There have been some indications recently that the Earth’s interior may contain significant hydrogen concentrations.
There are now a number of operational wells that produce hydrogen in various parts of the world. As hundreds of businesses, many of them located in Australia, compete for the privilege to explore the gas, there will undoubtedly be more in the near future. Last year, the US Geological Survey started its first effort to identify promising sites for its production, and the American Society of Petroleum Geologists established its first committee on natural hydrogen. Even oil and gas corporations are becoming more active with hydrogen, such as Brazil’s GEO4U. But where on our world does this gas come from, and is it really renewable?
In contrast to oil, hydrogen is renewable. Furthermore, it appears that this gas is formed by a number of different methods. Serpentineization is among the most prevalent. The mineral olivine transforms into the mineral serpentinite when it is exposed to water, high temperatures, and pressure. The process of this reaction involves the oxidation of iron, which releases hydrogen while absorbing oxygen atoms from water molecules. According to a 2014 study, serpentization is the source of 80% of the hydrogen created inside the Earth.
Radiolysis is a different method by which hydrogen is created. Uranium and thorium, two radioactive elements found in the crust of the earth, decay and release alpha particles as a result. In turn, this radiation has the ability to separate subterranean water molecules and produce hydrogen. A more radical theory, advanced by some scientists, states that fundamental hydrogen leaks into the crust of the earth, which was deposited in the planet’s iron core not long after it was formed. That is, it overcomes thousands of kilometers and rises to the surface.
Scientists still don’t fully understand how hydrogen forms and moves, as there is still a lack of knowledge regarding this process. Furthermore, it is unknown if hydrogen can build up in large enough quantities to be employed commercially. The majority of known sources of hydrogen actually have insufficient amounts for gas production on a large scale.
At the volcanic Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, scientists have found a significant amount of hydrogen. The “Lost City” is a location where a lot of gas is released. The tall “chimneys” of the alleged “white smokers” are where it acquired its moniker. They spew hot water that is rich in minerals.
Scientists have found comparable hydrogen flows in a few hot springs and geothermal wells spread over Iceland, which is situated between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. A research that was released the previous year reported on this.
Thus, hydrogen must be present where tectonic plates meet. Yet for economic gain, scientists are seeking for this in cratons, the oldest layers of the earth’s crust, also known as the prehistoric “foundations” of the continents. Greenstone belts, or bands of iron-rich rocks, are found inside them. They are the remains of oceanic crust that have been trapped between the plates as a result of previous continental collisions.
Scientists assert that olivine and other minerals are sufficiently deep here to have temperatures more than 200 degrees. Water is still creeping down to this depth at the same time. As previously stated, such circumstances are perfect for the creation of hydrogen. For instance, hydrogen is produced and blasted to the surface from a well in Mali by greenstone belts in the West African craton.
Scientists believe that all of the aforementioned theories regarding how hydrogen is formed are incorrect. Unfortunately, the industry does not care about this. Keep in mind that the oil industry developed before scientists discovered where oil came from. Nevertheless, there are still disagreements on the source of oil. Some scientists think that oil can be replenished. As a result, the industry’s primary concern right now is figuring out where the hydrogen reserves are.