with 🎙️ Geoff Ward, CEO of Hazer Group Limited (nb: Hazer stands for “Hydrogen And Zero Emission Research)
💧 Hazer Group Limited is a pioneering company undertaking the commercialization of a low-emission hydrogen and graphite production process.
This episode is part of a trilogy on the Hydrogen Economy (and its link with the Water Industry). Go check it out! 😀
What we covered:
💪 How Hazer currently builds a large-scale demonstration plant of its technology that produces low emission clean hydrogen
🔋 How tackling the CH4 bond instead of the H2O one to produce hydrogen returns better energetical yields
⬛ How next to the valuable hydrogen output, Turquoise Hydrogen production actually also generates a worthy by-product made of almost pure graphite
📉 How capturing carbon in a handy way opens new perspectives of carbon-negative hydrogen production
♻️ How leveraging a wastewater treatment plant’s biogas production to generate hydrogen is a perfect example of circular economy done right
🍃 How the water industry will have to cope with its carbon emissions, and how capturing its process carbon could be a perfect solution for that
🛻 How Turquoise Hydrogen could help decarbonize transportation, but also – and foremost – help make the industrial uses of Hydrogen more sustainable
🏗️ Which kind of carbon Hazer is actually producing, and where it can be used and valorized
📈 How big Hazer’s demonstration facility will be, and how the company intends to scale up beyond just wastewater treatment plants
🍏 How integrating hydrogen production with further processes offers plenty of welcome side-effects and win-wins
⛽ How Turquoise Hydrogen production and ecosystem could be compared to LNG
🔋 How the placement of wastewater treatment plants in industrial areas is a great asset to turn them into a clean energy source
🍃 How Hydrogen’s competition is not electricity and batteries, but diesel and fossil fuels
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
Teaser: Wastewater Treatment Plants turned Carbon Negative through Hydrogen
🔗 Have a look at Hazer Group Limited’s website
🔗 Come say hi to Geoff on Linkedin
is on Linkedin ➡️
Infographic: Turquoise Hydrogen as a way to make a wastewater treatment plant carbon negativeTurquoise-Hydrogen-to-turn-Wastewater-Treatment-Plants-Carbon-Negative-Geoff-Ward-Hazer-Group-Limited-1
Quotes: Can Hydrogen turn Wastewater Treatment Plants carbon negative?Quotes-Geoff-Ward-Carbon-Negative-Hydrogen-Turquoise-Hydrogen-Hazer-Group-Limited-1
Table of contents
- What we covered:
- Teaser: Wastewater Treatment Plants turned Carbon Negative through Hydrogen
- Infographic: Turquoise Hydrogen as a way to make a wastewater treatment plant carbon negative
- Quotes: Can Hydrogen turn Wastewater Treatment Plants carbon negative?
- Full Transcript:
- Rapid fire questions:
- Other Episodes:
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi Geoff, welcome to the show.
Geoff Ward: Thanks Antoine.
Antoine Walter: I’m very, very happy to have you on the show because we will be discussing about something which is almost mysterious to me at this stage, and which will be so clear and absolutely crystal clear by the end of this discussion. So I’m really looking forward, but without spoiling, The hurt of, or a deep dive it’s opened with the postcards and you’re sending today your postcard from birth.
What can you tell me about Perth, which I would ignore by.
Geoff Ward: So I’m actually, obviously I’m speaking to you from Brisbane. I’m on the east coast of Australia. It’s summer and it’s hot and humid, but our main project at the Woodman point water recovery facility, our hydrogen production project, our hydrogen demonstration project is in the city of Perth.
It’s a beautiful site. Perth is a sort of a spread out city with a lot of space it’s on the. And so from my project site, I’m looking west across the, uh, the very blue ocean. It’s been very hot this summer, multiple consecutive days, over 40 degrees C the site is on a gently sloping hill above the coast, and I’m looking out across garden island and towards Rottnest.
So it’s an industrial site with a million dollar view. And just underneath me on the construction site, the team are hard at work. Installing piping, installing valving, connecting equipment has we’re working on construction across piping mechanical electrical and instrumentation trade school. I
Antoine Walter: think you spoiled us a bit, the deep dive, which would be about this, I would say original and innovative, where you have to create and produce hydrogen out of a different feed stock compared to what most of the people do today.
But before going into the depth of that, and you’re going to correct me on the terminology, I’d like to understand where the story is coming from today. You are the CEO of the Hazel group. I’ve seen that you’ve joined the company in 2018. I think the company was started in 2010 and I was just wondering, what’s the story of that company?
What’s the story of behavior.
Geoff Ward: Certainly. So hazer is a clean technology development company. We’re listed on the ASX, the Australian securities exchange. So as a public company, people can go to our website. People can go to the ASX platform and, and sort of read our regular reports. Hazor is actually an acronym.
It stood for hydrogen and zero emissions research. And it’s actually the name of a university research program at the university of Western Australia located in. The company history was that our one of our founders and our current chief technology officer, Dr. Andrew Collegio, uh, he was, uh, along with professors that UWA, uh, invented the hazer process, a way of making hydrogen and a synthetic prophetic carbon bike.
