THP-E261: Addressing Public Concerns On The Midwest’s Mach H2 Hydrogen Hub. Also, A Massive Project Announced In Europe’s Port Of Rotterdam.

Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 261

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 261, Air Products goes big in the Netherlands and how our communities reacting to the MachH2 hub development. I dive into these topics on today’s hydrogen podcast.

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy the podcast. Please feel free to email me at with any questions. Also, if you wouldn’t mind subscribing to my podcast using your preferred platform… I would greatly appreciate it.

Paul Rodden


From water electolyzers to flow batteries and fuel cells, Nafion™ Proton Exchange Membranes play a major role in advancing the Hydrogen Economy. Through their high conductivity, superior strength, and chemical durability, Nafion™ membranes provide the performance needed to make green hydrogen safer, more sustainable, and more affordable. Learn how Nafion™ ion exchange materials support the decarbonization of energy across the globe at



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Air Products goes big in the Netherlands and how our communities reacting to the MachH2 hub development. I dive into these topics on today’s hydrogen podcast.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where’s capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters recognize the importance of hydrogen. I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.

In a press release on November 6, Air Products to build Europe’s largest blue hydrogen plant and strengthens long term agreement. Air Products on November 6, announced it will build own and operate a state of the art carbon capture and carbon dioxide treatment facility at its existing hydrogen production plant. in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The facility is expected to be on stream in 2026 and the resulting blue hydrogen product to serve Exxon Mobil’s ESSO Rotterdam refinery and additional customers via Air Products hydrogen pipeline network system, this will be the largest blue hydrogen plant in Europe. once operational.

The carbon capture retrofit will capture co2 from Air Products existing hydrogen plant and Exxon Mobil’s Rotterdam refinery, the plant will be connected to the Porthos system, a consortium developing the first large scale co2 transport and storage system in the Netherlands, which recently reached final investment decision approval. Along with co2 from other industry in the Port of Rotterdam. The captured co2 will be transported to the depleted fields and the North Sea approximately 20 kilometers off the coast where it will be permanently stored at a depth of more than three kilometers beneath the seabed.

Porthos will allows air products to more than half its co2 emissions in the Port of Rotterdam. This represents a substantial step for reducing Air Products direct emissions in the short term and contributes to meeting the Dutch national climate agreement targets. At the same time, Air Products is working hard to further decarbonize its own activities and those of its customers by realizing plans to make green hydrogen available from imported renewable energy in the Port of Rotterdam. The project is being undertaken as part of long term agreements with Exxon Mobil and the Dutch state.

Blue hydrogen from Air Products hydrogen production plant will help customers in industry and mobility transition, while also creating and retaining jobs and an important industrial area. And a quote from Dr. Samir J. Serhan, COO at Air Products, Air Products has been actively present and investing in Rotterdam for decades. industrial companies here are continually looking for ways to realize synergies create economies of scale, drive energy efficiencies, and ultimately decarbonize. This project fulfills that demand. By sequestering co2 through Porthos and bring additional blue hydrogen to Exxon Mobil and other customers, we can help generate a cleaner future. And in a quote from Edward Dekker Kleijn, Rotterdam Site Manager, Exxon Mobil aims to achieve Net Zero scope one and scope two emissions from its operated assets by 2050.

And we’ve taken a comprehensive approach to create emission reduction roadmaps for each of our facilities. He says we are pleased to build on our collaboration with air products to lower our environmental footprint. Carbon Capture and Storage is one of the critical technologies required to achieve the climate goals. This project is a great example of how industry works together to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the Rotterdam port area. Okay, so big news from Air Products and the work they’re doing to move the hydrogen economy forward and an area moving incredibly fast through the hydrogen transition.

