Publication Details

Title : Criteria Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Hydrogen Production in U.S. Steam Methane Reforming Facilities
Publication Date : April 30, 2019
Publication Journal :
Authors : P. Sun, B. Young, A. Elgowainy, Z. Lu, M. Wang, B. Morelli, T. Hawkins
Abstract : The global and U.S. domestic effort to develop a clean energy economy and curb environmental pollution incentivizes the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel, owing to its zero tailpipe pollutant emissions and high fuel efficiency in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). However, the hydrogen production process is not emissions free. Conventional hydrogen production via steam methane reforming (SMR) is energy intensive, coproduces carbon dioxide, and emits air pollutants. Thus, it is necessary to quantify the environmental impacts of SMR hydrogen production alongside the use-phase of FCEVs. This study fills the information gap, analyzing the greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air pollutant (CAP) emissions associated with hydrogen production in U.S. SMR facilities by compiling and matching the facility-reported GHG and CAP emissions data with facilities’ hydrogen production data. The actual amounts of hydrogen produced at U.S. SMR facilities are often confidential. Thus, we have developed four approaches to estimate the hydrogen production amounts. The resultant GHG and CAP emissions per MJ of hydrogen produced in individual facilities were aggregated to develop emission values for both a national median and a California state median. This study also investigates the breakdown of facility emissions into combustion emissions and noncombustion emissions.