From a methane feedstock. And so, you know, the company originated out of a research program at UWA. One of Australia’s sort of leading their technical and engineering, uh, universities, uh, like many of the universities, it seeks to commercialize its research. And so the, the research and the IP was spun out into a company owned by the university.
And then there was desktop research undertaken after a sort of venture capital C capital raising provided the funding for that pre-commercial research. So that’s where the, the company started from. Uh, we then proceeded to actually float on the Australian stock exchange and raise further money, which allowed us to go through a pilot.
And that takes us in quick steps. I’m sure we’ll go back in more detail on it, but it takes us to where we are now, which is building the first year larger, fully integrated continuously 24 7 operational facility utilizing our hazer technology to make low emission clean hydrogen.
Antoine Walter: So we have the beginning and we have the end of the story or the end by no of the story.
But if the process was about producing hydrogen from methane, somehow agnostic, methane, why did you decide to go for this true cause hydrogen and to go for this myth and produced out of bio gas and in your case, even wastewater treatment plants by. Okay,
Geoff Ward: well me saying, or, you know, I love the way that European pronunciation is methane may saying is me fate.
So chemically, whether it’s been produced by anaerobic bacteria in a digester, whether that’s a landfill or a wise way to the treatment plant or. Agricultural facility or whether it’s been produced through, you know, the decomposition of organic matter over millions of years and trapped in a reservoir chemically, it’s all the same.
So where our process is, is heavily agnostic to process methane that either comes from renewable sources or from fossil fuel. Y we focused initially on, on biogas is that we actually saw it offered this unique opportunity to really highlight, you know, the sustainable circular economy and the, uh, the green principles of our process.
So probably the best way to explain it or think about it is that our technology is me saying paralysis. And it’s a low emission way of making hydrogen, but using guests as a starting point using. What does that mean to the person coming new to hydrogen? Yeah. So often in the headlines these days, I think if you say that typically historically for all of the heavy industry today, which uses a lot of hydrogen, even though you don’t see it on the market and things like all refineries, petrochemicals, making ammonia and urea to make fertilizer, we typically make hydrogen by splitting me saying gas in a process that’s called SMR, sting me saying.
And in that process, you take hydrogen, you mix it together with steam, you heated in the presence of some exotic metal catalysts and you produce hydrogen, but you produce far more CO2. So you produce somewhere around about eight kilograms of CO2 for every kilogram of hydrogen you produce. And then when you put in the emissions needed for heating up pressuring, moving the gas, you produce somewhere around about, you know, 10 to 15 kilograms of CO2 for every kilogram of.
’cause all of the carbon that’s in that me thing, and me saying is about 25% hydrogen by mass and about 75% carbon. And we can never change that. That’s just chemistry, all of that carbon associates with the steam and gets released to CO2. Now at the other end, where the water industries might be more familiar, you can split water to release hydrogen and oxygen.
In that case, you’ve got hydrogen bonded with oxygen. You disassociated again, you slip that bond through a process called electrolysis by passing electric, current through purified water, and you get very clean products, hydrogen and oxygen there, no deleterious emissions to the environment, but that hydrogen oxygen, double bond, not the single bond or the me saying the double bond or the water and incredibly strong attraction takes a lot more energy to break.
So it’s less energy efficient. Her role assists sort of sits in. So we take a methane molecule, like say CMR. So we’re starting with that really efficient carrier of hydrogen. You know, it’s got, you know, 4 hydrogens for one carbon. That’s about 25%, carbon by mass. And we split it. But this time, rather than the carbon, having the ability to bond with oxygen and come out as CO2, the carbon sublimate, it goes directly from a gas to a solid state and we’ve produced a dry black graphitic carbon powder.
So that way we come out with a primary product, hydrogen, a by-product carbon. And that comes now in a solid state so we can bag it. We can truck it, we can manufacture things with it. If in the end we make enough of it. Perhaps we can just store it back in quarries and mines where carbon originally came from.
So you’ve now captured your, your carbon in a way that is much easier to handle than. Gives you value added manufacturing opportunities and whether that’s low value options, like using it to make road pay for building material or whether it’s high value options, like using it to make battery anode materials for, for energy storage and electric.
Or whether it’s even in some quite innovative things that we’re looking at for our carbon is ways that we can reuse it in the water treatment industry itself, as ways of using its unique properties so that it can substitute for activated carbons or other forms of carbon. The water treatment is for users.
So let’s sort of where paralysis fits.
Antoine Walter: There’s a lot to unpack in which you just explained. So we’ll just cut the elephant and slice it in some pieces. So let me come back to what you said at very beginning. So you explained the electrolysis, which is this green hydrogen, and you explained your steam midterm reforming, which is what is done today for the gray hydrogen.
And you will approach, which is this paralyzes, which is this true. Cause hydrogen, it was referring to when it comes to. Clean hydrogen, which is a bit your opening point as hazard with this zero emission element in your acronym, you could have chosen to go for the green hydrogen. You could have chosen to go for, I guess, the blue it’s, it’s really a colorful word, the word of hydrogen.
So c-MET and reforming with carbon capture, but form fossil fuel. But you decided from the turquoise, if I got it right it’s because the energy balance was better compared to the green hydrogen. So your thoughts. A better chance there to convert the instead of the H2O,
Geoff Ward: correct? Our process needs me thing, gas or.
