August 2023 Decarbonisati n Technolo gy Powering the Transition to Sustainable Fuels & Energy
TECHNOLOGY•SUMMIT 16-17 APRIL 2024 THE INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY, LONDON
Powering the transition to sustainable fuels and energy The 2023 event was a resounding success with 100% of delegates rating the speaker line-up as exceeding their expectations! Building on this success, you can expect a packed agenda exploring cutting-edge decarbonisation technologies and the emergence of new industrial clusters driving the energy transition at the 2024 event.
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Geothermal solutions for net zero in industry Max Brouwers Getech
How the UK government is supporting cleantech innovation Nuz Fatima, Shak Choudhury and Will France Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Hydrogen economy Part 1: Supply, demand, reliability and safety Robert Ohmes, Nathan Barkley, Mike Annon, Greg Zoll and Jessica Hofmann Becht
Opportunities for decarbonising existing hydrogen production Omar Bedani Wood
Using existing assets to advance your CO 2 journey Matthew Clingerman Sulzer Chemtech
Breaking boundaries to decarbonise plant emissions Duncan Mitchell KBC (A Yokogawa Company)
A bio-based solution for producing renewable ethylene Jorge Martinez-Gacio and Yvon Bernard Axens
Metal-organic frameworks for carbon capture James Stephenson Promethean Particles
Unlocking the full potential of UK carbon capture and storage Nigel Greatorex ABB Energy Industries
Industrial clustering and avoiding anti-trust issues Patrick Smith RBB Economics Duncan Micklem Yokogawa
Solutions for long-duration energy storage Jim Berry Just In-Time Energy Company
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Energy production accounts for around 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels. Ultimately, the aim of the energy transition is to minimise emissions from the production and use of energy. BP identified four drivers in the transition: growing renewable energy, increasing electrification, declining demand for fossil hydrocarbons, and developing demand for low carbon intensity fuels, most notably hydrogen. I would add a fifth, developing carbon capture storage and usage. Globally, in 2021 low-carbon energy sources (renewables plus nuclear) accounted for 18% of primary energy consumption and 37% of the electricity generation mix. The energy supply transition is most visible in the growing ubiquity of solar panels and wind turbines for power generation. Countries with the highest share of renewables in their energy mix tend to have a higher share of hydro (for example, Norway) and/or nuclear power (for example, France). However, the overall picture tends to hide trends such as the positive shift from coal to natural gas. Clearly, much more needs to be done to increase the share of renewables in the supply mix, and in this edition of Decarbonisation Technology we look at the underused potential of geothermal energy. The demand transition involves switching from a fossil-based fuel to a lower carbon energy source, most apparent in the rollout of battery electric vehicles for light-duty road transport. Wherever feasible, switching to electric furnaces is being deployed in industrial manufacturing, including refinery furnaces. When direct electrification is not feasible, alternatives such as hydrogen are being pursued. However, as one article in this edition points out, it is important to consider a life cycle analysis approach to ensure that fuel switching does not inadvertently lead to increased emissions. Steam methane reforming with carbon capture can be a viable route to low carbon intensity hydrogen, which also makes use of existing capacity. Recently, the UK government announced 13 fuel switching projects, two of which are discussed herein with case studies on glass manufacturing and the whisky industry. Refineries are progressing towards a circular carbon economy through investments to maximise their use of renewable feedstocks for the production of sustainable hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals, such as biofuels for hard-to-electrify transport sectors and bio-ethylene. Recent regulatory drivers such as the US IRA, RefuelEU, and the revised IMO GHG strategy support these investments. They are critical initiators for the hydrogen economy and the development of e-fuels. Dr Robin Nelson
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Geothermal solutions for net zero in industry Geothermal has long been praised as a golden ticket for sustainable decarbonisation. Why, then, is this power source not being used to its full potential?
