Nu:ionic Technologies (Canada) Inc. (Nu:ionic) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) commercial agreement with Liberty Utilities (Gas New Brunswick) LP (Liberty) for the development of a 2.65 ton-per-day (2.4 tonne-per-day) hydrogen production system using Nu:ionic proprietary microwave catalytic reformers (MCRs). Liberty will use the facility to pilot the blending of hydrogen into natural gas. This is the first commercial application of Nu:ionic’s on-site, on-demand hydrogen production technology using microwave energy to decarbonize natural gas with electrified reforming. Nu:ionic’s microwave reformers eliminate the need for fuel combustion, greatly reducing the amount of feedstock required to produce hydrogen and significantly reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while also allowing for the use of renewable electricity to reduce the carbon footprint of the natural gas grid.
According to Nu:ionic, the company’s proprietary process technology will be used to generate low-carbon hydrogen at low cost, for blending into Liberty’s natural gas distribution system and clean power generation and fuel production for zero-emissions fuel cell electric vehicles in the heavy duty and mass transportation sector. The MCR design includes a carbon capture system to produce readily transportable liquid carbon dioxide (CO2). Nu:ionic will also provide equipment commissioning, maintenance, and remote monitoring support for the components.
The proposed facility is scheduled to be in operation the first half of 2025. Liberty is currently negotiating with hydrogen and CO2 off-takers. When fully operational, this pilot scale hydrogen blending project is projected to have the GHG capture capacity equivalent to more than 1000 acres (400 ha) of forest, and, depending on the use of the hydrogen, could potentially result in significantly more GHG emissions reductions.
This agreement will enable both companies to collaborate and demonstrate the feasible use of low-carbon hydrogen to reduce GHGs within New Brunswick. In parallel with this initiative, the companies are collaborating to obtain funding for project development from federal and provincial organizations.
Nu:ionic believes its MCR technology provides precise, immediate, and highly efficient targeted heating which eliminates the need for fuel combustion and resulting emissions, and accommodates low-cost hydrogen carriers such as renewable methanol, biogas, or natural gas to produce low-carbon hydrogen. The CO2 byproduct is in liquid form for reuse or sequestration. Nu:ionic’s hydrogen production and carbon capture systems are fully modularized for easy deployment and quicker-to-market installation and production.
Conventional steam methane reforming, the most prevalent reforming approach to hydrogen production and responsible for significant CO2 emissions, requires large amounts of natural gas (methane) as feedstock and a fuel source, and cannot be cost-effectively deployed with carbon capture at distributed production capacities. Nu:ionic Technologies’ MCR process uses approximately 30% less natural gas as compared to conventional reformer methods, reducing the associated upstream emissions of natural gas exploration, production, and transmission, eliminating the need for cost-prohibitive post-combustion carbon capture, and is significantly more compact compared to conventional equipment. When comparing the MCR process to electrolysis, it results in greater than three times CO2 reduction per unit of renewable electricity used.
Nu:ionic said that owner/operators benefit from lower capital investment, a simplified, modular, and compact equipment design, increased energy efficiency, and the ability to cost-effectively produce hydrogen with 90% lower emissions.