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SHEC Raising C$10M in Private Placement for Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Production Facility

8 May 2006

Shec2
Solar hydrogen generator prototype

Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC) has released a private placement offering to raise C$10 million (US$9 million) to fund deployment of the first phase of the proposed SHEC Station #1, a Solar Hydrogen Production Facility at the Fleet Street Landfill in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The plant, based on SHEC’s Dry Fuel Reformation process—will use an array of 30 modules each of which comprises a solar mirror array and advanced solar concentrator and shutter system, and two thermocatalytic reactors to convert methane, carbon dioxide, and water into hydrogen. (Earlier post.)

The Dry Fuel process essentially substitutes solar heat for the steam heat used in steam methane reforming. SHEC uses the solar arrays to heat carbon dioxide (CO2) and purified landfill methane (CH4) to 850 °C in the presence of a catalyst to form H2 and carbon monoxide. A water-cooled iris dilates to control the amount of radiant energy directed to this reaction phase.

The CO and water then flow into a water–gas shift reactor at 200° C to yield H2 and CO2. The H2 is separated from the CO2, which is recycled into the first reaction.

Reaction 1: CO2 + CH4 → 2H2 + 2CO
ΔHf + 917 kJ/mole

Reaction 2: CO + H2O → H2 + CO2
ΔHf -40.6 kJ/mole

SHEC says that more than 98% of the CH4 that feeds the reaction is converted to H2, with a net energy gain of more than 14% before factoring in the solar energy expended.

The first phase of this proposed facility will include installing the gas collection and cleaning system to produce the cleansed synthetic natural gas from the City’s landfill and then to further process this into hydrogen with the installation of the first 5 solar hydrogen production modules.

SHEC will perform research and development of a direct solar water splitting technology at this proposed facility.

The proposed facility, once fully deployed, will produce 1.2 million kg of hydrogen per year at a targeted production cost of C$0.75 per to C$1.25/kg.

Theoretically, the technology deployed at SHEC Station #1 can be reproduced at thousands of landfill locations around the world and can be expanded to apply not only to landfills, but also to biogas, flare gas and vent gas from the oil and gas industry, stranded gas, coal bed methane and natural gas.

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May 8, 2006 in Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

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Saskatchewan is pretty far north for a demo/proposed facility solar project. Would they not get a lot more solar sun time south of there?? I just hope others don't look at this and say -- see I told ya so, solar will never work. Afterall, "the deployed tech can be used at 1000's of landfill sites around the world...."

I take it you've never hiked into the snow covered mountains and used a solar concentrator cooker to prepare a meal?

One can burn ants with a magnifying glass in Canada the same as they can on Carribean island.

What a dumb idea. Methane has many uses, is relatively easily stored, and there's a large infrastructure in place to transport and use it.
These guys want to sell a (no doubt) expensive machine which converts the methane into hydrogen gas for which there's no large-scale use.
It requires a net energy input? Stange indeed. A quick web search reveals that the heat of combustion of CH4 is (depending on the web page) at least 802 KJ/mole. H2 is 240 KJ/mole. Even though a mole of methane produces 2 moles of H2, the basic input/output efficiency is still ~60% not even counting the solar energy input. This thing should produce copious excess heat; not consume it.
The only use for such a machine would be where hydrogen is needed for its physical or chemical properties; not for the energy one might get from burning it.
Now, if they were using solar energy to transform methane into methanol, I'd be much more interested.

Oops. After taking another look, I see that the reaction produces 4 moles of H2 for each mole of CH4 since it uses water as an input, too. That at least makes the energy balance work out. The 14% gain sounds about right.
However, I stand by my statement about the relative value of methane vs hydrogen gas. Note that the hydrogen will require about 4 times as much volumne as the original methane while only giving 14% more energy.
Much better to leave it as methane or convert it to methanal.

"hydrogen gas for which there's no large-scale use"
Sorry Kevin, you are incorrect see:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/hydrogen_busine.html
Fuel Cells are not the only users of hydrogen. Cheers

If the goal was to increase the available energy rather than making pure hydrogen, carrying the process through the production of CO + H2 would remove the energy-losing water-gas shift and increase the fraction of solar energy delivered to the point of use.