Max Brouwers Getech
T here has never been more focus on the need to decarbonise industry. With around 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stemming from industrial activities, failure to create sustainable and practical decarbonisation pathways will result in irreversible damage. Limiting climate change is a task in which stakeholders across all industry sectors are united, and the pressure to act now is unavoidable. However, once quick fixes have been made and inroads have been created, many organisations are faced with the challenge of how to further progress their net zero ambitions. There are no misconceptions about the fact that the industry as a whole is lagging far behind on its emissions reduction targets. With a recent Ernst and Young report revealing that only 5% of FTSE 100 companies have so far disclosed transition plans that would be deemed ‘credible’ or sufficiently detailed under draft government guidance (Ernst & Young, 2023), it is evident that the challenge of implementing decarbonisation strategies at scale is prevalent across industry. Determining what practical decarbonisation solutions work best for your business is a difficult process, with a myriad of challenges facing any organisation seeking to reduce its carbon footprint. The technologies needed to achieve the necessary deep cuts in global emissions by 2030 across industry already exist. However, while renewable alternatives to traditional fossil fuels such as wind and solar are promising in theory, issues such as congestion within the national grid and irregular availability make it
difficult to build full sustainable decarbonisation plans on these substitutes. Geothermal has long been praised as a golden ticket for sustainable decarbonisation, with many citing the heat beneath our feet as the best route for sourcing inexhaustible power for decades to come. By capturing the nearly limitless energy from the subsurface, we have the potential to power and heat businesses across the globe for low cost with very little carbon impact. However, with so many positives, why is this seemingly perfect clean power source not being utilised to its greatest potential? It is a source of energy that often goes unnoticed when it comes to identifying our optimal renewable energy mix. And by overlooking it as a source, we overlook the benefits. How much do we know about geothermal energy? Geothermal energy has been around for centuries. Geothermal dates back almost 10,000 years ago to the settlement of Paleo-Indians (US Department of Energy, 2022) at hot springs, which served as a source of heat and cleansing, with the ancient Romans also making good use of its potential. However, the first record of it being used to generate electricity was in 1904, when steam from a geothermal source was captured to turn a small turbine that powered five light bulbs. Today, nations such as the US can generate more than 3.7 gigawatts (GW) of domestic power through geothermal energy plants. That is enough to power around 2.7 million US homes. With governments around the world
Geothermal power plant
( Source: SPE Aberdeen )
increasing their funding for the sector, this power source is currently going from strength to strength. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects geothermal power generation to increase to 857 terawatts per hour (TWh) by 2050 (IEA, 2020), an 800% increase compared to the 94 TWh generated in 2020 and, according to Rystad Energy, geothermal investment is expected to reach USD 85 billion between 2020 and 2030 (Rystad Energy, 2023). But what are the main drivers for adopting geothermal energy as a cleaner energy source, and how can it support the wider industrial decarbonisation? Geothermal energy is one of the most reliable, sustainable, and potentially efficient energy sources available and is theoretically accessible everywhere in the world. As businesses transition away from fossil fuels, it is imperative for stakeholders that whatever clean energy alternative they turn to is secure and reliable. Unlike many other low- carbon solutions, geothermal production is not affected by the weather, which gives consumers confidence that they will have access to green energy at all times. Beyond this, it is one of the few renewable power sources that can be switched on and off, meaning it can manage peak demand. Another key aspect of geothermal which What benefits are associated with geothermal for decarbonisation?
makes it attractive for decarbonising business is its low lifecycle cost curve. With many geothermal power generation facilities being located close to their source, producers and consumers do not have to worry about the costs typically associated with alternative energy sources such as transportation and storage. Also, a geothermal plant has a very small footprint. Moreover, geothermal is one of the few clean energy sources cost-competitive with fossil fuel. A recent study by Lazard revealed that contrary to popular opinion, geothermal energy is cost competitive with both solar and wind (Lazard, 2023). While at face value, these more popular forms of energy appear more cost- effective, there are significant supplementary costs associated with batteries required for both storing energy when it is needed and their lack of consistency. Battery, solar, and wind have had decades of reducing costs due to economies of scale and technological advances. However, all are currently experiencing cost increases due to shortages in critical raw mineral supply. As traditional resources are being depleted, the effects of historic under-investment in mineral exploration are becoming more apparent. Geothermal energy has avoided the price volatility other sources of energy have faced in previous years, making it, for the first time, the cost-competitive option for businesses looking to decarbonise.
