The H-vision concept is a proven technology

Industry has been tasked with making major reductions in carbon emissions to protect the planet from the effects of climate change. This challenge is being taken very seriously and all those involved are working hard on a range of innovative solutions. H-vision is one of the solutions and a realistic option for meeting the ambitious climate goals. What is the strength of this project and what are the latest developments?

The Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2016. The aim was to limit global warming to no more than 2°C, with 1.5 degrees as the target. The Netherlands formulated this target as a 49% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030. The European Union’s initial target was a minimum 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, but it is now aiming for a 55% reduction compared with 1990 levels. This is ambitious, but necessary to protect the world from the effects of climate change.

Hydrogen to play a major role

Hydrogen will play an important role in climate-neutral energy supplies. The focus is on ensuring that carbon-free hydrogen (aka green hydrogen) will have a basic function by 2050.

Haste is required

We believe that switching to this carbon-free green hydrogen on an industrial scale will take several decades. But haste is also required. Time is short and the introduction and implementation of new technological solutions is a long process. H-vision gives us the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions significantly before 2030, without using the still-limited green power available and without further burdening the electricity grid. That is good news. It will allow us to actually make the contribution needed to achieve the climate goals.

H-vision’s solution for major, fast, reductions in carbon emissions

With H-vision, we can achieve large cuts in carbon emissions quickly by using residual gases from industry. Residual gases are a by-product of the industrial process and they play a major role in generating heat in industrial processes. There is generally no other useful application. At refineries, but also at chemical plants, residual gases – aka refinery gases – are now used directly to generate heat at high temperatures. During that process, the CO2 from the residual gases is released into the atmosphere. Producing low-carbon hydrogen from these residual gases first and then using this hydrogen to generate high-temperature heat in refineries and chemical plants makes it possible to achieve major reductions in carbon emissions.

The entire process

At present, the high temperatures required for refining and chemicals production are commonly generated in industrial furnaces, where by-product process gases such as refinery gas or cracker gas are burned. This generates large amounts of CO2 and is usually the largest contributor to a site’s emissions. The H-vision concept involves converting these hydrocarbon process gasesat large scale into hydrogen, using a process based on proven technology. This is then followed by burning the hydrogen directly in the existing furnaces, which itself generates very little CO2. As the CO2 produced during the decarbonisation process will be captured and stored in depleted gas fields under the North Sea, this process eliminates the vast majority of furnace CO2 emissions.

A proven technology and few suitable alternatives

H-vision hydrogen is based on proven technology and it does not depend on the production of sustainable electricity. Suitable alternatives are scarce. Electrification cannot be used to generate such high temperatures. In addition, the available capacity from solar and wind is also inadequate.

Developing different solutions alongside each other

Both solutions – the H-Vision solution and the deployment of green hydrogen – will have to be developed and used side by side on the road to a new sustainable energy system. Given its purity (almost 100%), carbon-free green hydrogen will initially be better for use as a feedstock in the chemical industry, for mobility applications and for the production of clean fuels (for example in desulphurisation).

Without a quick solution, the climate targets for industry are unachievable

The conversion of hydrogen for heat and electricity production can only be considered if it is available in large amounts and if there is a surplus of carbon-free hydrogen. Without the use of low-carbon hydrogen as a fuel in industry, the ambitious climate targets for 2030 would seem to be unattainable.

Future proof

The H-vision concept remains relevant even in a medium- to long-term future in which a significant proportionof refinery and chemicals feedstock may have shifted to material of biological or circular origin. Generation of by-product hydrocarbon process gas is inherent to many refinery or chemicals production routes, even in future plants. In this case, the H-vision concept could decarbonise these sustainable process gases, thus offering a way to generate negative emissions which is important for achieving Dutch and European climate goals.

Planning and status

A numer of partners are currently working on further developing the concept. 

Finally, something very important!

We have not yet mentioned the added value for society of the concept or its future resilience. Because even if industry – not only refineries but also the chemical industry – were to achieve 100% electrification in theory, there will still be residual gases for which a solution is needed. This will also be the case if there is a feedstock transition involving the use of biogenic feedstock. The CO2 from the residual gases will then still be released into the atmosphere. H-vision also offers a solution in this respect by converting those residual gases into low-carbon hydrogen as well. This makes the H-vision concept truly unique.

Update: H-vision in 3 minutes

Various partners
are conducting
into the next phase,
the realization of
the project

Broad support for the H-vision concept

The H-vision concept is supported by the CO2 abatement strategies of the municipality Rotterdam, the Province of South Holland, the national government and the European Commission. Furthermore, the national government has created a new category in the Dutch SDE++ subsidy scheme, which supports hydrogen production from process gases for generation of industrial heat.

H-vision partners