Decarb download: Is blue hydrogen the answer to decarbonising hydrogen production?

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Decarbonisation is key to addressing the serious risks posed by climate change and designing a low carbon future. As our clients focus on solutions for emissions abatement, alternative energy sources will be crucial in the drive to deliver a more sustainable future energy mix.

Hydrogen, when used as a fuel, emits zero CO2 and can be utilised for low-carbon energy storage which is leading to new value chains for transporting and consuming hydrogen in various forms like ammonia, methanol, and methane.

However, one significant challenge lies in the production of hydrogen itself. The most common method, steam reforming, produces substantial amounts of carbon dioxide as a by-product. To address this, Wood experts are exploring the potential of blue hydrogen, which combines hydrogen production with carbon capture systems to mitigate CO2 emissions.

Our team identified four innovative approaches to decarbonising existing hydrogen production units based on steam reforming, which could drastically reduce carbon emissions, capital expenditure, operational costs and project implementation time compared to the conventional approach of capturing carbon post-combustion.

The four options we identified are:

  1. BlueSMR+: Introducing pre-combustion carbon capture, a gas heated reformer, and a pre-reformer to significantly enhance unit performance. Hydrogen-rich gas firing will also displace the CO2 emissions from the combustion side of the process.
  2. BlueSMR+: Similar to option 1, but with an improved catalyst tube geometry in the reforming furnace, potentially leading to reduced operating costs.
  3. BlueSMRp: Utilising Wood’s proprietary BlueSMRp technology, this option involves installing a separate, parallel hydrogen production unit with pre-combustion carbon capture to provide low-carbon fuel for the existing unit.
  4. BlueSMRe: Integrating renewable electric power to decrease fuel consumption and CO2 production.

The conclusion is clear, all four solutions offer substantial reductions in CO2 emissions, paving the way for a more sustainable hydrogen production process, and through deploying innovative decarbonisation techniques ahead of combustion, existing hydrogen production facilities can play a crucial role in the drive towards a sustainable future. This will be crucial for many industrial sectors like refineries and steel production where other low-carbon alternatives are less feasible.

A more detailed article is currently featured in Decarbonisation Technology. You can read the full article and analysis here: Opportunities for decarbonising existing hydrogen production (