While extracting the heat from the subsurface, we can also identify and retrieve valuable metals and critical minerals such as lithium from underground. These resources are essential components for many energy transition efforts, such as the creation of electric vehicles. This can significantly enhance the economic benefits of geothermal by making overall investments more valuable and thus attractive for potential investors. However, while there are numerous benefits associated with geothermal, this effective form of clean energy has not witnessed the surge in interest that other forms of clean energy have in recent decades. To understand why this is, we must first consider the challenges associated with geothermal energy and what must be done to integrate it into successful decarbonisation models. What are the challenges associated with the expansion of geothermal? One of the biggest barriers facing the adoption of geothermal energy within industry is that although, theoretically, it can be captured anywhere in the world, it may not necessarily be the lowest levelised cost of energy (LCoE) renewable energy source in every location. Geothermal uptake has been limited thus far to the most prospective places, often those with active volcanic areas such as Iceland, the Western United States, Indonesia, and Eastern Africa.
attempting to do so while ensuring there is no adverse impact on their business’s continued growth and profitability can be a challenging path to navigate. Although geothermal energy has been around for centuries, its exclusion from much of mainstream media’s discussion of renewable alternatives to fossil fuels has left many without a proper understanding of how the technology works. Another deterrent from wider industry adoption thus far has been the initial exploration risk and development cost. Until there is exploratory drilling, it can be difficult to gauge how viable a particular resource will be, and substantial upfront capital costs mean it can take numerous years to recoup that investment. Recent advancements in technology have lowered the risk typically associated with exploration. As technological developments become more efficient, there is also exciting progress on the drilling side, with companies significantly reducing costs and being able to unlock areas previously considered unachievable. Getech has developed the largest commercial gravity and magnetics database in the world, which allows us to make more accurate and detailed models of subsurface energy. In tandem with our geospatial expertise, we have leveraged this knowledge to create Heat Seeker – a new solution for identifying the best locations for geothermal projects, considering
A lack of a sound understanding of what type of geothermal technical solution is most attractive for your location and activity is a barrier that stops many businesses from adopting geothermal. Discovering what will work best for you can be both time-consuming and costly. This is why it is essential to work alongside experts to determine how to integrate geothermal energy into your organisation’s decarbonisation agenda effectively. Energy security is a top concern when beginning an organisation’s decarbonisation journey. Many accept that transitioning to lower-emitting forms of energy is non-optional, but
Heat Seeker identifies the best locations for geothermal projects
credits (Lombard Odier, 2023) aimed at driving the country’s transition to clean energy and its infrastructure. This model of serious government support to advance a nation’s net-zero agenda is one that experts anticipate seeing replicated across the globe in coming years.
The positive impact of introducing geothermal regulations can be seen in countries such as The
Netherlands, which set out the Geothermal Heat Action Plan in 2016 (Cariaga, 2022)
Heat Seeker map
above- and below-ground drivers. Utilising these capabilities, we work with governments and organisations around the world to advise on developing integrated low-carbon energy solutions. Despite the running costs related to operating geothermal developments remaining fairly low and steady throughout the 30-50 years project lifetime, the initial investments can still be off- putting to many potential backers. It is with this in mind that government involvement will be crucial if geothermal energy is to become a key factor in supporting the wider decarbonisation of industries. What role can governments play in expanding geothermal energy’s potential? With nations across the globe united in their front to successfully achieve the goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, there have been significant increases in funding for all forms of renewable energy. Governments have an important role to play in stimulating the growth of geothermal energy. An increasing number of countries are encouraging developments through initiatives such as upfront subsidies or minimum off-take pricing. There is an additional need for clear, transparent, and stable regulations to help informed investment decisions. We have already witnessed such policies coming into place in the US, as President Biden introduced the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, a USD 391 billion package of subsidies and tax
