Shell Invests in Hydrogen from Biomass Production

Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems, Inc. recently announced a five-year joint agreement to further develop and commercialize Virent’s BioForming technology platform for hydrogen production.

Virent’s technology enables the economic production of hydrogen, among other fuels and chemicals, from renewable glycerol and sugar-based feedstocks. The vast majority of hydrogen today is produced using fossil fuels, including natural gas and coal.

Duncan Macleod, Vice President of Shell Hydrogen said, “One of the main challenges to introducing the environmental benefits of the hydrogen economy is reducing CO2 emissions associated with hydrogen production. This agreement further emphasizes Shell Hydrogen’s commitment to collaboration and working with the world’s most innovative companies to overcome the challenges associated with realizing the hydrogen economy.”

Virent and Shell will collaborate on the development and testing of hydrogen systems targeted for fueling station applications at Virent’s facilities in Madison and the Shell Westhollow Technology Center in Houston. If research and development goes to plan, initial deployment of the new technology at a Shell hydrogen fueling station could follow within several years.

“Strategic collaborations with organizations, like Shell, that have a strong environmental commitment, a global footprint, and significant technical expertise are a key component of our commercialization plan,” said Eric Apfelbach, Virent’s president and CEO. “This collaboration will speed development and deployment of our technology not only in hydrogen fueling station applications, but in the broader industrial hydrogen market as well.”

The worldwide market for distributed and centralized hydrogen is estimated at approximately 45 million tons each year. In addition to its use as an energy carrier in transportation applications, hydrogen is a key chemical building block used in many chemical processes, predominately ammonia fertilizer production and, in oil refineries, to upgrade lower quality oil fractions into gasoline and diesel and to remove sulphur contaminants.
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