A landmark gigawatt-scale waste-to-hydrogen project at Egypt’s Suez Canal is “very likely to go ahead” after receiving preliminary approval from local authorities, Recharge has learned.

The 1GW Suez Canal project, being developed by German technology company H2-Industries at East Port Said, aims to convert four million tonnes of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic into 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen every year — roughly the amount that would be produced by a 4GW renewable H2 electrolysis facility.

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This H2 will be produced at “half the levelized cost of current green hydrogen production technologies, taking the cost even lower than current levels for low-carbon and grey hydrogen production”, the company said in a statement.

A feasibility study will now be conducted over the next four to six weeks, with final approval from the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone expected in eight weeks’ time, H2-Industries tells Recharge.

“It is very likely the project will go ahead, as there are plans to be in operation by 2025 and then scale up,” said a company spokeswoman.

The company plans to store the H2 in a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC), or combine it with captured CO2 to produce “low-cost synthetic diesel or sustainable aviation fuel [SAF]”.

H2-Industries is already talking to “off-takers worldwide for green hydrogen and the synthetic fuels eDiesel and SAF”, the company tells Recharge.

H2-Industries has not revealed the exact waste-to-hydrogen technology that would be used, only that it involves an “integrated thermolysis plant”. Thermolysis means chemical decomposition by heating. Other companies in this segment heat waste at high temperatures, in the absence of oxygen, to break the matter into its constituent parts, ending up with hydrogen, solid carbon and ash.

“The Waste-to-Hydrogen plant is a breakthrough in making green hydrogen economically viable, helping not only reduce global CO2 emissions but also reducing the pollution and impairment of water resources in the country [ie, Egypt],” said H2-Industries executive chairman Michael Stusch.

H2-Industries plans to use an LOHC called dibenzyltoluene (C21H20), which is also a commercially available heat-transfer fluid. Adding hydrogen to the DBT converts it to perhydro-dibenzyltoluene (C21H32), which can be transported in the same way as oil — at ambient temperatures and pressures, thus avoiding the drawbacks of liquid and compressed hydrogen. At the end of its journey, the LOHC is heated to 250-300°C at a “release unit”, to extract the stored H2, with the now-dehydrogenated DBT then transported back to its original starting point.

The waste heat from the process can be used to generate power, the company says.

“LOHC is the most favorable and safest possibility to store and transport hydrogen cost-effectively, followed by ammonia, compressed hydrogen and on the last position is liquid hydrogen,” H2-Industries tells Recharge.