Construction started in Polk County Tuesday on what is being billed as the state’s first “clean carbon” hydrogen production facility. Florida officials brokered the deal with companies in Tampa and South Korea.
Hydrogen has been called the fuel of the future. But making its production sustainable has been a challenge. That’s where “clean” hydrogen technology comes in.
Hani Banoub is vice president of Ocean Green Hydrogen of Tampa, one of the companies building the facility. He says they’ll use state-of-the-art scrubbers to take carbon out of natural gas that’s heated to extreme temperatures to produce hydrogen.
“For every pound of hydrogen that’s produced by this technology, you’re producing 10 pounds of carbon. So we’re taking that old conventional technology and making it eco-friendly, by capturing the carbon,” Banoub said. “The beauty of this — what I find very interesting — is that we’re not killing the fossil fuel industry. We’re utilizing natural gas and making it an eco-friendly fuel.”
Banoub says they chose this location in the phosphate mining area of southern Polk County because of an existing natural gas pipeline from Texas. Hydrogen is being eyed as a fuel for cars and buses and to eventually generate electricity.
“As the hydrogen becomes more popular in the industries, we want to be ready for it,” Banoub said. “But we want to have a clean, robust way of producing hydrogen by utilizing the carbon and using the old conventional technology from natural gas, which is very reliable.”
They plan to pipe hydrogen from this centrally-located area to Space Florida on the east coast and all the state’s urban hubs. Eventually, hydrogen is being eyed as a fuel for cars and buses and to generate electricity.
Frank DiBello is CEO of Space Florida, which is the principal state agency for aerospace-related economic development, and the Space Authority for the state of Florida.
“It’s a clean, flexible and energy efficient fuel that has already been effectively used in many of the nation’s industrial processes in truck and bus transportation, and in aerospace,” he said. “And we’ll reach even broader applications as we build out the distribution infrastructure to support it. Current economic projections indicate that by 2030, the hydrogen economy in the U.S. could be as between 500 billion and $1 trillion.”
Most of the money to build the plant is coming from LowCarbon, based in South Korea. During a visit to Seoul in April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a memorandum of understanding with the company.
LowCarbon is expected to invest more than $100 million to develop the facility and provide 150 jobs on site, with an average annual salary of over $60,000.
“We are excited to break ground on this landmark clean hydrogen plant in Mulberry, Florida,” said Henry Jeong, President of LowCarbon America. “This project represents a significant investment into sustainability and energy independence in the state of Florida.” The recently signed MOU aims to establish cooperation and partnerships in the construction of Florida’s clean hydrogen hub. This collaboration includes forming strategic alliances, utilizing carbon capture utilization and direct air capture technologies, supplying clean hydrogen, and developing mutually beneficial business opportunities.
SOURCE: WUSF Public Media
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