H2Tech - Q2 2021 - 18
H2T. What obstacles must H2
overcome to become a significant
contributor to the world's energy
supply by 2050?
PF. The development of an H2-based
system requires investments, a strong
political will and a synergic and crosssectoral approach. Radical changes to industrial plant technologies and transport
and distribution networks can only be
supranational and interconnected.
A comprehensive view is needed to
develop an H2-based system, and synergies must be created among sectors as
different as energy, manufacturing and
transportation. Synergies must be enabled among these sectors to make them
" talk " each other, standardize their " languages, " and share knowledge, data and
H2T. Broadly speaking, in what
sectors do you see H2 having the
greatest chance for success? How can
business models be transformed to
include more H2 in the energy mix?
PF. Power generation, transportation, shipping and manufacturing are
crucial sectors for H2 development. H2
is a building block of chemistry, has a
strategic role as a fuel both for industrial
processes and mobility, and it also has a
key role in the storage of electricity from
It is estimated that 23% of energy in
Europe will come from H2 in 2025, but
what is the best mix to reach this goal?
Today, natural gas is the source of most
of the H2 produced, using steam methane reforming (SMR) to produce gray
H2. The production process, which
uses natural gas or coal as feedstock, is a
strong contributor to CO2 emissions.
NextChem is studying and
for low-carbon H2 that
may help the transition
to a full green H2 economy.
NextChem has also
developed a technology
for circular H2 produced
from waste by recovering
its carbon and H2 content
through chemical conversion.
Another method of H2 production is
blue H2 , produced with SMR from natural gas or coal but with CO2 emissions
captured and stored. A third method is
the production of green H2 via electrolysis, using power from off-grid renewable
energy like wind and solar.
Green H2 is the lowest-carbon-intensive option; nonetheless, there are several challenges related to its production.
While the technology is well known, the
costs associated with it are high at present. The cost of conventional (gray) H2
FIG. 1. Pathways for low-carbon hydrogen production, including Maire Tecnimont Group and
NextChem's Super Blue hydrogen and circular hydrogen technologies.
Q2 2021 | H2-Tech.com
is in the range of $1/kg-$3.5/kg (according to the raw materials used and
whether or not carbon capture and storage is applied), while green H2 shows
higher production costs in the range of
$2/kg-$7/kg, depending on renewable
energy availability and pricing.
In this transition phase, before green
H2 reaches maturity, the options of Super Blue H2 and circular H2 could play
an important role in the H2 mix (FIG. 1).
NextChem has developed technology
solutions for these types of H2, as we
strongly believe in their potential role in
the energy transition.
H2T. What are Maire Tecnimont and
NextChem's key plans for the H2
market over the next decade?
PF. In addition to the blue and green
H2 solutions in our portfolio, NextChem
is studying and developing innovative
technologies for other types of low-carbon H2 that may help the transition toward a full green H2 economy.
Our Super Blue H2 technology takes
blue H2 a step further by introducing the
use of renewable energy. This approach
allows a reduction of CO2 emissions production by 50% and facilitates the total
recovery of CO2.
NextChem has also developed a technology for circular H2 produced from
waste by recovering its carbon and H2
content through chemical conversion.
Circular H2 is the fourth type of H2 available on an industrial scale after gray H2,
blue H2 and green H2. The synthetic gas
(syngas) produced by waste gasification
with pure O2 at high temperature is a
mixture of H2 and CO. H2 can be separated by the main stream up to high purity for industrial, mobility or residential
applications, while CO can be used for
chemical synthesis or converted to highpurity H2 by reacting with steam.
Circular H2 , when used instead of
gray H2 , allows a strong reduction of
carbon footprint. The production cost
is competitive compared to traditional
H2 from fossil sources, thanks to the reduced cost of waste disposal. Our technology is ready and validated. Plants for
circular H2 production can be placed in
traditional industrial sites, such as refineries, serving as a functional decarbonization solution that offers a range
of benefits, both from an environmental
and a socio-economic perspective.
H2Tech - Q2 2021
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