Air Products' Hydrogen Plant, Louisiana, United States of America

In October 2009, Air Products announced that it has entered into a long-term supply agreement with Monsanto Company for the construction of a new hydrogen production plant. The plant will be built at Monsanto's facility in Luling, Louisiana. Monsanto's Louisiana plant manufactures the herbicide Roundup, a weed-killer, which helps to kill weeds without damaging the crop.

The new facility is expected to help Monsanto serve its main customers – the farmers – in a more environmentally friendly way, and achieve its aim of decreasing energy consumption and emissions.

Air Products hydrogen plant project

The new plant will create a mutually dependent relationship for Air Products, the largest hydrogen provider in the world, and Monsanto.

Air Products will purchase hydrogen produced by Monsanto's production process, and Monsanto, in turn, will purchase the steam produced by Air Products' manufacturing process.

The hydrogen is currently being released into the atmosphere. The new production plant is expected to come on-stream in January 2012.

"The steam methane reformer at the Luling facility will produce around 100 million standard cubic feet of hydrogen per day."

Under the contract signed with Monsanto, Air Products will construct a steam methane reformer (SMR) at the Luling facility, which will produce around 100 million standard cubic feet of hydrogen per day. The facility will also yield extra hydrogen through a clean-up of an off-gas feed released from Monsanto's facility. The off-gas feed is rich in hydrogen resulting in the production of additional hydrogen.

The SMR will be linked to Air Products’ East Gulf Coast pipeline network. The network consists of 15 hydrogen production source points and extends to around 175 miles from Baton Rouge to Chalmette Louisiana. It provides refineries with the hydrogen needed to produce cleaner burning transportation fuels and also meets the requirements of the local petrochemical industry.

Steam methane reformer (SMR) technology

The SMR technology at the new hydrogen plant will optimise the energy efficiency of the Monsanto facility, and reduce carbon and other emissions. Air Products has made many technological enhancements to its SMR design, including the reduction of heat loss to the environment. Such a design will, in turn, cut down the amount of natural gas needed to make hydrogen.

Hydrogen plant contractors

The new hydrogen production plant will be built by Technip. Air Products and Technip, in a global alliance, have constructed more than 29 hydrogen production facilities across the world since 1992. Through the alliance, the two companies have provided the global refining industry with state-of-the-art technology.

"The hydrogen plant's SMR will be linked to Air Products’ East Gulf Coast pipeline network."

Technip deals with the design and construction of the steam reformers. Air Products, on the other hand, provides the gas separation technology and the initial capital outlay for the hydrogen plant.

Together, Air Products and Technip construct the hydrogen plants in such a way that the unit cost of hydrogen production is lower. This is achieved through site-specific integration, the implementation of value-added solutions, and optimum plant operation and maintenance. These measures translate into lower costs and increased savings.

Air Products operates and maintains plants under long-term contracts signed with clients, ranging from 15 to 20 years.

Louisiana hydrogen plant background

The new plant at Louisiana is one of many in a series of plants being executed by Air Products. The company has almost completed the construction of a hydrogen production plant at Garyville for Marathon Oil Refinery. Another hydrogen production plant at Baton Rouge is expected to come on-stream in April 2010.

The new facilities are expected to improve the reliability of Air Products' East Gulf Coast hydrogen pipeline network. With the completion of the new projects, it is anticipated that Air Products will have a capacity of more than 1.75 billion standard cubic feet of high-purity hydrogen per day by 2010. The hydrogen produced will be available at pressures ranging between 250psig and 2,000psig.