I began my professional career in 1988 within the Air Liquide Group. I've successively held positions in research and development, sales, engineering and management, always in innovative fields. I've been the Managing Director of the Chicago and the Loges-en-Josas (near Paris) Research Centers, of small standard production plants, in Engineering, and in industrial IT. Recently, I was the Managing Director of Air Liquide advanced Technologies in Grenoble.

I graduated with a masters in engineering from from École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures. Today, I am the Vice-President of Technologies (CTO) and Industrial Manager of the Air Liquide World Business Line for Hydrogen Energy.

Xavier will be replying soon, his busy schedule caused some delays in replies.

Edit: Being in France, it's now night time, Xavier will be back in the morning to finish up answering all your questions, feel free to ask anything you want to.

Edit2: Back to answering!

Edit3: Every question currently here will be answered before tonight (French time), but no new questions will be transmitted to Xavier.

Final edit: Was great chatting, I hope that you and any others who find this in the future find it useful or interesting. It's time to get back to work :)


Comments: 119 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

blipman179 karma

Two questions:

1) Is it cheaper to get CO2 gasses from fossil fuel based power production or as a byproduct of liquid nitrogen production?

2) Do you think it's feasable to capture CO2 or CH4 from the air in such quantities to delay global warming?

Hydro_Gem12 karma

There is no CO2 produced with LN2 (except from electricity production), since we are "just" distilling air. The cheapest way to capture or produce CO2 is to look for rich sources, like fumes of different industries, this is also the priority to reduce this emission, AL is committed to capturing CO2 from its own plants (SMR)

Direct CO2 capture from air is possible but far from being competitive compared to previous case (industry fumes) When all CO2 emissions will be captured from the plants themselves, then maybe direct CO2 capture will maybe make sense, but it's a long way to go.

Hodentrommler4 karma

What can you say regarding to CO2 capture from air regarding this:

Keith et al, "A Process for Capturing CO2 from the Atmosphere". , Joule 2, 1573–1594, August 15, 2018 ª 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2018.05.006

They really try to calculate everything. One of few papers really trying to consider the whole chain - science, politics, society etc

Hydro_Gem2 karma

I have not read this paper in detail, but it looks serious. Direct Air Capture is possible, but it consumes a lot of energy because concentration of CO2 in air is low (0,05 %). So it is preferable and cheaper to collect CO2 from industry flue gases where concentration is much higher (typically 5 to 50 %) because with the same amount of energy, we can capture much more CO2. You are right that the problem is complex and very often over simplified.

Engineerentist9 karma

Hello Xavier, how concerned is the industry with the shortage of Helium and what can we reasonably do about it?

Hydro_Gem10 karma

Xavier's response: Sorry I do not know and cannot answer your question.

As the student running the AMA: Xavier didn't have the time to consult the right people, however there are a lot of questions and answers about helium here from which you can deduce an answer. Sorry for the unsatisfactory response

FlorisAB8 karma

So green hydrogen is pretty expensive to make, right? H2 from smr is much cheaper as far as i understand. How are you planning to compete with smr hydrogen? Also, how do you see the future for hydrogen usage by retail wrt batteries?

And as for storage of hydrogen, i know shell in the Netherlands is planning on storage underground at high pressure. How will your green h2 be stored?

Hydro_Gem9 karma

Thank you, these are excellent questions!

  1. Most of the H2 Volumes are produced with SMR today (it’s the most mature and at scale technology, so least expensive indeed). So in order to make green hydrogen, we need to both implement CO2 capture and storage on SMR units and to launch large-scale electrolyzers with low carbon electricity. If we take into account CO2 taxes rising up, we expect low carbon hydrogen to be competitive with H2 produced from SMR by 2030 (source: Hydrogen Council, Decarbonization Pathways - Part 2, Jan 2021). We are moving towards electrolysis, even though in the short term the best way is to decarbonize SMR.
  2. H2 and batteries will coexist. H2 will be preferred for intensive long distance travels (like heavy duty trucks with ranges of 500+km), when the charging time needs to be quick (~5min versus a few hours for battery), and when strong power is needed (forklifts for example). Very simply, every usage more intensive and larger than a car will be H2, everything below is and will remain batteries. The boundary between the two will evolve a little, but this is not important.
  3. Storage: since 2017, Air Liquide has been operating the largest H2 cavern in Texas. H2 can be safely stored underground or in other types of storages and forms (liquid hydrogen for example allows higher density storage than compressed gas).

baadermeinh0f2 karma

Will POX units bridge the gap?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Not sure, SMR (steam methane reformer) and ATR (auto thermal reformer) all equipped with CO2 capture looks the most competitive and of course there will be electrolysis.

sephstorm5 karma

What are some realities about business, or your business in particular people might not know about?

