Green ammonia from Kooragang Island

The Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub

Click to learn more. Orica’s ammonia production plant on Kooragang Island, Newcastle. Source: Orica.

Orica and Origin Energy will collaborate on feasibility work and development of the Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub in Newcastle, Australia. The Hub would produce hydrogen by feeding recycled water and renewable electricity to a grid-connected, 55 MW electrolyser. The feasibility study will assess the use of hydrogen for transport & heavy industrial processes in and around Newcastle, but the project partners have already indicated that green hydrogen from the Hub will be fed into Orica’s existing ammonia production plant on Kooragang Island.

We’ve been operating our Kooragang Island site for over 50 years, and are committed to ensuring both our manufacturing facility and the Newcastle region remain competitive in a low carbon economy, while also strengthening Australia’s domestic manufacturing capability.

Orica Chief Executive Officer Sanjeev Gandhi in the official press release, 28 Feb 2022

Orica also notes that the full conversion of their Kooragang Island site to run on recycled water would save Newcastle 2.9 billion liters of drinking water per year. The Kooragang Recycled Water Scheme currently provides nearly three billion liters of recycled wastewater to industrial customers in the area, with a view to increasing this total capacity to four billion liters in the coming years.

DeNOxing nitric acid production

In December 2021 Orica announced that it had received government backing for a project to decarbonise nitric acid production on Kooragang Island. Using thyssenkrupp’s patented EnviNOx® technology, nearly half of the site’s total carbon emissions will be abated from 2023 onward via catalytic decomposition of NOx byproducts. Taken together, green ammonia and abated nitric acid production would eliminate the vast bulk of the site’s current carbon emissions.

Big plans for Newcastle

In November 2021 we reported that Incitec Pivot Limited, Keppel Infrastructure and Temasek were exploring options for green ammonia exports from their Newcastle production facility…which also happens to be on Kooragang Island! That news broke the same week that a 40 MW hydrogen hub at Newcastle Port had received government funding.

Multiple hydrogen hubs in Newcastle will be possible thanks to existing grid connections between Newcastle industrial sites and the wider region. But as existing, fossil-based power generation in the Hunter Valley region closes, commercial interest in renewable electricity generation is increasing. In February, the NSW state government announced that 40 GW and $100 billion of commercial investment interest had been lodged in response to the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) plan. Grid-connected hydrogen production facilities in Newcastle stand to gain access to surplus amounts of renewable electricity in the coming years.

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