HyNet launches demonstration of hydrogen-fired consumer goods production

Article by Amanda Jasi

HYNET has launched a demonstration project at Unilever’s Port Sunlight site that is fuelling production with hydrogen.

At its Port Sunlight factory in the North West of England, Unilever products including TRESemmé and Persil branded products are being manufactured using hydrogen. The trial is using both 100% hydrogen and a blend of hydrogen and natural gas to fire the boiler that provides steam for the production process. It is believed to be the world’s first large-scale demonstration of 100% hydrogen-firing in consumer goods production.

According to Madeleine McLeod, Factory Director at Port Sunlight, the results of the trial will help the company “to better understand the role hydrogen could play in decarbonising our factory sites and provide insight and learnings to support wider-industry action towards net zero too”. Unilever aims to achieve zero emissions from its operations by 2030.

Led by Progressive Energy, the demonstration is expected to provide critical evidence to enable decarbonisation of industrial sectors, thereby contributing to net zero. It is part of the wider HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching programme, which is demonstrating that natural gas can be easily replaced with low carbon hydrogen.

HyNet partners are supporting fuel switching from fossil gases to low carbon hydrogen in automotive and metals, chemicals, food and drink, glass, and paper sectors. In September last year, a trial successfully showed that a glass furnace could be powered with hydrogen instead of natural gas.

David Parkin, Director of Progressive Energy and Project Director of HyNet, said: “HyNet is fully focused on providing a route for industry to decarbonise. This demonstration shows how close we are to hydrogen becoming a reality. HyNet will not only substantially reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions entering our atmosphere but will kick-start a low carbon hydrogen economy across the North West and North East Wales.”

Bulk production of low carbon hydrogen in the North West is imminent. HyNet is a leading industrial decarbonisation project that has been fast-tracked by the UK Government to enable operationality in the mid-2020s. Hydrogen will be supplied by consortium partner Vertex Hydrogen, and distributed to industry and power generation sites across the North West through a network under development by Cadent, another HyNet partner.

In February, Vertex Energy unveiled a report detailing the development of the UK’s first large-scale low carbon hydrogen production plant, to share lessons learned.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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