Centrica is taking a minority stake in HiiROC, the hydrogen production technology company helping to combat climate change with affordable hydrogen produced at scale, but without CO2 emissions.
HiiROC has completed a c. £26 million funding raise with new investors including Melrose Industries, HydrogenOne, Centrica, Hyundai, and Kia, who join existing strategic investors Wintershall Dea and VNG.
HiiROC's proprietary technology converts biomethane, flare gas or natural gas into clean hydrogen and carbon black, through an innovative electrolysis process using thermal plasma. This results in zero CO2 "turquoise hydrogen" at a comparable cost to steam methane reforming but without the emissions and using only one fifth of the energy required by water electrolysis.
Tim Davies, HiiROC Chief Executive Officer, said: "Our technology will produce low-cost, zero emission hydrogen, delivered to customers on a modular, scalable basis at the point of demand."
The solid carbon byproduct, carbon black, has applications ranging from tyres, building materials and as a soil enhancer. Its production using HiiROC's technology avoids the emissions and pollution inherent in the predominant oil furnace manufacturing process.
The HiiROC technology can be placed where hydrogen is needed, thereby using existing infrastructure and avoiding storage and transport costs. HiiROC has strong growth potential right across the hydrogen economy from grid injection and electricity generation to decarbonising industry by replacing natural gas, flare mitigation and synthetic fuels.
Initial projects include the 400kg/day hydrogen facility in Germany, recently announced by Wintershall Dea and VNG, as well as at EPi's biomethane pilot plant in Chelmsford, and with Northern Gas Networks as part of its hydrogen programme.
This round of funding will expand the deployment of pilot units into more customer segments, positioning the technology for future roll-out. The modular units have practical applications from small scale, such as transport and heating, through to large plants decarbonising gas-fired power stations and for hydrogen blending in the grid.
Greg McKenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said: "There remains a great deal of work to be done to make hydrogen affordable, sustainable and available at scale, but HiiROC's technology demonstrates that this can be achieved sooner rather than later."
Furthermore, the funding will accelerate HiiROC's technical development, broadening its application into areas such as low carbon synthetic fuels and mitigating gas flaring/venting to help meet global methane emission reduction goals announced at COP26.
Tim Davies, HiiROC's CEO commented: "We are delighted to have completed this major funding for the business at this extremely exciting stage in our development. Our technology will produce low-cost, zero emission hydrogen, delivered to customers on a modular, scalable basis at the point of demand. We are now very well positioned to move to commercialisation and are excited to have Centrica as a partner, bringing the breadth and depth of expertise required to operationalise our transformative technology."
Greg McKenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, added: "We see a huge role for hydrogen across Centrica, from domestic boilers in people's kitchens to Combined Heat and Power units powering data centres and hospitals. There remains a great deal of work to be done to make hydrogen affordable, sustainable and available at scale, but HiiROC's technology demonstrates that this can be achieved sooner rather than later. We think that there is scope to grow our partnership significantly over the coming years."