Divisions of GE and Shell signed an agreement to collaborate on ways to reduce the environmental footprint of LNG manufacturing by using hydrogen as a fuel source to drive the necessary machinery. File photo by Urs Flueeler/EPA-EFE
Nov. 8 (BP) — Employing hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technology can help lower the environmental footprint for facilities that process liquefied natural gas, GE and Shell announced.
Natural gas is seen as something of a bridge fuel for the so-called energy transition, a pivot away from more carbon-intensive sources of power like coal and crude oil, but it’s still a polluting fossil fuel.
GE Gas Power and Shell Global Solutions, an LNG entity within the company, signed an agreement to look for ways to cut the carbon intensity at Shell’s global LNG projects. Both parties said they expected the global demand for LNG to nearly double by 2040 so finding decarbonization pathways now is essential.
GE aims to use hydrogen as a low-carbon fuel in its existing line of gas turbines, including those that drive the processes necessary to cool gas into LNG and other power generation applications. Shell said it’s a pioneer of sorts in addressing these emissions by utilizing so-called blue hydrogen processes to fuel the machinery necessary to make LNG.
Hydrogen production is described using a color spectrum. The most widespread process in use now is grey hydrogen, which strips the hydrogen off natural gas in the form of methane without capturing any of the greenhouse gasses that are emitted along the way.
Blue hydrogen follows similar processes, but includes carbon capture and storage technology to sequester emissions. Both GE and Shell said this makes blue hydrogen among the lowest carbon intensity fuels of its kind.
“Having worked on hydrogen combustion technologies for many years, we are conscious that progress in this area will be the result of careful, dedicated research and collaboration by industry leaders and today’s announcement is a model of this approach,” John Intile, the vice president of engineering at GE Gas Power, said on Monday.
GE’s B- and E-class extreme-climate turbines can run on more than 50 different types of fuel, including hydrogen.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is a potent energy carrier. Developments outside of the grey processes remain in the nascent stage and the industry needs to address the looming technical and economic challenges associated with cleaner advancements.
“We have continued to innovate and improve the value proposition of LNG using technology, and we look forward to collaborating with GE on this important initiative,” said Alexander Boekhorst, the vice president for gas processing technology at Shell.