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Cemvita demonstrates “gold hydrogen” production in situ, sets up subsidiary

Cemvita Factory announced multiple developments with its Gold Hydrogen business. Cemvita defines Gold Hydrogen as the biological production of hydrogen in the subsurface through the consumption of trapped or abandoned resources. Gold Hydrogen is a novel source of carbon neutral hydrogen produced from depleted oil reservoirs that are ready for plug and abandonment, extending the life of wells that would otherwise be a significant burden.

After achieving a key milestone in microbe performance required to produce hydrogen at $1/kg in the lab, Cemvita successfully completed a field pilot program with positive results. Following successful field trial results, Cemvita has created a wholly owned subsidiary for the Gold Hydrogen business, Gold H2 LLC (GH2), and subsequently raised and closed funding into the entity, led by founding investors Chart Industries and 8090 Industries.

Cemvita scientists increased microbe performance by six and a half times the rate needed to produce hydrogen at $1/kg, a key milestone necessary to advance the program toward commercialization. The subsequent field trial was completed in the Permian basin with a partnering company, where the team successfully measured hydrogen concentrations three orders of magnitude above baseline.

In a very short time frame, we moved our microbes from the lab to the field. The hydrogen production in this trial exceeded our expectations. As we continue to use hydrogen producing microbes downhole, we anticipate we can achieve rates that will translate to hydrogen production at $1/kg or less.

—Zach Broussard, Director of Gold H2 at Cemvita

Traditional methods of producing hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions (green hydrogen) include electrolysis powered by renewable sources such as wind, solar, or hydro. According to recent studies, the global green hydrogen market size was valued at US$0.3 billion in 2020. It is growing at a CAGR of 54.7% from 2021 to 2028 and is projected to reach US$9.8 billion by 2028.

Green hydrogen production, however, is energy intensive and expensive. According to a report from S&P Global Commodity Insights, the cost of electrolytic hydrogen from renewable energy spiked as high as $16.80/kg in late July 2022. Because Cemvita plans to utilize existing infrastructure for thousands of depleted oil and gas wells to produce cheap, clean, carbon free hydrogen, the technology has the potential to be transformational in the energy transition, the company says.


Source: Cemvita

Following successful milestones in the lab and in preparation for commercialization, Cemvita elected to create Gold H2 as a way to commercialize the business through a mixture of licensing, JV structures, and outright ownership of hydrogen producing assets.

By deploying the business through the flexible subsidiary route, we can effectively maximize the commercial value of the program back to the parent company, Cemvita, through both licensing and enterprise value growth.

—Charles Nelson, Chief Business Officer of Cemvita

Cemvita Factory’s mission is to reimagine heavy industries such as oil & gas and mining for the net-zero economy. This is done through the sustainable extraction of natural resources, carbon negative production of chemicals, and closed-loop renewal of waste as feedstock.



This is a very different process to the mining of natural hydrogen, which contrary to ill informed comments and 'analyses' can and does occur on its own, not in tied in to methane molecules etc, although the extent of the resource is currently being determined.

Cemvita are planning to extract both hydrogen and CO2 to the surface, where the hydrogen will be used and the CO2 pumped back down for sequestration:


The resource base for this is known and vast, as they can tap into umpteen oil and gas wells which are depleted as far as conventional methods are concerned.

There are two major questions:

Is it going to work?

And there must be serious doubts about the effectiveness of the sequestration of CO2, as the geology is going to vary enormously.

I often advocate the use of hydrogen, at least in so far as in my view it is typically sought to be dismissed unreasonably.

But not at any climatic price, so I am very wary of this tech.


Dave I'm a PhD Geologist with 15+ years in the industry. Any strata that is currently holding natural gas and oil at pressure is already gas tight and has been for hundreds of thousands to tens/hundreds of millions of years. How do you think 10000+ psi natural gas accumulated there over those time scales.

Injecting CO2 back into the same formation that was previously holding pressurized fluids and gasses at higher total pressures is a nonissue. I personally have worked for a number of companies doing tertiary recover via CO2 injection into existing oil fields once the resource is depressurized by production you only have to over come the geopressure gradient.

