Inauguration of the world's largest PEM electrolyzer to produce decarbonized hydrogen
Published on February 8, 2021
Air Liquide inaugurated the largest membrane electrolyzer in the world In Bécancour, Quebec, at the end of January 2021. Offering unprecedented production capacity, the site makes it possible to produce low-carbon hydrogen on a large scale. This technology represents a world premier and brings us one step closer to building a low-carbon society. Read on for a look back at this incredible facility in five key figures.
A world premiere
The new electrolyzer, located at Air Liquide's site in Bécancour, features four distinct units that use PEM (ProtonExchange Membrane) technology to generate 20 megawatts of power in total. This is the largest unit of its kind currently operating in the world. In concrete terms, the PEM electrolyzer makes it possible to produce hydrogen from water electrolysis using electricity generated by renewable technologies. This impressive breakthrough demonstrates Air Liquide's ability to roll out promising technological solutions designed to produce low-carbon hydrogen on an industrial scale. The site also includes a test bed for the next generation of electrolyzers under development and is now a satellite of Air Liquide's Campus Innovation'link) site in Delaware.
Unprecedented production capacity...
Powered by 99% renewable energy from Hydro-Québec, this unit can produce over 8.2 metric tons of low-carbon hydrogen per day. That is enough to fuel over 2,000 cars, 16,000 forklifts, 275 buses, or 230 large trucks. This production capacity makes it possible to supply the Group's North American customers with decarbonized, high-purity hydrogen and help reduce their carbon footprint.
...To meet the growing demand for low-carbon hydrogen
Opened in 1987, the Canada Air Liquide factory in Bécancour produces hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen for industrial customers in Canada and the United States. With the construction of the new electrolyzer, the company's facilities in Quebec have increased their hydrogen production capacity by 50%, allowing them to respond to the growing demand for low-carbon hydrogen in the North American market, whether for industrial uses or mobility purposes.
Reducing carbon intensity
Compared to a traditional hydrogen production process, this new production unit will prevent the release of nearly 27,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of around 10,000 cars. With this large-scale project, Air Liquide is reaffirming its goal to produce 100% low-carbon or renewable hydrogen for mobility needs by 2030. It also confirms its long-term commitment to generalize the use of hydrogen as a clean energy vector and reaches yet another milestone along the path towards a low-carbon society.
A super-sized project completed in record time
The PEM electrolyzer in Bécancour would not have been possible without an exceptional mobilization of human resources. Through 40,000 hours of work on the build site and 20,000 hours of engineering, project management, safety inspection, and supervision, the project was made operational in under two years.