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Canada Launches Waste Hydrogen Utilization Program

A public-private partnership has launched a C$18.3 million (US$15.5 million) project to develop and demonstrate solutions making use of an existing but currently untapped source of hydrogen fuel: hydrogen emitted as the by-product of a sodium chlorate manufacturing plant in the North Vancouver area.

Through this project, which was first proposed in 2004, purified hydrogen could be used to fuel a fleet of up to 20,000 vehicles in the Vancouver area.

The 3-year Integrated Waste Hydrogen Utilization Program (IWHUP) is led by North Vancouver-based Sacre-Davey Innovations, working with Westport Innovations.

IWHUP is receiving C$12.2 million in federal funds (C$6.0 million from the Hydrogen Early Adopters (h2EA) program, C$5.9 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), and C$273,000 from Natural Resources Canada) and C$6.1 million from industry.

Other project participants include: Clean Energy, Dynetek Industries Ltd., Easywash Inc., Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation, Nuvera Fuel Cells, Powertech Labs, Questair Technologies Inc., and TransLink.

The demonstration will involve the operation of eight light-duty trucks running on hydrogen, four public transit buses converted to run on a combination of compressed natural gas and hydrogen (HCNG), and a fuel cell system operating on hydrogen and providing electrical power and heat to a car wash.

The North Vancouver fuel station of IWHUP is one of the principal stops on the BC Hydrogen Highway that will play a role in sustainable transportation demonstrations for the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

IWHUP comprises seven sub-projects that will be implemented and demonstrated through 2008, including:

  • Securing a source of hydrogen from a sodium chlorate manufacturing plant;

  • Demonstrating a compressed hydrogen storage and transportation system;

  • Demonstrating a hydrogen fuelling station for light-duty vehicles;

  • Demonstrating a hydrogen and natural gas blend fuelling facility for heavy-duty vehicles;

  • Demonstrating eight hydrogen-powered light-duty pickup trucks;

  • Demonstrating four transit buses that use a blend of hydrogen and natural gas fuels (HCNG);

  • Demonstrating a fuel cell system that will provide electrical power and heat to a car wash.

Sacre-Davey, Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation and QuestAir Technologies Inc. are involved in securing, purifying and supplying the hydrogen. T0 that end, QuestAir has already announced the order for its H-3200 hydrogen purifier for use in the project.

Sacre-Davey and Dynetek Industries Ltd. are involved in developing and demonstrating the compressed hydrogen storage and transportation system. Dynetek will provide a 450-bar (6,500 psi), inter-modal compressed hydrogen storage and transportation system, similar to the many Hydrogen tube trailers currently in service throughout North America. This high volume Hydrogen transport system will supply hdrogen fuel to the four Hydrogen buses.

Sacre-Davey and Powertech Labs are involved in demonstrating the light-duty vehicle fueling station, and Powertech is also invloved in the pick-up demonstrations.

Clean Energy and Translink are involved in demonstrating the hydrogen and natural gas blend fuelling facility for heavy-duty vehicles.

Westport Innovations and Translink are involved in demonstrating the four transit buses operating on the blend of hydrogen and natural gas fuels.

Sacre-Davey Innovations Inc., Nuvera Fuel Cells and Easywash Inc. are involved in demonstrating the fuel cell system.

North Vancouver is home to several large plants that produce sodium chlorate: Erco and Canexus.

Sodium chlorate production process. Click to enlarge. Source: Aker Kvaerner

Sodium chlorate is an industrial salt that is used by pulp mills to to produce chlorine dioxide used to bleach pulp for the manufacture of white paper products. It is produced by the electrolysis of brine according to the following equation:

NaCl + 3H2O + 6e- NaClO3 + 3H2

The production requires a great deal of electricity, and it throws off a large amount of hydrogen. The Eka Chimie chlorate plant in Québec, for example, produces 150,000 metric tons of chlorate annually with 8,500 metric tons of hydrogen as a byproduct.

The hydrogen resulting from the reaction contains oxygen and chlorine (hence the need for purification). In some plants, the hydrogen is just released to the atmosphere. The Eka Chimie Quebec is using the hydrogen to fuel its dryers, thereby reducing its overall electricity bill.



Another interesting point on the project is hidden in the description of what is done with the hydrogen from the Magog plant in Quebec:

"Around 8,500 metric tonnes of hydrogen are produced in this way annually. Of this total, 65% is recovered and piped to a liquefaction plant owned by BOC Gaz."

And then BOC distributes the hydrogen to all its customers across North America.

There could be some new dynamics in the hydrogen supply scene because I did not see any industrial gas company involved in the IWHUP list of partners.

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