Photo: Courtesy of SoCalGas

SoCalGas to test hydrogen production cost reduction technologies

The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has kicked off a three-year project to test new technologies to produce hydrogen at competitive prices, pushing for California’s zero-emissions goal.

SoCalGas to test hydrogen production costs reduction technologies
Courtesy of SoCalGas

This is done in partnership with SunLine Transit Agency, a transit operator in Riverside County, as the produced hydrogen will be used for fuel cell vehicles.

The goal is to produce emissions-free renewable hydrogen at a price competitive with gasoline.

The research project is called H2 SilverSTARS and it is to produce renewable hydrogen to fuel SunLine’s fleet of 17 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and support further expansion.

The new technologies are to provide renewable hydrogen made from renewable natural gas (RNG) at natural gas fueling stations or any location near a natural gas pipeline.

Two core technologies will be integrated in this demonstration project:

  1. Linde’s HydroPrime HC300 MIN system is to make hydrogen from RNG the same way large hydrogen production plants do, but with compact equipment. Its use at SunLine’s fueling station will be the first time it is deployed in North America. The SunLine location will be able to produce up to 650 kilograms of hydrogen a day.
  2. STARS-165 SMR, built by the start-up STARS corporation, is to take the Linde system a step further. It achieves significantly greater efficiencies in producing hydrogen by using a compact microchannel design and is driven by an electricity-powered induction heating process, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional hydrogen production. Two STARS systems, with a combined production capacity of up to 330 kilograms of hydrogen a day, will be installed for this research project.

The three-years long project will initially demonstrate both core technologies individually and collect performance data to assess the STARS system’s potential to improve its efficiency and cost. The STARS SMR technology will then be integrated with the Linde HydroPrime system with the goal of fast-tracking its commercialization.

Neil Navin, SoCalGas vice president of clean energy innovations, said: “For SoCalGas, this is another step toward meeting our pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and delivery of energy by 2045.”

Lauren Skiver, SunLine Transit Agency’s CEO/GM, said: “Our agency has been a longtime advocate of advancing clean air and alternative fuel technology. This partnership with SoCalGas allows us to continue converting our fleet to zero-emissions five years ahead of state mandates. It also helps us realize our goal of making hydrogen fueling accessible to the public in order to inspire a cleaner tomorrow.”

“Renewable hydrogen is essential to California’s effort to reduce pollution and decarbonize the energy we use throughout the economy, including the transportation sector,” added Bill Zobel, executive director of the California Hydrogen Business Council. “This new technology and partnership between SunLine and SoCalGas will play an important role in ensuring the state achieves its transportation electrification goals and advancing zero-emissions fuel accessibility to all Californians.”

SoCalGas is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and delivery of energy by 2045 and to replacing 20 per cent of its traditional natural gas supply to core customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. It has had a hydrogen infrastructure on-site since 2000.