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Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska’s largest electric utility, plans to replace an existing coal-fired boiler at its Sheldon Station plant in Hallam, Neb. with one that uses clean-burning hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen will be produced by Monolith Materials as a co-product from its production of carbon black using natural gas as a feedstock.
To obtain this new hydrogen fuel source in Nebraska, NPPD is working with Monolith Materials — a manufacturing company that produces hydrogen as a byproduct in its production of carbon black.
When burned, the hydrogen fuel produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. Through this agreement, NPPD is expected to reduce CO2 emissions at Sheldon Station by 1.1 million tons per year. The Sheldon Station boiler using hydrogen as a fuel will continue to be capable of generating 125 MW of electricity for NPPD’s customers.
The boiler conversion is also expected to result in a reduction in other types of air emissions, as well as aide in NPPD’s maintaining service as a low-cost energy producer for Nebraskans.
The addition of hydrogen as a fuel source will further NPPD’s power generation portfolio and will bring its carbon-free energy sources closer to 50 percent, while reducing air emissions from Unit 2 at Sheldon to close to zero.
Monolith Materials will use a safe, patented and environmentally friendly process to manufacture carbon black, a common material found in thousands of products Americans use every day including tires, rubber and plastics, printing inks, and batteries. Monolith uses natural gas as feedstock in its process instead of oil or coal-tar as in the conventional process. A co-product of its manufacturing process is plentiful hydrogen, which NPPD intends to use to generate electric power.
Monolith will build its new manufacturing facility adjacent to Sheldon Station so NPPD can easily access the hydrogen. Monolith will power its new manufacturing facility with electricity from Norris Public Power District, headquartered in Beatrice, Neb.
This initiative is not dependent on federal government grants or loan guarantees. Instead, innovative technology, affordable electricity and the country’s vast supply of low cost natural gas allows for the production of products at market competitive prices.
The companies expect to break ground on their respective operations in 2016, with an expected completion date of 2019.