Hydrogen at the refinery

It is hard to imagine a modern refinery without the use of hydrogen. Why do we use hydrogen in the refinery?


First of all, to meet the requirements of modern motor fuels, mainly the sulfur content range (max. 10 mg / kg) and to remove unsaturated compounds that negatively affect the stability of the fuel. Hydrogen is necessary to increase the conversion of crude oil, i.e. to obtain greater fuel yield from a barrel of oil. This is accomplished in the hydrocracking process, at a temperature of approx. 400⁰C and at a pressure of 160 atm. Finally, in many refining of petroleum products, such as base oils, paraffin - to improve their quality and stability. The diagram below illustrates the hydrogen production and consumption cycle at the refinery.


Additionally, hydrogen recovery methods from refinery streams are used. In addition to the hydrogen adsorptive recovery plant (PSA), other separation methods (WOW, i.e. Hydrogen Recovery Node) can be used, e.g. gas separation  on membranes or low-temperature methods by liquefying other gases (mainly LPG).


Refinery hydrogen is produced and consumed up to date, so it builds up to its storage system. Currently, however, conceptual work is underway on the possibility of storing hydrogen in salt caverns. The hydrogen that was stored there could theoretically be a safety buffer for the refinery's hydrogen supply, but above all it would be a huge energy reservoir.


The refinery is one of examples of hydriogen use on the massive scale. For example, Grupa LOTOS refinery in Gdańsk consumes about 13.5 tons of pure hydrogen per hour. However, hydrogen is also an extremely important raw material in other industrial sectors - the most important raw material for the synthesis of ammonia and then the production of fertilizers. It is also necessary in chemical synthesis, especially for the production of methanol and a huge range of synthetic hydrocarbons. Hydrogen is commonly used to cure fats in the food industry. The metallurgical industry uses hydrogen to reduce metal ores such as germanium, molybdenum and tungsten. It is often used in cosmetics and pharmacy for thorough purification of preparation ingredients. In a word, it's difficult to imagine today's hydrogen-free industry.


Fit for 55

Today, the Council adopted a regulation and a directive establishing common internal market rules for renewable and natural gases and hydrogen and reforming the existing EU gas legislation.


The new rules will help make the shift to renewable and low-carbon gases, in particular hydrogen, in the energy system, with a view to achieving the EU’s decarbonisation targets.


Designing the gas and hydrogen market
The gas package sets out solid rules for the organisation of the natural gas market and establishes a strong framework for the development of the future hydrogen market, including for dedicated hydrogen infrastructure. It contains specific rules for the transport, supply and storage of natural gas and hydrogen.


The new rules call for integrated and transparent network planning across the EU, under the principle of ‘energy efficiency first’ and with a forward-looking approach. Gas and hydrogen network operators will prepare a 10-year EU network development plan.


This texts also paves the way for a permanent demand aggregation platform.



Switching to renewable gas
In order to ensure the phase-out of fossil fuels, long-term contracts for fossil gas will no longer be concluded as of 2049. The new rules promote the penetration of renewable gas and low-carbon gas, in particular hydrogen in coal and carbon-intensive regions. Member states will provide for tariff discounts and incentives, in order to facilitate their market and system integration, especially for the nascent hydrogen market, and so to ensure a just transition.

A voluntary mechanism will also be set up to support the hydrogen market for five years.



Protecting customers from energy poverty
Vulnerable customers and customers affected by energy poverty will be better protected thanks to the new rules adopted today, which include a focus on remote areas. Measures by member states include protection from disconnections and appointing suppliers of last resort to ensure continuity of supply.



Next steps
The regulation and the directive will now be signed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The regulation will become directly applicable six months after its publication.


As regards the directive, member states will have two years to adapt their national legislation to the provisions of the directive.



The hydrogen and decarbonised gas markets package is part of the Fit for 55 batch of legislation and aims to update the existing regulation and directive on gas adopted in 2009.


The updated regulation and directive, both formally adopted today, were put forward as a proposal by the Commission on 15 December 2021.


Negotiations with the European Parliament on the final shape of the texts started on 1 June 2023. A final deal on the directive was reached on 27 November and on the regulation on 8 December 2023.


Source: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/pl/press/press-releases/2024/05/21/fit-for-55-council-signs-off-on-gas-and-hydrogen-market-package/ 

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