2021 in Review

The sun has set on 2021 and what a year it has been! A year in which consensus support were cemented for the crucial role hydrogen will play in a net zero future.  Countries are developing strategies and implementing incentives. Companies are building out capacity and energy producers are shifting their strategies to embrace hydrogen as a key energy source.  Much more needs to be done and at Nu:ionic, we are excited to offer solutions that accelerate this major energy transition.  During the last year we achieved significant technical milestones and are working on several projects for the commercial demonstration of our Teal Hydrogen technology.  We also initiated several adjacent applications of our Intellectual Property in for decarbonization.  These developments are setting us on a path for significant growth in the coming year.

Market Momentum

In October the IEA (International Energy Agency) called international governments to action in the Global Hydrogen Review, stating “Governments need to take rapid actions to lower the barriers that are holding low-carbon hydrogen back from faster growth, which will be important if the world is to have a chance of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.”  To achieve this, hydrogen supply needs to increase almost 6-fold.  Gauging by the number of projects announcements during 2021, industry is responding to this call, with more than 200 new projects announced during the year, spanning from a 1.1 MW green hydrogen project in Namibia, to large scale green hydrogen projects planned for Europe, the UK and Canada, and some notable large scale blue hydrogen projects announced in the UK, USA, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. Canada published their hydrogen strategy in December 2020, with a vision of producing 30% of Canada’s energy in the form of hydrogen by 2050 and becoming one of the top three global clean hydrogen producers. In Canada’s strategy, a carbon intensity threshold of hydrogen production of 36.4g CO2e/MJ has been set. British Columbia’s Hydrogen Strategy provides financial support and robust policies to incentivize the switch to low-carbon fuels.  Alberta’s Hydrogen Roadmap published in November 2021, highlighted the province’s capacity for CCUS in support of blue (and Teal!) hydrogen. While hydrogen produced via steam methane reforming (SMR) with CCUS is cheaper than electrolysis, it is necessary to continue to explore innovate new ways to produce clean hydrogen that achieves the carbon intensity threshold.

A feasibility study done in 2020 to assess the role of hydrogen in the Maritimes found that the largest potential near term demand for hydrogen is for heating through mixing up to 20% hydrogen in the natural gas distribution network. However, the cost of clean hydrogen needs come down significantly to make this a reality.

In the US , the DOE (Department of Energy) published a Hydrogen Strategy in 2020,  highlighted the need for R&D and Infrastructure Investment.  The Biden administration responded by allocating in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, $9.5B to accelerate the development of clean hydrogen technology .  The Build Back Better bill also included  up to $3/kg support for low carbon hydrogen production as a Production Tax Credits.

All major oil and gas companies have pledged new zero by 2050 and are shifting to “energy companies” as reflected in corporate name changes. Their green energy strategies include hydrogen.  bp’s  2050 energy forecast predicts equal amounts of blue and green the hydrogen, which will account for 5-15% of the global energy demand, the equivalent to natural gas today. Blue hydrogen plays a significant role otherwise, a significant amount of renewable energy will diverted from decarbonization of the power sector in order to produce green hydrogen. Shell wants to be a leading supplier of green hydrogen in Europe. Midstream companies have strategies related to diversifying into carbon transportation and sequestration; and, hydrogen production and distribution.

Nu:ionic’s Low Carbon Hydrogen Solutions are Gaining Momentum

Nu:ionic produces “teal hydrogen” via a patent pending Microwave Catalytic Reforming process. Natural gas consumption is 30 to 40% less than comparable blue hydrogen, and power requirement is only 25% than that of green hydrogen via electrolysis. Microwave technology allows the system to ramp up almost instantly and when a renewable or low carbon electricity source is used and the CO2 is captured, we produce hydrogen with emissions of 15g CO2e/MJ, 65% less than the target set out by the Canadian Hydrogen Strategy.

In fact, in Canada we are fortunate to have a clean power grid in large parts of the country, making Nu:ionic’s distributed hydrogen production units meet Canada’s target when operated on grid power and natural gas with the included carbon capture, even at production capacities as low as 1 metric ton/day of hydrogen.

In a recent study, the good folks at Zen Energy Solutions helped us quantify the well-to-plant exit carbon intensity of hydrogen when produced in the US and in the state of California.  We are very proud of these numbers, and will be sharing some of those results in future posts.  However, if you’re curious, or would like to learn more about how we can help you achieve your decarbonization goals, let’s talk!  

Our 2021 in Review

In 2021, with continued support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency and our lead investors Valent Low Carbon Technologies, Nu:ionic made significant advances in our microwave reactor technology.  Early in 2021, shortly after completing a large number of tests on our pilot scale Microwave Catalytic Reformer, we designed, fabricated and commissioned a second generation reactor, incorporating design elements that enable scale-up to single module production capacities of several metric tons per day of low hydrogen. Data from this unit is the basis for our reference Teal Hydrogen plant designs. We continued expanding our IP portfolio, and now boast 9 patents pending in the areas of microwave catalytic reactors, plasma systems and process heater applications.    

To support the scale-up of the technology from pilot to demonstration scale, we moved to a larger facility in July, just outside of our home town of Fredericton, New Brunswick with the space required to support our technology scale-up and development of larger systems.  Design and implementation of the demonstration scale reactor is well underway.

Nu:ionic was featured in a number of publications (Decentralized Energy Canada, Gas World, Pollution Solutions and Decarbonisation Technology), but we value most the meaningful traction we have developed with strategic customers in key market areas.  We have signed up strategic customers ranging from carbon negative green hydrogen production to decarbonization of fuel gas and pipeline natural gas, all very large application areas, and look forward to sharing more details about these projects.  The customer traction and continued progress on the technical side now form the basis for our current open round of funding, which will allow Nu:ionic to deploy hydrogen production in strategic market areas and reach commercialization.  

We still have limited capacity for additional demonstration projects remaining, and we will be evaluating opportunities during the first half of of 2022.  If you have a need for scaleable, low cost, low carbon hydrogen and think your project might be a fit, let’s talk!

All the best for a healthy, prosperous and exciting 2022!

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