Hydro_Gem7 karma

What’s interesting about the business is that even though the hydrogen technology is mature and can be implemented today for many applications (including in famously hard-to-abate sectors), there is still plenty of research and development going on. The market keeps growing and opportunities are numerous!

Otherwise here's a few lesser known facts about the business:

We've been producing H2 for 50 years and we supply liquid H2 for the Ariane rockets ever since the beginning.

We just started a 20 MW electrolyser in Canada (green H2 incoming!) as well as a 30 TPD plant with LH2 in Nevada.

pulpog3 karma

Hi Xavier, what's your cost per kg or per Nm3 of green H2 so far? What's the power mix in your site in Canada? Is it hydro, wind?

What is the use case for the green H2 in Canada?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

silverpoinsetta5 karma

Is CO2 currently captured and used for any large scale application?

If so, what is your experience with it. This question comes timely to the carbon capture prize making the rounds right now.

Hydro_Gem5 karma

100000 tpy CO2 capture

Producing hydrogen from methane leaves a residual gas composed of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen. To solve the issue of CO2 emissions from this method of producing hydrogen, Air Liquide has developed a unique system named Cryocap. The only process of its type in the world, it was put into service in 2015 at Air Liquide’s largest French plant at Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine, in Normandy. Cryocap technology collects and isolates the CO2 emitted when hydrogen is produced. It is stored in liquid form for use by industrial processes that require a permanent supply of CO2 (such as beverage carbonation, deep-freezing and agricultural applications). The H2 Cryocap plant at Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine has an annual capture capacity of 100,000 tons of CO2.

Coolnave5 karma

Thanks for the ama!

Elon musk says that there are too many MBAs running companies and not enough engineers. Who do you think we should be electing as CEOs? businessmen? Or engineers?

Hydro_Gem8 karma

In Air Liquide, Management is essentially engineers :) It depends on which business you are running, for industry, Engineers make sense, but the talent of management is more important than its education...

FugacityBlue4 karma

Are there are any paradigm shifts in the industrial gasses industry that you think will occur in the next 5-10 years? Any that you are particularly excited about?

Hydro_Gem4 karma

Good question, thank you.

1) First, I believe CO2 prices will increase (see recent European ETS changes, or in China’s recent first implementation of a CO2 trading system). It will accelerate the decarbonation of industrial sectors (like steel, cement, refineries, chemical industry…).

2) Also, there is a systemic change in the energy sector: more electrification with low carbon electricity sources.

Hydrogen will play a key role in both of these two trends. In order to cope with the +2°C scenario (by 2100 vs. pre-industrial levels), H2 production will need to multiply by x10 by 2050 vs. today, and it needs to be low carbon! Electrolysis and carbon capture, as well as storage will be key. You can find out more on the Hydrogen Council’s website.

WellsSaur2 karma

Do you think it's possible that a CO2 tax might hurt electricity prices, and therefore slow down electrification?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

It is an interesting question! Usually we hope for CO2 taxes, because it is maybe the key political decision to save the planet. It will hurt electricity price IF electricity is produced by fossil fuels (coal, oil or gas). It will not hurt electricity prices for windmills and solar panels. For H2 production, if we go for electrolysis, it will be only with green electricity, and therefore, CO2 taxes will only help.

Toblum4 karma


I would like to know how your company have handle the end of halo gas such as halogeno trifluoro methane ect when European law where voted in the 90 ? Now it's quite complicated to get some to work with by the way.

Also as PhD student in France it's quite nice to see the AMA of our principal gas supplier, thank you for all the argon/others gasses.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

We never really used these halo gases, or if we did, it was in a very limited way, so it wasn’t a problem for us to stop. We might have sold some Halo compounds (as we are selling almost any kind of gas mixtures to our customers) but it was not significant for us.

