Clean hydrogen production crucial for transition to circular chemistry


Brightsite is driving the development of commercial applications for the innovative technologies needed to achieve the climate targets. The sustainable production of hydrogen is one of the cornerstones of the transition to circular chemistry. Chemelot is now home to various initiatives dealing with clean hydrogen production. Brightsite is playing its part by developing next-generation plasma technologies and a method for comparing the variable costs of various hydrogen production technologies.  

Demand for hydrogen set to rise

Hydrogen is an important feedstock in the production of ammonia, which in turn is converted into substances such as fertilizers, melamine, acrylonitrile and caprolactam. The current processes for producing hydrogen use natural gas (1 billion cubic meters) and emit CO₂ (1.8 megatonnes). Brightsite’s program line 1 – ‘Reducing emissions through electrification’ – looks at how to produce hydrogen sustainably, without emitting CO₂. Plasma technology is one of the main options currently being examined.

“We are looking for the best way to produce hydrogen without emitting CO₂. We certainly need hydrogen to make Chemelot more sustainable and thus achieve the ambition of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. In the future, we will need it not just for the CO₂-free production of ammonia, but also for the pretreatment of pyrolysis oil, derived from plastics, to eventually replace naphtha. We will continue to produce some of the hydrogen we need on site, and we also expect to purchase some clean hydrogen,” explains René Slaghek, Manager of program line 5 ‘Transition scenarios and system integration’.

Unique technology comparison

In order to make sound judgments about the best technology for hydrogen production in the long term, it is helpful to have a way of comparing technologies in terms of cost price. Although there are already methods for comparing the cost of technologies, the disadvantage is that these are closely linked to market conditions. “Brightsite has developed a new and accurate method in which market conditions have no longer effect on the determination or correction of the cost price. We have now developed, and validated, a method for ensuring that the variable production costs of processes involving (many) by-products can be compared fairly. Among other things, this gives us meaningful insights into the sensitivity to CO₂ pricing and decoupling of oil and gas prices,” says Joris van Willigenburg (Senior Chemical Engineer/Technology and Sustainability Consultant).

Does your company recognize itself in the working method of Brightsite?

The future outlook is that Chemelot has met the national goals for greenhouse gas reduction by implementing the most cost-effective measures while ensuring production. In 2050 Chemelot is entirely carbon-neutral, based on an optimal transition pathway. Do you want to contribute to this program, or do you want to make use of our services?