The project is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. Graphic courtesy of HNO

Three corporations have teamed up to deliver a first-of-its-kind hydrogen production project to be located in the Houston area.

California-based HNO International Inc. has teamed up with Colorado-based Element One Energy and Houston-based Pneumatic and Hydraulic Co. to develop a hydrogen production facility that will produce 500 kilograms of green hydrogen a day.

"This collaboration represents a major milestone in our commitment to sustainable energy solutions," Donald Owens, chairman at HNO International, says in a news release. "The development of the 500kg per day green hydrogen production facility in Houston is a testament to our dedication to advancing sustainable hydrogen infrastructure.

"This facility is just the beginning, as we have plans for additional installations in 2024, 2025, and beyond, further solidifying our position as leaders in the hydrogen energy infrastructure sector," he continues.

The facility will install HNO International's Scalable Hydrogen Energy Platform, or SHEP, a hydrogen energy system that's designed to produce, store, and dispense green hydrogen from water using a 1.25 megawatt electrolyzer. SHEP is scalable, modular, and compact, requiring less than 3,000 square feet of space.

For 60 years, Pneumatic and Hydraulic Co. has worked in the compressed gas industry with its hydrogen division Total Hydrogen Solutions, serving a range of industries, including notable aerospace clients like SpaceX, Blue Origin, NASA,

Element One Energy designs and manufactures electrolyzers and solid-state hydrogen storage systems with over 20 years of engineering experience with cryogenic storage and high pressures.

Honeywell’s European launch follows a Dutch test of the smart gas meter, which the company touts as the world’s first commercially available hydrogen-ready gas meter. Photo via honeywell.com

Honeywell plans to launch world's first of hydrogen-ready gas meter

smart tech

A Houston-based unit of industrial conglomerate Honeywell has unveiled a gas meter capable of measuring both hydrogen and natural gas.

Honeywell’s European launch follows a Dutch test of the EI5 smart gas meter, which the company touts as the world’s first commercially available hydrogen-ready gas meter.

“Honeywell’s hydrogen-capable meters are key to facilitating a seamless transition to hydrogen energy across European utility networks,” Kinnera Angadi, chief technology officer of smart energy and thermal solutions at Honeywell, says in a November 28 news release. “We’re enhancing operational efficiency with meters that are ready for the future, helping our customers stay ahead in a market that’s swiftly transitioning toward greener energy solutions.”

Among other products, Honeywell’s Houston-based Process Solutions unit supplies connected utility and metering technology like the new EI5 gas meter. In the Netherlands, Honeywell’s meters will be installed at residences by Dutch energy company Enexis Group.

A 2022 report from the Hydrogen Council indicates that hydrogen costs are expected to fall by 2030, making it competitive with other low-carbon option. This insight helped lead Enexis Group to commit to converting its main gas lines to hydrogen within the next three years.

“The transition to clean energy is as necessary as it is complex,” says Ruud Busscher, program manager for energy transit and Hydrogen at Enexis. “This project aims to challenge the way we operate by using an alternative to natural gas. We are finding out how the existing grid will be influenced by hydrogen and what new paths can be taken for a sustainable future.”

Researchers at the University of Houston are proposing that supplying hydrogen for transportation in the greater Houston area could also be profitable. Photo via UH.edu

Houston research shows how much hydrogen-powered vehicles would cost at the pump

hi, hydrogen

It's generally understood that transitioning away from gas-powered vehicles will help reduce the 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide gas released each year by the transportation sector in Texas.

Now, researchers at the University of Houston are proposing that supplying hydrogen for transportation in the greater Houston area could also be profitable.

The research team has done the math. In a white paper, "Competitive Pricing of Hydrogen as an Economic Alternative to Gasoline and Diesel for the Houston Transportation Sector," the team compared three hydrogen generation processes—steam methane reforming (SMR), SMR with carbon capture (SMRCC), and electrolysis using grid electricity and water—and provided cost estimates and delivery models for each.

The team found that SMRCC hydrogen can be supplied at about $6.10 per kilogram of hydrogen at the pump, which they say is competitive and shows promise for hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

FCEVs refuel with hydrogen in five minutes and produce zero emissions, according to UH.

