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World hydrogen industry growth to 2018

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to a recent report by RnRMarketResearch, the world hydrogen industry is to reach 290 billion m3 by 2018.

Global consumption of merchant and captive hydrogen is forecast to increase 3.5%/y, driven by string growth in petroleum hydrotreating and hydrocracking refining operations. Merchant supply will expand rapidly as hydrogen consumption in upgraded petroleum refineries exceeds the refineries’ available captive resources.

Low sulfur diesel drives demand

Over the past two decades, the adoption by many developed countries of motor vehicle emissions regulations has led to the need for low sulfur and ultra low sulfur gasoline and diesel fuels, greatly increasing the consumption of hydrogen in refinery hydrotreating operations.

According to RnR research, this trend will continue to drive demand in the future as developing countries begin to combat air quality issues by implementing and/or enforcing more stringent fuel sulfur regulations.

Growth will also be driven by rising per capita vehicle ownership rates and higher demand for fuels. Additionally, the shift in the world’s global crude supply toward heavier crudes and rising demand for distillate fuels will support the increased use of hydrogen in refinery hydrocracking processes to break down heavier petroleum fractions into more valuable products.

Demand growth in China

The report claims that though the US will remain the world’s largest hydrogen consuming country, the greatest share of growth through 2018 is expected to occur in China. With air pollution in urban areas an increasingly pressing issue, China is expected to aggressively target motor vehicle emissions. Other emerging markets such as India and Russia will also seek to export ultra low sulfur fuels, and will see among the fastest gains in hydrogen demand.

In most developed countries, demand will grow modestly. The refining and chemical industries of Western Europe and Japan face stagnant domestic markets as well as strong competition from other areas. 

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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