We are completely happy to work on either natural guests or by, I guess we’re building the first demonstration project using biogas because that is the lowest emission, most sustainable and most circular economy aligned way of making the application we could. And we are considering building much larger facilities in the future based on natural guests, where they are much larger than the availability of biogas would allow.
And we could actually run in mixtures of the. I think you used the word technique, uh, gas agnostic in your, your introduction. Yes. We’re very agnostic to the source of the bio gas. What we did see in particularly looking at things like waste water treatment and landfill was that we saw that there was, we thought a, a very good opportunity for both the wastewater industry and the clean energy industry to collaborate.
So as your listeners who know the water industry will, will know, is that the tertiary treatment of the solids anaerobic digestion to produce gas, you know, is a core part of modern water treatment. It maximizes the recovery of water and minimize the amount of solids that have to go to the landfill or be otherwise be disposed of.
And it creates a valuable product. And up till now that product has been typically burnt, either fled just to get rid of it or burn it in an engine to produce. Now we say that with the push to reduce emissions for infrastructure such as water treatment plants, that burning that gas will have a limited lifetime.
It’s becoming economically unattractive as wind and solar get cheaper. Um, it’s quite an inefficient way to make electricity because the guests is dirty with the, you know, the CO2 component of it. So it makes your equipment difficult to mind time, uh, to, to keep online. And so we sort of see the, turning it into hydrogen as zero mission fuel and turning into graphite, a product which has the potential for high modern manufacturing value add is going to be a much better use in the longterm for this valuable bio gas resource.
I think we’re going to have to view it as being too valuable, simply to burn. And so we thought that was a great way of demonstrating, know the attractiveness of our technology in that niche, but we’re certainly not choosing bio gas, not natural gas. Our development takes us down both paths.
Antoine Walter: Very clear.
Nevertheless, if you go with biomethane, as opposed to natural gas, you’re not only at zero emission, but on the overall chain, you’re negative in emissions.
Geoff Ward: Absolutely. And that’s the great attraction to us that, you know, we’re capturing the carbon that’s in that biomethane. And that carbon itself was obviously in a plant or a food stuff.
If you have not that many years before. So we’re actually taking carbon that’s part of the modern cycle. That doesn’t mean. Carbon emission footprint and capturing it in a solid form where we can either use it for manufacturing. So they put it to a higher value use, or we can store it for future use or future store.
Antoine Walter: So there’s a second side to that same coin, which you somehow alluded to when you were saying that’s this bio myth is, I mean, spiral gas, which contains some bio biomethane. So with a high content, maybe 60 or 70%, but nevertheless, there’s just 30% of something else. Most of the time CO2 some H two S I mean, how do you deal with that feedstock being not so clean and pure than what you can have with natural gas.
Geoff Ward: We cleaned the feedstock before we reacted. If we put CO2 through our reactor, the reactor would still work, but it would be less efficient. You’d have to hate that guests and the guests would just come in and go out. It would probably not stop the process working, but it would make it higher energy requirement, you know, larger process, pumps, sizes, et cetera.
So in our project, we will. Clean up the biogas, we will remove the CO2. We will remove the sulfur components. That is really important to make sure that we end up with a clean graffiti carbon at the back end. And we’ll remove other contaminants such as any sort of small ammonia or, or, or others. That would be a trace elements that are created through the anaerobic digestion process.
So we don’t actually deal with, we don’t destroy the CO2 that’s part of biogas. The CO2 that’s created by the anaerobic digestion. We’ll continue to exist and we’ll end up in the atmosphere the way that it currently
Antoine Walter: we’ll come back a bit on your process in a minute when we discuss your current developments at Woodman point.
But right before I’m still unpacking what you explained just before. And you explained the two outputs of your system, which is on one end clean aggregate truck was hydrogen. It was referring to, and the graphite on hydrogen. What is your roots? Or you go to market, what you expect to do with this.
Geoff Ward: Uh, so in a way we’re fortunate that we’re still in the technology development stage.
So for our first project, we will be using the hydrogen onsite ourselves as a fuel source. We’re actually going to put it through a fuel cell so that we can learn more about the integration as a fuel cell in our project, and also in the local power grid, the hydrogen itself could be used. Any of the market applications, which you really see emerging, so heavy vehicle transport, whether that’s, you’re using it to supply to a refueler to supply a truck or local bus fleet, it could be used in local industry.
Um, so somewhere like the city of Perth that has, uh, metals processing and other industries, a number of them use hydrogen. They use very, very large volumes of hydrogen. So currently we’re only a small demonstration project, but the hazer type process could supply hydrogen into heavy industrial applications.
Whether it was refining by diesel production, metals, manufacturing, petrochemicals, ammonia manufacturing, or the hydrogen could also go into pipeline and utility blending. That’s an area that’s starting to emerge with people investigating the ability to blend hydrogen into networks as a way of achieving gradual de-carbonization and reuse of guests networks.
Now, all of those applications have been flagged to us by customers in Europe, in particular in Asia, north America. And we’re very much what we’re seeing at the moment, I think is the hydrogen markets are slowly emerging. There’s a very much a focus on demonstration projects on technology proving where a good example of that.
