Shell Hydrogen, LLC and Virent Energy Systems announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for hydrogen production.
Virent is the developer of an aqueous phase reforming (APR) process for the conversion of readily available biomass-generated feedstocks, such as glucose, sucrose, sorbitol and glycerol to carbon-neutral hydrogen, fuel gas or value-added chemicals. (Earlier post.) The vast majority of hydrogen today is produced using fossil fuels, including natural gas and coal.
The BioForming process is Virent’s first commercial application of APR pathway. The BioForming process is a catalytic, low-temperature (180º–260º C) method for the production of hydrogen and/or fuel gas from oxygenated compounds. The APR systems can be designed to deliver predominantly hydrogen or alkanes (natural gas, ethane, butane and propane), or a customized blend of these fuels (which Virent has tagged with the term “Supernatural Fuels”).
In 2006, Virent and Madison (Wisconsin) Gas & Electric (MGE) implemented a 10kW power generation system that uses an APR provess to convert sugars and glycerin directly into hydrogen and natural gas as fuel for a Ford 1.6-liter, four-cylinder combustion engine genset.
Virent and Shell will collaborate on the development and testing of hydrogen systems targeted for fueling station applications at Virent’s facilities in Madison and the Shell Westhollow Technology Center in Houston. If research and development goes to plan, initial deployment of the new technology at a Shell hydrogen fueling station could follow within several years.
Strategic collaborations with organizations, like Shell, that have a strong environmental commitment, a global footprint, and significant technical expertise are a key component of our commercialization plan. This collaboration will speed development and deployment of our technology not only in hydrogen fueling station applications, but in the broader industrial hydrogen market as well—Eric Apfelbach, Virent’s president and CEO