West Australian Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group, and the US’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory have partnered to develop a green hydrogen research center in Colorado.
The initial collaboration will be three years, but ultimately FFI expects to invest $80 million over a decade in research projects with NREL.
“It is exciting to contemplate how NREL can assist FFI and Fortescue in achieving their very aggressive Scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emission reduction goals and help them build their clean hydrogen business,” Bill Farris, NREL’s associate laboratory director for innovation, partnering and outreach, said in a media statement.
“Over the next several years, we will work together on these goals and utilize a broad set of NREL capabilities ranging from energy systems integration and hydrogen fueling to PV and membrane materials and high-performance computing.”
Farris pointed out that the first FFI team members have arrived in Colorado and are getting settled in to collaborate with NREL on an initial set of projects, including an extensive R&D program for water electrolysis, in support of FFI’s electrolyzer manufacturing effort.
Other topics that are being explored are the use of hydrogen directly as a fuel or converted to sustainable fuels for applications like trucks, rail, ships, and aviation; blending hydrogen directly with natural gas in pipelines or used as a feedstock in processes to produce renewable natural gas; combining it with waste products such as carbon dioxide to form high-density liquid fuels and valuable chemicals; employing hydrogen to provide energy, heat, and chemical building blocks for industrial processes; and leveraging its capabilities as an energy storage medium, which is available even for long-duration seasonal storage, and can enable larger-scale deployment and use of renewable electricity.
The researchers will also have to address major challenges related to the cost, scale, durability, and manufacturability of green hydrogen.
Farris noted that NREL’s hydrogen research also supports the [email protected] vision, the US Department of Energy’s vision for clean hydrogen to be a central component of a clean, sustainable, efficient, and economic energy system. This vision encompasses all aspects of hydrogen research: making it, moving it, storing it, and using it.
FFI leaders said they chose NREL in part because of the fertile ecosystem not only in the United States but particularly in Colorado. Alongside the NREL collaboration and establishment of its US center, FFI also intends to forge relationships with the Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado, and Colorado State University, as well as other leading research labs and universities across the United States.