New York-based H2-Industries has unveiled plans to build a $1.4bn waste-to-hydrogen plant in Oman, which would annually convert up to one million tonnes of municipal solid waste — the stuff collected from homes and businesses — into 67,000 tonnes of hydrogen.
The trash will be sourced from waste management operators and “mined from existing landfills”, the company says, in what would appear to be a world first for H2 production — although no sourcing agreements have yet been signed with the country’s sole waste management provider, Be’ah.
The plant would be supported by a 300MW solar installation backed up by 70MW of energy storage to enable baseload operation.
While H2-Industries says that “the primary function of the plant is to produce green energy without environmentally harmful emissions”, the facility would, however, produce one million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The company says that carbon dioxide can be captured and combined with hydrogen to make e-fuels such as synthetic diesel or aviation fuel, but the facility would produce more CO2 than required for such purposes.
According to Shell, e-fuel requires a hydrogen-to-CO2 ratio of about 1:7 (by weight), but the plant would produce roughly 15 times more carbon dioxide than H2.
H2-Industries has not disclosed its waste-to-hydrogen technology, describing it as both a “thermo-chemical process… [that] is achieved without the use of external electricity or burning waste” and as an “integrated thermolysis plant” — thermolysis meaning chemical decomposition by heating.
Other waste-to-hydrogen companies, such as Ways2H and Boson Energy, heat waste at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to prevent the formation of CO2, producing H2 and solid carbon that can then be sold for profit, effectively offsetting the cost of hydrogen production.
In February, H2-Industries unveiled a similar larger project at East Port Said in Egypt, which would produce 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen annually from four million tonnes of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic (with no mention of landfill mining).
At the time, the company said that project would produce H2 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 Omani project is at an earlier stage of development, with just a memorandum of understanding signed between H2-Industries and Omani government agency Madayn, and no specific site yet lined up.
“This is an exciting opportunity and one that will take the tons of waste that collects in Oman and turn it into green hydrogen,” said H2-Industries executive chairman Michael Stusch. “The $1.4bn investment into Oman will make a substantial contribution to the country’s waste management strategy and demonstrates how fighting climate change and enhancing environmental protection can go hand in hand and benefit all stakeholders.”
Oman currently produces about 1.9 million tonnes of solid waste each year, the company says, pointing out that its planned facility could eventually process up to four million tonnes of the stuff annually.
This article was updated on 21 April to make it clear that Oman's only waste management company, Be’ah, is not currently involved in the project.