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Efficient Hydrogen Production – Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey’s vision is for a world that’s cleaner and healthier, both today and for future generations.

In order to meet the global 2050 Net-Zero target, there is an urgent need to act. Around half of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are produced by industry and in the provision of fuel for generation of heat and power. Hydrogen delivers energy without carbon dioxide emissions at the point of use and is expected to play a crucial role in the new era of clean energy.

Hydrogen can be used to supply many parts of the energy system, for example high temperature heat for industrial applications, rapid fuelling and range benefits for mobility, particularly heavy-duty vehicles and trains, as well as the potential for low-cost diurnal or seasonal energy storage.

Hydrogen is recognised as playing an important role in industrial transformation and delivering clean growth. Conversion of fossil resources to hydrogen with Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is a practical means of bulk production, offering scale and cost benefits compared with alternatives such as electrolytic or bio-hydrogen.

However, the current leading technology to produce hydrogen is steam-methane reforming (SMR) that produces carbon dioxide as a by-product which is intensive and expensive to recover. Therefore, for methane-derived hydrogen to play a role in achieving Net-Zero, it requires technology that can be cost-effectively coupled with CCUS. Advanced Reforming, and specifically Johnson Matthey’s LCHTM technology produces hydrogen at a higher efficiency than other reforming technologies and with a very high carbon capture rate, therefore delivering low-cost, low carbon bulk hydrogen.

The LCH process, developed at our Johnson Matthey facilities in Teesside, applies well-proven Johnson Matthey technology from other sectors to enable cost-effective deployment of large-scale efficient hydrogen production, capable of achieving greater than 95% carbon capture for storage. The process features award-winning Gas Heated Reforming (GHR) technology coupled with Auto-Thermal Reforming (ATR) and forms the cornerstone of several UK projects that seek to decarbonise regional industrial clusters.

One such project is HyNet, which was awarded £7.5m by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop the UK’s first Low Carbon Hydrogen Plant at Essar Oil Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port. The Johnson Matthey engineering team are currently working on the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) to provide a reference design for the facility that can be replicated on future decarbonisation projects.

We are also working on the Acorn project, which is sited at St Fergus in Scotland, where a consortium including Total and Shell are investigating the opportunity to produce low carbon hydrogen at volume to blend into the gas grid with offshore sequestration of carbon dioxide in the Goldeneye field.

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

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