The Anonymous Widower

Hydrogen: Can The Lightest Gas Turn Heavy Industry Green?

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the FT.

It is an excellent summary of how we will decarbonise heavy industries like steel, cement and chemicals using hydrogen.

If you don’t read anything else this morning, then read this article.

March 20, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , | Leave a comment

Will INEOS And Rolls-Royce Get Together Over Hydrogen Production?

It has been a busy week for press releases.

8th November 2020 – Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

9th November 2020 – Rolls-Royce signs MoU with CEZ For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

9th November 2020 – INEOS Launches A New Clean Hydrogen Business To Accelerate The Drive To Net Zero Carbon Emissions

Does the timing of these three press releases indicate that there is possible co-operation between the INEOS and Rolls-Royce?

These are my thoughts.

Electricity Needs Of Integrated Chemical Plants

Integrated chemical plants, like those run by INEOS need a lot of electricity.

When I worked for ICI Plastics in the early 1970s, one of the big projects at Wilton works was the updating of the Wilton power station.

  • Fifty years later it is still producing electricity.
  • It is fired by a variety of fuels including coal, oil, gas and biomass.
  • It even burned 110,000 tonnes of cow fat (tallow) from the carcasses of animals slaughtered during the BSE Crisis of 1996.
  • It produces 227 MW of electricity.
  • It also produces around 4,000,000 tonnes of steam per year for the plants on the complex.
  • Wilton 10 is a 2007 addition to the station, that burns 300,000 tonnes of a combination of sustainable wood, sawmill waste and otherwise unusable wood offcuts a year.
  • Wilton 11 is a 2016 addition to the station, that burns domestic waste, which arrives by train from Merseyside.

ICI was proud of its power station at Wilton and there were regular rumours about the strange, but legal fuels, that ended up in the boilers.

Integrated chemical plants like those on Teesside can be voracious consumers of electricity and steam.

I can envisage companies like INEOS boosting their electricity and steam capacity, by purchasing one of Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors.

A Look At Teesside

If you look at the maps of the mouth of the Tees, you have the Hartlepool nuclear power station on the North side of the river.

  • It was commissioned in 1983.
  • It can generate 320 MW of electricity.
  • It is expected to close in 2024.

This Google Map shows the mouth of the Tees.

Note.

  • Hartlepool power station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  • The Hartlepool site is probably about forty acres.
  • Wilton power station is on the South side of the Tees in the Wilton International site.

I can see, when Hartlepool power station closes, that more power will be needed on Teesside to feed the various industries in the area.

Some will come from offshore wind, but could a fleet of perhaps four of Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors be built on a decommissioned Hartlepool power station site to replace the output of the current station?

If built in a planned sequence to correspond to the expected need, there are savings to be made because each unit can be commissioned, when they are completed and used to generate cash flow.

I can even see INEOS building a large electrolyser in the area, that is powered either by wind or nuclear power, according to what power is available and the various costs.

An Integrated Small Modular Nuclear Reactor And Electrolyser

Some countries don’t have good resources to exploit for renewable power.

Will a small modular nuclear reactor, be pared with a large electrolyser to produce hydrogen for feedstock for chemical plants and fuel for transport?

How Much Hydrogen Would A Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Produce?

Consider.

  • One of Rolls-Royce’s small modular nuclear reactors has a power output of 440 MW.
  • It takes 23 MWh of electricity to create ten tonnes of hydrogen.

This would create 4,600 tonnes of hydrogen in a day.

That is a lot of zero-carbon chemical feedstock to make fertiliser, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and fuel for heavy transport.

Conclusion

I will be very surprised if INEOS were not talking to Rolls-Royce about using small modular nuclear reactors to generate the enormous quantities of electrical power and steam, needed to produce chemicals and fulfil their ambition to be a world leader in the supply of hydrogen.

November 13, 2020 Posted by | Business, Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

INEOS Launches A New Clean Hydrogen Business To Accelerate The Drive To Net Zero Carbon Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from inovyn, which is an INEOS company.

The press release starts with these points.

  • The targets set out by the UN and National Governments around the world requires concrete action. INEOS is aiming not only to contribute by decarbonising energy for its existing operations, but also by providing hydrogen that will help other businesses and sectors to do the same.
  • The new business will be based in the UK and will invest in ‘first intent’ Clean Hydrogen production across Europe.
  • The production of hydrogen based on electrolysis, powered by zero carbon electricity, will provide flexibility and storage capacity for heat and power, chemicals and transport markets.
  • The European Union Hydrogen Strategy, which outlines an infrastructure roadmap for widespread utilisation of hydrogen, across Europe by 2030, present new opportunities for the business.
  • Geir Tuft CEO INOVYN said, “INEOS is uniquely placed to play a leading role in developing these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources, combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.”

With revenue in 2019 of $85 billion in 2019, INEOS has the financial resources to make their ambitions come true.

These are my thoughts on statements in the press release.

Geir Tuft’s Statement

Geir Tuft is reported in the press release as saying.

INEOS is uniquely placed to play a leading role in developing these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources, combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for electrolysis.

In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses direct electric current (DC) to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Electrolysis is commercially important as a stage in the separation of elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores using an electrolytic cell. The voltage that is needed for electrolysis to occur is called the decomposition potential.

