'Cheaper and cleaner' | First giga-scale project using novel 'ultra-low-carbon' blue hydrogen tech announced
8 Rivers plans to build a billion-dollar ammonia complex in Texas, with more than 99% of CO2 captured
US-based technology firm 8 Rivers has announced plans for a massive $1.2bn blue ammonia complex in Texas, the first commercial plant using its novel process to produce low-cost hydrogen from fossil gas while capturing more than 99% of emissions.
Its unique “8RH2” process uses an “oxy-fired combustor” to heat carbon dioxide, which is then processed with natural gas and steam in a “CO2 convective reformer” to form syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that will then be separated.
Carbon emissions from the process are continuously recycled, similar to a design for zero-emission power generation co-invented by 8 Rivers’ chief inventor Rodney Allam. Although a small amount of CO2 exits the cycle during each run, it can be easily captured owing to its pressure and purity, and recycled.
8 Rivers has also told Hydrogen Insight that the process has an overall gas-to-hydrogen efficiency of more than 80%, compared to 65-75% for steam methane reforming, the most common method of grey hydrogen production.
It has previously stated that its technology “is cheaper and cleaner than traditional steam methane reforming [SMR] approaches that also release all their carbon dioxide”.
The company’s Cormorant Clean Energy Project in Texas will produce 880,000 tonnes a year of ammonia, requiring around 156,000 tonnes of H2 — equivalent to the production capacity of about 1.5GW of electrolysers.
However, 8 Rivers is still evaluating several different options for how it will sequester CO2.
“The Cormorant Clean Energy Project is the ideal location to deploy our 8RH2 platform commercially, at scale for the first time,” said Steve Milward, chief operating officer at 8 Rivers.
He added: “Clean fuels like hydrogen and ammonia are paramount to the energy transition, and the Gulf Coast region’s rich history of industrial manufacturing and transportation makes it the perfect environment to demonstrate the game-changing potential of this technology.
“We’re grateful to be working with local officials to develop and deploy this project and build a clean energy workforce that will sustain the region’s growth for years to come.”
8 Rivers told Hydrogen Insight that the project will cost $1.2bn, financed via its partnership with South Korean industrial conglomerate SK, with a final investment decision due in the first quarter of 2025.
SK had previously invested $100m into 8 Rivers, a move that included the formation of a joint venture to deploy clean hydrogen and power projects both within SK’s operations and throughout the wider Asia-Pacific region.
8 Rivers also confirmed to Hydrogen Insight that the ammonia will be exported to international markets, where the chemical can be used directly or cracked back to hydrogen to displace fossil fuels in ships, vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities.
The company expects to create more than 1,000 new construction jobs between 2024 and 2027.
While 8 Rivers has not disclosed the likely cost of ammonia production at the Cormorant Clean Energy Project, it told Hydrogen Insight that it plans to utilise tax credits set out in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Blue hydrogen producers are eligible for either the 45V tax credit of up to $3/kg for clean hydrogen production or the 45Q for CCUS, which awards $85 per tonne of CO2 geologically stored or $60 per tonne used for industry or enhanced oil recovery.
However, recent analysis by the US Department of Energy suggests that upstream emissions from sourcing fossil gas for these projects could push their lifecycle greenhouse gases beyond the minimum threshold for the 45V.