Hydrogen is one of the simplest and abundant elements in the universe and one of the most versatile sources of clean energy. On Earth hydrogen occurs naturally only when combined with other elements. Therefore, one of the outstanding industrial challenges is the production of environmentally clean and cheap hydrogen. Unlike state-of-the-art ways of producing green (by, e.g. electrolysis) or blue (by, e.g. steam methane reforming) hydrogen, Hydrogen Source AS is developing Hydrogen Generation from Hydrocarbons Sub-terrain the (HGHS process) allowing to produce hydrogen by converting methane to hydrogen subsurface, retaining greenhouse gases in the reservoir and avoiding black carbon production.
The HGHS process itself is built upon two well-known and widely used industrial process: Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (TEOR) to increase reservoir temperature and chemical conversion of methane to produce hydrogen. In Hickory project (Hickory has a unique combination of strength, toughness, hardness, and stiffness among woods same as Hydrogen has a unique combination of energy density, clean energy release and versatility among elements) Hydrogen Source AS joins forces with NORCE, Imperial College London and AGR to address the core of the HGHS process ? in-situ chemical transformations, combining carefully designed experiments with scale-up and modelling to reduce uncertainty and optimize process techno-economic parameters.
The project objective is to optimize the HGHS process and improve understanding of chemical and reservoir mechanisms governing it. Secondary objectives are:
1. Optimise injection to achieve the desired process parameters.
2. Chemical system tuning for the HGHS process.
3. Evaluate geochemical reactions accompanying the HGHS process.
4. Investigate the segregation of gasses in-situ following conversion to hydrogen.
5. Calibrate and develop HGHS process models.
6. Optimise hydrogen production regimes.
During the first year of the project the team worked with setting up catalytic and gravity segregation experiments as well as with preparation of field pilot models.
One of the outstanding industrial challenges is production of environmentally clean and cheap hydrogen. Hydrogen Source AS (HSAS) is an IP rights owner for Hydrogen Generation from Hydrocarbons Sub-terrain the (HGHS) process allowing to produce hydrogen by converting methane to hydrogen subsurface, retaining greenhouse gases in the reservoir and avoiding black carbon production.
The essence of the process is to inject pre-designed aqueous solution of metal salt into a gas reservoir and follow it up with air or oxygen injection (or overheated steam with microwave downhole reactors) to initiate in-situ combustion / oxidation and catalytic cracking of methane. Increased reservoir temperature will lead to thermal breakdown of the salt forming nano-scale metal particles. Such nano-catalyst – a form significantly more active than traditional surface catalysts, will promote methane conversion to hydrogen in a slurry type process right in the gas reservoir. After conversion is completed the injection will stop allowing gravity to segregate heavier CO2, remaining water and methane as well as other by-products from lighter hydrogen. Downhole membranes can be used in production wells to remove eventual minor concentrations of unwanted gas components of generated synthetic gas from the production stream of hydrogen. Hickory project is an industrial research on new method of hydrogen production. The project will bring HGHS technology from current TRL level 3 to 4-5 and therefore contribute to preparation of the technology validation and demonstration in relevant environment. The project addresses primarily the chemical technological components of the HGHS process at field conditions, combining carefully designed experiments with scale up and modelling so that field trials can later be performed in an optimal way.
Project consortia consists of the technology owner, two research partners (NORCE and Imperial College) and experienced service provider / consultancy company AGR.