For tertiary recover you then use the co2 pressure front to push more oil to the recovery bore leaving co2 in the pore spaces where the oil/gas once was. It take 2 to 4 times as much co2 injected to push the oil/gas out vs what is released by burning that amount as the excess co2 bound into not only the more spaces but via the weak nuclear forces it is also bound to the surface area of the particles at depth co2 is a supercritical fluid not a gas it has density like a liquid and fills every pores space like a gas. Injecting Co2 into a sealed oil/gas bearing strata is trapped the same way the original hydrocarbons were trapped plus the bonding via the weak force and some chemical carbonation of the right kind of minerals exist. Shale is the typical capstone in oil/gas traps and shale is impervious to co2,water,oil,gas ect. Dolomite is also sometimes a capstone it has low permeability to co2 and in a marine sequence dolomites are always proceeded or succeeded by shales there will be a shale bed on either or both sides stratagraphicly to a dolomite or dolomitic limestone it is how they are formed in the first place.

Using microbes to "eat" hydrocarbons at depth trapped in the pore spaces and forever adhered to the rock particles by nuclear attraction is genius why you think about it. Anaerobic archea bacteria have been doing chemosynthesis for a billion years GMO one to up the hydrogen "waste" product is genius. There are well over 100,000 abandoned or shut in wells just in the Permian basin every one of which could be inoculated with bacteria and flow H2 gas the spent wells would hold any co2 produced just like they held natural gas for millions of years beforehand.


Hey JamesDo:

Thanks for the expert input.
As very much a non-expert, I was unsure how to evaluate the somewhat conflicting info out there.
And since I am something of a hydrogen advocate, I prefer to take evaluations against pessimistically, to see if my case still stands up.

So here for instance is the sort of stuff I was looking at:


' Summing up, according to the IPCC (Metz et al., 2005), storage sites are probably reliable and safe, meaning they release very low or practically zero leakages. van der Zwaan and Smekens (2009) suggest a maximum acceptable value for the leakage rate below 0.5% per year, while for Bielicki et al. (2015) lower leakage rates are conceivable. In this study we therefore consider the maximum leakage rate of 0.1% per year, which implies leakage of 9.5% over a century, while a more reasonable leakage rate that we test is 0.01%/year, which leads to a theoretical leakage of 1% of injected CO2 over 100 years4.

As leakage remains uncertain, it is of vital importance to ensure effective and reliable monitoring systems that consistently measure CO2 flows. In recent years, several studies have addressed the issue of monitoring leakage flows to the atmosphere or affecting underground aquifers (Benson and Hepple, 2005; Dethlefsen et al., 2013). '

It would appear from your assessment that the notion that blue hydrogen is just fossil fuels with essentially little reduction in GWH is false, which I rather thought might be the case, but was looking for more definitive grounding prior to making that claim.


Here is a project in Leeds, UK, assessing the feasibility of switching to 100% hydrogen, piping it to homes and businesses, and storing C02


They reckon it would have a minor impact on bills.


This is the near future. I order from car manufacturers , a hydrogen car with an ice engine, i would pay 17 000$ and hydrogen or ammonia at cheaper price than actual gasoline.

Tim Duncan

Davemart, Jamesdo, really appreciate the discussion on Hydogen. It is absurd nuclear to H2 is not considered green.

H2 is much more prone to be a gas then CO2, so immensely more mobile. Another reason CO2 will stay put I would think is that the smallest molecule H2 could tremendously outmaneuver a larger (44x by atomic wt.) one like CO2 in the pore spaces (same pressures, not sure about weak nuclear and vanderwal forces, etc ) to find the bore hole and exit. So the issue of separation and sequestration of CO2 may be small vs H2 production? Your thoughts?

I also wonder how the microbes get through the pore space to access the hydrocarbons? Would their activity increase or decrease field pressure? Seems like horizontal drilled and fracked wells would be perfect!


We gonna fill-up with hydrogen at existing gas station instead of charging at inconvenient remote place for half to one hour and it's gonna cost few money. With that we can decarbonize transport way before than batteries for less money, no need for subsidies, existing petroleum companies can build the infrastructure and conventional car companies can build the cars that will be cheaper than bevs. Also it is less polluting than mining for batteries.


