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ExxonMobil selects Honeywell, Topsoe to decarbonize Gulf Coast hydrogen plant


Topsoe to provide hydrogen production tech

Honeywell to provide carbon capture tech

  • Author
  • Brandon Mulder
  • Editor
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Commodity
  • Energy Transition Natural Gas Petrochemicals

ExxonMobil's major blue hydrogen facility planned for the Texas coast will use decarbonization technologies provided by Honeywell and Topsoe to reach its carbon intensity targets, the companies said Feb. 15.

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Topsoe, a Danish company offering a range of decarbonization technologies, will be providing the plant with its SynCOR autothermal reformer, which produces hydrogen by reacting methane with oxygen and steam. The systems will produce a targeted 1 Bcf/d, or 2.36 million kg/day, of low carbon hydrogen.

"Once complete, this ambitious project will result in hydrogen that can be used for low-carbon fuels and chemicals to help meet global net-zero targets," Topsoe COO Elena Scaltritti said.

Honeywell, an Illinois-based multinational technology company, will be providing its carbon capture system, known as CO2 Fractionation and Hydrogen Purification System, to capture 7 million mt CO2/year. The system uses a pressure swing adsorption cryogenic technology similar to what Honeywell deployed in Wabash Valley Resources' blue hydrogen plant in Indiana in 2021.

98% expected capture rate

With an expected capture rate of 98%, the hydrogen plant would be eligible to receive high value hydrogen production tax credits created by the Inflation Reduction Act. A kilogram of hydrogen produced with between 0.45 kg and 1.5 kg of CO2 emissions will earn a $1 tax credit, while a kilogram of hydrogen produced with a carbon intensity level of less than 0.45 kg earns up to $3.

Adding carbon capture technology to conventional steam methane reformation processes adds a 30% cost premium to blue hydrogen, or about 30-65 cents/kg depending on natural gas prices, according to data from Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights. Most conventional SMR facilities will be unable to reach the IRA's highest emissions threshold, which requires facilities to capture at least 95% of emissions to obtain the maximum $3/kg tax credit. Instead, many of the blue hydrogen facilities are likely to gain the $1/kg credit.

However, ExxonMobil has said that the company does not yet know what the plant's exact carbon intensity level will be at this early stage.

Platts assessed the cost of conventional gray hydrogen, or that produced using natural gas without carbon capture additions, at 85 cents/kg Feb. 14 on the US Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, green hydrogen produced by PEM electrolysis was assessed at $2.44/kg (including capex), while that produced using alkaline electrolysis was assessed at $1.65/kg.

Largest hydrogen plant

Located in Baytown, Texas, the blue hydrogen complex will be the world's largest hydrogen plant once it comes online in 2027 or 2028. After awarding a front-end engineering and design contract to Technip Energies in January, the project is on pace to reach a final investment decision by 2024, pending regulatory permits.

While some of the plant's hydrogen capacity will be used in ammonia production, the plant will also produce hydrogen as a feedstock for ExxonMobil's co-located olefins plant. The hydrogen will help that plant reduce its scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 30%, the company says.

In addition to capturing CO2 generated from its own hydrogen production processes, the facility is also designed to be a CO2 offtaker for other third-party industrial emitters along the US Gulf Coast.

While the hydrogen plant will generate about 7 million mt CO2/year, the complex will have an overall CO2 transportation and sequestration capacity of 10 million mt CO2/year, which will more than double ExxonMobil's current carbon capture and sequestration capacity of 9 million mt CO2/year.