The Hydrogen Stream: Steam-based tech to produce 100 g of hydrogen from 1 kg of biomass

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) developed a two-phase hydrogen production technology that is capable of using steam to produce hydrogen from biomass. Furthermore, an Indian-Norwegian consortium is developing green ammonia in Oman, Toshiba is starting research on hydrogen production from geothermal energy, and Thyssengas is selecting personnel for the conversion of around 20% of its gas network.

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed a technology to produce 100 g of hydrogen from 1 kg of biomass. “The process consists of two steps. In the first step, biomass is converted into syngas in a novel reactor using oxygen and steam. In the second step, pure hydrogen is generated from syngas using an indigenously developed low-pressure gas separation unit,” they said, noting that 60 g of hydrogen are present in 1 kg of biomass. According to their findings, the high yield has to do with the fact that steam participates in both homogenous and heterogeneous reactions. In homogeneous reactions, reactants are in a single phase, whereas in heterogeneous reactions, the reactants are in two or more phases. Solid carbon, which serves as a carbon sink, and carbon dioxide, which can be used in other processes, are the two carbon-based by-products, making the process carbon negative, said the researchers. 

India’s ACME, Norway’s Scatec, and Oslo-based Yara have signed a term sheet for offtake from the first phase of their green ammonia production plans in Oman. ACME and Scatec will begin developing the first phase of the project over 12 km2 of land to produce 100,000 metric tonnes of green ammonia per annum in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm. Once fully developed, a second phase will scale up production, which should reach 1.1 million tonnes annually. “The parties have agreed the principal terms for offtake of 100,000 tonnes annually of green ammonia in a first phase, and potential further offtake from the projects second phase as this develops. This agreement is groundbreaking for enabling the partners’ first green ammonia project in Oman,” said Scatec.

A Japanese consortium including Toshiba Energy and Osaka-based municipal utility Kansai Electric Power Corporation, will conduct a study on hydrogen production utilizing unused geothermal energy in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. The project period is from this July to March 2023. “Currently, a portion of geothermal steam is not fully utilized. Through this project, Toshiba ESS will investigate the effective use of unused steam to produce stable and low-cost green hydrogen,” said Toshiba. The hydrogen should be used for industries’ heat demand in the surrounding region. After the study, Toshiba ESS aims to deploy the resulting business model and use geothermal power plants in Japan and overseas to increase its hydrogen production. 

Thyssengas is planning an 800-km hydrogen pipeline network in Germany by 2030. Thyssengas, which owns around 4,400 km of natural gas pipelines, is planning to retrofit around 18% of its network. The pipelines will be first hydrogen-ready and then gradually entirely converted for pure hydrogen transportation. “The hydrogen network planning is based on around 45 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) that Thyssengas concluded with potential hydrogen producers and customers as part of a market survey conducted by FNB Gas,” said the company. 

Three of the 17 projects selected by the European Commission for a total €1.8 billion investment are hydrogen-related. The first project, Holland Hydrogen, will be carried out by Shell in Rotterdam. The project will supply a 400 MW electrolyzer with Dutch offshore wind – a 200 MW trial by 2025 and 400 MW by 2027. The hydrogen will replace fossil fuels in the Pernis refinery. The second project, Furec, is being promoted by RWE Generation. “FUREC will process non-recyclable solid waste streams and transform them primarily into hydrogen,” said the Commission. The project will take place in a chemicals cluster at Geleen, the Netherlands. The third project will also be in the Netherlands. ELYgator, promoted by Air Liquide, will produce 15,5000 tones of hydrogen from a 200 MW electrolysis project in Terneuzen, targeting industry and mobility. 

Amazon’s US$2 billion Climate Pledge Fund announced new investments in Electric Hydrogen and Sunfire, two developers of electrolyzers.

The Port of Valencia has begun the installation of its hydrogen generator. The hydrogen supply station will have a two-stage water-cooled piston hydrogen compressor with heat exchangers integrated into the system, two groups of hydrogen storage cylinders at 300 and 450 bar, and a dispenser at 350 bar for heavy vehicles.

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