Since water is the only emission, Hydrogen combustion has gained a huge amount of attention as a potential replacement for hydrocarbon fuels in Fired Heaters, Furnaces and other combustion processes within Refineries and Petrochemical sites.
In addition, the reaction can also be reversed via the electrolysis of water to produce Hydrogen and Oxygen gases. The cyclic potential of the reaction makes the process even more attractive from an environmental perspective and a significant effort has been launched globally to industrialise these processes.
Advantages of Hydrogen Energy (with Fired Heaters)
Hydrogen combustion (burning hydrogen) offers the following benefits and advantages:
- There are no environmentally harmful emissions (Water is the only emission)
- Hydrogen has a higher energy density than traditional hydrocarbon fuels
- Burning Hydrogen is a well-proven source of energy and can be burned safely
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Energy (with Fired Heaters)
Hydrogen combustion (burning hydrogen) has the following disadvantages:
- Hydrogen flames have a lower emissivity than traditional hydrocarbon flames
- Hydrogen flame visibility is very low and presents some challenge for standard instrumentation to detect. In some instances, it is also significantly more difficult for a human eye to identify the presence of a hydrogen flame
- Lack of infrastructure for Hydrogen storage and transportation
- Flue gas condensation more likely to occur as the hot flue gas is cooled within the heater
Hydrogen Burners in Fired Heaters
Hydrogen has routinely featured as a common component within fuel gases utilised within Fired Heaters and Furnaces for decades. In some cases, up to 60% of a refinery fuel gas may consist of hydrogen and in general is still able to perform as required without any special modifications being required.
The increasing pressure from Governments around the world is forcing Refineries and Petrochemical to adopt a zero-carbon approach and rethink how they manage their energy usage and the associated emissions, without impacting their production outputs.
Replacing traditional fuels completely with Hydrogen in Fired Heaters and Furnaces does present some challenges currently, as mentioned above. However, with current effort and investments to improve technologies such as flame detection scanners, we're confident that 100% replacement with Hydrogen will increasingly become more and more common.