Start-up has begun at Praxair, Inc.’s new state-of-the-art 135 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) hydrogen plant serving the Valero refinery at Port Arthur, Texas.

The plant, which also serves other customers, houses the largest steam methane reformer (SMR) Praxair has built to date and will supply hydrogen and up to 450,000 pounds per hour of steam to Valero’s new 57,000 barrels-per-day hydrocracker.

Hydrocrackers are used to break down hydrocarbon molecules in heavier crude oil to produce the premium transportation fuels that are in strong demand globally, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.

Mike Jordan, vice-president, US Hydrogen, reflected, “This project represents a significant investment in hydrogen supply for Praxair’s customers along the Gulf Coast.”

“And with the completion of a similar plant with pipeline expansion in Louisiana this year, we will enhance competitive supply options for the lower Mississippi River corridor as well.”

The new Port Arthur SMR is connected to Praxair’s existing 750 million scfd Gulf Coast pipeline network, which includes a unique 2.5 billion scf high-purity hydrogen storage cavern that provides additional supply reliability for customers along the pipeline.