STOCKHOLM – Elkem has been awarded NOK 4.4 million (~485K USD) in support from Enova to develop technology that has the potential to enable new green value chains based on unused hydrogen from the company’s silicon production in Bremanger, Norway.
Elkem has a surplus of hydrogen from the production of the silicon product Silgrain at the company’s operations in Bremanger, Norway. The hydrogen is of good quality, and in collaboration with the independent research institute SINTEF the company is doing research to make better use of this resource. By drying and compressing the hydrogen, this can become a future commercial product used as fuel in the passenger and heavy-duty transport market, as well as in shipping.
“The support for this project is given through our support programme for thematic initiatives in the industry and is a good example of the utilization of energy resources that would otherwise be wasted. If this project succeeds, it can pave the way for other industrial companies that have similar potential resources that they are not be able to utilize”, says market manager for industry Oskar Gärdeman in Enova.
Enova is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and supports the development of energy and climate technology, among other responsibilities.
Preliminary calculations show that it can be possible to extract close to 120 tonnes of hydrogen a year. This is sufficient to fuel 800 to 1,000 hydrogen passenger cars, or one hydrogen ferry. The profitability of the potential project will depend on good utilisation of the hydrogen plant, the amount of hydrogen sold, as well as distribution costs and sales price for the hydrogen. A total investment is estimated to NOK 15 million for the project, including a main study in 2021 and possible realization in 2022.
“Elkem Bremanger’s main products are silicon and ferrosilicon, but we also have a long tradition of developing new value chains and we have a strong focus on sustainability and circular economy. In the mid-1980s, we started selling Microsilica, a former surplus product that today contributes to significant sales as an additive powder in concrete and mortar. Now we investigate the opportunities to do the same with the surplus of hydrogen, to reduce emissions and provide increased revenue. In the longer term, it is also possible that transport to and from Bremanger can use hydrogen as fuel”, says Arne Werge-Olsen, plant manager at Elkem Bremanger.
Werge-Olsen emphasizes that the market for both hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen is still in an early phase.
“The project has the potential to significantly reduce emissions by contributing to a future hydrogen infrastructure in Western Norway“, says Kristin Svardal, program manager at Arena Ocean Hyway Cluster, who has been engaged as a project manager by Elkem Bremanger.
In June, the Norwegian government presented its hydrogen strategy, stating that hydrogen is an energy carrier that can help reduce emissions and create value for Norwegian business and industry. An important goal is to increase the number of pilot and demonstration projects in Norway, by contributing to and supporting technological development and commercialization.
“This is an important project that in the long run can contribute to the establishment of a nationwide infrastructure for hydrogen, which eventually will result in substantial emission reductions in the transport sector. The hydrogen resource at Elkem Bremanger is attractive in that even in an initial market, with a limited number of end-users of hydrogen, a hydrogen price can be achieved that is competitive with fossil fuels for use in transport”, says Steffen Møller-Holst, vice president marketing at SINTEF.
According to SINTEF, Elkem Bremanger is well-positioned to establish infrastructure and a new cost-effective value chain.
“In this way, Elkem can contribute to solutions for emission-free transport that are required to realize the low-emission society”, says Møller-Holst.
Founded in 1904, Elkem is one of the world’s leading suppliers of silicon-based advanced materials with operations throughout the value chain from quartz to specialty silicones, as well as attractive market positions in specialty ferrosilicon alloys and carbon materials. Elkem is a publicly listed company on the Oslo Stock Exchange (ticker code: ELK) and is headquartered in Oslo. The company has more than 6,700 employees with 31 production sites and an extensive network of sales offices worldwide. In 2019 Elkem had revenues of NOK 22.7 billion. To learn more, please visit www.elkem.com