to increase geothermal energy. The action plan gives better drilling insurance to help cover drilling risks, investment in software that supports geothermal heat exploration, and grants for geothermal heat pumps. As of 2021, there are 60 geothermal exploration licenses in force, according to the 2020 Annual Report on Natural Resources and geothermal energy in the Netherlands (NL Gov, 2021). This investment is particularly impressive, as the Netherlands is not considered to necessarily have the most favourable subsurface setting for geothermal. Despite these international advancements, there are many nations that are critically lagging behind in scaling up their geothermal agenda. Recently, energy industry bodies, such as the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), have lobbied the UK government to establish a Geothermal Development Incentive. If successful, funding should allow for a viable geothermal project to be initiated. With heat accounting for 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and nearly a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions, this scheme could provide access to enough geothermal heat energy to supply all of the UK’s needs for at least 100 years. The added insurance given by the scheme would undoubtedly see a rise in drilling for geothermal energy in the UK (Richter, 2021). However, while government backing remains lacking in certain geographies, the potential for geothermal to be successfully integrated into companies’ wider decarbonisation schemes will continue to be dictated by understanding
the underground and the most appropriate technologies to harvest that subsurface heat. What must happen next? Geothermal energy can and should be considered in the overall green energy mix required for decarbonisation, given its wide availability and capacity to deliver baseload energy. In a changing world battling with energy security and the race to net zero, it makes perfect sense to increase efforts and global policies to realise the potential of geothermal. While an attractive geothermal energy source could very likely be sitting right beneath your feet, due to a lack of understanding, there remains a high level of apprehension to implement it as a practical solution as part of a business’s carbon reduction strategies. Though, with many organisations still unclear on how to integrate geothermal into their decarbonisation strategies, collaboration with experts in the field will remain key. At Getech, we leverage our decades of subsurface skills and work alongside our technology partners to identify what decarbonisation solution will work
best for each individual business’s site. In order to be sustainable, businesses’ decarbonisation pathways must be moulded around the respective organisation’s ambitions, budget, energy needs, location, and risk appetite. By being forward-thinking and beginning to map out how different low-carbon technologies can be integrated and optimised into current business models, stakeholders can successfully future-proof their energy landscape of tomorrow while escaping any potential government- imposed burdens (such as carbon taxes) linked with relying on fossil fuels. In a changing world, it is time to make more of a case to highlight the potential of geothermal energy in helping reach the ultimate goal of net zero. Getech is a provider of unique earth science data, using advanced analytics and AI to locate the essential subsurface energy and mineral resources needed to deliver a successful energy transition to a net zero economy.
VIEW REFERENCES Max Brouwers firstname.lastname@example.org
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How the UK government is supporting cleantech innovation Through its Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, UK government aims to accelerate the development of low-carbon fuel alternatives and fuel switching solutions
Nuz Fatima, Shak Choudhury and Will France Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
I nnovation is a fundamental part of the transition to net zero. The UK government is providing a combined total of £1.3 billion from the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) and the Advanced Nuclear Fund (ANF) from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to accelerate the commercialisation of key technologies which have the potential to contribute to this low-carbon future. The NZIP is key to supporting the UK’s pathway to a low-carbon future by 2050 as part of the government’s Net Zero Growth Plan (HM Government, 2023). NZIP aims to decrease the costs of decarbonisation, underpin innovation across the energy system, and drive economic growth by anchoring new technology to the UK. NZIP was launched in April 2021 and will run to March 2025. It is part of a wider ecosystem of public funding as set out in the Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework (HM Government, 2021) and the accompanying Delivery Plan (HM Government, 2023b). We are now halfway through delivering the NZIP and have already supported more than 450 projects and nearly 4,000 jobs (see Figure 1 ). These projects reflect the energy challenges we face and the exciting technologies being developed to address these. Amongst others, this is apparent in industrial decarbonisation, including developing low-carbon fuels for UK industry. Industrial Fuel Switching programme As part of the NZIP, the government has now committed up to £57.5 million of funding through the Industrial Fuel Switching (IFS) programme to support the development and demonstration of fuel switching and fuel
Number of projects
35% of projects increased their TRL so far (n=97)*
£345m BEIS funding leveraged £345 million in matched funding (n=449)*
3,810 At least 3,810 full time equivalents have been supported by NZIP (n=354)*
completed or ongoing
*n=number of projects
Advanced carbon capture usage and storage
Greenhouse gas removal
Future oshore wind
Homes and buildings
Energy storage and exibility
