New Project Aims to Harness Hydrogen from Rocks for Clean Energy

A new three-year project funded by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is underway at CU Boulder to explore the possibility of harnessing hydrogen from rocks to provide clean energy worldwide. The project aims to investigate the production of “geologic” hydrogen, which is formed when water mixes with iron-rich minerals deep within the Earth’s crust.

Geologic hydrogen has the potential to become a valuable resource for sustainable energy as it does not emit greenhouse gases when burned, with water being the only byproduct. The primary goal of the project is to determine if these hydrogen deposits can be safely brought to the surface in sufficient quantities to meet global energy demands.

The research team, consisting of experts from CU Boulder, Columbia University, Montana State University, the University of Southampton, and the start-up company Eden GeoPower, will conduct experiments both in the laboratory and underground to stimulate the Earth to produce more hydrogen. The aim is to replicate the natural subsurface system as closely as possible.

The demand for hydrogen is increasing, spurring scientists to explore alternative sources beyond traditional methods. Recent research suggests that there may be abundant deposits of geologic hydrogen hidden underground, capable of meeting humanity’s liquid fuel needs for centuries.

The project will involve drilling boreholes and injecting water into formations of iron-rich rock to initiate chemical reactions and produce more hydrogen. Measures will also be taken to prevent bacteria from consuming the newly generated gas.

Under the leadership of Dr. Alexis Templeton, an expert in studying subsurface environments, the research team will carefully monitor the process to ensure there are no unintended environmental consequences. The aim is to determine if geologic hydrogen is a viable and sustainable source of clean energy that can be continuously produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

This project aligns with the vision of the CU Boulder Department of Geological Sciences to responsibly utilize the Earth’s natural resources and contribute to a future of sustainable energy for generations to come.

– Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment
– CU Boulder Department of Geological Sciences
– U.S. Geological Survey