Thanks for your final comment, I appreciate it very much!

Mcle943 karma

Hi Xavier

My name is Mohamed and I am an applications engineer for the ALTEC engineering group for Airgas in the US. Coincidentally, this is one of the first time I have been on Reddit. Glad to see an initiative from AL to do a public forum on platform like this.

  1. The future market size of the global hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCEV) is estimated to be $42 Billion USD by 2026. What are the major constraints for the growth in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market ? How will those constraints be minimized?

  2. What are some key initiatives for AL in the next five years to accommodate the market growth in US For H2 production and commercialization of H2 FCEV stations?

I appreciate your time!


Hydro_Gem2 karma

Hello Mohamed, this is also my first time on Reddit :)

The growth of the H2 market will depend essentially on political decisions (and they were many in 2020, particularly in Europe but also in California). The technologies are ready, we need now to move at industrial scale with the help of States, since the upfront cost of H2 is more expensive than oil. For Air Liquide in the US, we just started the biggest PEM electrolysers worldwide in Canada and should start this year a new, 30 tons per day, liquid hydrogen plant in Nevada. Many other projects are coming up, you can contact Air Liquide H2E US to know more.

MarathonRunner10103 karma

Do you have a block flow diagram or an infographic explaining it? I have no clue why green hydrogen has suddenly become a hot and interesting topic. What's it all about?

Hydro_Gem6 karma

Hi, that’s a great question, but it would probably require too long of an answer. Have you heard of the Hydrogen Council? They’re a global CEO-led initiative of leading companies with a united vision and long-term ambition: “for hydrogen to foster the clean energy transition for a better, more resilient future”. Each year they publish very informative studies. I’d recommend you take a look at their first one called “Hydrogen, Scaling Up” (you can find it here: https://hydrogencouncil.com/en/study-hydrogen-scaling-up/). They have detailed infographics which will answer why green H2 is a key solution if we want to achieve the energy transition.

jmnnno3 karma

Where do you see green/blue methanol fitting into the equation? I’ve seen a lot about using it as a hydrogen carrier, next generational biofuel, and a carbon source for carbon neutral plastics in the future. What are the technical challenges and limitations surrounding the production of methanol from green hydrogen?

Hydro_Gem2 karma

Methanol is today an intermediate chemical which uses H2 for synthesis. If done with green H2, you can indeed develop “greener” plastics. Will methanol be used as a fuel? It has been tried, but does not seem to develop. It is simpler and cheaper to go straight for H2. Biofuels are indeed under evaluation, but you do not need to go through methanol to synthetize them. And remember, when using biofuels, you are still emitting CO2. If this CO2 comes from a waste that was sent to the atmosphere, it is better of course, but at the end you are still emitting it. Other alternatives for transporting low carbon H2 are ammonia and LOHC (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Compound). It could be a solution for transporting energy from a low cost electricity country (eg Australia) to another country like Japan. LOHC is not sufficiently mature yet, ammonia is more competitive but if you need to transform it back into pure H2 to use it in a vehicle (fuel cell), I do not believe it is competitive.

Bottom line, methanol can be greener and will continue to play a role in chemistry. Will it play a new role in energy? I do not see it so far.

Rice_Knows3 karma

Hi Xavier - when did air Liquide not offer me a job after two summer internships?

  • I ain’t even mad

Hydro_Gem1 karma

As the student organizing this AMA: I can't field him this question, but it's a really competitive company, despite good school results, I've been rejected from 2 internships from them. I'll be applying yet again next year though haha.

Good luck!

DatabaseDense2 karma

What are your thoughts on renewable methane that is electricity derived H2 which is reacted with Co2 or captured captured carbon? How far would it be from commercialisation and risks to green H2 economy?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

If you are referring to synthetic or efuels, then we are not a producer of such, even though we have some of the technologies.

