2

This company:

https://proton.energy/

Is trying to inject oxygen into old oil wells for it to combust and extract only hydrogen using steam reforming and a filter. Making steam reforming happen underground and thus leaving all the CO2 underneath. Short explanation here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MU3BoEt-FM

Is this a feasible approach? What hurdles can there be? Why nobody else seems to be trying this?

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  • THE PROTON PROCESS Find out how we make Hydrogen from Deep Earth LEARN MORE --> 404 PAGE NOT FOUND – Keith McClary Oct 15 '20 at 0:01
  • @KeithMcClary cannot find that 404 – juan Isaza Oct 15 '20 at 10:07
  • 1
    For me, the "LEARN MORE" link is proton.energy/hygenic-earth-energy , which gives me 404. I found more info by googling "Proton’s patented Hygenerator". – Keith McClary Oct 15 '20 at 19:05
  • Great, any conclusions? – juan Isaza Oct 17 '20 at 10:19
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The proton.energy website is very optimistic, maybe a bit too much. I see a number of (potential) problems:

  • The technology uses "hydrocarbon reservoirs" which is a different word for existing oil and gas fields, so that makes the resulting fuel non-renewable.
  • The exact process is not clear to me, but the paper they link to talks about water being injected and that may not be readily available in some situations (e.g. middle east deserts). On the other hand this page doesn't say anything about water, so perhaps they are using a different process?
  • It's not clear to me how they are preventing other gases to escape when they pump up the hydrogen. Current oil extraction also involves capturing or flaring natural gas, which contributes to rising CO2 levels
  • Hydrogen can be transported in current gas pipelines as the website claims, but some minor modifications are needed and the "without hardware changes" claimed by the website does not seem entirely incorrect1

This is not to say that (some of) these problems cannot be solved, but at the moment I'm still a bit skeptical. I don't think it will be as easy as the website suggests and I do wonder how close to carbon-neutral the resulting fuel will be.

1) Hydrogen makes metal brittle and despite all the reports that say current gas pipelines can be used with only small modifications, so far I haven't seen a good solution for this. Then again, this is outside of my knowledge area so perhaps there is a good solution.

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  • Its clear that it's non-renewable, but still it emits no C02 and that is the ultimate goal to reduce climate change. – juan Isaza Nov 3 '20 at 11:13
  • I don't know if they are planning to inject water, it could be a problem in the middle east, but not in Canada where the company is based. – juan Isaza Nov 3 '20 at 11:14
  • They claim they developed a filter that only lets hydrogen get through and they say this is the key innovation. They use a well on top of the reaction, with a filter on top to get only the hydrogen out. – juan Isaza Nov 3 '20 at 11:16
  • Concerning pipes, I'm not an expert, it could be a problem. Perhaps for small quantities they can use trucks, at least for the proof of concept. – juan Isaza Nov 3 '20 at 11:17
  • "capturing or flaring natural gas" ... and letting it leak, which is worse. Current research seems to suggest that methane leaks obviate any greenhouse advantage from burning methane instead of heavier hydrocarbons. This "hydrogen reformation in a natural cavity" process seems as though it would be at least as prone to leaks as fracturing. – Móż Dec 1 '20 at 22:21

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