SoCalGas And Bloom Energy Showcase A Gas Blending Technology To Power Hydrogen Economy

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SoCalGas And Bloom Energy Showcase A Gas Blending Technology To Power Hydrogen Economy

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 12:48
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H2 hydrogen molecule (© Shutterstock/Alexander Limbach)
H2 hydrogen molecule (© Shutterstock/Alexander Limbach)

The US. Leading natural gas distribution utility company, Southern California Gas Co., also known as SoCalGas and Bloom Energy, on December 14, announced a joint project to demonstrate the future the highly anticipated hydrogen economy and high take capabilities needed to achieve California's carbon neutrality goals.

The two giant energy companies will work together to generate and blend fuel hydrogen into an existing university customer's natural gas network to showcase how the decarbonization of the natural gas infrastructure can be done while still balancing energy demand and supply in the future.

With the project set to launch in the California Institute of Technology Pasadena campus, Bloom Energy expressed its efforts in supporting the use of the natural gas network to cut down carbon emissions and bolstering energy resilience.

"California has ambitious climate goals, and a successful energy transition will require companies to collaborate and implement innovative projects," said Chris Holden, California State Assemblymember. "This unique demonstration could help our state transition to a carbon neutral future," he added.

How it Works

The joint project will use Bloom's solid oxide—high temperature electrolyzer to produce hydrogen, infused into Caltech's gas infrastructure. The 10% hydrogen blend resulting from the previous process will then be transformed into electricity without going through combustion using the existing Bloom energy fuel cells on SoCalGas' downstream meter generating electricity that can power section of the university.

The electrolyzer is designed with the capability to generate hydrogen using grid electricity at scale. A combination of fuel cell and electrolyzer could enable clean energy storage for a long time and the generation of low carbon power distributed through the natural gas network for residential neighbourhoods, businesses, and dense centres. It could also be configured as a micro grade to provide resilient power where and when needed the most, protecting campuses, businesses, or neighbourhoods from long hours of widespread power outages.

According to Maryam Brown, the president of SoCalGas, the company needs to pursue a wide range of decarbonization levers. Therefore such projects will accelerate and expand energy initiatives key to the faster decarbonization of California.

Considering production efficiency, Bloom's high temperature electrolyzer yields hydrogen more efficiently than alkaline electrolyzers, and low temperature PEM.since the electrolyzer works at high temperature, it requires less energy to split water molecules to produce hydrogen.

Considering that electricity forms approximately 80% of the cost of hydrogen produced through electrolysis using less electricity, hydrogen production becomes more cost-effective, thereby accelerating adoption. The Bloom electrolyzer is also designed to produce green hydrogen from 100% renewable power.

"With our technology and collaborations like this one, Bloom Energy continues to lead advancements in decarbonizing today's energy system and accelerating a hydrogen-fueled economy," said Sharelynn Moore, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Bloom Energy.

"Enabling both the production and utilization of hydrogen, Bloom Energy's solutions are well-suited to support the use of the natural gas network to reduce carbon emissions while bolstering energy resilience."

Based on the recent technical analysis by SoCalGas, fuel cell technology powered by green fuel like hydrogen can provide additional resilience and reliability that will boost demand as California moves towards achieving decarbonization targets.

Currently, SoCalGas is engaged in at least ten hydrogen-related pilot projects alongside its award-winning Hydrogen Home. The company is also evaluating the possibility of using existing infrastructure to transport hydrogen through demonstration and testing at its analysis centre.

SoCalGas is also working with other California gas utilities and research institutions to develop standards for blending hydrogen for regulatory review. On the other hand, Bloom energy is engaged with industry leaders in low-cost green hydrogen production and utilization of nuclear energy in creating clean hydrogen to accelerate the global hydrogen economy.

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