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How clean hydrogen can exploit the existing carbon-based fuel infrastructure?

I am excited to join colleagues from across the region at the upcoming World Hydrogen Congress in North America. Hydrogen is a hot topic because of the recognized role it must play in decarbonizing hard to electrify sectors.

Recently, my colleague Pedram Fanailoo touched upon the role of hydrogen and what good hydrogen looks like. I would like to continue this theme and talk about how the transition to clean hydrogen can be accelerated by the production of low-carbon intensity fuels utilizing the existing infrastructure.

For instance, our most recent Energy Transition Outlook report anticipates that passenger air travel will increase by 140% compared to pre-pandemic levels over the next 25 years. For airlines, SAF is the current available option to meet growing demand while reducing emissions. Airline companies purchase planes with lifetimes of around 20 years and this means that it will not be economically feasible for them to change to carbon-less fuels in the coming years. Similarly, DNV forecasts that cargo tonne-miles at sea will increase by 40% by 2050. Shipping companies looking to reduce emissions need more options to power their vessels, including LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), methanol, and ammonia. The engines powering those ships also have a relatively long lifetime. Some shipping companies are already ordering ships with dual-fuel engines to accommodate future fuels like eAmmonia and eMethanol.

Current carbon-based fossil fuels are utilized through a tremendous infrastructure that has been assembled over many years. Any low-emissions fuel that is able to use the existing infrastructure will gain faster access to the final user.  Producing some of the low emission fuels to power the hard to electrify sectors requires two things - hydrogen and carbon. Today, the technology to recycle and use carbon from organic biomass– from used cooking oil to municipal solid waste to forestry waste – in renewable fuel production is available. This effectively allows fuel consumers to replace fossil-based fuels with renewable fuels, resulting in significant reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

Solving for the remaining emissions requires fuel producers to decarbonize the hydrogen used in the fuel producing process. There are two options here: 1) source green or blue hydrogen, or 2) directly capture and store emissions from the process. Green or blue hydrogen are critical for the production of low emission fuels.


Producing SAF and Methanol means managing a whole new set of risks

Right now, the supply of SAF and methanol does not meet the demand. Fortunately, fuel producers are rising to the challenge by building new dedicated refineries or converting existing refineries to produce more low emission renewable fuels.

The refineries that will deliver best value will have access to the lowest carbon intensity biomass-based feedstock and green or blue hydrogen, capitalize on zero or low emissions transport and distribution infrastructure, and deploy best available technology. Sounds simple, but the reality is that North America’s refining expertise is built on sourcing and processing fossil fuels into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, and then moving those finished products around the region.   The process to turn used cooking oil into SAF, for example, comprises a different set of risks.

One thing I am excited to talk with conference attendees about is enabling a better, more informed CapEx decision for a renewable low-emissions fuel production process during pre-FEED and FEL-1 Feasibility. When making choices for assembling a low emissions fuel-making process, some of the aspects to consider are the availability of renewable feedstock, water, and green or blue hydrogen. DNV maintains robust databases with information about biogenic carbon sources and established supply chains, which can help fuel producers manage siting and supply chain risk studies.


Jose Quevedo on SAF production


DNV’s experts can also determine the maturity level of candidate technologies considered in a site that would produce SAF or methanol. We use in-house modeling tools and known process simulators to prepare details around the heat and material balances of such plants, which are then used as input for the Feasibility studies and in the preparation of Class 5 or Class 4 cost estimates.

DNV’s experience in renewable energy dates back to the 1970s, when it contributed to wind energy. DNV experts can optimize the integration between renewable power generation, electrolyzers that produce hydrogen, and production units for making methanol, SAF, and ammonia, which are hydrogen carriers.

I would like to connect at the World Hydrogen North America Congress or outside of it and discuss examples of feasibility studies related to the utilization of carbon and its transformation into SAF and methanol.

Let our experience become your edge. Together, we can identify and manage the risks that enable CAPEX reductions and maximum utilization of production site components.

For those attending the World Hydrogen North America Congress in Houston, I am looking forward to seeing you at my presentation:

Opportunities for Carbon Utilization with Green Hydrogen 

Time: 22nd May, 12:10 pm CT 

Stream C: CCS/CCUS H2, Storage & Distribution 


Jose A. Quevedo 

Principal Consultant – Process Engineering 

Hydrogen, Low Carbon Fuels and CCUS, DNV 



5/8/2024 5:00:00 PM

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Jose Quevedo

Jose Quevedo

Principal Consultant - Process Engineering Low Carbon and CCUS

Global expertise in hydrogen production

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