"This research underscores the transformative potential of hydrogen in the transportation sector,” Alexander Economides, a co-author on the study, UH alumnus and CEO Kiribex Inc., said in the statement. “Our findings indicate that hydrogen can be a cost-competitive and environmentally responsible choice for consumers, businesses, and policymakers in the greater Houston area."

Economides was joined on the paper by co-authors Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair at UH, and Paulo Liu, research associate in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at UH.

Additionally, the team says Houston is an ideal leader for this transition.

“(Houston) has more than sufficient water and commercial filtering systems to support hydrogen generation,” the study states. “Add to that the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure, which makes hydrogen production and supply more cost effective and makes Houston ideal for transitioning from traditional vehicles to hydrogen-powered ones.”

The study also discusses tax incentives, consumer preferences, grid generation costs and many other details.

Moonshot Compost has announced its plans to create green hydrogen at scale. Photo via Getty Images

Houston startup launches clean energy business to turn compost into hydrogen

waste to power

You may already know Moonshot Compost, a Houston company devoted to collecting food waste all over Texas. Now, meet Moonshot Hydrogen.

Founders and brothers-in-law Chris Wood and Joe Villa have joined forces with energy industry veteran Rene Ramirez to harness their compost into clean hydrogen power.

Earlier this month, the new branch of the existing company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. The agreement comes close to a year after Ramirez first began working with Purdue University Northwest professors, Robert Kramer and Libbie Pelter, and Purdue University’s professor, John Patterson. The result is the first operating commercial pilot that biologically turns food waste into hydrogen.

This revelation comes just days after the Biden-Harris administration announced that it had set aside $7 billion to H2Hubs, a collection of seven regional hydrogen power stations, including one in the Houston area.

“We love the timing. There’s just a lot of interest right now,” Wood tells EnergyCapital in a video call with Villa and Ramirez. “It's been fun to watch Rene's long relationship with Purdue come to fruition on behalf of that hydrogen at the same time that the DoD is moving forward with their announcement on the hydrogen hubs.”

Wood and Villa founded Moonshot Compost three years ago.

“The thought was, 'waste is so valuable, and there's so much of it in the trash.' So we wanted to focus on, ‘Let's get our hands on as much food waste as possible,’ and always be focused on doing the best thing with our food waste,” Wood says.

Initially, that meant making compost, which saved the waste from a landfill and produced high-quality, nutrient-rich soil. Customers include both private homes and commercial accounts. Those include heavy hitters like Rice University, Conoco Phillips and Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as beloved restaurants ranging from Bludorn to Tacodeli. And that’s just in Houston. The company now collects from businesses in Austin, Dallas and Waco, too.

That extended footprint will be important to Moonshot Hydrogen.

“Our big dream is ideally that we have one of these hydrogen facilities in almost every city that we can think of. Your city has that ability to charge up or refuel the cars with hydrogen at-location and not have to worry about going 300 miles away,” says Ramirez.

Filling up your car with zero-emission hydrogen made from compost? It could be a reality sooner than you think. According to Wood, Moonshot is already in the preliminary stages of discussions with a facility to pilot just such a program.

“We’ve been thrilled with how receptive people are. There does seem to be a general acknowledgment that this would fit well with Houston’s desire to be the energy transition capital of the world,” he says.

Their patent-protected technology assures that Moonshot is the only company with this novel solution to food waste. Most exciting is the fact that the institutions with which Moonshot already partners could be on the ground floor of being at least partially powered by their own discarded scraps.

“Everyone loves the circularity aspect of it,” says Ramirez. And with a potential launch as soon as next March, it’s one step closer to a reality for the Energy Transition Capital.

At the UH Tech Bridge, Zenith aims to accelerate its research and development of novel gas and liquid filters, according to UH, to help reduce the cost of clean hydrogen. Photo by Natalie Harms

Houston energy transition company announces move into new facility

UH tech bridge bound

A Houston-area startup that is purifying water and chemicals with a innovative technology has announced its new office on the University of Houston's campus.

Missouri city-based Zenith Purification develops sorbents and polymeric membranes that can be used for carbon dioxide removal, hydrogen and natural gas purification, and water purification. According to the company, its processes are cost effective and offer a more efficient way to remove contaminants from water.

