It could be the fuel of the future.
Nebraska Public Power District has announced it is working with California-based Monolith Materials to replace a coal-fired unit in southeast Nebraska with a hydrogen-fueled plant.
NPPD Chief Executive Officer Pat Pope says Monolith Materials will use natural gas and electricity to create a substance called carbon black.
“Will eventually lead to near zero carbon emissions and Sheldon Station will become the first utility-scale power plant in the country to use hydrogen as a fuel,” according to Pope.
The new power plant will replace one of two coal-fired plants at the Sheldon Station near Hallam.
Gov. Pete Ricketts praises the project as a huge step forward in how electricity is produced in Nebraska.
“We here in Nebraska, with the welcoming of Monolith Materials, will be able to expand the types of products we produce here,” Ricketts says.
Monolith Materials co-founder, Rob Hanson, says the new plant will produce a substance called carbon black.
“We take natural gas. Natural gas is made up of carbon and hydrogen. We have technology which takes the carbon out in the form of carbon black. The hydrogen passes on and is going to be used by Sheldon Station to generate 125 megawatts of clean electricity,” according to Hanson.
Hanson says carbon black, a fine powder, is used in a number of products, such as tires, batteries, ink, electronics and plastics.
Hanson says the investment in southeast Nebraska will total in the “hundreds of millions” of dollars, creating 100 new direct jobs and as many as 600 indirect jobs. He says the company began looking at sites across the U.S. over the past 18 months, narrowing sites to Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Wyoming, Washington State, New York, Louisiana and Alberta, Canada.
Hanson says the plant should begin producing carbon black by next year with full hydrogen fuel operations slated to begin in 2019.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this report.