Researchers from the University of Lorraine and CNRS, initially exploring for methane, discovered a significant white hydrogen deposit in Lorraine, France. This find by Jacques Pironon and Philippe de Donato is potentially the largest known deposit of its kind.
The discovery was made possible by the SysMoG probe, a novel technology developed in collaboration with Solexperts. This tool allows for the analysis of gases dissolved in water within rock formations up to 1200 meters deep, in an environmentally friendly manner.
The team observed increasing hydrogen levels with depth, reaching 20% at 1250 meters. Projections indicate that at 3000 meters, hydrogen concentration could surpass 90%. The Lorraine deposit is estimated to contain around 46 million tonnes of white hydrogen, which is over half the global annual production of grey hydrogen.
This discovery adds to France’s potential hydrogen reserves, including those in the Alps and Pyrenees. Collectively, these could yield three million tonnes of hydrogen per year. The significance extends globally, with potential deposits in the US, Australia, and various European countries.
Hydrogen is categorized by colors based on production methods. Grey hydrogen is derived from natural gas, black from coal, green from water electrolysis using renewable energy, and white hydrogen, like that found in Lorraine, exists naturally.
The next phase involves drilling to 3000 meters to confirm the hydrogen concentration. This effort is part of the REGALOR II research program, aiming to start in 2024. The project requires authorization from the French government and has attracted international interest.
Despite public concerns stemming from incidents like the Hindenburg disaster, hydrogen is safely managed in the energy industry. In Lorraine, with its mining background, the prospect of hydrogen extraction is viewed positively.
The discovery in Lorraine represents a significant advancement in sustainable energy. It highlights the potential for a cleaner energy future and underscores the importance of continued exploration and technological innovation in the energy sector. This development could transform the energy landscape, not just in France but globally.