From my experience of working in ICI’s hydrogen plant at Runcorn in the 1970s and my knowledge of the technology and companies involved in the production of hydrogen, there are two standard routes to produce hydrogen by electrolysis.

  • Water can be electrolysed as in the classic school physics experiment to produce hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Brine can be electrolysed to produce hydrogen, chlorine, sodium metal and sodium hydroxide.

I worked as an instrument engineer in a plant, where brine was electrolysed using the Caster-Kellner process. As the process uses mercury, it is a process that is not without problems. There is a History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Castner-Kellner process, from where this was extracted.

The mercury cell process continues in use to this day. Current-day mercury cell plant operations are criticized for environmental release of mercury  leading in some cases to severe mercury poisoning as occurred in Japan Minamata_disease. Due to these concerns, mercury cell plants are being phased out, and a sustained effort is being made to reduce mercury emissions from existing plants.

My work in the plant, involved developing instruments to measure the mercury in the air inside the plant. I was also developing other instruments and programming a Ferranti Argus 500 computer.

Because of the death of her father, C wasn’t happy in Liverpool and when the chance came of a transfer to ICI Plastics at Welwyn Garden City, I took it.

In his statement Geir Tuft says this.

Combined with our existing capabilities in operating large-scale electrolysis.

Large-scale electrolysis was certainly handled professionally in 1970 and I’m certain that INEOS, which now owns the Runcorn plant, handles the hydrogen just as well, if not better with the help of modern technology.

Hydrogen As A By-Product

In some ways, fifty years ago, the hydrogen was considered a by-product and to some a nuisance, as I don’t think, there was much of a mass market for the gas.

I used to see it being taken away in specialist trailers, but there didn’t seem to be a major use.

300,000 Tonnes Of Clean Hydrogen

This paragraph of the press release, outlines the structure of the business.

INEOS has today launched a new business to develop and build Clean Hydrogen capacity across Europe, in support of the drive towards a zero-carbon future. INEOS currently produces 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year mainly as a co-product from its chemical manufacturing operations.

Note that co-product is used, but I suspect in many places they have too much of it, so new markets are welcome.

I have used a figure of 23 MWh, as being needed to obtain ten tonnes of hydrogen, but I can’t find where I obtained it. If it is correct then INEOS will need 690 GWh of electricity.

INEOS, Electrolysis And Hydrogen

This paragraph of the press release, outlines the relationship between INEOS, electrolysis and hydrogen

Through its subsidiary INOVYN, INEOS is Europe’s largest existing operator of electrolysis, the critical technology which uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen for power generation, transportation and industrial use. Its experience in storage and handling of hydrogen combined with its established know-how in electrolysis technology, puts INEOS in a unique position to drive progress towards a carbon-free future based on hydrogen.

All they need is the renewable energy, to add to their expertise in turning it into hydrogen.

INEOS’s Vision

This paragraph of the press release, outlines INEOS vision for hydrogen.

INEOS is already involved in several projects to develop demand for hydrogen, replacing existing carbon-based sources of energy, feedstocks and fuel. It expects to develop further partnerships with leading organisations involved in the development of new applications. INEOS will also work closely with European Governments to ensure the necessary infrastructure is put in place to facilitate hydrogen’s major role in the new Green Economy.

It is certainly a comprehensive vision.

The Conclusion Of The Press Release

Wouter Bleukx, Business Unit Manager Hydrogen has said this.

Hydrogen is an important part of a climate neutral economy that has been discussed for decades. Finally, a hydrogen-fuelled economy is within reach as transportation in the UK, Germany, France and other countries begins to run on this carbon free technology. With extensive experience in electrolysis, INEOS is uniquely placed to support these new opportunities, driven by emerging demand for affordable zero-carbon energy sources.

You can’t say the company lacks ambition.

Conclusion

This looks to me to be ambition and disruptive innovation on a grand scale.

But it is a plan that can only get bigger and more far reaching.

If the company succeeds, I believe, it will bring hydrogen for all.

November 11, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

H2U Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project Begins Largest Green Ammonia Plant

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

  • South Australia will be creating the largest green ammonia plant in the world.
  • It will make 40,000 tonnes of green ammonia every year.
  • The plant will be powered totally by renewable energy.
  • At its heart will be a 75 MW hydrogen electrolyser.

This paragraph sums up the main objective of the plant.

According to Dr. Attilio Pigneri, H2U CEO, the project will play an important role in the ongoing development of the emerging green hydrogen and green ammonia markets.

It appears a lot of the green ammonia will be exported to Japan.

What Is Green Ammonia?

It is just ammonia produced by renewable energy. This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for ammonia.

Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. A stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building block for the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products and is used in many commercial cleaning products. It is mainly collected by downward displacement of both air and water.

It is a very useful chemical compound and it is now being developed as a zero-carbon fuel, as I wrote in The Foul-Smelling Fuel That Could Power Big Ships.

It can also be used as a refrigerant.

One of the most amazing pieces of engineering, I ever saw was a very old barn, where a farmer stored vast tonnages of apples. It was kept cool, by a refrigeration plant certainly built before the Second World War or possibly even the First, which used ammonia as the refrigerant.

Now that’s what I call engineering!

 

November 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment