AFC Energy and HiiROC Limited have entered into a binding Heads of Agreement that will see the two companies work together in the production and supply of green hydrogen for fuel cell systems.

AFC Energy is a leading provider of hydrogen power generation technologies, while UK-based green hydrogen generation technology developer HiiROC Limited has been developing plasma-based technology to extract hydrogen from methane and biomethane.

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The latter’s technology – proven in early testing – could extract hydrogen from the methane and biomethane readily available from current gas networks, without the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) or other harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs).

That ‘green’ hydrogen also has the potential to fuel AFC Energy’s H-Power fuel cell systems, thereby opening up methane as a candidate carrier of green hydrogen for AFC Energy’s low-cost power generation.

AFC Energy CEO Adam Bond commented, “Evaluation of low-cost hydrogen has been a key part of AFC Energy’s commercialisation strategy over recent years.”

“HiiROC’s innovative new technology platform not only has the potential to open up new green hydrogen sources but could do so whilst utilising existing natural gas distribution infrastructure, making access to hydrogen fuel more readily available and affordable in developed and urban areas.”

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Source: AFC Energy

The two companies have agreed to enter into a Commercialisation Agreement that will see AFC Energy obtain global preferential rights to integrate HiiROC’s plasma-based technology with its proprietary H-Power fuel cell, including an initial reduction in hydrogen cost to AFC Energy derived from the system (cumulatively valued at £2m).

AFC Energy will also be granted exclusive rights to HiiROC’s technology in key regions, including the UK, Europe and Australia, in the field of electrified transportation – including electric vehicles.

It is anticipated that the Commercialisation Agreement will contain full commercial terms and principles that the parties intend to be bound to based on ongoing development work conducted in 2020.

Over recent years, AFC Energy has evaluated several emerging green, low cost hydrogen generation technologies for integration with its proprietary H-PowerTM fuel cell systems.

For the past nine months, the company has been in discussions with HiiROC regarding the potential for natural gas to be utilised as a clean, zero CO2 emission fuel, into the AFC Energy fuel cell through adoption of HiiROC’s unique plasma process.

HiiROC’s technology platform looks to, as distinct from steam methane reforming, produce clean, zero CO2 emission hydrogen through a unique plasma process fuelled by natural gas or biogas – converting hydrocarbons (CH4) into a clean hydrogen stream and a high value solid carbon (carbon black).

Independent analysis of gas samples derived from HiiROC’s plasma process in 2019 confirmed the potential for this technology, initiating plans for a strategic partnership between the two companies. With the objective of bringing to market a unique, natural gas fuelled, zero emission fuel cell system, successful scale up of the HiiROC process could allow AFC Energy and its customers to take advantage of low cost natural gas and existing distribution pipelines to access one of the world’s most readily available fuels.

Bond added, “While we look forward to the results of prototyping our H-PowerTM system with that of HiiROC, we are also aware of several blue ribbon partners developing project opportunities with HiiROC which may leverage new opportunities for AFC Energy to open new markets reaffirming the future role of hydrogen as a key element of the world’s future energy mix.”