The Hydrogen Stream: World’s first full-scale pilot plant for extracting hydrogen from natural gas pipeline


Germany's Linde Engineering has started up a full-scale pilot plant in Dormagen to showcase how hydrogen can be separated from natural gas streams using its membrane technology. “The blended gas could consist of between 5 and 60 percent hydrogen. Membranes are then used to extract hydrogen from these natural gas streams at the point of consumption. The resulting hydrogen has a concentration level of up to 90 percent,” the company wrote on Thursday.

French multinational utility company Engie and UAE government-owned renewable energy company Masdar signed a collaboration agreement with Fertiglobe, the joint venture between OCI N.V. and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. “Under the agreement, the companies will look to co-develop a globally cost-competitive green hydrogen facility in the UAE, with a capacity of as much as 200 megawatts (MW), to support the production of green ammonia,” OCI N.V. said Wednesday. The three companies will study the development, financing, procurement, construction, operation, and maintenance of the industrial-scale green hydrogen facility in Al Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, expected to be operational in 2025. Fertiglobe is the sole long-term off-taker. “The project marks another milestone for Fertiglobe's green ammonia portfolio and follows the announcement last month of our new 100 MW electrolyzer in Egypt,” Fertiglobe CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy commented. In December 2021, Engie and Masdar signed a $5 billion strategic alliance agreement to explore the co-development of a UAE-based green hydrogen hub. Masdar also announced that TotalEnergies took part in a Masdar-led initiative focused on green hydrogen to produce sustainable aviation fuel. “Senior executives from Masdar, Siemens Energy and TotalEnergies today signed a collaboration agreement on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2022, to act as co-developers for a demonstrator plant project, which will be established at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s flagship sustainable urban development,” Masdar wrote on Wednesday. The partners in the initiative have completed a range of evaluations. They aim to proceed to the front-end engineering design stage later this year.

Sweden’s nuclear power company OKG signed its first contract with an external buyer to enter the hydrogen market as a producer and supplier. “According to the contract, the first delivery of hydrogen produced with fossil-free nuclear electricity will take place in early 2022,” the company wrote on Thursday, not mentioning the buyer. Nuclear-focused trade publications wrote that the other signatory was Linde Gas. OKG has long operated a hydrogen facility adjacent to the plant site in Oskarshamn. The hydrogen produced is used to cool the generator at Oskarshamn 3, the only unit in operation after the company closed the other two in December 2016 and June 2017 for economic reasons. “This means that there is an overcapacity of hydrogen, which is now being used for other purposes.” According to OKG CEO Johan Lundberg, the volumes are relatively small, but will grow over time. “The demand for hydrogen will gradually increase, and we have received strong support from our owners Uniper and Fortum to develop this business opportunity,” he commented. Oskarshamn 3, which started operating in 1985 and should continue until 2045, delivered a record 11 million MWh (11 TWh) of electricity in 2021, according to Nucnet.

Hydrogen will prompt one of the largest shakedowns in energy history, said analyst group Rethink Energy in its latest report. “As more taxation is applied to carbon emissions, the rise in hydrogen production capacity will see it become the most cost-effective means of energy supply to sectors in all corners of demand,” wrote Harry Morgan, Rethink lead analyst. The emission taxation, together with investment levels, is the key variable to understand hydrogen’s future. In particular, the report suggests that green hydrogen will be cheaper than grey hydrogen in just two years. “By the middle of the century, total investment of $10 trillion will have seen the cost of hydrogen fall by over 95% from levels seen in 2020, spurring a 10-fold increase in global demand. In total, 771 million tons of hydrogen will be required per year as the world heads towards net zero emissions on this timeline,” Morgan wrote.

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Cement producer Buzzi Unicem and Italy’s gas distributor Italgas signed an agreement to study the feasibility of power-to-gas systems in combination with carbon capture systems at production plants. “The study will assess the possibility of producing and using, in the most suitable Buzzi Unicem plants, synthetic methane obtained from the combination of green hydrogen produced by the power-to-gas plants with part of the CO2 released in the production processes,” wrote Buzzi in a note, without mentioning timelines or investment levels.

The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative has announced the start of the third round of work on a vision for a pan-European hydrogen network. “The circle of participants now includes 29 gas TSOs from 27 countries across Europe. The work on the common European vision for hydrogen infrastructure will be carried out in the first half of 2022 and will include analyses of future hydrogen supply corridors for Europe and an update of the EHB map for a possible future hydrogen network in Europe,” wrote Danish gas company EnergiNet on Wednesday. According to the press release, new EHB maps will be published this spring. They will include the new pipeline routes submitted by new participants. The focus is now on supply corridors. Danish institutions and companies want a hydrogen infrastructure in the country before 2030. The first focus is on a connection between Esbjerg or Holstebro in Denmark and Hamburg in Germany. This week, EHB announced six additional members: Amber Grid (Lithuania), Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), Conexus Baltic Grid (Latvia), Gassco (Norway), Plinacro (Croatia), and REN (Portugal). “By broadening its base, this initiative has now reached 29 energy infrastructure operators covering 27 European countries,” wrote Gas for Climate.

Germany's Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and Ecoclean announced that their EcoLyzer BW project started in January. In the future, Ecoclean is to manufacture around 80 systems per year at the Dettingen site, which will then be made available for the international market. Production of the first systems is scheduled to begin in 2023, ZSW announced Wednesday. It would be the first series production of electrolysis systems in Baden-Württemberg. The state environment ministry is funding the EcoLyzer project with €2.1 million until 2024. The ZSW has been working for 10 years on the development of the technological basis for the system technology for alkaline water electrolysis (AEM) in the 1-megawatt power class. The electrolyzer will be equipped with two blocks each with a capacity of 0.5 megawatts. According to the ZSW, with an efficiency of around 70 percent, about 20 kilograms of hydrogen per hour could be produced at a pressure level of 16 bar.

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