A partnership between FortisBC Energy Inc., Suncor Energy and Australia-based Hazer Group Limited will use Hazer’s innovative methane pyrolysis technology for the first time in North America to produce hydrogen from natural gas.
The project, located at Suncor’s Burrard Terminal site, will produce hydrogen while storing the carbon byproduct as solid synthetic graphite that can be sold on the open market for manufacturing or industrial use. If the pilot continues as a full commercial build out, the project would be expected to produce up to 2,500 tonnes of hydrogen per year. This equates to roughly 300,000 gigajoules of clean-burning gas energy that can replace the equivalent annual natural gas usage of approximately 3,300 BC households.
Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways, including through electrolysis (separating hydrogen from water using electricity) or through separating it from natural gas. Hydrogen generated from natural gas with the carbon byproduct being captured as solid carbon is referred to as “turquoise” hydrogen and has far lower and more easily managed lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with it.
Innovative technologies such as the Hazer Process offer enormous potential to create new economic opportunities while supporting the de-carbonization objectives of FortisBC and the province. We are delighted to work with FortisBC, Suncor and the government of B.C. on this innovative project which will be a world-leading example of the application of methane pyrolysis.—Geoff Ward, CEO and managing director of Hazer
The Hazer process enables the effective conversion of natural gas—and similar feedstocks—into hydrogen and high quality graphite, using iron ore as a process catalyst.
The project is being funded directly from the partner companies and by the provincial government’s CleanBC Industry Fund. The Fund supports projects that can advance innovative solutions for industry greenhouse gas emissions, like renewable and low carbon gases. The provincial government has placed clear emphasis on the importance of hydrogen in the province, releasing the provincial hydrogen strategy in 2021 and establishing the BC Hydrogen Office to assist the rapid advancement of hydrogen projects.
The addition of hydrogen to FortisBC’s renewable and low carbon gas supply is critical to the company’s ongoing efforts to decarbonize the gas system. Ongoing research is being conducted, both through this project and in conjunction with the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, on how to blend hydrogen into the existing gas infrastructure. A recent study commissioned by the provincial government, FortisBC and the BC Bioenergy Network found that the potential for hydrogen production in the province could exceed 200 petajoules by 2050—roughly enough gas to completely replace current natural gas volumes.
The first phase of the project is now underway including front-end engineering, design studies and permitting applications. By the end of 2023, a prototype version of the Hazer hydrogen reactor is expected to be constructed onsite at the Burrard location for testing.
Hazer Group was founded in 2010 to commercialize technology originally developed at the University of Western Australia.