SGH2 building largest green hydrogen production facility in California; gasification of waste into H2
Energy company SGH2 is bringing the world’s biggest green hydrogen production facility to Lancaster, California. The plant will feature SGH2’s technology, which will gasify recycled mixed paper waste to produce green hydrogen that reduces carbon emissions by two to three times more than green hydrogen produced using electrolysis and renewable energy, and is five to seven times cheaper.
SGH2’s gasification process uses a plasma-enhanced thermal catalytic conversion process optimized with oxygen-enriched gas. In the gasification island’s catalyst-bed chamber, plasma torches generate such high temperatures (3500 ºC - 4000 ºC), that the waste feedstock disintegrates into its molecular compounds, without combustion ash or toxic fly ash. As the gases exit the catalyst-bed chamber, the molecules bind into a very high quality hydrogen-rich biosyngas free of tar, soot and heavy metals.
The syngas then goes through a Pressure Swing Absorber system resulting in hydrogen at 99.9999% purity as required for use in Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell vehicles. The SPEG process extracts all carbon from the waste feedstock, removes all particulates and acid gases, and produces no toxins or pollution.
The end result is high purity hydrogen and a small amount of biogenic carbon dioxide, which is not additive to greenhouse gas emissions.
SGH2 says that its green hydrogen is cost competitive with “gray” hydrogen produced from fossil fuels such as natural gas—the source of the majority of hydrogen used in the United States.
The City of Lancaster will host and co-own the green hydrogen production facility, according to a recent memorandum of understanding. The SGH2 Lancaster plant will be able to produce up to 11,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per day, and 3.8 million kilograms per year—nearly three times more than any other green hydrogen facility, built or under construction, anywhere in the world.
The facility will process 42,000 tons of recycled waste annually. The City of Lancaster will supply guaranteed feedstock of recyclables, and will save between $50 to $75 per ton in landfilling and landfill space costs. California’s largest owners and operators of hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) are in negotiation to purchase the plant’s output to supply current and future HRS to be built in the state over the next ten years.
As the world, and our city, cope with the coronavirus crisis, we are looking for ways to ensure a better future. We know a circular economy with renewable energy is the path, and we have positioned ourselves to be the alternative energy capital of the world. That’s why our partnership with SGH2 is so important.
This is game-changing technology. It not only solves our air quality and climate challenges by producing pollution-free hydrogen. It also solves our plastics and waste problems by turning them into green hydrogen, and does it cleaner and at costs far lower than any other green hydrogen producer.—Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris
Developed by NASA scientist Dr. Salvador Camacho and SGH2 CEO Dr. Robert T. Do, a biophysicist and physician, SGH2’s proprietary technology gasifies any kind of waste—from plastic to paper and from tires to textiles—to make hydrogen. The technology has been vetted and validated, technically and financially, by leading global institutions including the US Export-Import Bank, Barclays and Deutsche Bank, and Shell New Energies’ gasification experts.
Unlike other renewable energy sources, hydrogen can fuel hard-to-decarbonize heavy industrial sectors like steel, heavy transport, and cement. It can also provide lowest-cost long-term storage for electrical grids relying on renewable energy. Hydrogen can also reduce and potentially replace natural gas in all applications. Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that clean hydrogen could cut up to 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and industry.
Countries around the world are waking up to the critical role green hydrogen can play in increasing energy security and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. But, until now, it has been too expensive to adopt at scale.—Hanna Breunig, PhD, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Sustainable Energy Systems Group
A consortium of leading global companies and top institutions have joined with SGH2 and the City of Lancaster to develop and implement the Lancaster project, including: Fluor, Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, Thermosolv, Integrity Engineers, Millenium, HyetHydrogen, and Hexagon.
Fluor, a global engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance company, which has best-in-class experience in building hydrogen-from-gasification plants, will provide front-end engineering and design for the Lancaster facility. SGH2 will provide a complete performance guarantee of the Lancaster plant by issuing a total output guarantee of hydrogen production per year, underwritten by the largest reinsurance company in the world.
In addition to producing carbon-free hydrogen, SGH2’s patented Solena Plasma Enhanced Gasification (SPEG) technology gasifies biogenic waste materials, and uses no externally sourced energy. Berkeley Lab performed a preliminary lifecycle carbon analysis, which found that for every ton of hydrogen produced, SPEG technology reduces emissions by 23 to 31 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is 13 to 19 tons more carbon dioxide avoided per ton than any other green hydrogen process.
Producers of so-called blue, gray and brown hydrogen use either fossil fuels (natural gas or coal) or low-temperature gasification (<2000° C), which produces dirty syngas with toxic tars and low volume of hydrogen. Other green hydrogen producers use electrolysis dependent on large amounts of intermittent renewable energy and deionized water, which is green if it comes from 100% renewable power, but comes at a high cost (US $10-$15 per kilogram) and lacks reliability.
Waste is a global problem, clogging waterways, contaminating oceans, packing landfills and polluting skies. The market for all recyclables, from mixed plastics to cardboard and paper, collapsed in 2018, when China banned the import of recycled waste materials. Now, most of these materials are stored or sent back to landfills. In certain cases, they end up in the ocean, where millions of tons of plastic are found annually. Methane released from landfills is a heat-trapping gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
SGH2 is in negotiations to launch similar projects in France, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Russia, China, Brazil, Malaysia and Australia. SGH2’s stacked modular design is built for rapid scale and linear distributed expansion and lower capital costs. It does not depend on particular weather conditions, and does not require as much land as solar- and wind-based projects.
The Lancaster plant will be built on a 5-acre site, which is zoned heavy industrial, at the intersection of Ave M and 6th Street East (northwest corner - Parcel No 3126 017 028). It will employ 35 people full-time once it’s operational, and will provide more than 600 jobs during 18 months of construction. SGH2 anticipates breaking ground in Q1 2021, start-up and commissioning in Q4 2022, and full operations in Q1 2023.
The Lancaster plant output will be used at hydrogen refueling stations across California for both light- and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles. Unlike other green hydrogen production methods that depend on variable solar or wind energy, the SPEG process relies on a constant, year-round stream of recycled waste feedstocks, and therefore can produce hydrogen at scale more reliably.
SGH2 Energy Global, LLC (SGH2) is a Solena Group company focused on the gasification of waste into hydrogen and holds the exclusive rights to build, own and operate SG’s SPEG technology to produce green hydrogen.