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Refinery Hydrogen Power Pilot Takes Shape in Australia

An industrial-scale pilot plant that will use surplus hydrogen from refinery operations to produce power is taking shape in Australia. Industrial alkaline fuel cell power company AFC Energy on July 12 said it received its first commercial order for a hydrogen power generation unit in Australia from Southern Oil Refining, a subsidiary of Northern Oil. AFC’s alkaline fuel cell technology converts oxygen and hydrogen into electrical energy, producing demineralized water and heat as byproducts. The company recently wrapped up a two-year pilot in Germany at an industrial plant owned by Air Products, which accepted hydrogen from Dow Chemicals. The project, POWER-UP, was a European Union–backed demonstration. The new pilot, expected to be sized between 200 kW and 400 kW, will be located at Northern Oil’s Advanced Biofuels Refinery, near Gladstone, Australia. The refinery currently converts several waste streams, including from sugarcane bagasse, “green waste” from cities, woody weeds like prickly acacia, and tires as feedstock for the production of bio-crude oil. The renewable fuel is refined into saleable kerosene and diesel products, but it requires large volumes of industrial stable biohydrogen to support the refining process. Northern Oil is developing a new hydrogen generation technology that uses steam over iron reduction and chemical looping to deliver hydrogen, processes that are reportedly cheaper than conventional steam methane reforming. Surplus hydrogen generated from this system is expected to be consumed by AFC’s fuel cell system. AFC said the pilot power system could be delivered to the Gladstone refinery in the first half of 2019. The company is now conducting engineering studies to determine the final project size, scope, contract terms, and general logistics for integration of the hydrogen power generation unit fuel system into the refinery. Source: Power, 7/18/2018.