Looking beyond compressed hydrogen for Sweden: Opportunities and barriers for liquid chemical hydrides


Kumail Marnate and Stefan Grönkvist, KTH


A gradual and strategic approach towards developing hydrogen infrastructure for both storage and delivery is considered one of the key factors to achieve the ambitions and far-reaching hydrogen deployment targets. As Sweden takes its first steps towards establishing a hydrogen economy, careful consideration of the technology choices at this stage is crucial to avoid being locked into potentially inferior technologies. Currently, the state-of-the-art technology and industry interest are centered around compressed hydrogen, utilizing stationary storage in lined rock caverns and distribution through hydrogen pipelines. While compressed hydrogen is a more mature technology, some inherent properties, such as low volumetric density and associated high capital costs, pose significant barriers to its widespread deployment. In light of these limitations, it is imperative to thoroughly review alternative hydrogen storage technologies and carefully assess the opportunities and barriers associated with them before making investment decisions. Among the alternative technologies available today, one set of technologies that are promising in certain contexts is liquid chemical hydrides; a comprehensive evaluation has been undertaken to provide valuable insights into the benefits and limitations for their deployment in Sweden. Liquid chemical hydrides, such as methanol, ammonia, methane, and LOHC (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers) have the potential to serve as effective hydrogen carriers due to their significantly higher hydrogen densities, safer handling, and well-established infrastructure for usage in other industries. However, each liquid chemical hydride carrier has unique chemical and physical properties, requires distinct feedstock and conversion processes for hydrogen storage and release, and interacts with the energy system in different ways, resulting in variable suitability for various applications. These carriers may offer a more cost-effective means of transporting hydrogen over long distances, which could potentially position Sweden as a prominent global hydrogen exporter. By thoroughly assessing the opportunities and barriers associated with these alternative hydrogen storage technologies, Sweden can make informed investment decisions and pave the way towards a successful and sustainable hydrogen economy.