UNIST explores optimization of economic and environmental aspects of hydrogen supply

The international hydrogen supply chain has recently been the subject of study on supply chain optimization that takes into account its economic viability and environmental aspects.

The research team led by Professor Han-Kwon Lim of UNIST’s Graduate School of Carbon Neutrality examined how to “optimize the economic and environmental elements of global hydrogen supply networks.”

The demand from 16 countries that are expected to export hydrogen, including Australia and Chile, as well as from countries that are expected to introduce hydrogen, like Korea, Japan, and Germany, was taken into account when practical indicators for developing a hydrogen supply chain were presented in this study.

The study team first created an optimization model that took into account projected data for hydrogen export and import together with each country’s officially published plan. With the help of the generated optimization model, a competitive supply chain solution that satisfies the needs of all hydrogen exporting and importing nations while taking into account economic and environmental factors was discovered.

Due to its low energy density per volume and low economic viability when transported by ship, hydrogen is often transported after being transformed to a hydrogen carrier (H2 carrier) in a liquid condition.

So, taking into account liquid hydrogen, ammonia, and the recently popular liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) based on toluene, a scenario was created.

Additionally, based on 10-year intervals from 2030 to 2050, the researchers forecast optimization values. The forecast value was also determined while taking into account the highly variable pricing and production of natural gas and electricity derived from renewable sources.

This made it possible to develop different optimization scenarios based on a range of production volume and pricing.

The research proved that employing ammonia as a hydrogen carrier was the most cost-effective. The price of hydrogen supply, including the carbon tax paid according to greenhouse gas emissions, ranged from $2.15 to $3.43 per kilogram, per the findings of the economic and environmental studies that were done.

This conclusion led to the derivation of a scenario for optimizing the hydrogen supply chain required in the nation that is going to introduce hydrogen in the future.

The Ministry of Science and ICT funded the National Research Foundation of Korea’s (NRF) Hydrogen Energy Innovation Technology Development Project, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy supported the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP).

The study’s findings were disseminated as an additional cover piece for the January 2023 issue of the international academic journal “ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.”

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