Sinopec investing heavily in hydrogen and CCUS technologies

| By Martin Clark

Chinese oil and petrochemicals product supplier Sinopec made progress towards its goal of creating a full value-chain for hydrogen during 2022, advancing production, refuelling stations, fuel cells and storage technologies, according to the company’s latest sustainability report.

Sinopec is accelerating the development of hydrogen energy as a core business of its new energy portfolio, with an initial focus on supplying the refining and transportation sectors.

“We are actively promoting the development of the domestic hydrogen energy industrial chain, ranking the first globally in terms of hydrogen refuelling stations in operation and under construction,” said chairman Ma Yongsheng.

Sinopec has an interim target to install 1,000 hydrogen refuelling station by 2025, supplied with 120,000 tonnes a year of low-carbon hydrogen. Sinopec is allocating 30 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion) to the project.

By the end of 2022 it had built 98 hydrogen refuelling stations to provide high-purity hydrogen for fuel cells, with a total delivery capacity of 16,500 tonnes a year, Evaluate Energy data shows.

Sinopec is already China’s largest grey hydrogen producer, manufacturing 3.5 million tonnes in 2021, accounting for 14 per cent of China’s total output.

It wants to leverage this position to increase its production of low-carbon green and blue hydrogen. By 2050 it has a stated goal to develop a nationwide low-carbon transportation energy supply net-work and operate the largest number of low-carbon hydrogen refuelling stations in the country.

In the midstream, Sinopec has finished construction of nine hydrogen supply centres and completed its first short-pipeline hydrogen transmission station in Jiaxing City, in the eastern Zhejiang province. It has also been developing a suite of hydrogen purification technologies for fuel cells, which require higher purity hydrogen than industrial applications.

And it has undertaken engineering and technical research on high-strength, high-pressure hydrogen storage materials and equipment, as well as a large double-shell vacuum insulated liquid hydrogen spherical tank with a view to deployment in the next few years.

During 2022 Sinopec announced a 100,000 tonne-per-year hydrogen pipeline stretching 400 kilometres from Inner Mongolia — where it is planning a 30,000 tonne-per-year green hydrogen production plant — to the capital Beijing.


Sinopec captured 1.53 million tonnes of CO2 in 2022, its highest level ever. The bulk of the CO2 was captured from the firm’s ammonia production processes. During the year the firm used 657,000 metric tonnes of this CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in 36 separate projects.

Sinopec does not yet provide figures for how much CO2 it has injected into storage but says that by 2023 it will have the capability to store 300,000 tonnes.

During 2022 Sinopec began operation of the Qilu-Shengli Oilfield CCUS project, which has the capability to capture one million tonnes of CO2 every year, some of which will be injected into reservoirs for oil production and some of which will be injected into storage.

“This achievement has made Sinopec a technology company with a complete carbon-related industrial chain,” said Yongsheng.

Sinopec says it will build another similar sized CCUS demonstration project in partnership with Sinopec Nanjing Chemical Industries before 2025, as well as constructing a CCUS research and development facility. The firm wants to combine its CCUS and hydrogen expertise to create a blue hydrogen value chain across China.

It is also conducting a joint study with Shell plc, German chemical company BASF, and Chinese steel manufacturer Baowu to develop a CCUS-as-a-service model to transport emissions from third-party industrial facilities in the eastern region of China to offshore reservoirs for injection.

The firm has continued to increase investment in CCUS technology research and development, pioneering its own capture process and high-efficiency solvents, including a new high-efficiency ionic liquid capture solvent that it says could reduce capture costs by about 20 per cent.

In a demonstration project for industrial partners the company built a capture unit that achieved a 96 per cent capture rate. Most available technologies currently can achieve a capture rate of around 90 per cent.

Sinopec says its goal is to reach an emissions peak by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.


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