Decarbonising the Great Plains Synfuel Plant

Rebranding as the “Great Plains Hydrogen Hub”

Aerial view of the Great Plains Synfuel Plant, which will be redeveloped into the Great Plains clean hydrogen & ammonia hub. Source: Dakota Gasification.
Click to learn more. Aerial view of the Great Plains Synfuel Plant, which will be redeveloped into the Great Plains clean hydrogen & ammonia hub. Source: Dakota Gasification.

Bakken Energy, Mitsubishi Power Americas (a subsidiary of MHI) and MHA Nation have signed a new MoU for the redevelopment of the Great Plains Synfuel Plant: an existing ammonia production facility (>400,000 tonnes per year) near Beulah, North Dakota. Historically, the site has produced hydrogen via coal gasification, with carbon emissions captured and transported by pipeline across the border for enhanced oil recovery in Canada. In August 2021 Bakken acquired the Plant from the Dakota Gasification Company, and under the new plan auto-thermal reformation of gas will replace the coal-based processes. This will then be paired with CCS to produce 348,000 tonnes per year of clean hydrogen (permanent sequestration or continued EOR not specified).

The $2 billion facility will be renamed the Great Plains Hydrogen Hub, and is expected to be operational by 2027. The project developers predict they will meet the US Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Shot goal – $1/kg by 2030 – years ahead of time, and also suggested that renewable energy generation could be integrated into the project down the track:

The redevelopment gives us an unbeatable cost advantage which will enable the build out of infrastructure that will benefit additional hydrogen production, including hydrogen from renewables, on our way to becoming the largest and lowest cost producer of clean hydrogen in the country.

Mike Hopkins, CEO of Bakken Energy in their official press release, 9 Feb 2022

Decarbonising existing ammonia plants

Redevelopments & revamps of existing ammonia production plants are in progress worldwide, all directed towards a singular goal: reducing their current carbon footprint. The full decarbonisation of existing brownfield ammonia plants will be critical to the industry reducing its impact, and a diverse range of technologies are being employed for the task:

  • the full electrification of Yara’s Porsgrunn, Norway plant with hydropower (including construction of a new electrolysis plant).
  • partial decarbonisation of Shchekinoazot’s ammonia plants in Tula, Russia with Haldor Topsoe technologies.
  • establishing a green hydrogen feed into Fertiberia’s Spanish ammonia plants: Puertollano, Palos de la Frontera and Sagunto.
  • pilot-scale green hydrogen production & feed into state-owned plants in Point Lisas, Trinidad & Tobago.
  • partial decarbonisation of Fertiglobe’s existing ammonia plants in al-Ruwais, UAE by two methods: green hydrogen & CCS retrofits.
  • partial and then full decarbonisation of OQ’s ammonia plant in Salalah, Oman by replacing gas feedstock with renewable hydrogen.
  • partial decarbonisation of CF Industries’ 4-million-tonne-per-year Donaldsonville, USA plant with a 5% feed of green hydrogen from 2023.
  • a pilot-scale green hydrogen production facility at EuroChem’s Ottmarsheim plant in France.
  • partial decarbonisation of EBIC’s plant in Ain Sokhna, Egypt with a new build electrolysis plant.
  • full decarbonisation of Incitec Pivot Limited’s plant in Brisbane, Australia via green hydrogen from electrolysis (the plant will otherwise cease operations later this year due to the rising costs of gas).
  • partial decarbonisation of Yara’s Pilbara plant, with ENGIE currently building a pilot-scale electrolysis plant to supply green hydrogen feedstock.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list!

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