French industrial gases firm Air Liquide has taken a final investment decision (FID) to retrofit carbon capture equipment to an existing grey hydrogen facility in Rotterdam in order to make blue H2 for its existing customers.

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The decision comes just six weeks after Air Products, a rival US-based industrial gases company, announced its own FID on a grey-to-blue conversion of an existing H2 facility in Rotterdam, which it claims will be the largest in Europe on start-up in 2026.

Air Liquide plans to begin operations of its proprietary Cryocap carbon capture technology — which it had previously installed for its blue hydrogen project at Port Jerome in France — by 2026.

The existing Rotterdam hydrogen plant’s production capacity is around 130,000 cubic metres (11,685kg) per hour — just over 100,000 tonnes annually, presuming round-the-clock operation (a little under the 109,500 tonnes a year expected at Air Products’ facility).

Both projects will transport and store CO2 via the Netherlands’ flagship Porthos CCS project, which reached its own FID earlier this year.

Porthos, developed by a joint venture between state-owned firms EBN, Gasunie, and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, will transport 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year over the next 15 years to depleted gas fields offshore for storage 3-4km under the seabed.

All 37 million tonnes of storage capacity have already been contracted to four industrial emitters in Rotterdam that had signed joint development agreements: Air Products, Air Liquide, and oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil, although the latter two plan to use the network to capture emissions from other industrial activities.

These four companies were in 2021 awarded €2.1bn ($2.3bn) in grants via the Dutch government’s SDE++ scheme to help pay for the scheme.

Air Liquide has not revealed the buyers of the blue H2, but they are likely to include one or more of the oil refineries located at the port.