It’s also a huge agreement to sequester the co2 from Exxon Mobil. With this we get a deeper understanding into the breath of work that Exxon Mobil low carbon ventures are working on. Now, the Rotterdam area is home to a number of hydrogen projects representing nearly all available technologies and offtake opportunities along with one of the most robust hydrogen transportation networks in the world. This announcement will facilitate the continued hydrogen economy expansion in Europe in a massive way.

Okay, I need to break away from the story for a second to share a quick word from our sponsor. From water electolyzers to flow batteries and fuel cells, Nafion™ Proton Exchange Membranes play a major role in advancing the Hydrogen Economy. Through their high conductivity, superior strength, and chemical durability, Nafion™ membranes provide the performance needed to make green hydrogen safer, more sustainable, and more affordable. Learn how Nafion™ ion exchange materials support the decarbonization of energy across the globe at Now back to the show.

Next in an article in the Chicago Tribune Alex Dalton writes as Midwest hydrogen hub plans move ahead, concerns persist. Alex writes at a virtual event held on Wednesday by the US Department of Energy’s Office of clean energy demonstrations. Leaders at the Midwest Alliance for Clean hydrogen discuss details of hydrogen hub projects across the region. That standard receive up to a billion dollars in federal investment. MachH2, which brings together over 60 public and private entities across Indiana, Illinois and Michigan was one of seven funding recipients announced in October alongside partnerships based in the Pacific Northwest, the Mid Atlantic Appalachia, California, the Texas Gulf Coast and the upper Midwest.

The 2021 infrastructure investment and jobs act set aside $7 billion for the hubs with the goal of fighting climate change. MachH2 Chief integration officer Neil Banwart, who also serves as Managing Director of the Indianapolis based nonprofit Energy Systems Network unveiled a map that included the locations of eight of the hydrogen hubs nine plan projects during the Wednesday meeting and feel that a range of questions from the community members when burned hydrocarbons produce carbon dioxide greenhouse gas has played a large role in the warming of the planet burning hydrogen by contrast, bonds hydrogen atoms with oxygen to produce only water as a byproduct. Hydrogen advocates, industry leaders and elected officials among them say that replacing hydrocarbons with hydrogen and energy intensive industrial processes can help lower their carbon footprint.

However, as the hydrogen hubs critics have been quick to point out creating hydrogen requires energy and the source of the energy used affects the processes overall environmental impact, hydrogen can be separated from the oxygen atoms in water using electricity through a process called electrolysis. If the process uses energy from wind, solar or other renewables, then the so called green hydrogen can be produced and burned without carbon emissions. Pink hydrogen is produced using energy from a nuclear reactor, which does not involve direct carbon emissions. Blue hydrogen, the cheapest and most widespread method of production today, according to the Department of Energy is produced by using natural gas with steam producing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Banwart said that the Machh2 will take in quote all of the above hydrogen production approach, including green, pink and blue hydrogen production, a hydrogen production node plan for the Northwest Indiana to be operated by the energy giant BP, the only Machh2 project planned for the Hoosier State will produce blue hydrogen and offset the process environmental impact using carbon capture and storage. In his presentation, Banwart acknowledged that blue hydrogen is a controversial component of the hub’s plan.

He says I don’t think we’re going to settle the debate tonight. But I do want to emphasize that blue hydrogen can be very low carbon. This he told attendees, adding that the carbon intensity of the hub’s hydrogen production will be subject to independent review. He also said by taking this approach to pursue multiple forms of clean hydrogen, including blue, pink and green, we can move more quickly, we can scale the production and the distribution of these molecules across the Midwest. And that will allow us to decarbonize difficult to decarbonize sectors. BP explained its carbon storage plans, which involves building pipelines to move liquid carbon dioxide from its hydrogen production node to suitable injection sites south of Lake County.

At a series of public meetings earlier this autumn. The company was met with a mixed reaction from community members, some of whom voiced concerns over possible negative environmental impacts stemming from failures and pipelines or injection wells. The 2020 rupture of a carbon dioxide pipeline in Satartia, Mississippi which resulted in 45 hospitalizations, has stoked public fears about the prospect of more co2 pipelines. While carbon dioxide is neither combustible nor poisonous.

