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SoCalGas awarded $750k grant to develop hydrogen from biogas

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The California Energy Commission has awarded Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) a $750,000 grant to pursue development of a novel hydrogen production system using biogas to create affordable, scalable, renewable hydrogen.

The project will build upon innovations in modular hydrogen production technology to create a system powered by renewable electricity that can use renewable gas such as biogas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants or dairy farms as a feedstock to produce low-cost, clean hydrogen. Additionally, the system will produce hydrogen at a lower temperature, without needing combustion, thereby eliminating nitrogen oxide emissions.

SoCalGas expects the project to develop a bench-scale demonstration that is both modular and scalable, offering a flexible means of creating renewable hydrogen.

“SoCalGas is at the forefront of hydrogen innovation as we look to decarbonise California through the use of clean fuels,” said Neil Navin, SoCalGas vice president of clean energy innovations, in a June 8 statement. “We are thankful for the CEC’s continued efforts to support technology and innovation to scale-up hydrogen production.  This project will help us get that much closer to net zero by developing a method to create affordable, renewable hydrogen at scale to bring down prices and provide an important tool to help us reduce carbon emissions.”

This project aims to lower costs of producing renewable hydrogen to $1.39 per kilogram, comparable to the cost of producing hydrogen via more conventional means, while also reducing emissions up to 95%.

“We continue to advance low-carbon hydrogen production for targeted, hard-to-electrify end use applications that support a clean energy economy. Technologies such as those being explored by SoCalGas are an important step towards decarbonising hydrogen,” said Jonah Steinbuck, deputy director of the CEC’s research and development division.

When powered by renewable electricity, the system will produce low-carbon or carbon-negative hydrogen and capture all the carbon dioxide co-product for use in feedstock, CO2-based fuels, microalgae fuels and products and concrete building materials. The demonstration system will be designed to produce 5 kilograms of hydrogen per day.

This project is being developed in partnership with hydrogen and low-carbon technology pioneers Susteon and Build Momentum, which specialises in administering and managing grant-funded energy innovation projects. Testing of the system is expected to begin in 2023.

Last year, SoCalGas announced its aspiration to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and the energy it delivers by 2045.

Earlier this year, SoCalGas announced a proposal to develop Angeles Link, a green hydrogen energy infrastructure system that could deliver clean, reliable energy to the Los Angeles basin to provide a path to decarbonise heavy industries that require clean fuels and cannot currently be electrified.

In all, SoCalGas has more than 10 active hydrogen pilot projects.