Leveraging Existing Gas Infrastructure for Decarbonization

blue and green logo
Dedicated hydrogen infrastructure can take two forms. The first is new infrastructure, such as pure hydrogen pipelines from hydrogen hubs to industrial customers. There are other projects in the work that minimize how much new infrastructure is needed, while maximizing the utility of existing infrastructure. One company working in this space is Modern Hydrogen, which uses a process called pyrolysis to convert natural gas into hydrogen at the point of use. The value proposition is summed up well by a quote from Tony Pan, CEO and Co-Founder of Modern Hydrogen: “Our biggest value is speed of decarbonization, because we can skip infrastructure changes. Instead of changing all their pipes to become compatible with pure hydrogen, utilities can add our box at the end of the pipe, and the box strips out the carbon (C) as a solid out from the natural gas (CH4) molecules, leaving only clean hydrogen (H) for the end user. Then we sell and permanently sequester that solid carbon in roads.” The proposition that the easiest way to transport hydrogen is to simply transport natural gas instead is an intriguing one. Lindsey Motlow, a Senior Research Associate and Physicist on the Sustainability and Energy Transition team with Darcy Partners, effectively summarizes many of the potential advantages of this approach and the progress being made on implementing it. “The Preliminary Acceptance test and implementation of Modern Hydrogen’s methane pyrolysis technology with Northwest Natural represents a pioneering milestone with distributed pyrolysis technology directly integrating with an operating gas system. Methane pyrolysis produces what is known as “turquoise” hydrogen; it is a hydrogen production pathway with the potential of low-to-negative carbon intensity. This hydrogen production method takes advantage of existing asset bases and workforces by use of hydrocarbon feedstock. Given the engineering and cost hurdles associated with large scale hydrogen production, storage, and transport, the commercial maturation of distributed “turquoise” hydrogen presents a compelling solution for on-site decarbonization, especially to customers connected to existing natural gas infrastructure.” Read Full Article