Snowball -- Your correct -- you can burn ants in Canada the same as you can in the Carribean -- BUT -- you can burn ants for a longer time in the Carribean as the total sunshine hitting the Carribean over a years time is MUCH,MUCH more in terms of total light energy. In fact in the middle of January I doubt if Saskatchenan get but a few hours of dull sun light per day and it's probably cloudy most of the winter. I just don't want potential investors saying "see I told ya so, solar will never work".

The total number of possible sunlight hours in a year is the same in Saskatchewan as in Brazil. During the summer southern Canada can have as much as 18 hours of sunlight while in the tropics it stays close to 12 hours all year. Northern Canada can have sunlight 24 hours per day from May to July.

Tom: Exactly! It's obvious some of the commenters have never been to the prairies in Canada, they must be confusing it with oh... the arctic. You can drive for hundreds of kms in Saskatchewan without seeing more than a handful of trees as it is... prairie. The sun shines all the time even if it's cold/windy. Many years there is also a low amount of rain, therefore little cloud cover. Saskatchewan is perfect for Solar power or wind power, 'cause let me tell you, there's an abundance of the latter too.

JJ: Southern Sask. & parts of Alberta are very sunny places, about 2400+ hrs/years (6.6 hrs/day) of usable sunshine. This is better than many places in California. Take a drive north with your Prius III. There are plenty of busses and flights too. You can always tell people that you're from Vancouver and want to experience more sunshine.

Reality check: the 49th parallel is only about half-way between the equator and the pole. In summer, that means southern Sasketchewan gets about 70% of the sunlight per unit area that Ecuador does. Throw in low rainfall and the figure may well be higher.

However, I agree that from an ecological point of view it is rather inappropriate to convert valuable methane into hydrogen using a solar-powered process. It's a poor use of the land resource. They should burn the landfill gas using a suitable engine from e.g. GM Jenbacher to produce electricity.

For maximum land utilizytion, large scale solar power plants ought to combine photovoltaic and thermal energy collection using hybrid panels. The heat can be concentrated using heat pumps and drive a Kalina cycle turbine:

http://vganapathy.tripod.com/kalina.html
http://jardhitafelag.is/papers/PDF_Session_01/S01Paper079.pdf

Just burn the methane as fuel, and use the precious solar energy to power concentrated PV panel for electricity production at up to 30% efficiency!!! Then, use the energy to charge your PHEV. Why bother to convert methane to hydrogen, when methane can be used on existing IC Engines. H2 is good for fuelcells, but fuelcells are too expensive at this time. Mix methane with 20% hydrogen, and one will get much more efficient methane combustion with much less NOx.

Mirrors are a lot cheaper than PV cells.  If you're going to be burning the landfill gas anyway, using solar energy to convert it into a fuel with more energy (and a higher flame speed, with greater combustion efficiency) is all to the good.

Mr. E-P, I beg to differ with you on your above statement.
First, using mirrors to CONCENTRATE the sunlight onto a tiny bitty piece of silicon (Concentrated PV cells) will give you a lot of electricity for the little size and cost of the tiny bitty piece of silicon. In fact CONCENTRAT PV will be competitive with fossil fuel in term of cost per kwh.
Second, have you heard of Hythane? Hythane (tm) is 20% hydrogen and 80% methane. This combination burns very efficiently because it will burn completely even with ultra-lean mixture. Now, you can't beat this kind of efficiency. Why waste time,energy and cost to convert methane to hydrogen, eh? I repeat: Fuel cells are still way too expensive at this time!!!

Mr. Pham, please show me where I said anything about fuel cells.

Concentrating PV doesn't do anything to improve the utilization of landfill gas.  Concentrating PV is still rather expensive, and its product is not storable.  If you get more W/$ using solar heat to convert landfill gas to a more potent fuel than with PV, I'm all for it; at the very least, it will start production of concentrators which can perhaps make Stirling converters economical once the price falls.

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