It is working, not far from commercialization in some markets. Can be an alternative to H2 where H2 is not feasible (long haul planes for instance) but it is not as green as H2. We do not see this as a threat, rather a complement.

rag_monkey2 karma

Green hydrogen is key to decarbonisation but how do you make sure green is really green, and not blue, grey, purple, pink, yellow, brown or black?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

We are rather calling it low carbon H2 than colors because everybody is manipulating colors! What counts is the life cycle assessment of a complete production chain of H2. So your question is very relevant, we try with partners to create some labels, with certification in order to track and guarantee the origin of H2 and its carbon content. Calculations are complex and it is still difficult to align everybody on this matter.

lamarcus2 karma

What do you think are realistic learning curves that we will see for electrolyzers and for fuel cells? Do you think it will be a linear cost reduction trajectory? Or do you think there might be cost breakthroughs, and what might cause these?

I don't know much about the challenges of building these things "bigger and better" - I'd be curious to hear more about the technical challenges and how the engineers work to improve those types of equipment.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Yes cost reduction. It will be a combination of volumes, scaling up, plus some technologies development (like anion exchange membrane) for the next ten years. After there might be some breakthrough as so many people are working now on this exciting topic.

c_harvester2 karma

Hello Xavier! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Which way does Air Liquide see itself going forward in the forseable future? More green/blue hydrogen or, or any other markets?

Also on a more personal note: As an upcoming engineer that has worked in the oil industry for some years now and want to change jobs for a more sustainable future. What are some key value's, and skills a person would need to bring to start working for Air Liquide?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Thank you for your interest in Air Liquide!

Yes the company is committed to deliver low carbon H2 for existing customers as well as these new energy markets. The key values we will appreciate in a candidate are passion for a sustainable future, integrity, capacity to innovate among others. Many skills are needed here, engineering but also marketing, business development etc. Of course any specific knowhow in energy and particularly the energy transition are welcome.

BeatMeOverTheFence2 karma

Where do you see potential improvements in the ASU process. We always joke that we've basically been separating air the same way for a hundred years.

What parts of the process do you see the most interesting wrinkles? Is there room for growth or is it the same tired old fairly recession proof, lean run critical good?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

The ASU (Air Separation Unit) processes are following a continuous improvement momentum from the last few decades: front end purification, new packing (3D) in the distillation column, new processes dedicated to Client needs and multiples molecules production, new machinery, size (the largest unit in South Africa above 5000tpd)...The ASU unit of the 80s has nothing in common with the most recent one.

To give you an idea: https://www.airliquide.com/magazine/customer-experience/ensuring-kick-start-xxl-industrial-project

Is there more room for improvement: yes of course but as the market is shrinking due to the massive metal market reducing, the engineering and R&D efforts are globally reduced.

MisterBobsonDugnutt2 karma

What are your general thoughts on liquid air energy storage?

What are the developments in this area and is there anything new or being constructed which I should get excited about?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Not sure to fully understand the question. Are you talking about air under liquid form at cryogenic temperature? If it is the case (like using electricity to liquefy air as a storage) the only thing I can say is that to handle liquid air is complicated because you can not avoid a separation of N2 from O2 (flash distillation) which will create high O2 content leading to strong fire risks. I am not aware of anything in construction, but… who knows “what is in the pipes”?

helpimstuckinabook2 karma

I'm a student doing a design project on cryogenic air separation units, and I'd love to know the efficiency and product purity of the cold box is affected by the presence of an additional feed stream and expander into the Low Pressure column?

Also, is there indication of autothermal reforming being utilised in Fischer-Tropsch hydrogen generation? Thank you

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Hello, thank you for your question but it is very technical and I cannot answer it on Reddit. I suggest you get in touch with our engineering department, I’ll send you a contact as a private message.

exem_one2 karma

Hi Xavier, thank you for this really interesting AmA.

My question is: How will it be possible to produce green hydrogen in big amounts (1000m3 and more) to an affordable price so that it can compete with energysources like coil that it should replace? As far i know, is the high price and high amount of green electricity that is needed to produce green hydrogen (in middle europe) one of the biggest limitations so far in pushing the potential of hydrogen.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

This is clearly the target: H2 can not be as cheap as digging coal (or oil) in the ground, but if we want to save the planet, we must accept to pay a little bit more for green energy. This being said, with the development of renewable electricity (wind and solar) electrolysers are becoming more and more competitive, this is why everybody is talking about them these days. The development of these energies in the EU (more than 600 GW already installed) allows for the development of large quantities of H2 (our electrolyser plant in Canada is producing 4,000 Nm3/hr). We are planning for electrolysers of 20,000 Nm3/hr in Europe already.