And we have sort of probably haven’t seen the full emergence of hydrogen markets yet. It’s a treasury commodity. That’s something that we’re going to watch with interest over the next couple of years.
Antoine Walter: On the other end of your process, there’s this graphite which we’re producing and you mentioned batteries, water treatment, which is of course, very appealing.
If you talk with me, because I see that if you say you can replace activated carbon, then it’s a win-win and the seal even synergies, because you’re already on the waist with the frequent bend, which might use that activated carbon to trap emerging contaminants. So there’s like a real virtuous story there.
How is it today? Produce graphite or is your graphite agglomerated rated with a catalyst what’s this material and what’s your long-term vision.
Geoff Ward: And this is a good way of describing it. So we produce a graffiti carbon. Byproduct is crystalline. Um, it’s highly structured, so it has some of the characteristics of a graphite, but it’s also quite a unique morphology.
I use sort of physical chemical shape. It would be why I’m describing morphology because of the unique way that we create it through the decomposition of methane in the presence of an iron or catalyst. And so we’re actually producing quite a unique new graffiti carbon. We have a strong R and D program that’s investigating what we can do with that.
And that covers things like investigating applications in the water treatment. Our carbon will be about 90% pure carbon and the remaining residual impurity will primarily be the catalyst that we add to the reactor. Exit the reactor embedded within our graffiti carbon. Now that means that for some applications, such as batteries or conductive films, or some of the very high value anode type materials, then we’ll need to purify that graph out to the levels that it’s required for those industries.
There’s other industries where we hope we can use it as. And it’s as produced rule form and they may be more in applications such as building materials or material blending. And there may be some applications where. The presence of that unique impurity one person’s impurities, someone else’s dope. And so in most carbon products you have carbon, but then you might dope the matrix with that specific type of metal cat on in order to achieve that unique properties.
Well, we’re certainly investigating the potential for the unique carbon and iron combination to actually be beneficial in some applications. And that’s where we wonder whether in some applications around water, it may have some, you know, some positive applications and we may be able to develop new ways of using this carbon to help with various water treatment challenges.
Now it’s not a direct replacement for activated carbon. It has different surface area. It has different properties. But where our vision is to sort of identify a range of niche, specialized high value, low volume markets through to valuable applications for 10. Use it as it as is through to finding just large volume ways of disposing with the carbon.
When we get to building projects at much larger scale, we hope that we’ll be able to develop off our research base, quite innovative. And far reaching suite of different products based on this unique carbon material.
Antoine Walter: We’ve touched a bit on your demonstration project. You’re currently building at Woodman points, but I’d like, know to go a bit to the bone of it.
So can you describe what you’re doing at woodwind point? What is, would have been points and what do intends to demonstrate with.
Geoff Ward: The Hazer technology today, I think has gone through a very rigorous, but fairly what I described as standard scientific process. It started off with primary research funded by the Australian university system.
We then did some pre-commercial research funded by a C capital, and then we’ve been doing pilot plant testing, various reactors over the last two and a house or rent about three years. Right. About two years ago. And after I joined the company and we were looking at the quality of the pilot results, we felt confident that it was time to accelerate the development of the technology.
And so we look to build a demonstration plot and that’s the Woodman point commercial demonstration project you’ve referred to. So Woodman point will be a 100 ton per annum, hydrogen production facility, and will co-produce about 375 tons of graphite. And it’ll be the first, fully integrated, continuously operating 24 7, you know, example of our technology, the pilot work we’ve done today has been testing different reactor, configurations and operational parameters.
And it’s been batch. So it’s been small, it’s been sort of manual. And that gave us a whole lot of really good data about the chemical equilibrium, the committees, the reaction, yeah. How the chemistry works, the performance of the catalyst, the consistency of the quality of the products we produce. But now we need to step it up and show that we can continuously add capital.
Remove carbon that we can split the carbon and guest streams that we can purify the guests to feel so great. So we can purify hydrogen fuel cell guide that we can recycle and reacted methane back to the reactor and that we can clean up a feedstock. And then more importantly, we can like all of that work together in an industrial.
So the CDP will demonstrate that continuous operation of the hazer process. It will, we hope, and we trust and we, we believe in our engineering, it will show that we can continuously produce fuel cell. Great. But it also it’ll give us the first large volumes of graphite, which will allow us to build on our sort of business development and market will give us larger samples to deal with potential customers and will allow us to take our sort of graphite marketing and product development activities in the solids area forward to the next step.
Antoine Walter: The fact to be located on a wastewater treatment plants, like you’ll be in Woodman points. Does it come with. Additional challenges with additional benefits or is it absolutely neutral and doesn’t change anything. I’m thinking, for instance, you know, cooling water is available in, in towns, you have some heat, you have some streams of some new outputs, but maybe all of that isn’t really of interest for your.
Geoff Ward: I think long-term integration with other processes will be really valuable for both so that we can sell excess heat and we can use cooling for instance, for the first project, doing it with the biogas, had both some advantages and some challenges. Obviously we have to clean up the buyer, I guess, but I think that that’s fairly well-proven.
