BayoTech to run national hydrogen plants from ABQ hub - Albuquerque Journal

BayoTech to run national hydrogen plants from ABQ hub

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

BayoTech Inc. plans to operate and monitor scores of hydrogen hubs across the country from a single, high-tech control room that it unveiled on Thursday at its Albuquerque-based headquarters.

The company, which is marketing the world’s first compact mobile hydrogen generators, expects to establish up to 100 hydrogen hubs nationwide by 2027 to provide local, on-site production, fueling and distribution services for customers in nearby communities. Its first plant, or hub, will be up and running in early 2023 in Wentzville, Missouri, followed by five more in Michigan, Oklahoma and California over the next year.

But despite the geographic diversity, BayoTech plans to operate the plants through its newly inaugurated central command in Albuquerque, company executives told a group of local and national reporters during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday at BayoTech’s 15,000-square-foot headquarters near Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park.

“We’ll have technicians on-site at all the hub locations, but plant startup, shutdown and ongoing monitoring will all be done from our control room here,” control room manager Keith Ashley told reporters. “… This facility control system is set up with cloud capability to operate and monitor up to 20 hubs (simultaneously) 24/7.”

Control-room screens will continuously display all the operating data from BayoTech’s plants, allowing the company’s team of control technicians to switch back and forth among the hubs being monitored as needed. It includes round-the-clock surveillance to monitor operations at all levels and track maintenance issues for immediate repairs or long-term upkeep.

It also controls security cameras around the sites to detect any anomalies and intervene if necessary, with emergency systems to coordinate all response efforts with local emergency services, said BayoTech Chief Innovation Officer Greg Powers.

“All the critical points at hubs have automatic control valves, which is useful for people in the field if something breaks,” Powers said. “But hubs could also be operated as unstaffed operations that are fully controlled from here.”

Alarms and warnings are built in for any abnormalities, Ashley added.

“There are multiple trip points to shut units down, say, for example, if the (plant) temperature goes too high,” he said.

Emerson – an automation and control company – supplied all the equipment and technology for BayoTech’s control room, which is run through Emerson’s cloud services and backed up by that company’s cybersecurity systems.

“It will be run off Emerson’s clouds,” Powers said. “All system signals are sent to the cloud with about a tenth-of-a-second lag to come back to us … It’s all in the cloud, so it doesn’t matter how far away the hub location is.”

Control room inauguration is the latest step in BayoTech’s rapid march to market. The company launched in 2015 to commercialize technology originally created at Sandia National Laboratories to provide on-site mobile hydrogen generation directly where it’s needed for commercial and industrial use.

It’s spent seven years fully developing the technology, which the company says can radically lower costs for end users compared with today’s standard production at large, centralized plants.

Those mammoth facilities, which can produce about 1,000 tons of hydrogen per day, generally cost more than $200 million to build and require at least two years for construction, said BayoTech Chief Financial Officer Wendy Rollstin. In contrast, BayoTech’s compact generators allow the company to construct small, distributed hubs that can produce about 1 ton per day, but only cost about $10 million and just 12 months to install.

With today’s rapidly emerging demand for clean-burning hydrogen to help decarbonize the economy, the market needs to transition from centralized to distributed production, Rollstin said.

Environmental organizations generally oppose hydrogen technology like BayoTech’s that relies on natural gas as a feedstock to pull hydrogen molecules out of methane, emitting substantial amounts of carbon in the process. They prefer electrolysis technology, which extracts hydrogen from water with no carbon emissions.

But BayoTech says the production efficiencies created by its compact technology, combined with on-site operations that minimize transportation to deliver hydrogen to end users, can immediately cut carbon emissions by at least 40%. And the company is now working on alternative methane feedstocks like waste from dairy operations and landfills to reach net-zero, or even negative, emissions.

The company is emerging as a front-runner in the hydrogen economy. It’s raised more than $200 million in private investment, and it’s established a manufacturing partnership with Farmington-based Process Equipment & Service Co. to build its hydrogen production units. The first three generators are now rolling off the PESCO assembly line for installation early next year at BayoTech’s first hub in Missouri.

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