Gladstone refinery to utilise hydrogen power

Gas Vision 2050, hydrogen strategy, Oakajee

Industrial fuel cell power company AFC Energy has announced its first commercial order in Australia for its proprietary hydrogen power generation unit from Southern Oil Refining.

The hydrogen power generation unit, expected to be between 200kW and 400kW in capacity, subject to engineering, will be located at Northern Oil’s Advanced Biofuels Refinery near Gladstone in Queensland.

The Advanced Biofuels Refinery, supported by the Federal Government, Queensland Government and ARENA, is a world-first and within its operation, will require large volumes of industrially stable, renewable biohydrogen to support the refining process.

Northern Oil is developing a new hydrogen generation technology to complement its refining process.

The technology utilises steam over iron reduction and chemical looping processes to deliver cheaper and more efficient hydrogen than conventional steam methane reformation (SMR).

Northern Oil is building a large industrial scale pilot plant where surplus hydrogen generated from the system is to be made available for consumption within a fuel cell.

In October 2017, Southern Oil and AFC Energy entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding outlining the intention to collaborate in the assessment of opportunities for the integration of an AFC Energy fuel cell system into Southern Oil’s refining process.

Through this collaboration, Southern Oil has placed an order with AFC Energy for a hydrogen power generation unit utilising AFC Energy’s proprietary fuel cell system that will enable the supply of clean power back into the refining process.

Southern Oil chief executive officer Tim Rose said in developing the Gladstone Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant in the past three years, Southern Oil has benchmarked cutting-edge renewable technologies from around the world

Southern Oil has at its heart a desire to develop new and innovative ways of generating clean fuels for Australia’s future,” Mr Rose said.

“The placement of the order with AFC Energy for one of its hydrogen power generation units is the next phase of our commitment to a green and clean future through the generation of clean power from our surplus hydrogen streams.

“The potential to drive our renewable refinery increasingly off grid and towards green power consumption is a key driver for today’s order and we look forwards to working closely with AFC Energy in delivering a successful outcome for this project.”

AFC Energy will, subject to final agreement on all commercial terms, sell and lease components of its generation system for an undisclosed sum, reflecting the capital cost of the balance of plant and lease fees towards the cost of the fuel cell electrodes.

AFC Energy CEO Adam Bond said the order was a “strong validation” of the progression AFC Energy has made in the past few years.

“With a global estimated 100,000MWe of hydrogen vented to atmosphere from industry each year, I am particularly delighted to confirm AFC Energy’s strategic collaboration with Southern Oil,” he said.

“The order received for the fuel cell system reflects the first stages of a growing pipeline of commercial fuel cell projects in country and validates the opportunities we believe to be emerging in the Australian hydrogen market.”

AFC Energy will commence a brief engineering study to confirm the system sizing and logistics for integration of the hydrogen power generation unit fuel cell system into the refinery.

This exercise will allow finalisation of the AFC Energy system design capacity and its final system costings, following which a binding sales and lease agreement is expected to be entered into.

The AFC Energy fuel cell system is expected to be delivered to Northern Oil’s Gladstone facility in the first half of 2019.