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AFC Energy receives first commercial hydrogen power generation order in Australia

UK-based AFC Energy (AFC), an industrial fuel cell power development company, has revealed that it has received its first commercial order in Australia for its proprietary hydrogen power generation unit from the oil refiner, Southern Oil Refining Pty Ltd. Expected to be sized between 200kW and 400kW, it will be located at Northern Oil's Advanced Biofuels Refinery near Gladstone, Australia and will utilise surplus hydrogen from the refinery process

Southern Oil’s Wagga Wagga plant is one of two facilities in Australia producing fully
re-refined lube oil accredited for use by a major international oil company for global
applications. The plant collects and re-refines about 8 percent of Australia’s annual
waste lube oils from engines, hydraulics and gear oils (photo courtesy Southern Oil).

Northern Oil’s Advanced Biofuel Refinery near Gladstone, Queensland (QLD) is currently operating to convert several waste streams into renewable crude, before refining it into 100 percent certified renewable fuel. The Advanced Biofuels Refinery, supported by the Australian Government, Queensland Government and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is a world first and within its operation, will require large volumes of industrially stable, renewable biohydrogen to support the refining process.

Northern Oil is developing a new hydrogen generation technology to complement its refining process. The technology utilises Steam Over Iron Reduction and Chemical Looping processes to deliver cheaper and more efficient hydrogen than conventional Steam Methane Reformation (SMR). Northern Oil is building a large industrial scale pilot plant where surplus hydrogen generated from the system is to be made available for consumption within a fuel cell.

In October 2017, Southern Oil and AFC Energy entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining the intention to collaborate in the assessment of opportunities for the integration of an AFC Energy fuel cell system into Southern Oil’s refining process.

Southern Oil is a privately owned Australian company operating two waste oil refinery facilities in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales  (NSW) and Gladstone (QLD). Each day these refineries take in around 420,000 litres of waste lube oil that would otherwise be burnt or dumped. The company is testing renewable technologies from around the world to produce renewable crude, bio-hydrogen and 100 percent renewable drop-in fuels.

Through this collaboration, Southern Oil has now placed an order with AFC Energy for a hydrogen power generation unit utilising AFC Energy’s proprietary fuel cell system that will enable the supply of clean power back into the refining process.

Southern Oil has at its heart a desire to develop new and innovative ways of generating clean fuels for Australia’s future. The placement of today’s order with AFC Energy for one of its hydrogen power generation units is the next phase of our commitment to a green and clean future through the generation of clean power from our surplus hydrogen streams.  The potential to drive our renewable refinery increasingly off grid and towards green power consumption is a key driver for today’s order and we look forward to working closely with AFC Energy in delivering a successful outcome for this project. In developing the Gladstone Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant over the last three years, Southern Oil, has benchmarked cutting edge renewable technologies from around the world. In my mind, AFC Energy’s Alkaline Fuel Cell has great potential, said Tim Rose, CEO, Southern Oil.

Subject to a final agreement on all commercial terms, AFC Energy will sell and lease components of its generation system for an undisclosed sum, reflecting the capital cost of the balance of plant and lease fees towards the cost of the fuel cell electrodes.

The power generated, expected to be between 200kW and 400kW in capacity dependent upon the final volume of hydrogen made available from the refinery, is expected to be at a lower cost than with that of existing regional grid tariffs in Queensland. The fuel cell system is expected to be delivered to Northern Oil’s Gladstone facility in the first half of 2019.

With a global estimated 100 GWe of hydrogen vented to atmosphere from industry each year, I am particularly delighted to confirm AFC Energy’s strategic collaboration with Southern Oil, a highly respected and entrepreneurial Australian clean fuels refiner with a strong track record of delivery. The order received for the company’s fuel cell system reflects the first stages of a growing pipeline of commercial fuel cell projects in the country and validates the opportunities we believe to be emerging in the Australian hydrogen market. Today’s order from Southern Oil is a strong validation of the progression AFC Energy has made over the past few years and provides a strong cornerstone in the Company’s commercialisation activities that are well underway, said Adam Bond, CEO, AFC Energy.

AFC Energy has developed and successfully demonstrated an alkaline fuel cell system, which converts hydrogen into “clean” electricity. AFC Energy’s key project POWER-UP demonstrated the world’s largest operational alkaline fuel cell system at Air Products’ industrial gas plant in Stade, Germany. The company is now building upon an already established pipeline of commercial opportunities and driving the findings from the development phase of the technology into a technically optimised and commercially relevant fuel cell system.

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