Dave, thanks for the frontier article. They are likely correct that there will be leakage during transport, and injection at the wellheads in any industrial scale process. There is also a distinct possibility of upward fluid movements of co2 if injected into saline aquifers or any other strata that does not have two criteria one a pre-existing gas tight caprock seal and two miles and miles of depth between the injection strata and any local aquifer. They also point out that former gas wells are idea as they all have a gas seal that has held gas under pressure that far exceeds the local geopressure gradient for hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Methane is more mobile than CO2 and at higher original pressure in the formation.

This is what they conclude I also agree. I would add in that the methane was under higher pressure with no control of ph, salt content,nor fluid balance three things that with co2 injection can be controlled to further limit the mobility of the injected fluids.

"Depleted oil or gas fields can be reliable storage sites, as they have naturally stored natural gas for thousands of years and have been geologically fully characterized. "



I tend to find more credible analyses which answer, well, it depends!

From the discussion and links it seems clear that CO2 sequestration can be done safely and effectively, and that also that it is possible to screw it up.


I thought I would briefly lay out why I consider many of the arguments advanced against extensive use of hydrogen and its supposed inefficiencies somewhat fake.

Here is the BBC quoting an analysis which purports to show that hydrogen is inefficient at heating homes:

Now of course Rees-Mogg is a great exemplar of an upper class imbecile, and if you swap over boiler to run on hydrogen, and that is all, it is inefficient compared to using a heat pump, assuming that you have the electricity to power the heat pump when you need it, which is a non-trivial issue for economies with a very high proportion of renewables.

So the proof consists in assuming lousy implementation of ideas that are not fancied.

It ignores that there are hundreds of thousands of fuel cells right now in homes in Japan, and they are spreading to Europe.

And they are operating right now at 90% plus efficiency, total of thermal for hot water plus electricity production.

They currently run on NG, reforming it in the house, but of course would very happily run on hydrogen.

So all the energy currently chucked away to is utilised.


So to look at the efficiencies of the hydrogen economy, say for the UK using primarily offshore wind, then Topsoe Haldor hits 90% efficiency in electricity to hydrogen:


Pipe that to folk's homes, use a fuel cell, and electrical plus thermal is also around 90%, so total efficiency comes out to 80% or so.

The remaining issue is whether piping it around is practical.
The Dr Martin interviewed in Engineering with Rosie is agin it:


His argument is primarily that the low energy by volume of hydrogen, around a third of that of NG, means that it is impractical, especially through a modified NG pipeline network.

So would, for instance, the UK's network have to transport as much hydrogen as present energy delivered by the NG pipelines?

NG is currently the overwhelming choice for heating property in the UK, as well as cooking and so on.

The notion that we would ever need to move that much hydrogen about seems to me fanciful in the extreme.

Fuel cells can utilise the heat as well as produce electricity, so on the spot production would greatly reduce the need.
Some designs can also run in reverse, so if it is wanted, then electricity could be used to produce hydrogen in the house or office.

Proper insulation of homes should itself reduce demand.

It seems that the assumption is that the measures fancied as in some kind of opposition to hydrogen are assumed to totally fail. so the whole load falls on hydrogen .

But if, for instance, heat pumps take up some market share, then the need to move hydrogen around decreases.

Hydrogen can be made pretty much where it is needed, with the alternative being to run electricity in, or, for instance, site SMR reactors where needed.

The bottom line is that there is no need to move anything like the quantities in terms of energy around using hydrogen as is currently shifted in the NG network, and the 30% of capacity a converted network should be able to easily do looks like a pretty good fit.




And I am eagerly waiting to see how Hydro-Quebec gets on moving Kubas binding for hydrogen storage to commercial scale:


It is works, it will hammer battery electric cars, as well as providing cheap storage for hydrogen wherever it is needed, for instance in homes.

No need for monstrously heavy, massively accelerating Tesla type fake environmental cars as tax breaks for the wealthy, when small, cheap, light and effective transport can be provided.


Dunno what happened to posting here. It got weird and refused to post, hence the various test posts I tried.
Apologies, it seems to be working again now.

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