In the Hydrogen council’s report (https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Hydrogen-Council-Report_Decarbonization-Pathways_Part-2_Supply-Scenarios.pdf)

you will find H2 projection cost and see that in many cases (diesel trucks for instance) H2 should become cheaper than fossil fuels. Again, if you add taxes on CO2, then definitely H2 will be competitive with coal.

WildBill222 karma

Will using electrolyzers on a large scale be very water intensive? Will we need breakthroughs in water purification for large scale electrolysis to be feasible?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Electrolysers require water and especially pure water. The technologies that exist at large scale today for water purification are more than sufficient, so breakthroughs are welcome, but not critical.

Joseph_Impact2 karma

Hi Xavier,

I was wondering what percentage of Air Liquide is focusing on Hydrogen at the moment, and possibly how that will shift in the future. ?

Thanks in advance

Hydro_Gem1 karma

We are a historical producer of H2 for industry for the last 50 years. We are already producing hundreds of thousands of tons per year of H2 for chemical applications (as well as the Ariane Rocket fuel for instance). Now, for energy markets which are just starting, it is too early to give figures but it will be a game changer for our company, most likely.

Sigmusoid2 karma

Hi Xavier!

I'm a senior studying chemical engineering, and my senior project is to (1) develop a model of a hydrogen plant (we're using nuclear energy to heat & power a high temperature solid-oxide electrolyser), and then (2) determine the feasibility of transitioning from fossil fuels to hydrogen. I'd love to hear your perspective on the outlook for hydrogen. Obviously, substantial government investment is necessary for the infrastructure - do you think that such a heavy investment is likely to happen, particularly in the US?

Thanks for everything you do to make the world a cleaner, healthier place! I'm looking to join you in that regard, looking at environmental/green energy engineering as a spot to start my career this summer.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Thanks for your kind words, your project is a good one! Particularly the part 2).

For H2 outlook, we have seen a lot of announcements in Europe in 2020 with government support (for ex 9 b€ in Germany, 7+ b€ in France, also Portugal, Italy…) In Asia, the momentum started before, essentially in Japan, Korea and China. In the US, California has developed strong policies for the energy transition including H2. With the new Biden administration, we might expect a stronger commitment towards emissions reduction including also H2, to be followed. So after twenty years of support of H2 energy in Air Liquide, we really see it happening now and we say that the next decade is the decade of H2!

iopredman2 karma

Good Morning! Certain particle detector projects are employeeing vast amount of inert gasses such as Argon, on the order of 1/10 of the yearly global demand. How has/will this effect the future of gas separations when the rarer gasses go up in demand relative to the more abundant ones? Are companies such as yourself taking active steps to prepare for these upcoming projects, or is the infrastructure already in place to satisfy these projects?


Hydro_Gem1 karma

Argon is a by-product of air separation (production of O2 and N2). In other words, Argon is produced from air (1% content in air). We have only a fraction of our plants equipped with Argon production, it is very easy to increase the quantities produced. I do not see shortage (or maybe temporarily if fast ramp up). Krypton and Xenon are also coming from air and capacity can be increased, even though they are more difficult to extract because of very low concentration in air. Helium is coming from fossil wells (by-product of natural gas).

I would be surprised that particle detectors change radically the amount of rare gases quantities, but if it is the case, we should be able to adapt.

marqeeqee2 karma

Since your company will primarily produce Hydrogen; is there enough of a supply chain to support large scale installations of Hydrogen Fueling Stations across California/entire West Coast in the coming years??

Hydro_Gem1 karma

We will start a 30 tons per day H2 plant in Nevada this year to supply California. We are considering investing in new plants as soon as the consumption develops further. Air Liquide is also managing the supply chain and we are investing in trailers in order to supply the H2 to the station.

xanderhud2 karma

Could food be grown straight from Hydrogen gas, bypassing photosynthesis, which essentially created hydrogen from water and light?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Photosynthesis is a process that transforms CO2 and water into carbohydrates and oxygen with the action of light.

I think you are referring to a modified type of photosynthesis. Studies are still at a low technical readiness level. It is more fundamental research today than an industrial-scale application today.

