Pilot project will use Modern Hydrogen's methane pyrolysis to produce hydrogen and carbon black products for use in asphalt. [Image: Dale Headrick/NW Natural]

By Dale Lunan

NW Natural, a gas utility serving more than 2mn customers in Oregon and southwest Washington State, has launched a three-year pilot to produce turquoise hydrogen that will be blended into its gas supply to reduce emissions.

The pilot project is using methane pyrolysis equipment designed by Modern Hydrogen, a global leader in distributed hydrogen technologies, and installed at NW Natural’s Central Resource Center in Portland, Oregon. 

Modern Hydrogen’s methane pyrolysis technology uses natural gas to produce hydrogen and solid carbon. The hydrogen is blended into NW Natural’s gas distribution system, while the carbon is incorporated into Modern Hydrogen’s proprietary asphalt products used in paving and asphalt repair products, including a section of asphalt surrounding the equipment installation at NW Natural’s facility.

“Over the years we have held to our core values of safety and service, while embracing new technologies and better ways of doing things,” NW Natural CEO David Anderson said. “Today we’re looking to renewable natural gas, clean hydrogen, carbon capture and other ways to decarbonise our system.”

Tony Pan, co-founder and CEO of Modern Hydrogen, said the pilot with NW Natural represented several landmark firsts, including the first utility distributed pyrolysis system, the first pipeline injection of pyrolytic hydrogen and the first solid carbon capture project for both companies.

“Together, we are not just witnessing, but actively participating in history with the launch of innovative systems that revolutionise hydrogen production, leverage existing infrastructure for a cleaner future, capture and repurpose carbon, and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of gas utilities,” Pan said.

Initially, the pilot will inject a 0.2% blend of hydrogen into NW Natural’s gas stream, but eventually, that could climb to as high as 20%.

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