switch enabling technologies for UK industry. This includes fuel switches from high-carbon fuels to hydrogen, electricity, biomass, and other low-carbon fuels. The largest emissions sources include manufacturing and construction (such as iron and steel, chemical, and cement), oil refineries, and industrial non-road mobile machinery. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy (March 2021) highlighted fuel switching as one of five near-term innovation Figure 1 Key performance statistics of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio from 2021-22
priorities to support the wider deployment of industrial decarbonisation technologies in the 2030s. Innovation is needed to bring down the costs for these, overcome technical challenges, and increase industry confidence. The UK has set an ambition of supporting up to 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with at least half from electrolytic production. Government-funded programmes, such as the Hydrogen Supply 2 competition, aim to support the development of innovative low-carbon hydrogen supply and generation. It is looking to address specific technological gaps to make hydrogen production, storage, and supply more efficient and cost- effective, as well as funding real‑world testing of more mature innovative hydrogen supply solutions. Electrification is also being explored by industrial sites. Electrifying industrial processes which currently use high-carbon fuels poses one of the biggest fuel switching technical challenges due to the very different nature of electric vs, for example, natural gas fuels. This can result in very different operating conditions using electricity, which is often less of an issue with hydrogen/ biofuels. Biofuels and waste-derived fuels are other options being considered within industry and are particularly promising for remote/dispersed sites. Other industrial sectors face unique challenges; for example, the cement sector has likely unavoidable process emissions which require carbon capture solutions. The cement sector represents about 7% of global CO 2 emissions (MPA, 2020), with process carbon emissions representing almost two-thirds of total UK sector emissions. As part of the latest funding announcements from NZIP, more than £80 million of funding has been provided to businesses to demonstrate innovative low-carbon solutions. This included 13 projects which will receive a share of funding from the IFS programme to demonstrate their fuel switching solutions and increase the uptake of low-carbon fuels. These projects cover hydrogen and biofuels as well as the electrification of some industrial processes. Industrial sectors represented by the programme include glass, aluminium, food & beverage, paper, and hydrogen distribution. Also included in this announcement were winners of the Hydrogen Bioenergy with Carbon Capture
and Storage (BECCS) Innovation Programme to turn biomass and waste, such as sewage, into hydrogen with carbon capture, and winners of the CCUS Innovation programme, which includes recycling CO 2 for fertiliser production. Glass Futures case study One of these 13 projects is led by Glass Futures, a not-for-profit Research Technology Organisation supported by members from within the glass sector. This £6 million project seeks to demonstrate the viability of low- cost, sustainable waste-derived fuels in decarbonising firing processes within the glass and ceramics sectors. The project will identify and demonstrate a range of economically and technically attractive low-cost, bio-derived fuels for a range of industrial glass and ceramics sites with furnaces/kilns of differing designs/scales. Some of the world’s largest glass manufacturers and Glass Futures members O-I, Ardagh, and Encirc plan to demonstrate biofuels on their container glass plants, with NSG also trialling biofuels on its float glass plant and refractory manufacturer DSF on its ceramics site. The project will also develop a detailed economic understanding of the fuels, their availability and sustainability, as well as their compatibility with carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies. The fuels demonstrated within this project have the potential to help the UK achieve net zero 2050 targets, providing a route to decarbonise existing furnaces/kilns and providing solutions to off-cluster manufacturing sites, where the costs to develop the necessary infrastructure to provide other low-carbon fuels (such as hydrogen, electricity) could be prohibitively high. Green Distilleries programme It is estimated that there are more than 300 distilleries across the UK. The most energy- intensive part of the distillation industry is whisky distilleries (around 7x more energy intensive than gin distilleries), which directly produce around 500,000 tCO 2 e/yr. The majority of these emissions come from the generation of heat for the distillation process, which accounts for 70% of the distillation industry’s energy demand. Around 60% of the energy used to produce heat is from natural gas; however, due
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Green spirit for maturation
Supercritical electr o lyser
Green hydrogen production and storage
Figure 2 Block flow diagram showing the integration of Supercritical’s electrolyser to produce whisky
to the remote location of some of the distilleries, the industry still uses a range of fossil fuels, including coal, medium/heavy fuel oil and, in some circumstances, peat. Through the NZIP, £10 million has been provided to several projects to carry out the research and development of a variety of novel solutions to decarbonise the distilleries sector. The Green Distilleries programme funded 17 feasibility studies, with final reports published in March 2021, and three demonstration projects: Locogen Ltd, partnered with Arbikie Distillery, is leading the development and installation of a green hydrogen energy system at the distillery, comprising a wind turbine, electrolyser, hydrogen storage, and hydrogen boiler system. Supercritical Solutions, partnered with Beam Suntory UK Ltd and Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), is developing the world’s first high-pressure, ultra-efficient electrolyser for the production of hydrogen and oxygen from water with zero emissions. Colorado Construction and Engineering Ltd, in conjunction with the University of Leeds and Clean Burner Systems, is developing a novel biofuel gasification system that can help transition all direct-fired and steam-heated distillery operations towards carbon neutrality. Supercritical case study – WhiskHy project Through the NZIP, £2.94 million has been provided to Supercritical Solutions and its partners, Beam Suntory and MTC, for the project WhiskHy. Beam Suntory owns several Scotch whisky distilleries and has targets to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero status
throughout its value chain by 2040. Supercritical Solutions is developing the world’s first high- pressure, ultra-efficient electrolyser to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water with zero emissions. Figure 2 demonstrates how Supercritical’s electrolyser could be integrated for the production of whisky. This aims to increase hydrogen production efficiency by 25% compared with currently available electrolysers. Towards the end of the project, a direct-fired hydrogen trial is planned at one of Beam Suntory’s facilities by combusting hydrogen directly beneath the copper still. The quality of the resultant spirit will be monitored immediately following distillation and continuously as it matures. You can find more details on the WhiskHy feasibility study on the Green Distilleries gov.uk webpage: www.gov.uk/government/publications/ green-distilleries-competition Progress of the NZIP The NZIP is supporting entrepreneurs and creating jobs across the UK. Projects such as those from the Green Distilleries and Industrial Fuel Switching programmes show how, with support from the government, technological ingenuity is enabling clean growth opportunities for the UK and helping us meet our net zero target. The Department recently published its progress report on the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. Read more at www.gov.uk/government/collections/net- zero-innovation-portfolio#nzip-progress-report
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Hydrogen economy Part 1: Supply, demand, reliability and safety Implementing strategy across the hydrogen supply chain as a critical component in addressing climate change
Robert Ohmes, Nathan Barkley, Mike Annon, Greg Zoll, and Jessica Hofmann Becht
A s governments as well as energy and research firms look to meet global carbon footprint reduction targets, many options are being examined, analysed, and invested in. One such option within the core of the energy transition is hydrogen. Long being a basic building block for transportation fuels, petrochemicals, and specialty products, hydrogen is now considered a critical component to address climate change. Based on current projections, in order to meet 2050 net zero targets, global production of hydrogen will need to grow from around 90 to more than 500 million metric tons (MmT) per year. The production and usage options for hydrogen are expanding on a regular basis, as are the challenges of leveraging this molecule.
Within this two-part series, we will examine the overall hydrogen supply chain; identify key risks, challenges and issues within the technical, economic, reliability, and regulatory arenas; and provide insights and case studies to help address these areas to drive the transition to a hydrogen-based economy. Part One addresses the value chain elements of supply, demand, infrastructure, as well as reliability and safety. Part Two will discuss the economic and regulatory aspects of the hydrogen economy. Overall hydrogen supply chain The three main functional areas in the hydrogen supply chain are production, distribution (supply), and consumption (demand) (see Figure 1 ). Underpinning each of these areas are the
HYDROGEN SUPPLY CHAIN
Renewable gasoline, jet & diesel + E-fuels + fuel cells
Liquid and gas storage
Liquid and gas transportation
Figure 1 Hydrogen economy supply chain overview
technical feasibility, process safety, mechanical integrity, financial, and regulatory criteria that must be met for the supply chain to function and remain viable. The key challenge with the hydrogen economy in its present state is that each of these criteria need to be assessed, built out, and made more efficient in order to be sustainable. Consumers As with most products within an economic system, the value flow starts with the demand side and how the product will be used. Historically, most hydrogen has been used within the fossil fuels industry to produce transportation fuels, to meet low sulphur and emission quality mandates, and to convert low- value crude oil cuts into highly valued products. Future growth in hydrogen consumption will be driven by the need to reduce CO₂ emissions. Hydrogen is essential for the production of ‘zero-carbon emission’ combustion sources, converting seed oils, animal fats, and used cooking oils into renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, and transforming renewable electricity into e-fuels. Hydrogen can also be considered a medium for longer term storage of renewable power. Within the refining sector, replacing existing hydrogen sources with decarbonised (such as low carbon intensity) hydrogen is relatively straightforward as long as the production volumes are available and sustainable and the logistics are in place. Fundamentally, as long as it meets the quality and supply condition targets, the refining process unit does not differentiate the source of the hydrogen. However, for some of the newer uses of hydrogen, limitations can exist on how far its usage can be expanded. As an example, in order to decarbonise combustion sources for heat, whether it be within a process heater, home or office heating, or even cooking, hydrogen as a combustion fuel becomes a viable mechanism to reduce CO₂ emissions, as the product of hydrogen combustion is primarily water. While post- combustion CO₂ removal, which involves extraction of CO₂ from the combustion flue gas and sequestering, can be retrofitted to existing industrial plant, it is not practical in household
heating applications. One novel alternative is to remove the CO₂ pre-combustion. The basic flow scheme for pre-combustion CO₂ capture is to reform streams such as natural gas, produced gas and lighter liquid fuels or to gasify heavier hydrocarbon streams to create syngas (CO and H₂) and then process the syngas in a water gas shift reactor to convert the CO to CO₂ and separate out the hydrogen for use as the downstream combustion fuel source. The primary advantages of this approach are A higher concentration of CO₂ for more effective extraction A reduced number of processing points and facilities to capture CO₂ The ability to provide a consistent fuel source to downstream consumers. However, this option does come with challenges. Firstly, hydrogen has a lower heating value on a standard volume basis compared to other typical fuel sources (such as natural gas), which means that up to three times as much standard volume of fuel will be required to meet the caloric requirements for combustion. Therefore, fuel supply lines, system pressures, pressure control valves, and even burners may have to be modified to use high percentages of hydrogen. Secondly, hydrogen has a higher flame temperature compared to other fuel sources, which impacts firebox performance and NOx emissions. One benefit of firing hydrogen is that the oxygen and, therefore, air requirements are lower for the same heat release, potentially reducing induced and forced air blower power requirements and debottlenecking draft- limited furnaces. While the firing of high hydrogen content streams in industrial heaters is highly plausible, the use of hydrogen to replace natural gas within commercial and home heating systems can be more challenging. Based on most evaluations, typical natural gas pipelines and home/commercial users can utilise between 5 and 10% hydrogen within the fuel system. The use of higher concentrations would require modification of the pipeline and compression supply systems as well as the point source combustion equipment and fugitive emissions. As an example, Becht supported a client to evaluate pre-combustion CO₂ removal as
Burner capability at high H 2 content
Review original data sheet and testing, work with vendors to select and adjust burners to improve flame stabilisation Review and upgrade flame detectors that can handle hydrogen firing Shorter flames with higher radiant and less convective heat transfer. Review firebox design and heat flux More thermal but lower prompt NOx emissions. Review with burner manufacturers Review gas supply line pressure, gas control valve sizing, and maximum burner pressure allowance. Review combustion air controls Address with stated codes and standards for metallurgy choices
Table 1 Hydrogen firing risks and potential mitigations
a mechanism to help meet decarbonisation targets, especially as the operating entity was concerned about firing >90% hydrogen streams. Within the review, Becht assessed the fuel gas supply system, operational challenges, potential modifications, and anticipated shifts in heater performances. Table 1 identifies some of the risks and mitigations for hydrogen firing. In this example, sufficient supporting analysis was provided to help the client determine that pre- combustion is technically viable and should be part of their decarbonisation investment plans. Another case study considered the use of hydrogen as a fuel source within gas turbines. From a conservation of energy standpoint, the principle of taking green power (such as wind, solar, hydro, or geothermal), converting it to hydrogen, and then combusting the hydrogen to
make power is particularly inefficient compared to the direct use of green power within the grid. However, a large base of installed gas turbine generation could be retrofitted to use hydrogen. Additionally, hydrogen can serve as a replacement for natural gas or coal for load management of power supply vs power demand and as an energy storage mechanism. As such, hydrogen can reduce our dependency on fossil energy sources and be complementary to green power. For instance, during high solar or wind power generation and meager demand periods, the excess power could be used to generate hydrogen via electrolysis and then stored for combustion in a ‘peaking’ gas turbine during low solar or wind power generation periods. This approach helps more fully leverage the
Becht was selected by a rening client to evaluate and qualify combustion hardware capability of firing a blend of up to 40%hydrogen refinery o - gas in a gas turbine located at the adjacent cogeneration plant.
Becht s ubject m atter e xperts collaborated with client, hardware supplier , and cogeneration plant personnel to examine turbine retrofit feasibility, impacts , and operability.
