It's true what they're saying over at the Motley Fool.
Investors are catching on to the emerging hydrogen market potential.
We're working to develop our net-zero hydrogen refinery, which could deliver H2 well under $3kg before 2030.
The Motley Fool | Brooke Cooper | 8 December 2021
If you owned these ASX hydrogen stocks in November, you picked a winner.
Hydrogen has taken the ASX by storm in 2021, boosting shares involved with the energy source into the spotlight, and it was no different in November.
Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX:ECT) (“ECT” or “Company”) is pleased to provide the following update on the progress of the planning and development for its proposed commercial-scale project in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, aimed at delivering a net-zero emission hydrogen refinery.
ECT is developing a ground-breaking new project for deployment in the Latrobe Valley, which will deliver clean hydrogen, agricultural char, and other valuable products with a net-zero emission footprint.
ECT’s Coldry technology will form the core of the raw material processing system, acting as the gateway enabler for an integrated operating plant. Coldry provides low-cost, zero-emission dewatering and drying of incoming lignite and biomass streams, which will then be fed into a thermochemical decarbonisation process (partial pyrolysis), creating two major product streams:
Diagram (above): the project involves two phases; Phase 1 entails hydrogen industry activation via an integrated utilisation pathway at scale enabling the manufacture of hydrogen and formic acid. Building upon this foundation, Phase 2 entails hydrogen industry expansion, developing and deploying our proprietary COHgen technology, which represents a significant advancement on conventional hydrogen production methods, featuring 70% lower CO2 emissions.
The hydrogen-rich syngas is then utilised by integrated downstream applications within the project to produce hydrogen, formic acid and generate electricity.
Formic acid is a valuable industrial chemical and serves a range of uses. In particular, it is a form of hydrogen-carrier generated through consumption of CO2 and H2, utilising some of the process CO2 emissions while producing a valuable product. In addition to being a hydrogen carrier, its primary application is as a preservative and antibacterial agent for livestock feed, with Asia being the largest, fastest-growing market.
Under the project’s first phase, syngas can be diverted from formic acid production to electricity generation during peak demand periods, providing a low carbon transitional step away from conventional lignite power generation. Subsequent expansion of the project in line with industry activation will further transition from syngas-fired electricity to 100% hydrogen-based electricity.
Upon completion of the initial stage of the project, this will see ECT become Australia’s largest producer of agricultural char for soil health and soil CO2 sequestration, and a substantial manufacturer of hydrogen, formic acid and emission-free electricity.
ECT Managing Director Glenn Fozard commented:
“We initially commenced scoping for a commercial scale Coldry project back in 2017. At that time, we also started highlighting hydrogen technology development. Energy and climate policy has finally caught up to what we’ve been saying for several years, and the market is starting to recognise the true potential for our technology suite. The initial feasibility review indicates a strong commercial potential, and as a result, ECT will commence full feasibility for this project to ensure our submissions for Government funding are powerful, compelling and competitive.”
Underpinned by the proposed commercial-scale hydrogen refinery, the Project aims to establish a new regional hydrogen hub, delivering substantial value to the region and significant jobs, training, and research opportunities.
Over recent months, significant funding initiatives have been established across federal and state governments in the form of grant or funding programs to help stimulate technology-driven climate transition and activate nation-wide hydrogen industry development. The proposed Project is aligned with several of these programs, for which ECT is currently preparing submissions, including:
Regardless of the funding sources, the Project will feature the production and utilisation of hydrogen from waste biomass and Victoria’s vast, world-class lignite resource. This Project is designed to support the transition of lignite use away from emissions-intensive electricity generation to a range of low and net-zero emission applications for domestic and export markets, featuring:
The Project is designed to address challenges and obstacles to hydrogen industry activation in Victoria and the broader establishment of a hydrogen economy, including:
A diversified approach is required to address the renewable hydrogen cost barrier, with ‘clean’ hydrogen extracted from the state’s vast, world-class lignite resource blended with biomass proposed under the Project. This approach will enable the timely development of scalable, affordable hydrogen production capacity, helping activate the industry in Victoria by justifying the deployment of the required infrastructure while solutions to bring down the high cost of renewable hydrogen technology are allowed to develop.
However, conventional hydrogen production methods from lignite emit CO2, requiring significant carbon capture and storage (CCS) to achieve the required low or zero-emission footprint.
The Company’s proposed Hydrogen Refinery provides a hydrogen production solution utilising Victoria’s vast lignite resource, blended with the available biomass, at a far lower cost than renewable hydrogen. In addition, unlike other methods for deriving clean hydrogen from lignite, the break-through net-zero approach being adopted by the Project does not require CCS and the associated costs.
