Norway is an exporter of large volumes of fossil energy, with an annual natural-gas energy export almost tenfold that of domestic power generation. Norway's renewable power surplus is expected to increase in the future. Hydrogen is regarded as a future energy carrier for large-scale, low-emission energy export, and the interest is increasing, also in liquid hydrogen (LH2).
Water electrolysis and natural gas reforming with CO2 capture and storage can both make hydrogen close to emission-free, and have potential synergies: common export infrastructure; reduced power grid investments; use of oxygen from electrolysis in reforming feedstock; load flexibility. A large-scale plant becomes self-supplied with oxygen if at least one-third of the hydrogen is produced by base-load water electrolysis.
Through detailed system simulations and component modelling, Hyper has investigated technology solutions for centralised large-scale LH2 production with a baseline output of 500 ton per day (tpd). This rate is sufficient for one 160 000 m3 ship load about every three weeks and corresponds to approximately 820 MW on an energy basis, and about 7 TWh annually. Hydrogen liquefaction is assumed to be provided by 4 parallel liquefiers, each with 125 tpd capacity.
Different options for H2 production have been investigated technically as well as economically. The cost of the technologies at different scales were investigated, and it was shown that while electrolysis is the preferred option for small scale, natural gas reforming with CCS is more cost-efficient at larger scale, that is, above 100 tpd output. With new process configurations developed in Hyper, the global carbon capture ratio can be as high as 97 % in reforming process without any extraordinary measures, which gives a very low CO2 footprint at parity with renewable power. The CO2 intensity of hydrogen from electrolysis is lower than for natural gas with CCS only when the average grid CO2 intensity is below about 20 kg/MWh.
Improved hydrogen production and liquefaction technologies requires realisation of new process components. Several key technologies have been investigated in detail, including a flexible yet robust framework for modelling of membrane modules, membrane reactors and chemical reactors for development of beyond state-of-the-art processes. Mathematical models for catalyst filled plate-fin and spiral-wound heat exchangers have been developed by using a flexible and robust modelling framework for multi-stream heat exchangers that incorporates conversion of ortho- to para-hydrogen, accurate thermophysical models and a distributed resolution of all streams and wall temperatures. A new and accurate equation of state was developed for novel quantum refrigerants for the hydrogen liquefaction process (for He-Ne-H2 mixtures), which will enable design of more energy-efficient hydrogen liquefaction processes with lower technological uncertainties.
Large-scale transfer of LH2 from onshore storage tanks to ship tanks is a new topic requiring TRL advancement. Hyper has performed dynamic simulations of such operations, including precooling of transfer lines. The energy flux during transfer can reach typically 25-30 GW or more. An important result from this work is to quantify resulting gas volumes occurring during precooling and loading and the handling thereof. The gas return rate has thus influence on the design and operation of liquefiers. The most promising means identified for gas handling are re-liquefaction via ejector recompression or recycling to the liquefier feed.
A comparative value chain study for LH2 and ammonia has been evaluated, both of which are carbon-free hydrogen carriers. Results for transport from Northern Norway to markets in Continental Europe or Japan shows considerably better chain efficiency for LH2 if ammonia cracking is required before end-use. The value chain efficiencies are otherwise is more equal. Pipeline transport of hydrogen was also considered and is a cost-efficient option for shorter distance transport.
Hyper has generated improved understanding of the interplay between electrolyser sizing and operation strategies, as well as the cost of hydrogen, in power systems with large shares of renewables, mainly wind and hydro power. Advanced models are used to investigate the role of flexible electrolysis operation and hydropower, considering large-scale hydrogen production and integration of renewables.
Hyper was highlighted in "Global challenges - Norwegian opportunities", NTNU and SINTEF's main recommendations to politicians on energy and climate. The final Hyper event was arranged as a public seminar entitled "The Role of Large Scale Hydrogen" in Brussels, with attendees from research, industry, policymaking and the EU parliament.
Hyper consists of research partners SINTEF Energi, IAE and NTNU, and industry partners Equinor, Shell, Linde Kryotechnik, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, Nel and Gassco.
Industry partners have expressed satisfaction with the partnership and scientific level and that the project has contributed to increasing the interest in liquid hydrogen as an energy carrier. Since the startup of Hyper several initiatives related to liquid hydrogen-based value chains have emerged in Norway. Hyper has contributed with knowledge to actors involved in such initiatives.
Hyper has contributed with new knowledge at several important international forums such as IEA Gas and Oil Technologies Collaboration Program, Innovation Norway in Japan, the Research Council, Mission Innovation IC8: Renewable and Clean Hydrogen, and the ONS Foundation.
Hyper was emphasised in "Global challenges - Norwegian opportunities", NTNU and SINTEF's four main recommendations to politicians on energy and climate, which were announced at Arendalsuka 2017.
Hyper concluded with a high-impact event in Brussels, with attendees from research, industry, policymaking, the EU parliament and others.
The Hyper project addresses valorisation of Norwegian renewable and fossil energy resources for decarbonised hydrogen production aimed for export as well as national utilisation. Hyper will contribute to closing the knowledge gaps currently forming barriers to realising large-scale cost- and energy-efficient hydrogen production, liquefaction and export facilities.
The central technology elements and processes and their interaction will be investigated using SINTEF ER's, NTNU's and IAE's expertise in cooperation with the industrial partners Statoil, Shell, NEL Hydrogen, Linde Kryotechnik, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Corporation. In addition to advancing the specific technology knowledge related to large-scale hydrogen production and liquefaction, detailed case/feasibility studies will be performed, involving both static and dynamic load profiles and interaction between the subsystems involved. Boundaries of the hydrogen production system will be defined by the input of renewable (wind and hydro power) and fossil (natural gas) energy and the output of liquid hydrogen conditioned for ship transport to markets. CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will be included among the key technological elements when hydrogen converted from fossil energy is part of the production system.
Cases relevant to Norwegian, European (including Germany, the UK and the Netherlands) and Japanese conditions and markets will be defined and evaluated in order to expand the knowledge regarding the feasibility and potential of liquid hydrogen production.