A 4 billion factory will turn Suez garbage cans into hydrogen

Waste around the Suez Canal will soon gain new life thanks to the German start-up H2-Industries.

The idea of ​​using hydrogen cells to power all sorts of devices is not new. We have already found this type of propulsion in several and varied machines such as cars, trucks, trains, boats… and even smaller-scale aircraft. Some manufacturers, including Toyota, rely heavily on this technology.

And if this substance has the wind in its sails, it is because it has no shortage of arguments. Allows you to produce a significant energy from a modest amount of matter. In addition, she does without emitting any greenhouse gases during use; this chemical reaction produces only water.

But if these hydrogen fuel cells really make it possible to propel so-called “clean”, the term should be taken with tweezers. In fact, the situation is not so idyllic throughout this industrial chain. And for good reason: the industrial process that allows for mass production of hydrogen is very energy intensive.

In particular, it involves heating large amounts of water. However, that energy must be found somewhere. And you will have understood, most of the time, the latter comes from channels that are not non-renewable for a penny. According to Axpo, the main supplier of renewable energy in Switzerland, in 2020 more than 95% of the hydrogen produced in this way on a global scale was derived directly from fossil fuels!

From waste to green energy

Many institutions are therefore working to develop new conversion systems to transform other feedstocks into hydrogen, this time focusing on base materials. It is with this in mind that the German company H2-Industries (H2-I) has just announced the construction of a gigantic hydrogen plant in Egypt. And this location was not chosen by chance, because to supply its plant, the company has an unexpected resource: garbage!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, says an English expression; and this has rarely been more true than in this great project. Indeed, H2-I depends on the incessant flow of garbage that accumulates in the area of ​​the Suez Canal, one of the most important arteries of world trade. This true ecological and logistical pest, H2-I awaits turn directly into green gold thanks to a $4 billion state-of-the-art factory.

The company intends to transform around four million tons of waste into 300,000 tons of hydrogen per year. It is, therefore, a process that tries to convert the current main limit of this sector into net profit along the entire line. It’s likely a proprietary process as it hasn’t been disclosed in detail, but these promises are exciting nonetheless.

A future proof of concept that looks promising

Furthermore, the plant was apparently designed to avoid any loss of energy, making the lowest calorie profitable. According to TheNextWeb, the waste heat from the process will be redirected to power steam turbines and other generators to produce electricity.

And the icing on the cake is that running out of fossil fuels isn’t just ecologically beneficial; would even save. The company claims that this project will produce hydrogen at half the price compared to current production techniques!

It is wise to remain cautious of these advertisements, because the effects of advertisements, sometimes sensational, are legion in the energy sector. But we must still recognize the merits and relevance of the H2-I project. Ideally, this will advance an industry with a future, while helping to manage a very concrete pollution problem. It remains to be hoped that this proof of concept works well enough to emulate!

Leave a Comment