At the UH Tech Bridge, Zenith also aims to accelerate its research and development of novel gas and liquid filters, according to UH, to help reduce the cost of clean hydrogen.

“We are excited to embark on a new journey with the latest addition to our vibrant community, Zenith Purification LLC,” Darayle Canada, program director, startup development operations at UH Technology Bridge, said in a statement. “With their visionary team and cutting-edge technologies, they are poised to make a significant impact in the market. Their membership at the UH Technology Bridge will provide them with a supportive ecosystem, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities to accelerate their growth.”

Zenith was founded in 2021 by Jian J. Zou in 2021. Zou has been granted three patents for his work in polymeric membrane synthesis and process development, which are the bases of the company. In July, Zenith was awarded its first research grant from the Department of Energy.

The UH Tech Bridge focuses on providing research and development space to UH-affiliated startups and entrepreneurs. The 15-building complex and its 31,000 square feet of incubator space houses more than 20 small companies and startups that provide internship and learning opportunities for UH students, along with several federally funded research centers and institutes.

In August the Tech Bridge announced that it would be partnering up with the UH Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center to launch a new, collaborative program that will help innovators and entrepreneurs develop a pitch or commercialization plan. And in March it received a $2.875 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. to establish The Deck Innovation & Coworking Center.

Baker Hughes rolls out new energy tech for hydrogen sector

upgraded

Houston-based energy technology company Baker Hughes is rolling out two new products — pressure sensors for the hydrogen sector.

Designed to provide long-term stability and withstand harsh conditions, the Druck pressure sensors are geared toward gas turbines, hydrogen production electrolysis, and hydrogen filling stations, the company says.

Gordon Docherty, general manager of the Druck product line, calls the new hydrogen technology “an exciting breakthrough in the world of pressure measurement.”

“Hydrogen plays a key role in the transition to a more sustainable, lower-emissions future but also poses challenges for infrastructure and equipment due to hydrogen embrittlement,” Docherty says in a news release.

Baker Hughes’ Druck hydrogen pressure sensors will be displayed September 27-28 at the Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany.

The company’s other hydrogen products include compressors, valves, gas turbines, and pumps.

During its second-quarter earnings call in July, Baker Hughes reported that it’s boosting R&D spending for its “New Energy” strategy. This includes money earmarked for hydrogen technology. As of July, Baker Hughes had spent about $40 million this year on small-scale R&D projects.

The company has spent decades working on hydrogen innovations. It created the world’s first hydrogen compressor in 1962. And in 2008, it built the world’s first turbine running solely on hydrogen.

Baker Hughes’ advancements in hydrogen technology come as the market for clean hydrogen grows. A report published this year by professional services firm Deloitte predicts the global market for clean hydrogen will expand to $1.4 trillion per year by 2050, up from a projected $642 billion in 2030.

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Shell fuels energy transition with roll out of EV charging stations

coming soon

As it downshifts sales of fuel for traditional vehicles, energy giant Shell is stepping up its commitment to public charging stations for electric vehicles.

In a new report on energy transition, Shells lays out an aggressive plan for growing its public network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). The company plans to boost the global number of public EV charging stations from about 54,000 today to around 70,000 by 2025 and about 200,000 by 2030.

The projected growth from today to 2030 would represent a 270 percent increase in the number of Shell-operated EV charging stations.

“We have a major competitive advantage in terms of locations, as our global network of service stations is one of the largest in the world,” Shell says in the report.

Shell’s global network of service stations is shrinking, though. In the report, the company reveals plans to close a total of 1,000 gas stations in 2024 and 2025. Today, more than 45,000 Shell-branded gas stations are located in over 90 countries.

Aside from Shell gas stations, the company’s Shell Recharge business unit operates public EV charging stations along streets, at grocery stores, and at other locations in 33 countries.

Shell, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, is ramping up its EV charging network amid forecasts of slowing demand for oil and rising demand for EVs. Other than EV charging, Shell is focusing on biofuels and integrated power as components of its revamped product mix.

“Shell is well positioned to become a profitable leader in public charging for electric vehicles, meeting the growing demand from drivers who need to charge on the go,” the report says.

