Chevron invests in green hydrogen production in Richmond, beyond 

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Chevron invests in green hydrogen production in Richmond, beyond
Hydrogen filling station on a background of trucks. (Photo credit: iStock)

Hydrogen, considered a key component in the Bay Area’s energy transition, will be produced right here at the Republic Services landfill in Richmond starting next year, thanks in large part to an investment by Chevron and other partners. 

Last week, renewable fuels company Raven SR Inc. announced a $20 million investment from Chevron, ITOCHU Corporation, Hyzon Motors Inc. and Ascent Hydrogen Fund to build modular waste-to-green hydrogen production units and renewable synthetic fuel facilities beginning in California and then expanding worldwide. The investment is part of a broader goal to create a green hydrogen fuel infrastructure that will, in part, provide a zero-emission energy source for commercial and passenger cars and trucks.  

Republic Services announced one of those waste-to-green hydrogen production facilities is slated for the West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill in Richmond. Starting in 2022, Raven plans to process up to 99.9 tons of organic waste collected by Republic Services per day, in order to produce up to 2,000 mt/year of green hydrogen.  

The hydrogen, produced via a patented process that does not involve combustion and consumes less water than competing technologies, “will be resold in commercial fueling stations in Northern California to power passenger and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles,” according to Republic Services. 

Currently, technology to supply heavy duty fleets with electric power is not available, but hydrogen is a zero emission option that provides similar fueling times and mileage, among other benefits. 

Mayor Tom Butt lauded the news as putting Richmond “on the forefront of renewable and carbon free energy.” In February, the mayor visited a mockup of the Republic Services plant at the UC Field Station. 

“This is a different process than the landfill methane to electricity generation that Republic has been doing in Richmond for years,” he reported in his e-forum newsletter. “It is also different from garbage incineration, which produces toxic emissions.” 

Raven says its hydrogen production units can accept carbonaceous waste like biomass, including plastics, paper, medical waste and toxic waste, “pretty much anything except metals and glass.” 

“We heat the waste until it turns to syngas, then separate the hydrogen from the carbon, and either reform it into synthetic fuels, or extract the hydrogen and sequester the carbon,” according to Raven.  

Raven says its technology can produce products such as synthetic liquid fuels (including diesel), additives and solvents, electricity via microturbines, and sustainable fuel for aviation. 

Chevron said the investment in green hydrogen production aligns with the company’s mission to create a “commercially viable hydrogen value chain” that provides lower carbon energy options to a variety of sectors. 

“This is an exciting opportunity to develop green hydrogen technology with partners in the Bay Area that can complement our existing hydrogen infrastructure at Chevron Richmond,” said Alice Flesher, general manager of Strategy and Planning for Chevron’s global Downstream & Chemicals businesses. 

Raven CEO Matt Murdock expressed gratitude to its investors and also to Republic Services for providing “a foundation to produce green hydrogen for commercial use in the transportation sector in Northern California.” 

“As we bring this system online under very strict environmental regulatory controls, we will demonstrate we can convert waste anywhere,” Murdock said. “We’re excited to be working in the City of Richmond to provide green hydrogen with the aim of also improving air quality.” 

Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, said the project also helps the company’s customers meet sustainability goals. 

“We believe it’s imperative to achieve greater circularity with the materials we handle to help preserve the environment now and for future generations,” Keller said.