Clean fuels projects – beyond “Blue Hydrogen”and “Green Hydrogen”

Without any changes from historical hydrogen production technology, steam reforming natural gas to make H2 for fuel cell vehicles delivers roughly 50%, ½ the CO2 emissions as powering vehicles on diesel fuel, when produced onsite at the point of refueling vehicles such as bus or trucking fleets. Transport of gaseous hydrogen in modern high pressure trailers adds a few percent to these emissions, even when traditional diesel tractors are used for delivery. Unlike speculative, “new” hydrogen technologies, plants based on steam reforming and PSA utilize technology that is 100% proven, and have been fielded for over 50 years in commercial settings with uniformly-high reliability and proven safety.

Because of our advanced PSA technology and Johnson Matthey’s revolutionary Catacel SSR catalyst, Headwaters can design optimized steam reformer plants using either fossil natural gas or biogas that achieve even further reductions in emissions. These low emissions are achieved in reliable plants with low unit production costs that compare very favorably to diesel fuel and traditional CNG. This is especially true in settings where Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) are in place to monetize the CO2 emissions saved. The range of possible outcomes include greater than 100% reduction in reference 2007 emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles when biogas feedstock is used, and approximately 65% reduction when natural gas is the feedstock.

Headwaters can provide small plants for operation at large fleet locations requiring 700 kg/day or more of hydrogen for trucks or buses. The alternative of more centralized production at 2 tonnes per day or greater with at least some delivery of gaseous hydrogen can offer better overall CO2 emissions and lower total cost. For the forseeable future, our production range of up to 22 tonnes/day far exceeds any regional demand for transportation hydrogen.

Steam reformer hydrogen plants easily incorporate optional CO2 separation using amine technology. This separated CO2 can be sequestered or used beneficially to even-further reduce net CO2 emissions. Like reformers and PSA units, amine technology is very proven and presents no technical risk.

At Headwaters, we are continually exploring opportunities to develop new projects using other proven technologies to make hydrogen and synthesis gas with lower emissions while providing other environmental and societal benefits. We are also happy to provide core equipment and engineering services to developers of new clean fuels plants.