- May 20, 2022 2:40 pm GMT
Just as charging station availability is a constraint on battery electric vehicle adoption, maintaining momentum in the Hydrogen Economy will require dependable supply chains for clean hydrogen. While hundreds of high-tech, large-scale hydrogen production and distribution projects are in development around the world, so called “Waste-to-Hydrogen” can provide a near-term solution to meeting localized demand.
Turning waste into hydrogen can be achieved through well-established thermochemical processes (using heat to breakdown waste) or biochemical processes (using micro-organisms to break down waste). Of course, biochemical processes can occur naturally with respect to organic materials in garbage dumps or at farms (which emit landfill gas or biogas respectively, each a combination of methane and carbon dioxide). These gases can then be captured, reformed and purified into commercial grade clean hydrogen. The advantages of Waste-to-Hydrogen projects may include reducing landfill utilization, eliminating or reducing the potency of greenhouse gas emissions, capturing carbon and other chemical byproducts for sequester or sale, and proximity to clean hydrogen demand.
By way of example, there are multiple Waste-to-Hydrogen projects underway to meet demand that is expected to emerge from California’s aggressive push into hydrogen powered trucks and buses:
- Air Liquide’s recently commissioned $250 million facility near Las Vegas processes landfill gas into 30 tons/day of clean hydrogen, enough to power about 40,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (see article below). Clean hydrogen produced at the plant is being sold to FirstElement Fuel, Inc. which operates hydrogen fueling stations in California.
- Raven SR signed an agreement to process up to ~100 tons/day of organic waste from the West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill in Richmond, CA using a thermochemical process to generate clean hydrogen. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2022 and at least some of the output is intended to be used to supply fueling stations for fleets of hydrogen trucks manufactured by its partner and shareholder, Hyzon Motors.
- A partnership led by FuelCell Energy and Toyota is well down the path in constructing a clean hydrogen plant at Long Beach Port, CA. The plant will reform bio-methane (also called “renewable natural gas” or “RNG”) which has, in turn, been reformed from biogas and then distributed to the port through existing gas pipelines. Among other uses, the hydrogen will be used to power hydrogen trucks which are well suited to the high utilization and back-to-base nature of port trucking operations.
Many similar projects are underway throughout Europe and Asia.
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