Partnerships are key to enabling the energy transition, according to an industry executive for a company known for its sustainable technologies.

Honeywell UOP’s toolbox contains innovations targeting carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production, green diesel and other renewable fuels, to name a few. With net-zero goals in its crosshairs, the company has been stepping up investments and focusing on scale and costs to advance technologies needed reduce emissions.

Its latest moves—taken by the company’s venture arm—include investing in Electric Hydrogen (EH2), a Boston-area green hydrogen startup. Combined, the group of investors and banks help bring in $198 million during a funding round to support scaleup of EH2’s electrolyzer, manufacturing technology and large-scale pilot projects.


Honeywell Ventures to Make Investment in Electric Hydrogen

“We believe that partnerships are the pathway to the industry being able to achieve the visions that have been laid out,” Mei Chia, senior business leader of gas processing for Honeywell UOP, told Hart Energy. “Many companies will need to come together to reduce overall industry CO2 emissions, and we will continue to look for partnerships across the value chain.”

Hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels; carbon capture, utilization and storage; renewables and electrification are among the pillars identified by the International Energy Agency as key to decarbonizing the world’s energy system. These critical energy technologies, however, are either not on track or need more effort to meet net-zero emissions goals.

Some progress is evident, though, as technology improvements help bring down costs, which are often seen as a barrier to accelerating adoption of clean energy sources.

This comes as governments across the globe incentivize the industry to step up efforts, offering tax credits and partnering to advance research efforts. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which recently gained legislative approval in the U.S., could help make net zero a reality, Chia said.

“The incentives that are available to companies that can implement carbon capture technologies have increased and would accelerate the adoption of carbon capture and hydrogen projects,” Chia said. “The Inflation Reduction Act should be a great catalyst for us to actually see projects materialize.”

Honeywell H2 infographic
(Source: Honeywell)

Driving hydrogen innovation

The IRA encourages development of energy innovation, creating a $5.8 billion program to invest in projects specifically aimed at lowering emissions from hard-to-abate sectors such as chemical production and steel. These are some of the same areas—others being gas processing and refining—that Chia said could be decarbonized with hydrogen.

“Blue hydrogen with carbon capture would be an important bridge as the green hydrogen capabilities ramp up,” she said. “The critical technology to produce green hydrogen is the electrolyzer, which separates water to produce a high purity hydrogen. And within that electrolyzer, the catalyst-coated membrane [CCM] is responsible for the separation of those molecules. As you increase the size of the electrolyzer and you maintain the density required to effectively separate water, that will enable us to scale green hydrogen at a lower cost and more efficiently.”

Honeywell announced in March it had developed new CCM technology for green hydrogen production. At the time, the company said the CCMs enabled higher electrolyzer efficiency and higher electric current density during lab testing. The feat is expected to shave 25% off the electrolyzer stack cost for a Proton Exchange Membrane water electrolysis system using renewable power to produce 2,300 MT H2/y with 5,000 operating hours/y, the company said in the release.

While it’s too early to weigh in on industry’s responses to the technology, Chia said Honeywell’s membranes already are in play for carbon capture and green hydrogen. “We have more than 120 membrane systems in operation around the world, and they reduce capital and operational cost to commercial units, both in hydrogen purification as well as in natural gas separations.”

Capturing carbon

The company also sees the benefits of blue hydrogen production, and the ability of carbon capture technologies to lower emissions for companies with natural gas assets.

“We have experience separating CO2 from gas streams in more than 4,000 units worldwide across a range of industries,” Chia said. “These units are capturing CO2 through solvents, membranes and cryogenic technologies, and we can offer these solutions independently or in hybrid schemes. … It also would be worth mentioning that when we need to capture CO2 coming out of a stack, let’s say a power plant that has a stack with flue gas coming off the top, we can look to solvent capture systems as the recommended technology.”

Honeywell is working with Wabash Valley Resources as the technology provider on one of the largest carbon sequestration projects to date in the U.S. The Indiana facility is expected to capture about 1.6 million tons of CO2 annually and produce hydrogen from petroleum coke and biomass at a repurposed gasification plant. The project, expected online in 2024, received federal funding and investments from other companies including Nikola Corp.

Mei Chia, Honeywell
(Source: Honeywell UOP)

"We believe as we go through the different hubs in the different areas, there will be more partnerships that will be needed to be formed." – Mei Chia, Honeywell UOP

Farther south, the company is working with EnLink Midstream, targeting industrial emissions in Louisiana along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

The partnership, announced earlier this summer, pairs EnLink’s pipeline expertise and existing infrastructure with Honeywell’s carbon capture and hydrogen purification technologies.

“We believe as we go through the different hubs in the different areas, there will be more partnerships that will be needed to be formed,” Chia said.

As Honeywell provides technology to help others transition to cleaner energy, it is also working to make its own operations sustainable. The company has improved its energy efficiency by about 70%, lowered its greenhouse gas intensity by more than 90% since 2004 and is targeting Scope 3 emissions, according to its website.

“About 60% of our current new product introductions and research development is directed toward products that improve environmental and social outcomes,” Chia said.

Honeywell aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.