Hydrogen generators are majorly divided into two segments by product type: on-site generation and portable hydrogen generators. An on-site hydrogen generator is a unit installed directly at a consumer site to produce hydrogen. Technology pertaining to on-site hydrogen generator varies with the choice of feedstock. Portable hydrogen generators are small-sized hydrogen generators widely used to charge electronic devices and as a power backup system. Hydrogen is generated at 13.8 bar/200 psi pressure without a compressor with a purity of 99.9995% constantly and without operator intervention. Hydrogen generators provide reliable and low-cost hydrogen and increase security and safety by eliminating cylinder handling, hydrogen storage, and routine hydrogen delivery.
Steam reformer and electrolysis are some of the major process type used to produce hydrogen. Additionally, steam reformer is one of the most dominant technology employed in large-scale hydrogen production using natural gas, naphtha, kerosene, or LPG as a feedstock. Hydrogen generators are used majorly in the residential, commercial, military, industrial, and other sectors. Due to cost-effectiveness of these generation units, customers prefer purchasing on-site hydrogen generator over purchasing hydrogen.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) considers steam reformer process type as a short-term solution to meet the demand for hydrogen, due to its incapability to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The DOE is focusing more on electrolysis process type in order to produce hydrogen gas. Electrolysis and hydrogen deliveries are considered to be the major competition for steam reformer process type. Most of the hydrogen consumers are basically located at remote areas, facing the primary issues of hydrogen purity and delivery and hence are opting for on-site and portable hydrogen generators.
Growth in the hydrogen generator market is driven by the need for adoption of cleaner fuel sources, high electricity demand, excess depletion of fossil fuels and stringent regulatory norms to minimize carbon emissions. Rapid rise in the industrial application of hydrogen gas is expected to boost the demand for hydrogen generators globally. However, distribution and transportation challenges associated with hydrogen coupled with the high cost of hydrogen as against fossil fuels may restrain growth of the hydrogen generator market
The hydrogen generator market has been segmented in terms of product type, process type, application, capacity, and geography. By product type, the hydrogen generator market has been segmented into on-site generation and portable. By process type, the market has been segmented into steam reformer, electrolysis, and others. By application, the market has been segmented into chemical processing, fuel cells, petroleum recovery, refining, and others. By capacity the market has been segmented into 1-100 W, 100-300 W, 300-700W, 700W-1 KW, 1-3KW, and 3KW and above. On-site generation product type held the largest share (72.86%) in 2015. By process type, steam reformer held the largest share i.e. (89.53% and 89.24%) for on-site and portable hydrogen generators respectively in 2015. By application, chemical processing held the largest market share (57.81%) in 2015, whereas, by capacity, 3KW and above held the largest market share (38.69%) in 2015. In terms of geography, the hydrogen generator market has been segmented into five regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and South & Central America. North America, held the largest market share (38.67%) followed by Europe (36.12%) in 2015.
Hydrogen production through steam reformer, which employs natural gas as a feedstock is the most cost-effective method for delivering hydrogen to consumers. Requirement of increased productivity of hydrogen and demand for higher quality hydrogen generators are some of the factors that are driving the hydrogen generator market. Furthermore, these factors are expected to boost the preference for on-site generation over hydrogen cylinders or hydrogen plants. Key players in the on-site hydrogen generator market include Air Liquide S.A., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Epoch Energy Technology Corporation, Hy9 Corporation, Hydrogenics Corporation, Idroenergy S.R.L., Linde AG, McPhy Energy S.A., Proton OnSite, Inc., and Praxair Technology, Inc