We understand as an industry, as a sort of industry. Society, we can clean up by our guests to make biomethane. And that’s been demonstrated in very many commercial sites. The collaboration was the water corporation for us was wonderful because it gave us access to a fully renewable feedstock that did help us open up green funding, which is important as a startup.
The integration with the water corporation gave us security of feedstock now because they’re already producing biogas. They about use about half for, for power generation. And about half is fled. Where are you going to process guests? That’s currently being flared. So we’re able to make a really good commercial arrangement to buy guests that wasn’t going to a high value.
Yes. So it was a win for them and it’s a win for us and they get to have a look at the technology, which might be really important to modern warfare by sort of trading plans for the future. The other great thing about, I guess, working with the water corporation and one that we really appreciate is there was significant excess land in a buffer zone and industrial zone land land surrounding a wastewater treatment plant.
So. Yeah, certainly in Australia, wastewater treatment plants have a large buffer zone around them. No one really wants to live cheek by jail with what in the past would have been called the syringe works, but now is the water recovery facility. And so we were able to build our plan by borrowing land from the water corporation.
So they agreed to not only. Guests as a feedstock, they’ll only act as sort of a project collaborators so that we could make these applications with government support, but they’ve also provided this land so that that’s one risk of the project didn’t have to deal with whose land access. So there’s both some additional challenges and a more complex feed, stock, enormous number of benefits, having a strong collaboration partner, having access to land and having access to guests, you know, underwrite collaborative.
Antoine Walter: And what about the scale? Because of course, on a wastewater treatment plants, your output in biogas is going to be limited to some extent, to what you can produce with the Cod that enters the plant. And with the biomass that enters the plants, Woodman points is let’s say a middle sized wastewater treatment plants.
I guess if you stay in Australia and you go to Melbourne or to Sydney, maybe there are larger facilities. But still, I don’t know how that compares to a direct feed from natural gas, from the current sources of natural gas as a fossil fuel. How important is scale within your process? Do you have big potential wins if you multiply everything by 100 or is it any ways modular?
So it wouldn’t change much because it’s just putting reactions next to.
Geoff Ward: No, we have enormous benefits from scale. And that suggests that at least part of the company’s future will certainly be based on, on natural gas as a way of decarbonizing gas based industries. So you’re, we sort of see a couple of different possible ways that the hazer company could operate in.
We could focus on smaller scale plants that supplied hydrogen to local markets, but really focused on graphite, upgrading and making highest value green graphite products. And in each case, the ability to make high value graffiti products from a waste, you know, from bio gas is incredibly valuable as a way of marketing and distinguishing those products.
And in that case, we may be limited on large wastewater treatment plants to a few thousand tons per annum. And in fact, the next plant we’re looking to build after the hazy CDP will be around about two to 3000 tons per annum. Just the next step up stage we’re looking at. If you look at the kind of demand that large industry.
Manufacturing industry utilities need, then they need hydrogen, not in the thousands of tons, but in the hundreds of thousands of tons. And that obviously takes you well beyond the scope of the water industry or the landfill industry. So yeah, we see that our process can actually find applications in both 10 years down the track.
We hope to be operating in very large scale, like the LNG industry and in which case would be operating. Natural gas and we’d be trapping very large quantities, millions of tons of carbon as a solid. And so we’d be a fall. Solid state carbon capture and storage and use. So tapping into this theme of carbon capture and utilization, being so important at the small scale, you know, we offer an opportunity for bio gas producers to access a suite of products that are a lot more value than turning it into electrons or burning it for.
So telling him into hydrogen for local transport, know where you’re competing against products, such as diesel, which is a lot more expensive than electricity or L or, and not all because of course, for every molecule of methane you produce, you produce both products. You can’t choose between them. They’re chemically in there.
They chemically come out and, you know, you have the ability to create. The sort of the kind of amount of graphite, let’s say if we were doing one to 2000 tons on bio gas, you’d produced sort of four to 8,000 tons of graphite, that’s the sort of a good amount to produce an efficient world scale plant for sort of high value conductive materials or, or similar.
Now we have a whole lot of research and development to do to show that our graphite can be both purified and qualified for those markets, but that’s the kind of opportunity to create really high value circular economy. Advanced manufacturing opportunities embedded with a water treatment plant or synergistic with a water treatment plant.
I guess the great thing about large water treatment plants is they typically exist in industrial zones. They’re not in residential zones, they’re sort of on the fringes of cities, which makes them well-placed to supply hydrogen, to transport floats because transport hubs are typically in the same areas and it also positions them well for manufacturing that they’re often in heavy manufacturing areas.
And so we sort of see those two paths, the smaller Peyser more focused on high value, graphite as an equal partner to hydrogen and the very large hazer, which is focused purely on achieving very cheap hydrogen by capturing the carbon at enormous scale and producing hydrogen for those large yeah.
Utility scale application.
Antoine Walter: In terms of the future or midterm commercial balance in what you will be producing of these two streams, the hydrogen and the graphite. If you have to compete with the gray hydrogen, I think what’s this going to make the difference for you? Yes. How much you can valorize the graphite.
So that is one, one option. How much can you extract value of the graphite? The other option is to have strong taxes and carbon taxes, which would of course, push for greener alternatives and for emission free alternatives or even emission negative alternative like yours. How would you value those two options?
