Calgary-based Proton Technologies began separating hydrogen again in late February at its project in Saskatchewan, Canada. The project could have impacts on the pipeline industry, as the company aims to expand hydrogen production.
The new separation unit is for multi-year hydrogen filter longevity and iteration testing, with hydrogen truck-loading expected later this year.
Liquid oxygen is scheduled to be trucked in for injection at modest but still commercial scale. At the demonstration site production is expected to reach 1,000 tonnes hydrogen per day after construction of a large air separation unit, according to March 10 statement.
Hydrogen is a carbonless fuel which creates no carbon dioxide when used. Proton has a way to make clean hydrogen at an anticipated production cost below $0.30 U.S. per kg with a lower carbon intensity than wind or solar to electrolysis.
Oil fields are not abandoned because they are empty, rather they have reached an economic limit but much of the oil remains in the ground. Proton’s process involves injecting oxygen into oilfields. This triggers reactions that produce hydrogen.
Then a downhole hydrogen filter only allows hydrogen to come into the production well and up to surface, leaving all carbon in the ground. The cost structure is low because late-life oilfields become Proton’s reaction vessel, which already contains decades of fuel.
There are many paths to move hydrogen, by truck, rail or by pipeline and as a gas, liquid or incorporated into chemicals such as ammonia, but if the production cost of hydrogen is lower than natural gas, baseload electricity and blending into natural gas systems are attractive as large proven markets with existing infrastructure and customers.
“We plan to fuel our power purchase agreement using hydrogen-compatible generators,” said Seta Afshordi, COO of Proton Canada.
Proton has big plans for energy production in the next two decades.
“Proton Canada aspires to supply 10% of humanity’s total energy by 2040,” said chair and CEO Grant Strem. “This will require huge investment for construction of many large air separation units and about one-tenth of western Canada’s vast oil resource, most of which is uneconomic for oil production.”