News Release

Release Date: November 20, 2017

NETL-Supported Project Advances Carbon Capture at Texas Hydrogen Production Plant

1120 CCTexas 700pxA large-scale project, made possible through NETL support, is capturing about one million tons of carbon dioxide per year from a state-of-the-art hydrogen production facility in Texas and forging a successful new direction for hydrogen production technology.

There are two forms of hydrogen production: on-purpose hydrogen production using steam methane reformers (SMR), and hydrogen production as a byproduct of other chemical processes. SMR is a process that heats methane in natural gas with steam and a catalyst, to produce a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Process streams in the SMR plants contain carbon dioxide at concentrations that are amenable to effective use of conventional adsorption and emerging carbon capture technologies.

DOE partnered with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. to advance this first-of-a-kind retrofit system to capture carbon from large-scale industrial SMR plants. NETL and Air Products co-managed the project.

Working with the support of Denbury Onshore LLC and its affiliate, Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas LLC, Air Products designed, constructed, and continues to operate a state-of-the-art system located at the Valero Port Arthur Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.

The Air Products–NETL project, after separating carbon dioxide from the process gas stream, compresses and dries it until its purity is greater than 97 percent and then delivers it into the Green Pipeline-Texas for transport to and use in the West Hastings Unit enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project. EOR is the technique of increasing the amount of crude oil that can be harvested from a depleted oil field. In this case, carbon dioxide is injected to act as a displacement, which forces oil out of the ground for recovery. Carbon dioxide is a popular gas for EOR injection because it reduces oil viscosity and is less expensive than liquefied petroleum gas.

As of September 2017, the Air Products–NETL project had successfully captured and sent for storage about 4 million tons of carbon dioxide. There are numerous benefits resulting from the project. This carbon capture technology can increase annual domestic oil production by about 1.6 to 3.1 million barrels by using captured carbon dioxide for EOR applications. In addition, the process enhances the U.S. hydrogen market for refinery use, which is estimated to be almost 4 million tons annually. The two Port Arthur steam methane reforming hydrogen production plants represent 4.3 percent of the hydrogen market.

The project and its partnership with the private sector to advance effective new carbon capture technologies for industrial purposes—hydrogen production—is just one additional way that NETL works to discover, mature and integrate technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations.