Bright future for the gas of the stars as feedstock, energy driver / Dow, Evonik among chemicals and plastics pioneers
As a fuel to power cars and buses and, more recently, heating systems, hydrogen is emerging as one of the most widely embraced renewable raw materials. While the power application is still by far the biggest, using the gas that fuels stars as a feedstock to make bulk chemicals or commodity plastics, not least to curb emissions and meet national and international clean tech goals, could have a bright future.

Linde (www.linde.com), the former German industrial gases and engineering group now Ireland-domiciled and UK-run, was at the forefront of hydrogen development well before most industry players were aware of its potential in production. Over the past several months, the company has nailed down contracts for feedstock projects with two major players in the chemicals and plastics sector.

To help Dow (Midland, Michigan; www.dow.com) meet the net-zero carbon emissions targets of an integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives plant, the US chemicals and plastics producer plans to build at its site in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada. Linde has agreed to supply “clean” hydrogen and nitrogen.

Dow has said it expects to make a final investment decision on the project by this year’s fourth quarter, and pending regulatory approval, phase 1 of the Canadian complex could start up in 2027.

Related: German industry preparing for increased use of “green” hydrogen

The deal calls for Linde to carry out design and engineering work for a world-scale air separation and autothermal reformer complex within the project. The gases group would own and integrate the complex into its existing operations at Fort Saskatchewan.

Manufacturing site in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada (Photo: Dow)

At the complex, Dow aims to decarbonise roughly 20% of its global ethylene capacity while increasing global polyethylene output by about 15% and supporting about USD 1 bn of EBITDA growth across the value chain by 2030.

Related: US chemical giant Dow to go nuclear

The Linde process employed would convert cracker off-gas into hydrogen to feed ethylene production. CO2 emissions would be captured onsite, then transported and stored by adjacent third-party carbon storage infrastructure partners.
Evonik sees potential for hydrogen feedstock
In another project, Linde has agreed to provide German speciality chemicals producer Evonik (Essen; www.evonik.com) with green hydrogen that can be used to feed chemical production. Initially, the company plans to use the hydrogen to make an amino acid for animal feed but sees potential to employ the renewable feedstock to manufacture other products at a later date.

Together with compatriot firm and globally active E&E specialist Siemens Energy, Evonik has announced plans to build a pilot electrolyser at its production site in Herne, Germany, to test the technology in industrial practice.

Related: Route to net zero runs through hydrogen

As part of the arrangement, Linde will provide the renewable feedstock from a 9 MW alkaline electrolyser facility it plans to build on Singapore’s Jurong Island, one of the main Asian chemical production hubs. According to Evonik, the cooperation will help it limit greenhouse gas emissions in Singapore.
Air Products active as facilitator
Beyond Linde, other industrial gases companies are leading the march into hydrogen, some as yet without concrete link-ups. Together with partners, US-based Air Products (Lehigh, Pennsylvania; www.airproducts.com) is making strides toward sourcing the gas, including from ammonia conversion, to supply the hydrogen network that could soon cover much of Europe, as well as realising carbon capture and storage projects.

n the US, the Pennsylvania-headquartered company is investing USD 4.5 bn – its largest-ever investment – to take a leading role in the Louisiana Clean Energy Complex, which is planned to produce low-carbon hydrogen that could power mobility and industrial markets in the Gulf Coast region and beyond.

Air Products said the facility will capture and sequester 95% of its carbon dioxide emissions (more than 5 mn t/y) permanently in “ideal geological pore space” in the Gulf state. In Wilbarger County, Texas, Air Products is investing in a green hydrogen plant that is pegged to cost around USD 4 bn. The gases group said the facility due onstream in 2027 is expected to be the largest US producer of clean hydrogen from solar and wind energy, with a capacity of 200 t/d.
Engineering firms also in the game
Other marker players are teaming up to create their own investment vehicles. In early May 2023, French engineering and technology contractor Technip Energies (Paris; www.technipenergies.com) and Belgian mechanical engineering group John Cockerill (Seraing; www.johncockerill.com/en) launched a 60/40 joint venture called Rely.

The JV would combine Technip Energies’ project experience and technology integration capabilities with Cockerill’s industrial know-how, engineering and manufacturing expertise to offer end-to-end solutions for companies planning hydrogen projects, the companies said.

Related: Budding hydrogen market to change patterns in global energy trade

In April 2023, US energy and infrastructure developer Glenfarne Energy Transition entered a collaboration with South Korean contractor Samsung Engineering to conduct feasibility studies for multiple green hydrogen and ammonia projects in Chile. In a joint venture with Samsung Engineering and Technip Energies, Glenfarne is building a 4 mn t/y terminal in the port of Brownsville, Texas, to export green hydrogen and ammonia to Asia and Europe.

Elsewhere, UK technology group Johnson Matthey (London; www.matthey.com) has signed a three-year supply deal with Norway’s Hystar (Oslo; www.hystar.com) to supply membrane electrode assemblies for PEM electrolysers, as part of Hystar’s green hydrogen pilot plant in Norway.

Related: UK government support vital for shift to hydrogen energy
31.05.2023 Plasteurope.com [252836-0]
Published on 31.05.2023

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