California projects world's largest renewable hydrogen plant

The city of Lancaster has signed a co-ownership agreement for the largest hydrogen production plant, already built or planned, in the world.

When fully operational, the plant will produce 11,000 kg of waste hydrogen per day.

It will be built in California, in the city of Lancaster, the largest plant ever to produce hydrogen from waste. The announcement comes from the company SGH2 which has just signed a construction and co-ownership agreement with the Californian municipality. The project has several character-defining elements, in addition, of course, to the record size of the facility.

Currently, hydrogen production can be based on relatively clean technologies, such as the electrolysis of water powered by renewable energies, or on dirtier techniques, such as coal gasification.

The second option is still the most popular in the world, because it is also the cheapest. However, these processes release carbon dioxide and for the vector to be truly clean, it would be necessary to add carbon capture and sequestration plants. It would increase costs.

What makes the SGH2 project interesting, at least on paper, is the ability to produce hydrogen from waste with much less CO2 than fossil fuel systems, but at equally low prices.

The technology at this plant can handle a wide range of wastes, including paper, scrap tires, textiles and plastics, which it can process without deriving toxic by-products. The synthesis gas is “washed” and centrifuged until a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide is obtained. The latter is reacted with steam to obtain new hydrogen and CO2. The two gases separate, capturing all of the carbon dioxide.

The Berkeley lab performed a preliminary carbon life cycle analysis, finding that for every tonne of hydrogen produced, our technology reduces CO2e emissions by 23 to 31 tonnes. This is 13 to 13 tonnes less carbon dioxide per tonne than any other environmentally friendly process.

Additionally, while electrolysis requires around 62 kWh of energy to produce one kilogram of hydrogen, Solena’s technology is energetically positive, generating 1.8 kWh per kg of hydrogen. This means that the installation is able to self-power part of the process.

Under the terms of the deal, the plant will come on stream in the fourth quarter of 2022, reaching full operation in the first quarter of 2023. And producing up to 11,000 kilograms of hydrogen from waste every day.


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