At the forefront of efforts to supply clean refinery hydrogen for Europe
Hydrogen is indispensable in refining operations. It is typically used to lower the sulphur content of all kerosene, gasoline, and diesel, and demand is only rising. However, this hydrogen is made via steam methane reformation (SMR) using natural gas for the feedstock, resulting in high carbon emissions. Instead, utilising sustainably produced green hydrogen is critical for decarbonising refineries.
Launched in January 2018, the pan-European REFHYNE project aims to supply clean, green hydrogen for refineries. Running until December 2022, it is funded by the European Commission’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), and receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe, and Hydrogen Europe Research. Together with ITM Power, the project partners include Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH, SINTEF, Element Energy, and Sphera.
The project reached a key milestone in July 2021 with the opening of the €16 million 10MW REFHYNE PEM electrolyser built by ITM Power at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rhineland in Wesseling, Germany. Using renewable electricity, this electrolyser can produce 1,300 tonnes of green hydrogen a year, making it the largest of its kind in Europe, and the largest of its kind to be deployed on a major scale.
The decarbonised hydrogen produced by the electrolyser can be fully integrated into refinery processes including the desulphurisation of conventional fuels. The hydrogen will be used for processing and upgrading products at the Wesseling site and testing the PEM technology at the largest scale achieved to date. It will also explore applications in other sectors including: industry, power generation, heating for buildings, and transport.
In October 2021, the REFYHNE II consortium secured €32.4 million from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) to develop a 100MW electrolyser at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park. The project is coordinated by SINTEF and, as well as Shell and ITM Power, phase two includes project partners: Linde Engineering, ITM Linde Electrolysis, Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Element Energy, and Concawe.