Green energy

SGH2’s patented technology superheats garbage, breaking it down molecularly to create clean hydrogen fuel.

LANCASTER — Global energy company SGH2 will bring the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility to the city in about three years.

The company, part of Washington-based Solenga Group, will use proprietary technology that gasifies any kind of waste — in this case, recycled mixed paper — to make hydrogen. The “greener than green” hydrogen reduces carbon emissions two to three time more than green hydrogen produced using electrolytes and renewable energy, and is five to seven times cheaper, according to the company.

SGH2’s green hydrogen is cost competitive with “gray” hydrogen produced from fossil fuels like natural gas, which comprise the majority of hydrogen in the United States.

“We are greener than green because we’re using waste that normally goes to the landfill,” SGH2 CEO Dr. Robert T. Do said in a telephone interview.

Do, a biophysicist and physician, developed the technology with the late NASA scientist Dr. Salvador Camacho. SGH2’s proprietary technology gasifies any kind of waste — from plastic to paper and from tires to textiles — to make hydrogen.

Camacho, known as “the father of plasma technology,” developed the high-temperature plasma torch to test heat shields on the space shuttle.

Do said the technology has been in development for about 15 years.

“It is rocket science because we take technology from U.S. NASA and we move it over to treat waste,” Do said. “In the process of developing this technology we realized that if we manipulate the process correctly we can make this gas that has a lot of hydrogen that can compete with natural gas. We decided instead of being a waste treatment why don’t we make it into a hydrogen production plant that we can solve both issues. We can solve the energy issue as well as treat the waste, and that became the mission of the company.”

SGH2’s green hydrogen is cost competitive with “gray” hydrogen produced from fossil fuels like natural gas, which comprise the majority of hydrogen in the United States.

 “We hit two key issues,” Do said. “No. 1, we reduce carbon capacity as cost of fuel from transportation. No. 2, we are really providing, I hope, a real circular economy where we can reuse our product.”

Do said they will follow California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard guidelines.

“It’s very exciting to see. … It really is triggering a lot of technology,” Do said.

The facility will produce its own electricity to power itself. The facility will use recycled mixed paper. The paper will be turned into a gas, which has the hydrogen. The remaining carbon monoxide will be put into a gas engine to make electricity, which will power the plant.

The City of Lancaster will host and co-own the green hydrogen production facility.

 “I’m assuming it’s going to work ,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a telephone interview. “ I mean, they’re putting a billion dollars into it. There’s no investment from the city and we get 5% of the deal. It’s a total win. If it works you’re going to see these all over the country.”

The mayor, named the Green Power Leader of the Year last year by the Center for Resource Solutions and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, touted a digester the city is building to convert green waste into natural gas and compost.

“Within about a year and a half, two years tops, we’ll be leading the nation in state-of-the-art waste solutions,” Parris said.

Parris said companies like SGH2 come to Lancaster because they can get their projects built quicker here.

“If it’s green energy, we fast-track and we actually assist in getting other agencies on board with it to enlist their support,” he said. “He’s going to be able to build this two years sooner than he could anywhere else.”

A consortium of leading global companies and top institutions have joined with SGH2 and the City to develop and implement the Lancaster project, including: Fluor, Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, Thermosolv, Integrity Engineers, Millenium, HyetHydrogen and Hexagon.

Fluor Group, a global engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance company, which has best-in-class experience in building H2 from gasification plants, will provide front-end engineering and design as well as the complete technology integration for the Lancaster facility. SGH2 will provide a complete performance guarantee of the Lancaster plant by issuing a total Output Guarantee of hydrogen production per year, underwritten by the largest reinsurance company in the world, according to the company.

 “It’s quite revolutionary in many steps, just the model of the city owning part of the company,” Parris said. “I’ve been doing that for a long time now trying to get us to do that, and this is the first one where it actually occurred.”

Parris predicted the model would catch on in other cities.

“This is the first time where I actually see that there’s hope for us; that maybe we can survive climate extinction, just maybe, but I haven’t felt that hope until now,” Parris said.

The facility, to be on five acres of vacant land in the heavy industrial zone at the northwest corner of Columbia Way (Avenue M) and Sixth Street East, will be able to produce up to 11,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per day and 3.8 million kilograms per year. That is nearly three times more than any other green hydrogen facility built, or being built, anywhere in the world, according to the company

The facility will process 40,000 tons of waste annually. Lancaster will supply guaranteed feedstock of recyclables. The City is projected to save between $50 to $75 per ton in landfilling and landfill space costs.

“Ultimately what I see this being is, we will use hydrogen fuel cells to have micro-grids throughout the city, which means we could be totally resilient in the event of an earthquake or some other type of crisis,” Parris said.

The Lancaster plant is expected to take 18 months to build and provide more than 600 jobs during construction. It will employ 35 people, full-time, once it is operational. The plant output will be used at hydrogen refueling stations across California for light and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles.

(1) comment

Jimzan

"totally resilient in the event of an earthquake" Sounds excellent....way to go Mr.Parris.

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