I mean, you you’ve. All the possible outputs of graphites. But now the question is, how can you, can you sell it? And depending on the quality of the graphite you produce, it’s not going to have the same value. And on the other hand, all the governments of these words could give you a hand by finally walking the talk and saying we have strong carbon taxes, and that makes the process just a normal.
Geoff Ward: Well, you know, the world’s sort of three main carbon prices are rapidly converging over a hundred dollars a ton know, even though the globally traded average is somewhere around about $23 a ton. There was quite an interesting piece of research put out by credit Swiss, the, or the investment bank on that this morning.
So the short answer is that you need both, you know, it’s small scale. We may need to add value through. And that’s sort of consistent with the size of the graphite market and our ability to do so with continued success in our science and our engineering at the very large scale in broad terms, there’s a methane molecule is twenty-five percent hydrogen, 75% carbon.
And when you add in some catalyst impurities and some losses in processing, you know, you’re going to produce a roundabout three and a half tons of carbon for each ton of hydrogen you produce in pyrolysis. And that broadly holds true whether it’s our process or whether it’s one of the other two or three credible processes that are also trying to develop in this area.
So when you get to this sort of. The million, tons of hydrogen a year, you’re producing such a large volume of car, but that it’s really primarily, you’re going to be a low cost hydrogen producer through economies of scale, not through the value of your byproducts. That’s what we believe will evolve. And if you look at our technology, it has similar components to other gas processing technologies.
We have turbines and compressors. We have reactors, we have heaters, we have cooling water circuits. You know, we have a control system. So. If you were to walk through with me, you know, the hazer plan in the future, it would look similar to walking through a steam Mesa and or a petrochemical plant. You know, we would have similar structures and handrails and control valves.
And, and so, yeah, we are very confident and believes that our technology will follow the same path. Process technologies. It will benefit from economies of learning and economies of scale. And so if we look at the unit costs of all of those processes that I mentioned, whether it’s Mesa and reforming, whether it’s petrochemicals, whether it’s refining or whether it’s LNG that over, you know, 10, 20, and 30 years the plants get like.
And the costs get lower. And so we anticipate that as our technology develops, and as this is deployed, more that we will become competitive through economies of scale. The other one is carbon pricing. You know, carbon pricing is essential for this transition steam leaf and you’re forming is a. Very efficient, very well-proven method of making hydrogen.
We’ve been using it at an enormous scale for 50 years in oil refineries, in pneumonia plants all around the world. And so the whole transition to a hydrogen economy is predicated on. The reduction of carbon emissions. And so that will be a key component that carbon pricing and emissions reduction by regulation, you know, either a combination or one or the other, depending on what path different countries take is going to be absolutely necessary to drive this transition.
Because otherwise it’s very hard to make the argument to be the first person to move away from the states. You
Antoine Walter: mentioned two main possible outputs for hydrogen, which is the using industry, which is using really hydrogen. And for them, it’s a one-to-one replacement of the black, the gray, all the fossil fuel based hydrogens, which is also the case for the Haber-Bosch process.
But those are processes which actually use hydrogen. So you’re really decontaminating those processes. The other use you mentioned is the heavy transport to heavy vehicles there. You’re competing. Against electricity and batteries. Do you see that as a competition or is it’s really two paths that can co-exist on.
Geoff Ward: I think, first of all, you’re not competing against electricity and batteries. Right. You’re competing with electricity and batteries to replace diesel, to replace bunker fuel, to replace gasoline. Right. So, first of all, I think we’ve, we’ve got to get the structure of the competition, right. And I think w we are cheering like crazy for electric vehicles.
We’re cheering like crazy for sort of Nissan leaf and Tesla and all of the new brands emerging from China. You know, we watch with interest and I watch with. NV the progress of electric vehicles in Northern France compared to Australia. And what I sort of think the way, the good way to think about it is, is to actually think about it a little bit like unleaded and diesel.
There are certain applications where I think battery vehicles will be the dominant technology, small vehicles, relatively low usage rates, lots of downtime, fairly light duty. So if you live in a European city and you don’t drive particularly long distances, you mostly stay relatively close to home. Your car has a fair amount of time of not being used.
And that’s the pattern of city. Then I don’t think there’s really any serious argument to that, that useful you’re best served by a battery electric vehicle, a small vehicle, efficient battery, lots of ability to charge and personally. What we’ll find is that as more and more vehicles are on our grid, then our grid problems gradually decrease or change rather than increase.
We’ll see a lot more, more two way storage. And so, yeah, renewable energy into battery vehicles is a no brainer that that has to happen if we’re going to do. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of applications and the ones where we’ve typically ended up with diesel engines, not unleaded, petrol engines, which have very long distance requirements have very high time usage.
So they don’t have, they can’t easily spend time recharging and they, they need to have, yeah, absolutely. Certainly insecurity about range. And so pod origin in training. Yeah, heavy lorries, heavy trucks. So the freight transport, possibly fairies, uh, ways of saying, uh, ways of actually keeping that usage pattern, the site, you know, you can pull up and refuel, you can guarantee, you know, your range and your, and your fuel through filling your tank.
