Today’s webinar heard insights from Jose Ramon Calvo, Marketing Director of Nippon Gases Europe, Stephen B. Harrison, Founder and Managing Director of Sbh4 Consulting, and Joel H. Moser, CEO of First Ammonia.
Calvo highlighted the importance of identifying the right solutions for each customer and industry. “All the industries are looking to decarbonisation solutions, based on their own roadmap,” he said.
“We need to provide production at the right cost – which is challenging – and recognise that decarbonisation is a transitional process. You need to find the right pace, and see how solutions can be implemented progressively, without affecting too much the production and cost competitiveness of the company.”
He said pressures have escalated since the start of the Ukraine war, with shortages of natural gas and rising production costs. But Calvo said this has only spurred Nippon Gases to redouble its efforts, particularly in developing sustainable energy sources.
“We are focusing more on biomethane, and developing a green mobility value supply chain, and transforming the oxycombustion process,” he said. “Biomethane is a good example of a circular economy, and creating additional income for stakeholders. We think biogenic CO2 can be an important contributor as well.”
The presentation cut away to a previous webinar with Chris Carson from Carbonic Solutions, which specialises in project management activities for the development of waste CO2 sources. “As we focus on plants, we’ll become more comfortable that CO2 is fit for purpose,” he said. “There is no reason why biogases can play a really important role in increasing our CO2 production capacity globally.”
Harrison said chem-recycling, using thermochemical processes, can convert hydrogen-rich solid wastes into hydrogen. These processes yield oils and syn-gas which can be further processed.
“They differ from incineration – and have significant environmental advantages. Municipal solid waste often contains 50% biomass so a large proportion can be regarded as ‘renewable’. In some countries, cement plants effectively become a licensed waste incineration facility.”
Ammonia and hydrogen emit zero CO2 when they’re burnt so they can help with decarbonisation and the battle against climate change, Harrison added.
“Waste-to-hydrogen is one of the most sustainable ways of processing municipal solid waste, and will have a major role in the circular economy in future. But methane-emitting landfill sites are still used extensively in many countries.”
While he said “they must be avoided,” several waste-to-hydrogen projects are being deployed to use all the landfill site as energy resources.
”A large landfill can provide enough waste to feed a waste-to-hydrogen plant for a decade,” he said.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) industrial opportunities are also starting to proliferate. “More oxygen and less nitrogen in the kiln means the CO2 concentration is elevated, which reduces the costs of CO2 capture.”
Moser said when the Paris Accord was signed in 2015, the world didn’t have the tools to achieve the climate objectives. Fast forward to today, and it’s clear we have a broad range of advanced applications.
”The successful build out of renewable power, and green hydrogen and ammonia, essentially solves the vast majority of challenges we face,” he said.
“Our business model, initially, is to connect with the grid, and to draw green power intermittently at times of the day when it’s not in demand.”
Denmark-based low-carbon solutions developer Topsoe recently signed a deal with First Ammonia to launch zero emission ammonia production through one of the largest reservations of electrolyser capacity. Topsoe is installing its solid oxide electrolyser cells (SOEC) in its plants.
Expandable to up to 5GW, the first 500MW of capacity will be installed at sites in Northern Germany and Southwestern US. Moser said it aims to open its first plant in Q4 2025.
”We think of hydrogen as the ‘crude oil’ of the hydrogen economy – it’s complicated to use in its pure form, but it can be transported into ammonia. It will take a little time, most of the rest of the decade, for the industry to scale up the level of production required to replace bunker fuel, but we’re playing our part in it.”