Types of Hydrogen: What You Need To Know

Types of Hydrogen WhatIsCleanEnergy

Hydrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol H and the atomic number. About 75% of all normal matter constitutes this element, which is the lightest and most abundant in the universe. Hydrogen serves as a clean, renewable energy source, generating only water and heat when burned or combined with oxygen in a fuel cell. Yet, its production methods vary, with some causing more environmental impact than others. This article will look at various types of hydrogen, like green, blue, grey, and others.

We’ll compare how they’re made, their emissions, costs, and advantages. We’ll also talk about how these hydrogen types can work together to create a sustainable, low-carbon energy system.

Types of Hydrogen

types of hydrogen
Types of hydrogen

The energy industry distinguishes between types of hydrogen using color codes or nicknames, depending on the source of energy or the fossil fuel used to produce the hydrogen. Depending on the type of production used, different color names are assigned to the hydrogen. The following table summarizes the main characteristics of each type of hydrogen.

Type/ColorProduction ProcessEmissionsCostBenefits
GreenElectrolysis of water using renewable electricity (e.g., solar, wind, hydro)Zero carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs)HighClean, renewable, and scalable
BlueSteam methane reforming (SMR) or autothermal reforming (ATR) of natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS)Low CO2 and other GHGs (about 90% captured)ModerateLow-carbon, abundant, and reliable
GreySMR or ATR of natural gas without CCSHigh CO2 and other GHGs (about 9 kg of CO2 per kg of hydrogen)LowCheap, widely available, and mature
BrownGasification of coal without CCSVery high CO2 and other GHGs (about 20 kg of CO2 per kg of hydrogen)LowCheap and widely available
YellowElectrolysis of water using nuclear electricityLow CO2 and other GHGs (depending on the nuclear fuel cycle)Moderate to highLow-carbon, reliable, and scalable
TurquoiseMethane pyrolysis of natural gas to produce hydrogen and solid carbonZero CO2 and other GHGs (if the solid carbon is sequestered or used)Moderate to highClean, abundant, and innovative
PinkElectrolysis of water using grid electricity (mix of fossil and renewable sources)Variable CO2 and other GHGs (depending on the grid mix)VariableFlexible and accessible

Integration of Hydrogen

Different types of hydrogen can work together to create a sustainable, low-carbon energy system. They are used across transportation, industry, power generation, and heating to achieve this goal. Some examples of integration are:

  • Mixing green, blue, or turquoise hydrogen with natural gas in pipelines helps lower the carbon footprint of gas.
  • Employing green, blue, yellow, or pink hydrogen in vehicle fuel cells reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. This shift also slashes emissions from transportation.
  • They use green, blue, or yellow hydrogen to produce ammonia, methanol, or synthetic fuels. These versatile products find application as fertilizers, chemicals, or fuels in various sectors
  • Gas turbines, combined cycle plants, or fuel cells utilize green, blue, or yellow hydrogen to generate electricity. This approach offers flexible and low-carbon power generation solutions.
  • People use green, blue, or turquoise hydrogen to heat buildings and industrial processes, offering a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This transition significantly curtails emissions linked to heating practices.


Hydrogen is a promising energy source that can help achieve a sustainable and low-carbon energy system. However, not all hydrogen is produced in the same way, and some types have more environmental impacts than others. So, it’s crucial to compare and contrast different types of hydrogen, like green, blue, grey, and others. We need to look at how they’re made, their emissions, costs, and benefits. Also, we should use these different types of hydrogen in things like transportation, industry, making power, and heating. This way, we can make the most of hydrogen’s possibilities. By doing so, hydrogen can play a key role in the energy transition and the fight against climate change.


1. What are the 3 main types of hydrogen?

The three primary types of hydrogen are:

  1. Green hydrogen
  2. Blue hydrogen
  3. Grey hydrogen

2. What are the 9 types of hydrogen?

The nine types of hydrogen, classified by colors based on their production methods and environmental impact, include:

  1. Green hydrogen
  2. Blue hydrogen
  3. Grey hydrogen
  4. Turquoise hydrogen
  5. Aqua hydrogen
  6. Yellow hydrogen
  7. Brown hydrogen
  8. Black hydrogen
  9. White hydrogen

3. What is the best type of hydrogen?

Determining the “best” type of hydrogen involves considering factors such as its production method, environmental impact, cost, and intended application, making it a subjective assessment based on specific needs and industry requirements.

4. What distinguishes green hydrogen from other types?

Green hydrogen stands out from other types due to its production process. It’s generated through electrolysis, using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power. This method produces hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly option compared to other hydrogen production methods, which may rely on fossil fuels and generate carbon emissions.

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