To produce a functional specification for hydrogen production, it will be important to engage with industry to understand the requirements for hydrogen, both in terms of volume and specification. Transport, industrial use, gas grid blending and 100% grid conversions are expected to have significantly different requirements. Furthermore the feasibility and specifications for CO2 use/sequestration will also vary with plant scale and time horizon. The identified requirements will inform the target specification for production.
Demonstrating the feasibility of hydrogen production requires use of a small-scale plant, ordinarily costing millions of pounds. However, a unique opportunity is available to this project: the BioSNG Demonstration Plant project is scheduled to finish in Spring 2017. There will then be a fully functional facility, capable of gasifying waste, shifting the resultant syngas and removing CO2. This plant would require only relatively simple modifications to demonstrate production of high-purity hydrogen from waste, with CO2 removal, providing a remarkably cost-efficient route to addressing the second barrier. This delivers further value for money from the existing plant and project.
Information from engagement with industry, along with results from the small-scale plant will be used as inputs to the engineering and commercial work of defining and evaluating future commercial plants, addressing the route to commercial deployment. Product purity, recovery and CO2 quality must be optimised against process complexity/simplification and heat integration, and key process elements such as the type of shift, gas processing and contaminant removal and CO2 removal require careful selection, optimised for the functional specification required. The conceptual design produced from this activity will be used to evaluate the carbon intensity and commercial performance of the process.
Definition of a larger-scale demonstration project will require searching out and engaging with potential funding sources, partners and investors. It is expected that this could be as part of a wider hydrogen system including new consumers.
The work on each task will accomplish the following:
1) Definition of functional requirements for hydrogen production facilities
a. Definition of commercial applications for hydrogen
i. As a blend in the network
ii. For use in transport
iii. As a feedstock in the chemicals industry, e.g. ammonia production.
b. Resulting in a functional specification for each requirement:
i. Hydrogen purity requirements
ii. Allowable contaminants
iii. CO2 purity requirements
iv. Project scale and operational requirements
2) Piloting of Hydrogen Production
a. Offline testing of hydrogen production using the BioSNG offline rig
b. Modification of the BioSNG demonstration plant for Hydrogen production
c. Physical demonstration of production of hydrogen production using this facility
d. Optimisation of the existing PSA for hydrogen and CO2 separation
3) Commercial Plant definition and evaluation
a. Development of optimised Hydrogen production flow scheme
i. Selection of optimal CO2 separation technique
ii. Hydrogen compression
iii. Heat integration
iv. Start-up requirements and turndown capabilities
v. Potential for and value of co-production of methane
b. Energy and Mass Balance
c. GHG assessment
d. Commercial assessment to give £/MWhr and evaluate against alternative hydrogen production routes
4) Definition of a hydrogen demonstration project
a. Evaluating Hydrogen demonstration opportunities in the UK
b. Definition of a demonstration project linked to end users
5) Project management
In achieving the objectives outlined above, the project will have addressed the barriers to hydrogen production by gasification of waste in a robust and cost-effective way, and laid the groundwork for future demonstration and commercial facilities. The project is also expected to show that this approach is a cost-effective route to bio-hydrogen, and to demonstrate the ability to capture carbon dioxide as part of the process.
Key indicators of a successful project will be:
Demonstration of hydrogen production from waste and CO2-separation using a modified form of the BioSNG Demonstration plant. This not only provides technical demonstration, but an important communication method about feasibility of hydrogen production from waste.
Preliminary definition of commercial facility, including robust understanding of economic and environmental benefits
Identification of partners, investors and site for larger-scale demonstration
A large driver for conducting the study at this point in time is the availability of the BioSNG Demonstration plant, which enables demonstration of hydrogen production from waste at remarkably low cost. Delivering the programme on budget will be important, in order to obtain maximum benefit from this opportunity
leveraging the £5M BioSNG Demonstration plant with a small additional programme, exploiting the existing equipment and mobilised team.
This project unlocks one of the key issues associated with the role out of hydrogen; how to deliver material quantities of low cost and low carbon hydrogen.