This retrofit will allow the client to eliminate flaring during turnarounds and perform additional process optimisations and reduce their carbon footprint
Cogeneration plant will realise improved gas turbine performance (output and heat rate), carbon footprint reduction (combusting high H fuel gas blend) , and extended operating time between combustor and hot gas path maintenance outages
Figure 2 Hydrogen firing gas turbine case study
green power generation resources and store the resulting energy in a fuel source rather than batteries. To this end, Becht has supported entities in the design and modification of their gas turbines to allow high hydrogen firing as a way to future-proof the economic and technical viability of those assets (see Figure 2 ). The largest projection of hydrogen usage growth is in the transportation sector, as hydrocarbon-based fuels account for more than 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. While the principle of a fuel cell is relatively straightforward as a means to convert hydrogen to energy and water, the practicality of using hydrogen for transportation energy faces several challenges. The current number of cars and trucks that use hydrogen as a fuel source is only around 40,000 out of ~1.5 billion vehicles globally in 2020. Several reasons exist for this low adoption rate. Firstly, the typical usage life of a car or truck ranges from 7-10 years and is expected to elongate in the near term due to post-COVID supply chain issues. Therefore, it will take many years to change the fleet to new fuel sources, as consumers and businesses will sparingly change their vehicles. Next, the hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure is still in its infancy, despite years of advocacy and policy changes by regulatory entities. Currently, only large urban areas with advantaged tax incentives and economies of scale can justify the refuelling infrastructure. Other challenges include distribution and logistics systems, as well as economics, which will be addressed in subsequent sections. That said, signification changes to each of these areas will be required to increase the speed of adoption, or the use of hydrogen for direct transportation fuels may suffer the fate of the UK hydrogen refuelling stations. The most promising options are the use of hydrogen for heavy trucking, buses, and large transport fleets that can operate within a centralised hydrogen hub system. Producers On the production side, several options and technologies are available to produce hydrogen. Over recent years, the 'colours of hydrogen' have been used to delineate the production
approaches (see Figure 1). Grey, brown, and blue hydrogen are commercially proven technologies that produce as much as 90% of the global hydrogen supply today. Over time, in order to meet decarbonisation requirements, grey hydrogen will decline to be replaced by both blue and green hydrogen. Most industry experts expect that blue hydrogen will lead the way initially to meet near-term decarbonised hydrogen production needs, given the economies of scale and high technology readiness, especially since the CO₂ removal technologies from both the process and combustion sides of a typical steam methane reformer (SMR) has been used for many years and the solvent technologies are continuing to evolve in efficiency and effectiveness. That said, many blue hydrogen projects are being impacted by the concern of investors about financing assets that could be ‘stranded’ by disadvantaged economics or emission regulation changes prior to the end of the typical equipment life. Therefore, investors are questioning if the project economics will remain for a typical 20-year project life if incentives or even regular limits shift that life to 5-10 years. Pink hydrogen, through the use of nuclear power, is a viable option. However, it is impacted by the stigma of nuclear power itself, the current costs to build nuclear facilities, and some regulators not ‘counting’ pink hydrogen as a source of decarbonised hydrogen. Though green hydrogen, through the use of electrolysis, has existed for many years, this technology is experiencing a renaissance of research and development to improve efficiency, alter the materials of construction, and allow for the use of lower purity water for production. While green hydrogen does result in a completely decarbonised source of hydrogen (with the clear assumption that only renewable power is used and when ignoring the carbon intensity of the equipment and site construction) as well as a source of high-purity oxygen, this technology does have challenges that need to be overcome. Firstly, the power requirements are substantial for existing technologies, thereby requiring around 55 kWh/kg H₂ produced. To put that in perspective, for a typical 50 MMSCFD hydrogen plant (most refinery
Optimizing combustion for a greener tomorrow WE’RE COMMITTED TO A BETTER FUTURE There has never been a greater need to decarbonize fired equipment, produce cleaner energy sources, and operate in a more environmentally responsible way. Optimized combustion and enhanced predictive analytics are key to reducing plant emissions and ensuring equipment uptime. Designed for safety systems, our Thermox ® WDG-V combustion analyzer leads the way, monitoring and controlling combustion with unparalleled precision. Setting the industry standard for more than 50 years, AMETEK process analyzers are a solution you can rely on. Let’s decarbonize tomorrow together by ensuring tighter emission control, efficient operations, and enhanced process safety for a greener future.
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