See here for example : https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/photosynthesis-rewired-to-generate-hydrogen/4011702.article

H2 could be used to boost food crops: current studies are led by Nanjing Agricultural University in China. Air Liquide is following these advances, notably through the Air Liquide Scientific Challenge.

xanderhud2 karma

Do you think excessive hydrogen gas in upper atmosphere may cause damage to the ozone layer?

Hydro_Gem2 karma

The question of the ozone layer has indeed been raised, as H2 is extremely light and might increase in the atmosphere. Scientific studies are ongoing on the matter and we do not know the conclusion today. Most likely H2 in the atmosphere will combine with oxygen and form water. In this case, it is rather a question of impact of humidity in air, but to be significant, it would require huge quantities of H2 to be released in the atmosphere. When we see today the quantities of CH4 released in the atmosphere (because of fossil extraction to start with) we can very seriously believe that it will be much better with H2.

For more info, see this study this European research project for example.

fears_escalators2 karma

Why don’t you guys sell industrial gas storage tanks? Why does it always have to be a lease?

Have you ever considered manufacturing trailers fitted with liquid nitrogen spray lances (and horizontal storage tanks) for small concrete cooling applications?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

For your first question, it is a choice of business model and it depends on the markets. I cannot comment more than that. For your second question, I do not know enough about this concrete market to be able to answer.

dirtgrub282 karma

Has any thought been given to integrating hydrogen production plants with other industries that use byproducts of hydrogen production? For instance, O2 and CO2 can both be used for water treatment purposes. So maybe a pulp/paper plant needs CO2 to control pH, and can use by-products from an SMR? municipal wastewater sometimes use ozone to disinfect requiring oxygen that could be recovered from a hydrolysis plant?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

This is a great and right question to be asking. Hydrogen production plants will typically have two by-products:

1) CO2 if it is a CH4 steam reformer and yes we are trying to develop new CO2 usages (see one answer above).

2) Oxygen if it is through an electrolyser: there are plenty of possible uses for oxygen so yes we will try to reduce the cost of H2 produced by valorizing the oxygen. Now the impact will remain rather limited for H2 cost.


With the current expanding popularity of battery EVs, do you foresee an impact on the demand for hydrogen? Why is hydrogen still viable when there are half a dozen $36k battery EVs on the market?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

No matter the progress made by batteries (we are monitoring closely) they will never fit heavy duty usages like planes and ships. We also doubt very much for long haul trucks. Second question is the resources on Earth to build all the necessary batteries. Third question is the cost of infrastructure: it is way more expensive to develop an electrical grid (with super charger for instance) than to develop H2 infrastructure. Finally, H2 will not be used only for mobility, but also for industry, primary storage and distribution of energy (coupled with renewable sources of electricity) at such large scale that batteries can not be envisioned. This being said, you are right that for light duty vehicles (cars) batteries are a good solution and have ten years of advance in terms of market development compared with H2.

PenguinOnTable2 karma

1) What widespread applications do you realistically see in the future for hydrogen that will be competitive or better than process electrification?

2) A couple of years ago I made an economic assessment of a Power-to-Liquid process that used green H2 and remember it being quite expensive (it was through electrolysis). What changes need to happen (or are happening) that make green H2 cost-competitive?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

  1. First, storage of excess energy produced by renewable electricity (curtailment), second, mobility for heavy duty usages (planes, ships, long haul trucks…), and third, industry where H2 can replace natural gas (boiler for instance). In all these applications, quantities are such that electricity (and batteries for mobility) will not work.
  2. What will help decrease the cost of low carbon H2 is essentially volumes (scale up) and the continuous development of renewable electricity with cheaper prices. Projection shows that H2 will be competitive in many markets compared to fossil fuels in 2030 (ref H2 council study of January 2020: https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Path-to-Hydrogen-Competitiveness_Full-Study-1.pdf). Of course, further taxes on CO2 could make it even more and faster competitive.

IthinkOP2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA.

Which direction do you think H2 storage will be heading? Liquid or High Pressure Gas?

Liquid seems ideal for storage but the energy required for liquid production looks pretty prohibitive at large scale.

