Ineos Group and Engie have announced a pilot project to replace natural gas with hydrogen at INEOS' industrial plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Hydrogen will be fired in a commercial-scale gas turbine cogeneration plant currently generating electricity and heat from natural gas. Initially, 10% of the gas feed will be replaced by hydrogen. If this goes well the feed will be increased to 20%. The intention is to demonstrate the potential for converting existing installations to hydrogen as a springboard for further industrial up-scaling.

This is the first time that such tests have been carried out on an industrial scale in Belgium. The CHP plant at the Ineos Phenol site in Doel, one of the first to be built in Belgium, is said to have the ideal profile for carrying out this test.

Hydrogen is expected to become an important link in the transition towards climate-neutral energy across society. One possible evolution in the coming decades is the gradual replacement of natural gas by hydrogen and in time ‘green hydrogen’ generated from renewable energy via electrolysis. 

Engie is responsible for the design, installation and operation of the technology at the Ineos site. Ineos Phenol has experience in handling hydrogen as a raw material for its production processes and also has the necessary permits for the hydrogen project. The commercial scale project will also play a pioneering role in the energy transition of the chemical industry. This practical exploration is expected to provide both partners with valuable insights and data in the use of hydrogen in industrial facilities such as monitoring efficiency and measuring emissions during combustion, which is essential in the development of a next generation of burners.

• Engie and Ineos are also joining forces in a ‘Power-to-Methanol’ project in the port of Antwerp. Both companies sit on the consortium with other partners to produce green methanol by re-using captured CO₂ in combination with sustainably generated hydrogen. Inovyn, an Ineos business, will operate this demonstration  plant at the Lillo site.

The initiative is part of the roadmap that Ineos defined at the end of last year for its Antwerp sites to become climate neutral by 2050 and to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. The roadmap consists of a combination of measures such as the reuse of hydrogen and CO₂, further investments in electrification, the switch to recycled or bio-based raw materials where possible, and the use of 'green heat' and renewable energy. To this end, last year Ineos concluded two major contracts for the purchase of offshore wind energy, including the largest Belgian industrial contract ever with Engie.

Hans Casier, CEO of Ineos Phenol: "Today, Ineos already produces 300 000 tons of hydrogen on an annual basis as a 'co-product' of its chemical processes. This hydrogen is largely used as a low-carbon fuel and as a raw material in its own production processes so that fewer fossil raw materials have to be used. INEOS recently started a new business activity that focuses on the development of 'clean hydrogen capacity'. For this, Ineos can rely on the expertise of Inovyn, which, as a chlorine and PVC producer within the group, specialises in electrolysis, an important technology for producing hydrogen."