in the metals industry, it is possible to produce steel using hydrogen instead of the highly polluting coal. This is exactly what thyssenkrupp Steel, the global leader in flat rolled carbon steel is trying to do at the moment. With Air Liquide, the German steel group aims to reduce by 20% the carbon dioxide emissions produced by its blast furnaces in Ruhr, all thanks to hydrogen!

A revolution for transport?

Although the rollout of passenger hydrogen vehicles around the world is still limited, hydrogen is facing a surge in demand in both the public transport and heavy transportation sectors. For example, taxis in Paris and buses in Versailles already run on hydrogen. By 2030, this should also be the case for hundreds of thousands of trucks all over the world.

And the next step is beginning, hydrogen for trains and planes:

  •  Using hydrogen in the rail industry has very positive deployment prospects given that 70% of European rail networks have not yet been electrified
  •  As for the aviation industry, Air Liquide has committed to developing hydrogen infrastructure in airports, in anticipation of the first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft, which has been announced for 2035

What do hydrogen-powered vehicles emit?

Only water! They are electric vehicles equipped with a fuel cell that transforms hydrogen into electricity. 

The result is zero CO2 emissions and zero noise.

What is the outlook for the hydrogen market?

A study conducted by the Hydrogen Council suggests that the global hydrogen market could be valued at 2.5 trillion euros by 2050.
More than 15 countries across Europe, Asia and North America have integrated hydrogen into their national strategies with significant stimulus plans. In March 2021, Air Liquide announced that it aimed to triple its hydrogen-related revenue and invest approximately 8 billion euros in the low-carbon hydrogen value chain by 2035.