Colors of Hydrogen: Green, Blue, Grey, Black, Brown, Pink, Turquoise, Yellow, Red, and White Hydrogen

We all know that Hydrogen is an invisible gas without any color. But still, we find people talking about different colors of Hydrogen. They usually talk about Green Hydrogen, Blue Hydrogen, Black Hydrogen, Brown Hydrogen, Pink Hydrogen, Turquoise Hydrogen, Yellow Hydrogen, Red Hydrogen, and White Hydrogen. So, what are these colors? In this article, we will learn about different types of Hydrogen colors and their meanings.

Colors of Hydrogen

As hydrogen atoms don’t exist on their own, they need energy to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen is highly abundant in form of water or natural gases but to create pure hydrogen, one needs to break those molecular bonds using some form of energy.

Depending on the process of how Hydrogen is produced, it is provided with 9 color codes. They are:

  • Green Hydrogen
  • Blue Hydrogen
  • Grey Hydrogen
  • Black or Brown Hydrogen
  • Pink Hydrogen
  • Turquoise Hydrogen
  • Yellow Hydrogen
  • Red Hydrogen, and
  • White Hydrogen

This color coding is unofficially provided by North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). However, still, there is no universal naming convention for the above hydrogen colors which may change in the future over time or even between countries.

Green Hydrogen

The name green hydrogen is given to the hydrogen produced using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources to electrolyze water. As this production method does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, the production of green hydrogen is environmentally friendly and sustainable. A device called an electrolyzer is used to produce green hydrogen.

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Electricity generated by renewable sources like wind, solar, etc split the water into its components i.e Hydrogen and Oxygen using an electrochemical reaction. Thus the process emits zero carbon and helps in the net-zero carbon philosophy. As the production of green hydrogen is costly, it makes up only a small percentage of the overall produced hydrogen.

Blue Hydrogen

Blue hydrogen is generated using the steam reforming method of natural gas (Fossil Fuel). Natural gas and heated steam are brought together which produces hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This carbon-di-oxide is stored underground for industrial use using Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) technology. As the steam reduction process does not avoid greenhouse gas creation, Blue hydrogen is also known as low-carbon hydrogen.

Grey Hydrogen

Grey hydrogen is the most common form of Hydrogen that is produced from natural gas, coal, or methane. A method called steam methane reformation is used for creating grey hydrogen. A smaller amount of greenhouse gases are also generated while producing grey hydrogen but those are not captured and released into the atmosphere.

Black or Brown hydrogen

Black and Brown Hydrogen is produced from black coal or brown coal (lignite). This type of hydrogen production is the most environmentally damaging. Most hydrogen produced in the United States is “brown hydrogen”. The steam-methane reforming process is used to create black and brown hydrogen. In this process, steam is used to split natural gas or coal into clean, zero-emission hydrogen fuel and CO2 gas.

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Pink Hydrogen

When hydrogen production is done by the water electrolysis process which is powered by nuclear energy, the generated hydrogen is termed pink hydrogen. Sometimes, this hydrogen is also termed purple hydrogen.

Very high temperatures of nuclear reactors are used in this process which is highly efficient.

Turquoise Hydrogen

Turquoise hydrogen is produced using the methane pyrolysis process. Natural gas is broken down using the thermal process to create hydrogen and solid carbon. The thermal process to split the natural gas is powered by renewable energy and the generated carbon is permanently stored or used.

Yellow Hydrogen

When solar energy is used for the electrolysis process to generate hydrogen, It is termed yellow hydrogen. This method of hydrogen production is relatively new. Sometimes, various other mixed energy sources are also used to produce yellow hydrogen.

Red Hydrogen

A high-temperature catalytic process is used to split water with nuclear thermal power and the generated hydrogen is termed Red Hydrogen.

White Hydrogen

White hydrogen is the naturally-occurring geological hydrogen. This type of hydrogen is usually found in underground deposits. Sometimes, white hydrogen is created through fracking. At present, there are no strategies to exploit this hydrogen.

All the above discussions can be summarized in a tabular format as provided below:

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Hydrogen ColorsProduction Process
Green HydrogenElectrolysis of water using clean electricity from renewable energy sources.
Blue HydrogenSteam reforming of natural gas using CSS technology
Grey HydrogenSteam reforming of natural gas without CSS technology
Black and Brown HydrogenSteam reforming of black or brown coals
Pink HydrogenWater electrolysis using nuclear energy
Turquoise HydrogenMethane pyrolysis
Yellow HydrogenElectrolysis using solar power
Red HydrogenHigh-temperature catalytic process using nuclear power
White HydrogenNaturally occurring Hydrogen
Table 1: Colors of Hydrogen and Production Process

Blue Hydrogen vs Grey Hydrogen

The production of Blue and Grey hydrogen is almost similar. The main difference between the two processes is that in Blue hydrogen production, the greenhouse carbon-di-oxide gas is captured using CSS technology whereas in the Grey hydrogen production process the CO2 is not captured.

Blue hydrogen is an alternative low-carbon hydrogen production process but Grey hydrogen is not considered a low-carbon fuel.

Is Hydrogen a Clean Energy Solution?

As discussed above, most hydrogen production processes are not a solution to clean energy. However, green hydrogen is fully clean energy but the production process is costly. Green hydrogen is produced following the zero carbon emissions process and fully clean energy.

Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

One thought on “Colors of Hydrogen: Green, Blue, Grey, Black, Brown, Pink, Turquoise, Yellow, Red, and White Hydrogen

  1. What is the rate which the hydrogen is formed by treating fossil fuels: BLUE, BROWN, or BLACK HYDROGEN?
    Thank you in advance for your answers,
    Burt Waxman

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