One of the biggest proponents of hydrogen, Fortescue Future Industries, is looking into “green methane” as a more effective means of transporting the zero-emission fuel abroad.
According to Mark Hutchinson, CEO of FFI, green methane, essentially synthetic natural gas produced using renewable energy, is a viable technique that would avoid the costs and technical challenges of liquefying pure hydrogen. Additionally, it would enable the Australian business to utilize the substantial liquefied natural gas sector’s infrastructure.
In March, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.’s billionaire chairman Andrew Forrest projected that pure liquid hydrogen would become “the largest seaborne trade in the world.” Although no significant projects have yet reached financial close, FFI hopes to produce 15 million tons of green hydrogen annually by 2030, with the majority of it occurring in Australia.
Due to the difficulties in pure shipping hydrogen to attractive markets like Germany and Japan, Hutchinson stated in an interview this week that liquefying it may not be “the wisest thing to do.”
The majority of prospective hydrogen exporters intend to mix hydrogen with nitrogen and send it as ammonia, a strategy that FFI is also looking at. Green methane, according to Hutchinson, might be preferable to ammonia.
At minus 252 degrees Celsius, hydrogen must be cooled and stored; by comparison, methane, the primary component of natural gas, liquefies at minus 162 degrees. He also noted that liquid hydrogen costs more per unit of energy than LNG or ammonia since it takes up much more space.
Basically, Hutchinson explained, “you add CO2 to hydrogen to generate methane, strip out the hydrogen at the destination, and recycle the CO2.” It’s intriguing since you can use current LNG ships and facilities. Australia, which has a sizable amount of existing infrastructure, is the second-largest LNG exporter in the world.
But green methane also faces significant difficulties. Leakage needs to be stopped because methane and CO2 are both climate gases. The location of the CO2 source is another consideration.
What happens, where does the CO2 originate from, and is it really possible to recycle it without leaks? stated Hutchinson. “Everything is finished,” He continued by saying that in the near future, FFI’s hydrogen would probably be exported as ammonia.