H2Tech (H2T) had the opportunity to speak with Adam Goff (AG), SVP of Strategy for 8 Rivers, to discuss 8 Rivers’ low-carbon hydrogen (H2) and direct air capture (DAC) technologies, as well as its Allam-Fetvedt cycle.
H2T: Tell me about 8 Rivers.
AG: 8 Rivers is helping lead the energy transition with a suite of low-carbon technologies. We are a climate and clean energy technology company; we invent, patent and demonstrate new technologies, licensing them to third parties to develop projects. 8 Rivers partners with the world’s most prominent companies and governments to help capture carbon from power plants, assist in producing clean H2 and pull carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air.
H2T: What H2 and DAC technologies do you offer?
AG: On the H2 side, we have a technology called 8RH2, which is our spin on using oxygen and natural gas to make extremely low-carbon H2, and by, design the system captures CO2. We take natural gas, which is abundant, and turn it into H2 molecules, which we can then sell as ammonia. We must reform natural gas similar to an autothermal reformer type system in the presence of pure oxygen. A lot of what 8 Rivers does deals with pure oxygen because it allows us to have a pure stream of CO2 at the end of our process, rather than what is coming out of a standard power plant, which is a mix of nitrogen or oxygen, what we think of as exhaust or what comes out the back of your car, the CO2 is all dispersed. 8RH2 is our clean H2 technology; we think it is more deliverable and lower costs than competing solutions to get to 100% carbon capture and that H2 is going to be a key molecule, not so much for heating homes or powering buses, but for big industrial uses, like decarbonizing coal plants in Japan and Korea, fueling ships that take our consumer goods and liquid fuels around the world, and transporting H2 as ammonia and cracking it back to H2.
We also do DAC with our Calcite technology, which came out of stealth mode last year. We won the carbon removal XPrize that uses calcium, the basic ingredient and mortar or cement to pull CO2 out of the air. We are also well known for our clean power solutions. We invented the Allam-Fetvedt cycle, and NET Power is running with it on the natural gas side while we are commercializing it on biomass. We take woodchips and woody biomass and use them to make CO2-negative power. CO2 comes out of the air and goes into the tree; we take care of the tree’s waste after it is turned into products like furniture. We then capture that CO2 that originally came from the air through the tree; part of it is in the couch, and the rest goes underground. We will then create power as well, so it is a method to make CO2-negative power.
H2T: Can you provide more information on the Allam-Fetvedt cycle?
AG: For example, if we take syngas from a gasifier, rather than burn it in air, we burn it in pure oxygen. This creates a cryogenic air separation unit. We are cooling down the air so cold that it becomes liquid. Once we have liquid air, oxygen can be pulled out, and we burn the same gas in pure oxygen, resulting in a pure stream of CO2. Oxygen and CO2 molecules are all that remain, and that CO2 drives a turbine. Historically, we have used steam to drive turbines and air to drive jet engines. What we are doing differently is using CO2 to drive the turbine, then recuperating the CO2 to keep heat in the system. It is a CO2-driven power plant where the CO2 is captured the entire time.
H2T: How can sour gas help with decarbonization?
AG: Whether working with DAC, clean H2 or power, we need fuels to feed into those carbon capture plants. Sour gas is a fuel that is a feedstock that can be used to decarbonize. Unlike our other technologies, we must pair them together. There is so much H2 sulfide (H2S) present that it is not worth processing, making it sour as the H2S. Our engineers realized that something so worthless is around a quarter of the world's gas. Using it would unlock an additional energy supply that could displace coal and be used to fuel zero-carbon gas-fired applications. In this case, CO2 is the solution rather than the problem. The CO2 scrubs the H2S out of the sour gas at high concentrations.
H2T: Any closing thoughts?
AG: One thing that makes 8 Rivers different from some other climate technology companies is we are not a one-trick pony. We started as one; we started focusing on the clean power side. However, we realized that we could apply to clean H2 and carbon removal, the same expertise we had on clean power. By having a portfolio, we could better serve our customers. Our customers are the big energy companies, the oil and gas majors, utilities and industrial companies; they have more than one problem to solve. If you have a steel or fuel processing plant, steam, power and H2 are needed, we realized we could better serve our customers with a portfolio of technologies. When looking at various technologies, it is apparent that different projects and companies need different solutions; there's not one winner. We keep that focus as a company, making us unique. We are a pure-play technology development company that does that across multiple technology suites.