Additionally, lignite will act as the reliable baseload of process feedstock, allowing for waste biomass utilisation without influencing primary biomass demand. Finally, due to maintaining the credentials of biomass recycling, biomass generated emissions from this Project will be future-proofed against possible legislation changes in this area, through soil CO2 sequestration offsets.
Conventional CCS involves the separation of CO2 from the process gas stream, followed by compression, liquefaction, transportation and storage in geologically suitable underground locations. While this conventional approach to CCS is technically well-understood, it is energy-intensive and expensive.
The Project steps outside the conventional CCS approach, adopting a carbon capture and utilisation route that delivers a net-zero emission, revenue-generating alternative via a combination of:
The char product is ideal for a range of markets and applications, the principal being that of agricultural soil additive or AgChar. This sequesters much of the process carbon and creates improved chemistry and biology within agricultural land that enhances soil productivity and triggers additional absorption of atmospheric CO2. This latter impact potentially takes the Project to a net-negative CO2 footprint. In addition, char process parameters can be tuned to produce an ideal char feedstock for high-value markets, including specialty metals reductant, solid smokeless fuel and battery anodic material, through further downstream processes.
This combination circumvents the need for conventional CCS development and infrastructure, creating a circular outcome whereby ‘waste’ from syngas production (char) is used to create a secondary product of value for agricultural and other applications.
The Project entails an integrated set of applications that consume the bulk of the available waste energy outputs, recycling that energy back into the gateway Coldry process to create a highly efficient platform for net-zero hydrogen production from lignite and biomass.
ECT is currently in discussions with a range of parties to support the various aspects of the Project, including:
Formic Acid Production Partner
ECT will partner with GrapheneX to deliver the hydrogen utilisation element of the Project.
GrapheneX is an Australian pioneer in developing innovative manufacturing processes and material technologies capable of powering the fourth industrial revolution. The company is focused on developing technically feasible and commercially viable manufacturing processes for smart materials and digital platforms to enable Industry 4.0. GrapheneX Pty Ltd is also a founding industry partner of the Clayton Hydrogen cluster and plays a key role to test, trial and demonstrate new and emerging hydrogen technologies.
Initial activities around financial and commercial feasibility, site preparation and the commencement of engineering design and development is targeted to commence during H1 of CY2022, with financial investment decision (FID) to follow upon achieving successful feasibility results.
Regular updates will be provided on this Project as activities advance.
This announcement is authorised for release to the ASX by the Board.
For further information, please contact:
The team over at SmallCaps have been busy analysing the emerging, fast-moving hydrogen space.
They've also taken the time to break things down, explaining the basics:
And, of course, they cover the Australian ASX-listed companies developing various solutions to address the many challenges in establishing and growing a new industry (yes, we're mentioned).
For our part, we see two direct opportunities in the context of the emerging hydrogen industry:
There is still a lot of work ahead to develop our COHgen process and confirm techno-economic viability at large scale, but we are engaged with various parties to advance opportunities to contribute to this rapidly emerging industry, including the Gippsland Region Hydrogen Committee as an advisory member, and as a member of the FEnEx CRC – Future Energy Exports Cooperative Research Centre – https://www.fenex.org.au/.
27 October 2021 | Danica Cullinane | SmallCaps
The list of ASX hydrogen stocks is expanding as companies get on board due to the increasing conviction the fuel is vital to achieving a clean and secure energy future.
There is a war being waged in the race to develop the dominant platform for electric vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs) vs. battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
On one hand, you have Tesla, which has staked its future on BEVs.
On the other, you have a global consortium investing big to develop HFCVs and the supply chain needed to support them.
The difference between the two platforms is often lost on most consumers.
Carsales recently published this article by Feann Torr.
It's a good read for those wanting to understand the dynamics behind this fast-evolving market.
How this race plays out is of great interest to ECT.
We previously announced the fundamental research and development of our COHgen brown coal-to-hydrogen technology that, if successful through the scale-up process, may provide a lower-emission solution for affordable, reliable hydrogen production.
COHgen stands for Catalytic Organic Hydrogen generation.
The COHgen process stems from discoveries made during our Matmor and Hydromor research.
We're currently stepping through experimental activity to generate the new knowledge required to fully map the process parameters, with the aim of preparing a patent application in due course.
Meanwhile, here's a bit of background to the HFCV vs. BEV battle.