And so. I think that the applications like heavy mining affiliates, like bus fleets, like long distance road, transport and rail are more likely to fit fuel cells more and more in the future. So there will be some degree of competition between fuel cells and batteries, but actually what we’re really talking about is different forms of electrification and the real competition is electric mobility.
Versus internal combustion engines. Now I think that that is being overwhelmingly won the first Battlefront where the victories are happening are in small vehicles. And then, you know, as infrastructure evolves, as, you know, manufacturing evolves as customer patterns involve, we’ll move on to the next. And yeah, I think hydrogen for transport will be a role.
I think there’s a third part we didn’t mention. So there’s the direct replacement in the industry. There’s the direct replacement and transport, but hydrogen also plays a critical role in balancing in the power network, because option is a way of consuming, renewable. On a regional or international scale when you have excess renewables and giving back power when you have a shortage.
So hydrogen’s ability to play that role in allowing the penetration of renewables in the broader energy system grid, industrial heating and cooling, as well as manufacturing, feedstock, as well as transport feedstock, as well as the direct use should not be overlooked. And I think it will be a key, you know, all of the long-term technology forecasting indicates that that hydrogen is going to be a key.
In allowing us to get to sort of 80 and 90% penetration of renewables in a modern, heavy energy of society from sort of this 30 or 40% that we’re getting now.
Antoine Walter: It’s not the one you’re following right now because that’s more the green hydrogen. So this electrolyzers right. Well, no,
Geoff Ward: not at all. I disagree with that.
Yeah. That hydrogen is hydrogen. What matters is how much carbon is emitted in its production. And so yeah, we can play a role in that alongside electrolysis. Yeah. Another way to think about it. It is, of course, is that. Renewables are abundant, but not limitless in certain areas. So if you look at the countries such as Australia, where we have a small population, abundant, wind, and solar, we can meet our needs many times over.
And we also have relatively low energy requirements. So while air conditioning is now considered an essential in modern Australia, it wasn’t 20 years ago and you certainly won’t die of cold in Australia. I’m just trying to winter does a good impersonation of a European summer and last thoughts about company, about country.
But then if you look at sort of countries such as Northern Europe, parts of Northern Europe parts, even parts of Canada, despite its hydro resource, then because they have a much higher energy requirement, particularly because of winter heating, they can’t meet their energy requirements through their own renewable endowment.
And so if you look at something like hydrogen, We can make green hydrogen from renewables, but it’s a relatively less efficient way of using that renewable energy to make hydrogen, because it has such a high energy requirement. Then if we do it through ways like paralysis. And so we very much see that those massive energy needs of the future will be met by a combination of your own production.
And that might be pyrolysis. Rather than electrolysis, depending on what the attributes of the country is, it will be met by a combination of important export. And then one of the questions is, is it better to actually import and export hydrogen? Or should we actually continue to export gas and make longterm hydrogen at destination?
Or is that a transition pathway? So we think that there’s going to be a much more complex hydrogen system in the future. Then we can see now that every time we look at. The implementation. And I think we sort of, as an industry, we find different ways of configuring the infrastructure, the energy source, the production technology, to find different ways of meeting the market needs.
Antoine Walter: How important to that extent is it for you to be based out of Australia? Because you mentioned some of the. Peculiarities of Australia. There’s even more, I would say. I mean, you’re probably country, which has the most exposure to solar energy. You have a notion to the west of the country, which means that you have a lot of, of wind coming at night, which means you have really this potential in terms of renewable and strategically, you have the LNG capabilities because you have all this LNG portraiture already equipped within the country.
To the north, you have countries like Japan, I mean, far north, but Japan or South Korea, which will have, because of, let’s say political or geopolitical reasons to invest heavily into the hydrogen economy. So that makes you a real hotspot for all of that to happen. Does that help you by any means in the development of.
Geoff Ward: I think we have a very global perspective on our technology. So if we were focusing only on Australian market, it would be a very challenging place for us, because like you said, Australia is probably one of the best places in the world to do green hydrogen from electrolysis, but we don’t see our, yeah.
We don’t see ourselves being anchored in Australia from a market perspective. Yeah. The technology was developed here at the university of Western Australia. Australia is fortunate in having a really strong. Publicly funded university system and given our history in gas mining now, an industry, you know, it has a strong engineering and sort of yoga and, and industrial backgrounds.
So it’s a good place to do technology development that you can access engineers and researchers. And there’s a lot of people with skills in the gas industry and construction, et cetera. On the other hand, it’s quite an expensive place to operate because we have Mahoning and LNG industries, which soak up many of those resources.
So where the technology is developed and where it’s used really aren’t connected necessarily at all. We’re talking to upwards of I’d have to count, but sort of let’s say 15 to 20 potential international collaboration partners, and they span. Europe, north Asia and north America, as well as in Australia.
And it’s very probable that a lot of the future development of our technology and deployment will be. In other jurisdictions that have a really high need for low emission fuels for things like hating. And so, uh, working really strongly to invent that incentivize their early uptake, but at the same time, have access to gas and access to low carbon power.
Because when we, we use electricity to fire our process to further reduce the emissions rather than burning gas in our process. And so there’s countries that meet those criteria very, very well. In addition to. Which
Antoine Walter: makes for a very smooth transition to my crystal ball question. Thanks at all for that.
