A Canadian case study of carbon dioxide removals and negative emission hydrogen production

Nuttall, William J. and MacGregor, Ian (2024). A Canadian case study of carbon dioxide removals and negative emission hydrogen production. Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 2(1), article no. 5.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.55092/rse20240005

Abstract

This paper presents an expert perspective on a new Nature-Based Solution to contemporary problems in energy and climate policy. The paper presents an emergent industrial proposition which combines Canadian forestry technology with chemical engineering capabilities developed by the oil and gas industry. The proposition is to utilize wood fibre from otherwise surplus materials left behind by conventional forestry practices. This fibre is transported to a central facility and converted by partial oxidation to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The process (and the resulting hydrogen) preserves the carbon capturing work of the trees because the carbon dioxide is sequestered in permanent geological storage. The project developers have coined the term Bright Green to differentiate this approach from carbon-neutral green hydrogen produced by an electrolyser. The approach discussed is carbon negative and has the potential to replace dirtier traditional hydrogen sources in industrial processes and eventually to provide a low carbon alternative to petroleum for transportation and mobility. A full range of environmental considerations is discussed in the paper. The paper does not present research, it merely provides a perspective on a new technological proposal of potential significance given its apparent potential to make a material difference on time scales consistent with the 2050 Net-Zero policy horizon. In addition, the case study presented is believed to be commercially viable without need for additional public policy intervention beyond that already in place for clean fuels. Furthermore, no new technological development is required. The case study is of a project underway rather than being retrospective and historical in nature. The paper proposes a set of issues to be investigated, audited and researched as the technology moves forward.

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