Hydro_Gem2 karma

It will depend on the quantities: very large quantities (tens of thousands of tons of H2) will be stored in salt caverns like the one we have in Texas. There are salt caverns almost everywhere in the world. Intermediate quantities (up to a few thousands of tons) can be stored as liquid. The energy needed for H2 liquefaction represents 15% of the production energy with an electrolyser. So it is limited and economic when looking at the advantages (density, storages...etc). Finally small quantities, typically below 1 ton of H2 (like a car tank for instance) are stored in high pressure composite tanks (up to 700 bars). All these technologies will cohabit!

eh_Debatable2 karma

Air Liquide joined a French coalition of french companies (including the one i work for in automotive) in the fight against covid.

From this collaboration, have there been any major takeaways/ improvements or maybe any new business/ markets identification? Do you think this type of collaboration will continue as the unique situation of covid comes to an end?

Merci beaucoup pour votre temps

Hydro_Gem2 karma

This kind of collaboration demonstrated a few interesting things: with collaboration between partners, we were able to set up extremely fast, the manufacturing of respirators. It has stopped as the need was fulfilled and hopefully the covid crisis will come to an end. It would be nice indeed that for climate change and the energy transition, the same sense of urgency could bring players, including authorities to work together for a faster result!

Lixyd2 karma

Are you interested in thermochemical cycles to produce hydrogen from solar concentration panels ?
Or the focus is only on electrolysis ?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

We are monitoring all the new technologies emerging for H2 production and there are many (almost one everyday). This one is a good example. After we try to compare with existing technologies we assess their maturity for industrial production. For the next ten years, we do not see significant alternatives to electrolysers (there are many developments btw within electrolysers technos) and carbon capture from steam methane reformers. Biomethane (produced from biomass and transformed after in H2) should also play a role.

dollapmah2 karma

Hey Xavier,

How does a typical work day for you look like? Pre- and post- pandemic.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Before the pandemic, travelling almost every day in France (with the TGV train), in Europe (planes) and other continents up to ten times per year. For meeting people in operations, Engineering, research centers, partners and customers. I used to joke that my office was in the TGV, because I was commuting every week between Grenoble and Paris. Due to the lockdown, we are all working remotely, with just a few trips to Paris. Starting early with Japan, and closing the day with American colleagues, sometimes 12 hours in conf call which is not very cool. Too much travel is exhausting and maybe not very efficient, not meeting people is frustrating, so I expect after the pandemic to find a new balance :)

Mestari6522 karma

Quelles sont selon vous les perspectives d’évolution à court et long terme, des moyens de mobilité basés sur la technologie hydrogène ?

Hydro_Gem1 karma

Sorry for the non-French speakers.

Les perspectives sont énormes pour les applications de mobilité industrielle lourdes (avions, bateaux, camions, bus, chariots élévateurs…) car il n’y a pas d’alternative à la fois plus propre et moins chère. Les normes de pollution qui vont s’appliquer en Europe, aux Etats Unis et espérons-le en Asie, pour limiter les émissions de CO2 rendent cette évolution incontournable. La batterie aura sa place pour les usages plus petits (voitures, vélos, etc.) mais ne peut fonctionner pour ces usages intensifs. Les carburants bio seront parfois aussi incontournables, mais ils nécessitent beaucoup d’énergie et continuent d’émettre du CO2.

JaL3J1 karma

Thank your for AMA.
In the airsoft product industry, we use various HFC gasses (propane ish?) to power the products.

The gasses are not burned, they are simply used as pressured (stored in liquid form in the product) gas in a pneumatic system, and are continously let out in open air.

The gasses used are highly flammable, which is completely unnecessary for the function.

These gas products are filled in canisters in asia, sailed to EU/USA and used to refill the pneumatic product.

I would say the volume is 1-2kg per consumer (end users of the products) per year.

What are some ways that we can revolutionize this by using better gasses?

1: Bottled in EU or USA to ease logistics.
2: Non-combustion gas for safety
3: Hopefully a ozone layer friendly gas
4: Perhaps better performance characteristics as well (energy / volume ratio, vaporization characteristics etc)
5: Typical pressure between 100-200psi at 20c.

If you have a solution here, feel free to PM me and i can go put it on the table with a handful of distributors.

Consumer MSRP for these gasses is around 35euro per kg.

Hydro_Gem1 karma

This interesting question is out of my scope of competences… sorry for that. In fact, Air Liquide is not in this business as far as I know.