To accelerate its EV charging presence in the U.S., Shell in 2023 purchased Volta, a San Francisco-based operator of EV charging stations. Shell says it now operates one of the largest public EV charging networks in the U.S., with more than 3,000 charging points in 31 states and another 3,400 under development.

“The availability of charging points will be critical for the growth in electric vehicles,” the report says.

Last month, Shell divested from a solar energy subsidiary, before later announcing an exit from a wind energy joint venture.

"In-line with our Powering Progress strategy, Shell continues to hone our portfolio of renewable generation projects in key markets where we have an advantaged position," Glenn Wright, senior vice president at Shell Energy Americas, said in a news release at the time.

Rice names new leader for prestigious nanotechnology, materials science institute

take the lead

A distinguished Rice University professor has assumed the reins of a unique institute that focuses on research within nanoscience, quantum science, and materials science.

Junichiro Kono has assumed leadership of the Smalley-Curl Institute, which houses some of the world’s most accomplished researchers across fields including advanced materials, quantum magnetism, plasmonics and photonics, biophysics and bioengineering, all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology, and more.

“With his great track record in fostering international research talent — with student exchange programs between the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore and France that have introduced hundreds of students to new cultures and ways of researching science and engineering — Jun brings a wealth of experience in building cultural and technological ties across the globe,” Ramamoorthy Ramesh, executive vice president for research, says in a news release.

Kono is the Karl F. Hasselmann Professor in Engineering, chair of the Applied Physics Graduate Program and professor of electrical and computer engineering, physics and astronomy and materials science and nanoengineering, and is considered a global leader in studies of nanomaterials and light-matter interactions. He currently leads Rice’s top 10-ranked Applied Physics Graduate Program.

Under his leadership, the program is expected to double in size over. By 2029. The Smalley-Curl Institute will also add additional postdoctoral research fellowships to the current three endowed positions.

The Smalley-Curl Institute is named for Nobel Laureates Richard Smalley and Robert Curl (‘54). Earlier in his career, Kono once worked with Smalley on the physical properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), which led to the experimental discovery of the Aharonov-Bohm effect on the band structure of SWCNTs in high magnetic fields.

“I am deeply honored and excited to lead the Smalley-Curl Institute,” Kono says in a news release. “The opportunity to build upon the incredible legacy of Richard Smalley and Robert Curl is both a privilege and a challenge, which I embrace wholeheartedly. I’m really looking forward to working with the talented researchers and students at Rice University to further advance our understanding and application of nanomaterials and quantum phenomena. Together, we can accomplish great things.”

Kono succeeds Rice professor Naomi Halas as director of the institute. Halas is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the founding director of the Laboratory for Nanophotonics.

Houston energy company diverts over 125M pounds of scrap metals from landfills

reduce, reuse, recycle

For three years, Baker Hughes has been working with a full-scale scrap processor partner to divert scrap metal waste from landfills as a part of the company's net-zero commitment by 2050.

In partnership with Venture Metals +, Baker Hughes has saved over 125 million pounds of scrap metals from more than 50 of the company's locations around the world.

Venture Metals + collects, recycles, and manages the full recycling process of scrap materials, providing recycling, reclamation, and investment recovery as a service to industrial, manufacturing, and service facilities.

“The relationship that has been formed between Baker Hughes and Venture Metals is the definition of a true partnership. Over the many years we have collaborated on significant projects and there has been a foundation of trust, transparency and investment on both sides,” Venture Metals’ Vice-Chairman of the Board Mark Chazanow says in a news release. “Together, we have been able to do our part to improve the environment by circular and sustainable recycling while also capturing substantial revenue gain. We look forward to growing the partnership and seeing a bright future ahead together.”

According to the release, Baker Hughes plans to grow the partnership to introduce similar programs at five key locations around the world. Venture Metals+ also set up Baker Hughes with customized containers to help separate titanium, stainless steel, Inconel, and other recyclable metals.

“Reducing our environmental footprint is a critical focus area for our sustainability strategy as we continue to reduce waste, minimize the resources we use and promote circularity,” Allyson Anderson Book, chief sustainability officer at Baker Hughes, adds. “Through partners like Venture Metals +, we are minimizing waste and reusing scrap materials as much as possible for more sustainable operations.”