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TotalEnergies, Air Products hydrogen deal uplifts platinum demand outlook still further

TotalEnergies chairperson and CEO Patrick Pouyanné.

Air Products hydrogen fuel truck.

Photo by Creamer Media Chief Photographer Donna Slater

Green hydrogen spans a wide spectrum of activity.

Photo by Inforgraphic: Heraeus Precious Metals

BMW green hydrogen car being refuelled in South Africa.

Photo by Creamer Media Chief Photographer Donna Slater

Platinum cathode needed in PEM fuel cells to convert hydrogen to electricity.

Photo by Inforgraphic: Heraeus Precious Metals

10th June 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A 15-year agreement involving the supply of an initial 70 000 t of green hydrogen a year has been signed by TotalEnergies and Air Products.

TotalEnergies, which is active in some 120 countries and which cites sustainability as being at the heart of its strategy, is setting out to reduce the net greenhouse gas emissions from its oil and gas operations by 40% by 2030.

By awarding long-term contracts involving six refineries and two biorefineries in Europe, TotalEnergies is contributing to the emergence of a green hydrogen industry.  

“This deal with Air Products, the first signed following the call for tenders launched last year, is a steppingstone towards our goal of decarbonising the hydrogen used in our refineries in Northern Europe by the end of the decade,” TotalEnergies chairperson and CEO Patrick Pouyanné stated in a media release to Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

The supply of green hydrogen to TotalEnergies’ Northern European refineries by Air Products will eliminate the emission of an estimated 700 000 t of CO2 each year and is emerging following the invitation by TotalEnergies of tenders for 500 000 t of green hydrogen a year to be supplied to its European refineries.

Having embarked on the journey of producing clean hydrogen seven years ago, Air Products develops, engineers, builds, owns and operates some of the world's largest clean hydrogen projects.

Interestingly, TotalEnergies partnership with Air Products is also being extended in that TotalEnergies is contributing to Air Products’ own decarbonisation roadmap by also providing green power to Air Products.

“This contract validates our long-term strategy. Clearly the demand is here, and it will grow significantly as we move forward, playing an essential role in decarbonising heavy industry and other sectors,” Air Products chairperson, president and CEO Seifi Ghasemi stated.

In addition to the green hydrogen transaction, TotalEnergies and Air Products have signed a memorandum of understanding for the supply of renewable power, which entails the signing of a first power purchase agreement (PPA) for 150 MW produced at a solar project in Texas. The parties also plan to look into further PPA opportunities in the UK, Poland and France.

In California, Air Products this month announced new multi-modal hydrogen refuelling stations that will have capacity to fuel 200 heavy-duty trucks or 2 000 light-duty vehicles a day, Air Products GM hydrogen for mobility Americas Alison Hawkins stated.

These stations will be a key driver to help California on its road to a zero-emissions transportation future. An innovator in hydrogen for transportation, Air Products California pipeline network supplied hydrogen to the nation's first pipeline-fed hydrogen fueling station in Torrance, California in 2011. Currently, Air Products operates six hydrogen refuelling stations in Southern California.

SOUTH AFRICAN PIONEERING

From a South Africa perspective, the TotalEnergies and Air Products transaction uplifts the demand outlook for platinum group metals (PGMs), which go hand-in-glove with green hydrogen and green electricity when PGM-based proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers and PEM fuel cells are deployed.

PGMs in PEM electrolysers and fuel cells support every step of the green hydrogen economy across the broad spectrum of initial electrolysis, transport and storage, fuel cells, alternative fuels and recycling.

South Africa already has its first green hydrogen refuelling station at Midrand, Gauteng, where the locally launched BMW IX5 hydrogen cars refuel.

Readers of Engineering News & Mining Weekly will also recall that the prototype zero-emission hydrogen-powered mine haulage truck that First Mode global hydrogen sourcing director James Betts called attention to during last week’s World Hydrogen Australia webinar was unveiled by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Mogalakwena PGM mine in South Africa’s Limpopo province two years ago.

Mogalakwena is owned by Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Anglo American Platinum, which may soon also be listed on the London Stock Exchange as part of a major value-adding review being implemented by the Anglo American group.

Capable of carrying a 290 t payload, the nuGen Zero Emissions Haulage Solution (ZEHS) hydrogen truck generates more power than its diesel predecessor.

The pioneering creation of the nuGen ZEHS involved a  2700 hp diesel engine being innovatively replaced by eight parallel PGM-catalysed hydrogen fuel cells, totalling 837 kW, and a 1.2 MWh lithium-ion battery.

This world-first was described at the time as a crucial step in the Anglo American group’s pathway to carbon-neutral operations by 2040.

One hydrogen-powered mining haul truck eliminates the deleterious carbon emissions of the equivalent of 700 cars, Betts highlighted during last week’s World Hydrogen Australia webinar, where he spoke of the need for the hydrogen haul trucks to be conceived as bringing about a holistic decarbonisation of many aspects of mine sites rather than being viewed in isolation.

“Just to give you a bit of context, these mine sites have many haul trucks running through them, so there's a huge amount of potential diesel saving.

“A really beautiful thing about hydrogen, and this is why I'm so very passionate about it, is that it comes with a system. There are the haul trucks, the trains, and there's ammonium nitrate, which is used in explosives in mining, the base of that being hydrogen.

“There’s a whole ecosystem around that, and so rather than thinking about each of these individual use cases, one of the things we really need to start taking seriously is hydrogen in the system.

“Hydrogen on a standalone use case basis is where we're struggling commercially to make it feasible, but if you can bring that broader picture into play, it's a very, very smart and tidy solution, especially within the context of hubs and initiatives and the hub-and-spoke concept for multiple use cases.

“I think mining is absolutely key for the introduction of hydrogen and hence we'll be focusing our attention on trying to drive a bunch of innovations in that space to make it happen,” said Betts, whose First Mode is focused on decarbonising heavy industry, primarily in mining.

The task of First Mode, which has a combined business with Anglo, is to accelerate the implementation of the nuGen ZEHS.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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