U.S. On-site Hydrogen Generator Market Driven by Demand for Cleaner Fuel Sources

Published On : Apr 20, 2016

An on-site hydrogen generator is installed directly at the consumer site for producing hydrogen. The technology used in on-site hydrogen generators varies as per the choice of feedstock. On-site hydrogen generators mainly utilize proton exchange membrane (PEM) and platinum catalyst technology to fragment deionized water into its constituent parts. The system generates hydrogen at 13.8 bar/200 psi pressure with a purity of 99.9995%. Throughout the process, the system requires neither a compressor nor any operator intervention. On-site hydrogen generators, therefore, provide low-cost and reliable hydrogen and also increase the safety of the surrounding by eliminating the need for hydrogen storage, cylinder handling, and routine hydrogen delivery. 

Steam Reforming Emerges as Major Technology Used in Large-scale Hydrogen Production

The major technologies used to produce hydrogen are steam reforming, gasification, electrolysis, and cracking. Of these, steam reforming has emerged as the most dominant technology to be used for large-scale hydrogen production using kerosene, LPG, or naphtha as a feedstock. Industries such as metal, float glass, chemical, and electronics, apart from industrial gas companies and hydrogen filling stations, use on-site hydrogen generators. Since these generation units are available at an affordable price, consumers prefer them in comparison to purchasing hydrogen. 

However, the U.S. Department of Energy considers the technology of steam reforming a short-term solution to meet hydrogen demand owing to their incapability of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy is also focusing on other technologies such as alkaline electrolysis and proton exchange membrane (PEM). Hydrogen and electrolysis deliveries give tough competition to steam reforming technology. Nevertheless, consumers in remote areas, who are facing issues pertaining to hydrogen purity and delivery, are increasingly opting for on-site hydrogen generators, which is anticipated to give the market a major boost in the near future. 

Low Emission and Low Cost are Key Factors Affecting Market Positively

Absence of issues such as late delivery of hydrogen and high delivery costs is among the key factors affecting the U.S. on-site hydrogen generators market positively. On-site hydrogen generators further render it possible to produce gas locally with low emissions. These generators are designed to cater to specific consumer demands and can be monitored and controlled remotely. These factors give a significant impetus to the U.S. on-site hydrogen generator market. 

The U.S. on-site hydrogen generator market is broadly segmented on the basis of flow rate and category. Based on category, the non-alkaline segment held about 67% of the U.S. on-site hydrogen generator market in 2014. Owing to low installation, low cost, and low energy consumption, non-alkaline on-site hydrogen generators are preferred for large-scale production. 

Based on flow rate, the 100-2,000 Nm3/h segment held over 44% of the overall market in 2014. Furthermore, the flow rate segments of greater than 2,000Nm3/h and less than 100Nm3/h occupied a share of 24% and 32%, respectively, in the market in the same year. Considering that on-site hydrogen generators ranging between 100Nm3/h and 2,000Nm3/h are widely used across industries, the demand for these generators is likely to increase significantly in the U.S. on-site generators market in the forthcoming years. 

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