Where do you see Hazor in five to 10 years?
Geoff Ward: Well, uh, I hope that within 12 months, we’re now producing hydrogen and graphite from our first demonstration pro. And I hope that we’re, we’re coming up to making a, you know, an investment decision on a next project that we’ve found a partnership and collaboration and supportive your addiction to build the first larger scale a project.
And I hope in five years, you know, that that project is, is up and running and. Second. And third has your projects are in development. And then in 10 years time, you know, we have, uh, a number of Hazor projects operating commercially we’ve established strong markets for specialty graphite products, and then we’re continuing to improve the technology, increase the scale of the projects and decrease the cost with every implementation.
Antoine Walter: sounds like a very promising path forward. So. Thanks a lot for all this wisdom you’ve shared in that deep dive, unless I’ve missed an elephant in the room. I propose her to switch to the rapid fire questions.
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Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: In that last section, I’m asking you short questions, which aim for short answers, but you will see that I’m the one which is sidetracking the conversation all the time. So don’t worry. My first question is what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?
Geoff Ward: Oh, certainly building the hazer commercial demonstration plan because it’s the first application of a new technology. It’s where it jumps out of the lab and the pilot plant into.
Antoine Walter: Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way?
Geoff Ward: I think the developing new technology is hard that you can lay out a plan, you can set your strategy, but then you’ve got to get the mess, the physics, the engineering, and the operations, right.
We’re learning, you know, as we’ve gone through this project, we’ve learned so much in our design phase and fabrication phase before we’ve even got into country.
Antoine Walter: All this parameters you mentioned are technical parameters. Don’t you have also something else coming in the way like regulation, background or acceptance by your potential customers in the future to go down that
Geoff Ward: route.
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you’re developing a new technology in an emerging market is incredibly hard. So convincing people to be the first to try something that’s hard.
Antoine Walter: I won’t sidetrack you’re here, but at Coby Nygaard on that microphone saying that’s in the water industry, which we’re now somehow in everyone wants to be first to be second.
So that’s a bit the same.
Geoff Ward: Uh, I would say that that does that. That’s universal and it’s rational for many companies. The only, it’s a much more rational response occasionally to wait and see, and be a fast follower there. Of course, if everyone waits, we get what we’ve had for the last 30 years, which is a lot of intent, but for as little action on hard to abide to.
Antoine Walter: Is there something you’re doing today in your job that you won’t be doing in 10 years?
Geoff Ward: I’m actually sure there is, but I don’t know what it is.
Antoine Walter: What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?
Geoff Ward: Well, yeah, I came to the, to your podcast, I guess maybe with some expertise, some little expertise in hydrogen and not in water.
So I certainly wouldn’t be arrogant enough to sort of try and talk about the water industry. Do your expert audience, I guess, in dealing with the water. I’ve been really. Impressed by their commitment to improve to decarbonize and to improve the, the quality and reduce the impact of their operations. And I think that that’s part of it.
It seems to be part of a long-term trend. And I think also the water industry appreciates how scarce water is, and that might sound like a really obvious thing to say and how valuable water is. But when you’re not in industry, when you’re like me, you’re just a consumer, it was a real IO. Dealing with the water utility and understanding exactly the level of skill and focus and, and excellence.
It provided every day to making sure that every single day my tap turned on and the water tasted nice. So I see there’s a really sort of solid foundation for that trend towards excellence. Reducing your hearing.
Antoine Walter: I can tell you I’ve met some calculations, very humble calculations in my very humble points.
Based on research I found from various water researchers. And if you take only municipal wastewater, there is about 1,600 Terra. What power of editing? Chemical energy, which is trapped insights and which currently is not really leveraged. And if you make like easy comparisons, it’s about 300, 2 20 nuclear reactors of energy, which is in the wastewater.
And on the other end today, wastewater treatments is about three persons of the words, carbon emissions. So we have at some point to do something about it, because if we go to a zero emission word in which we want to thrive by 2050, Also the water industry has to do something about that. So having companies like curious, which say.
There is energy in what you’re producing, which we can dig carbonate and even go to this negative emissions level is probably a very important brick in the wall. So you may not yet be in the middle of the water sector, but I would imagine that despite what you explained during this conversation, how it’s not limited to biomethane, you can go to.
More classical sources of basing the steam methane reforming through your paralyzes. But I think you really have a point if you can help the water industry to de carbonate. So that’s just my humble 2 cents to conclude the discussion. Jeff. It’s been a real pleasure. Thanks a lot for your openness and for everything you’ve shared today.
I hope I didn’t bother you too much with my muggle questions about hydrogen and energy. I’m a lot of mistakes between steam meeting, reforming, paralyzes, and all the colors and shades of hydrogen. But I hope people will still be able to get everything through your very clear explanations. If people want to follow on with you after this podcast, where shall they reach out to.
Geoff Ward: It’s like reach out to us through the, our website, which is www.hazergroup.com.edu. Then they can certainly make contact with us through the web.
Antoine Walter: Perfect. And like every time all the links are in the description of this episode. Thanks a lot. And I’ll be watching the evolution of that vision you had for the next 10 years of the Hazer group with great interest!
Geoff Ward: Thanks very much.