Air Liquide, a French company has announced the completion of the world’s largest Proton-Exchange Membrane electrolyzer (PEM) in Québec, Canada. The hydrogen membrane-based production unit was constructed in the city of Bécancour, in southern Quebec, because of the area’s easy access to abundant renewable power from Hydro-Québec and its close proximity to the hydrogen mobility and main industrial markets in Canada and the United States. The PEM is supplied with 20 MW of renewable energy and is now producing up to 8.2 tonnes per day of low-carbon hydrogen for industrial use and mobility. It is equipped with Cummins technology and, compared to the traditional hydrogen production process, it will avoid the emission of around 27,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 10,000 cars per year.
The company’s massive PEM was launched at a time when Canada just started rolling out its “Hydrogen Strategy.” The plan presents combustible gas as a key element in achieving the goal of decarbonizing the most-energy intensive and hard-to-abate end-use applications. This is an important step to meet the country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The strategy also states that the projected domestic hydrogen market will reach US$39.4 billion by 2050.
“Hydrogen is an alternative to meet the challenge of clean transportation and thus contributes to the improvement of air quality,” the media brief states. “Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, emitting only water. It does not generate any pollution at the point of use: zero greenhouse gases, zero particles, and zero noise.” The CEO of Air Liquide North America and Group Executive Committee Member; Susan Ellerbusch said that “The fight against climate change is at the heart of the Air Liquide Group’s strategy. The inauguration of the Bécancour site in Canada marks an important step in the implementation of this strategy. With this world’s first, Air Liquide confirms its commitment to the production of low-carbon hydrogen on an industrial scale and its ability to effectively deploy the related technological solutions. Hydrogen will play a key role in the energy transition and the emergence of a low-carbon society.”