By Stephen Smoot
Harrison County ranks sixth in the state of West Virginia in natural gas production with a total of 4,355 wells and almost two-thirds of them producing. A recent announcement from the Senate offices of Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito could help to boost the state natural gas sector in conjunction with the production of clean burning hydrogen fuel.
Last week, the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub group earned a major award in a nationwide competition held by the US Department of Energy.
Senator Capito said “I’m thrilled for the ARCH2 team, and so proud that West Virginia will continue its tradition as an innovative, energy-producing state.”
The federal government will provide up to $925 million, according to a Manchin office release. Senator Manchin said “We won the hub because of the hard work of countless individuals and organizations, and I could not be prouder to be making this announcement.”
Hydrogen fuel is produced by running an electrical current through water to separate hydrogen from water. Engines running on this fuel use super filtered air to recombine the hydrogen and oxygen, producing water as a “waste” product. Vehicles fueled by hydrogen actually clean the air.
Additionally, hydrogen is stored and used in the same fashion as gasoline.
According to WBOY, the hydrogen hub could include the following projects.
- Manufacturing/assembly of electrolysis equipment to produce hydrogen from electricity and water.
- Production of hydrogen and ammonia using captured coal-mine methane from abandoned mines.
- Hydrogen distribution to supply fuel cell-powered trucks, buses and other vehicles.
- Hydrogen use as a fuel for industrial manufacturing, data centers, power generation and more.
- Pipeline infrastructure to transport hydrogen and natural gas-hydrogen blends.
- Underground facilities to store carbon dioxide captured during blue hydrogen production.
Hydrogen produced by ARCH2 will use natural gas, which gives the product the name “blue hydrogen” after natural gas’s distinctive blue flame. Backers of the project emphasize that finding cleaner ways to use the state’s energy resources can ensure that production remains important into the future.
The initiative started under leadership from the state’s US Senators, Representative David McKinley, and Governor Jim Justice. Efforts to secure the grant started on February 15, 2022. By April, state legislative leaders from both parties had joined the group. The application was submitted last April and the award announced last week.
The ARCH2 announcement follows an award last spring to Grant County’s Potomac Valley Transit Authority. After determining that electric powered vehicles are not feasible in the climate and mountains of West Virginia, PVTA applied for a planning grant.
They proposed the production of “green hydrogen,” using solar panels to generate the electricity needed to separate the hydrogen and oxygen in water.
Doug Pixler, executive director of PVTA, noted at the time that another advantage in using hydrogen fuel over electric powered vehicles lay in the fact that most components of electric powered vehicles come from China. Almost every element of hydrogen energy production is currently made in America.