Natural hydrogen, also known as native or geological hydrogen, is an ENERGY SOURCE that could revolutionize our low-carbon future. Although its energy potential has been neglected in the past - because it was considered too rare or difficult to extract - recently, numerous natural releases of H2 have been reported, with concentrations ranging from 10% to over 90%, many of them discovered fortuitously. Hydrogen has been found in different geological contexts, in oceanic and continental crust, in rift and back-arc basins, within BIFs (banded iron formation), in mid-ocean ridges, in orogenic and ophiolitic settings, and in magmatic and hydrothermal systems. Italy has so far lacked geological studies dedicated to the identification and mapping of natural hydrogen emissions, the processes that have generated it and in which contexts it has accumulated. 

The NHEAT project aims to stimulate and direct hydrogen research in Italy, which is still underdeveloped and poorly conceptualized. Our challenge is to investigate, using a multidisciplinary geological-structural, petrological and geochemical approach, the processes that generated natural H2 in promising Italian areas that could reveal the presence of H2 at depth or on the surface: serpentinite-dominated systems and volcanic/magmatic hydrothermal systems.

The NHEAT project is led by the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources (IGG) of the National Research Council (CNR) in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering (IGAG-CNR), the Department of Earth Sciences of La Sapienza University of Rome and the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Palermo section.

NHEAT is funded by the European Union under the Next Generation EU initiative and the Italian Ministry of University and Research, PRIN PNRR Projects. NHEAT is addressing the PRIN PRNN 2022 call through the strategic emerging topics of “Sustainability and protection of natural resources”, in the related Cluster 5 “Climate, Energy and Mobility”, point 4 “Efficient and sustainable use of energy, accessible and safe for all is ensured thanks to a clean energy system and a just transition”.

Start Date: Dicember 15, 2023

Duration: 24 months

Project Coordinator: Dr. Chiara Boschi, CNR-IGG (chiara.boschi@igg.cnr.it)