It is denser than air and can cause asphyxiation by displacing oxygen near the ground. John Rupp, a clinical associate professor emeritus at the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, believes that carbon capture in Indiana will do more good than harm. While co2 pipelines do come with some risks. Rupp told the post Tribune they are less dangerous than the pipelines carrying highly combustible hydrocarbons that already criss crossed the state. Further he noted the class six permits issued to co2 injection sites by the US Environmental Protection Agency come with extremely stringent guidelines for safety and monitoring. Rep says it’s very very high level of management if it’s done in accordance with the permits stipulations.

So he says he wouldn’t be concerned if it were to be in his own backyard. But that’s not to say that when people have concerns that they shouldn’t be listened to or discounted, there’s valid concerns and contamination of groundwater is a reasonable thing to be concerned about. And so BP or whoever the developer is, should do a good job at understanding that concern and addressing those but I think he says, from a technological standpoint, the management is still excellent. So far, not all blue hydrogens critics have been convinced several attendees of the Wednesday meeting raise concerns over the practice. Chris Chung, the executive director of Indiana Conservation Voters, told the post Tribune on Thursday that he sees the BP plan as a continuation of Northwest Indiana’s history as an industrial sacrifice zone.

He noted that while pink and green hydrogen production are part of MachH2’s plan, that technology will be employed outside of the state. He says as a native Hoosier, it was clear from the presentation last night, that right now Mach h2 is looking at basically exporting the dirtiest form of hydrogen production that’s tied to hydrocarbon burning to Indiana. He says we’ve seen this time and again, especially in North Lake County, with the industrial lakefront and the steel mills. Banwart said that it’s still too early to provide estimates for the share of Mach H twos total hydrogen production that will be taken up by each production type.

The partnership submitted a detailed application for federal funds, which has not been made public. This is due to the competitive nature of the application process. Funding from MachH2 the other six hydrogen hub partnerships is contingent on the success of negotiations between the hubs and the Department of Energy. If successful, the hub projects will enter a four phase implementation process that will last between seven and 13 years with DoE funds paid out at designated intervals. OCED staff stressed at the Wednesday meeting that public input will play a significant role in all stages of the process. Each hydrogen hub is required to develop a community benefits plan, laying out quantifiable benefits to affected communities, such as employment and training opportunities.

Chung said that his organization has requested to be a part of a MachH2 Advisory Committee and is waiting to hear back from the partnership. He is cautiously optimistic. He said that the MachH2 will take input from activists and community members seriously as it continues to plan its projects. He’s quoted as saying, I’m really hoping that in the coming weeks, we will see a barrage of community engagement from MachH2 and a real sincerity and willingness to open this process up to members of the community. Because, again, this is taxpayer money. This is a billion dollars of taxpayer money. And we should all have a stake at the table right now. And we simply don’t. Okay, so are these concerns from impacted communities in the MachH2 hub region legitimate?

Well, I can say from firsthand experience, how energy companies analyze co2 plume dispersion models, which by the way, is also a service that’s associated with our own H2 Advantage. And while there is some risk with any piped gas, the mitigation to avoid co2 ruptures is extremely involved. And as John Rupp said, I wouldn’t mind having it in my backyard either. It is that safe, but on the topic of the technologies being used nuclear and renewables for electrolytic, as well as SMR, with CCUS, which makes this hub one of the most robust and technologically diverse hubs in the plan.

And to those opposing the Indiana implementation of thermolytic hydrogen, just know that you will be the first to see the benefits of the hydrogen transition. This is a clean hydrogen technology, full stop. The regulations around co2 transport and injection are extremely stringent and have been used safely for decades. This is a time to embrace the positive strides that the Midwest is making to drive the energy transition forward.

Alright, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at So until next time, keep your eyes up and honor one another. Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.