Sam Taylor, assistant director of the WVU Energy Institute, discusses the future of energy geosciences during West Virginia University’s Academic Media Day on Monday. (Photo by Derek Redd)
Morgantown, W.Va. - West Virginia University is leading the way on research on technologies that can help bridge the state to a cleaner environment while still using natural gas produced in the state.
Researchers at WVU’S Energy Institute presented their latest work to reporters Monday for WVU Academic Media Day on the Evansdale campus in Morgantown.
The institute is finding ways to use West Virginia’s fossil fuel industry — particularly natural gas — to provide new sources of energy, new resources, and reverse the effects of climate change.
“We’ve been vocal in establishing the importance and impact that decarbonization to regional industries,” said Sam Taylor, assistant director for the WVU Energy Institute. “We recognize that many regional industry partners have set internal CO2 mitigation targets independent of any external regulation. Because of that commercial pull, there’s great interest in developing novel and scalable technical solutions for carbon utilization.”
One of the ways researchers believe will be a realistic form of decarbonization is developing hydrogen for energy production and manufacturing processes. Hydrogen can be used for a number of industries, including steel and metals production. It can also be used for long-term storage of energy with hydrogen fuel cells. The byproduct of hydrogen production is water with no carbon emissions.
Taylor said West Virginia is ripe for a blue hydrogen project, which would manufacture hydrogen using the state’s abundant supplies of natural gas. Instead of greenhouse emissions from the process being emitted into the atmosphere, emissions would be collected through carbon capture and sequestration.
“Hydrogen has become a potentially significant tool in the future energy portfolio in our region,” Taylor said. “There’s significant efforts underway in the development of a blue hydrogen hub with a focus on utilizing existing resources in West Virginia, coupled with carbon capture and storage.”
West Virginia is in the running for a regional hydrogen hub demonstration project. Most of the state’s federal and state elected leaders submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year to land one of the regional hubs.
The federal project is funded with $9.5 billion from the hard infrastructure bill, including $8 billion for the Regional Hydrogen Hub program. Each hub is required to demonstrate the production of clean hydrogen and demonstrate the use of clean hydrogen. Lawmakers were able to insert specific language that requires at least one hub to be placed in the Appalachian region.
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