In the mind of consumers, the biggest issue for BEVs is range anxiety.
Using Tesla's new Model 3 as a relatively affordable BEV benchmark - it has a range of about 500km from a 75kWh battery - we start to understand the challenge to simply 'fill the tank'.
Charging at home using the most basic option takes a long time. Here in Australia, a 240 volt 10 amp (2.4kW) power socket will charge the Model 3 from empty to full in about 45 hours.
Stepping up your home charging by increasing the amps to 80 (19.2kW) would decrease the charge time to around 5 hours and 40 mins.
The fastest way to charge is at one of Tesla's 120kW 'supercharger' stations. It will give you a little over 'half a tank' in around 30 minutes or a 'full tank' in about 1 hour and 15 mins.
For most drivers, the ability to stop and quickly fill up on demand is essential, so it makes sense that industry research is focused on extending the battery range and decreasing charge times.
Conversely, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (HFCVs) can refuel in a few minutes, but access to refuelling infrastructure is almost non-existent, and they are more expensive than BEVs.
Each platform has its own logistics challenges as well.
HFCVs need to make and safely store and distribute hydrogen, which is difficult and costly.
BEVs need significant amounts of rare earth elements for battery manufacture, creating a potential raw material bottleneck. Extraction of rare earths impacts the environment just like any other mining activity, and their refining is highly polluting if done cheaply.
While BEVs don't have a 'fuel' like petrol, diesel or hydrogen vehicles, they do require charging. The below article quotes $10 to charge a Tesla versus $60 to fill a hydrogen car.
The $10 figure seems a little off.
A Tesla Model 3 features a 75kWh battery and a range of 500km. Assuming a 69% efficient battery charging ratio, 108kWh is needed to 'fill the tank'. Australia's average retail electricity price, according to the AEMC, is around 30 cents per kWh. That's around $32 for a full charge.
A large family car such as the Toyota Kluger would use about $70 worth of petrol over the same distance ($1.50 per litre & 9.3L/100km).
EV owners get a free ride
Depending on the fuel efficiency of the car, owners of petrol vehicles pay between 3 to 9 cents per kilometre via petrol excise to use the roads.
Whether HFCV or BEV, neither pay petrol excise, effectively giving their owners a free ride while reducing government revenue.
That gap will need to be filled. The only fair option is a user-pays system based on vehicle size and distance travelled, which will inevitably require the introduction of some type of fee on EV owners.
BEVs are technically more efficient, but HFCVs make strategic sense in terms of energy and resource security
That's right. If we compare the efficiency of each platform, batteries are more efficient than HFCVs.
In the case of HFCVs, 100kWh of electricity used to make hydrogen via electrolysis will deliver around 23kWh of 'fuel', taking you 154km.
BEVs can take that same 100kWh and deliver about 69kWh of power, taking you 462km.
Assuming the ambition is a zero-CO2 footprint, this has huge implications for the number of wind turbines or solar panels required to move a nation's fleet of vehicles.
Using rough figures; If Australia hypothetically switched its fleet of 13 million passenger vehicles to BEVs tomorrow we'd need an additional ~4,950 wind turbines (3MW each) to make enough electricity to charge the batteries.
If we switched to HFCVs instead of BEVs, we'd need three times that many to make the hydrogen needed to move the fleet. Adding 15,000 wind turbines to split water to make hydrogen is a significant endeavour. So, it's understandable that the Japanese are pursuing the relatively 'compact' approach of brown coal to hydrogen.
So, the march is on. Which platform will eventually win out? Or will both co-exist like diesel and petrol?
Will other factors, such as access to resources influence the dominance of one platform over another? For example, Japan has no domestic rare earth sector and is spending $500 million on a pilot project to extract hydrogen from brown coal in Victoria's Latrobe Valley. If successful, this will provide a reliable hydrogen source for decades to come.
Conversely, China is the largest miner of rare earth elements needed for batteries, making BEV's a logical choice.
Companies like Tesla are focused on developing rare earth supply chains in South America.
We anticipate increased research and development activity over the next decade.
Victoria's Latrobe Valley will be a focal point for the HFCV camp, with the industry seeking to produce affordable hydrogen from this world-class resource reliably.
If successful, COHgen could be an affordable route for the extraction of hydrogen from brown coal.
Major cities around the world are banning diesel-powered vehicles to improve air quality. Petrol cars are requiring particulate filters. China has confirmed it will ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars in the near future and Europe continues to mandate stricter emissions regulations.
The combustion engine is being squeezed from every angle and the age of the electric vehicle (EV) is dawning.