Less waste, more hydrogen. Rome accelerates on the ecological transition: by 2027, at the gates of the city, in the direction of Fiumicino, on an area of about 8 hectares, a plant will be built by NextChem, a subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont, for the production of low-emission hydrogen, capable of to convert 200,000 tons of waste per year and to produce from these up to 20,000 tons of clean hydrogen per year. A quantity sufficient to circulate all the buses in service in the capital for a year, so to speak. NextChem, as part of the European project Ipcei Hy2Use, has just obtained a non-repayable grant of 194 million euros for the development in Rome of the waste-to-hydrogen plant, which will constitute the first Hydrogen Valley in Italy, or an industrial-scale technological incubator for the development of the national hydrogen supply chain.
The CO2 emissions of the NextChem plant will be half of those normally generated by an incinerator. So Alessandro Bernini, CEO of the Maire Tecnimont group and NextChem: “We are proud of the achievement and the recognition of the industrial and technological skills of our country by the EU to develop a low-carbon and cost-effective hydrogen economy. reduced. This project, unique in the world, represents a milestone in the development of technologies that combine circular economy and green chemistry, recognizing us as pioneers in the decarbonisation of the hard-to-abbot industry, with a model that can be replicated in other countries ».
The grant will be paid during the construction period of the plant. “The next phases concern the start of the planning activity and all the necessary permits, in order to guarantee the entry into operation of the work in the first half of 2027”, Maire Tecnimont specified in a note. In the initial phase, the production of 1,500 tons per year of hydrogen and 55,000 tons per year of ethanol is expected. Thereafter, the production of hydrogen will grow according to the evolution of demand, up to 20 thousand tons per year, proportionally reducing the volumes of ethanol. NextChem’s proprietary technology, developed by its subsidiary MyRechemical, will allow in more detail to use 200 thousand tons of non-recyclable solid waste as raw material, thus also contributing to the closure of the Roman waste cycle through a conversion process with a reduction of up to 90% of CO2 emissions. The European project also includes a contribution of approximately 4 million euros for research activities for further developments in waste-to-hydrogen technology, making use of scientific partners including Enea, the Bruno Kessler Foundation and La Sapienza di Roma. There are, however, several types of hydrogen that you can bet on. Blue hydrogen, produced through traditional technologies but with a carbon dioxide capture process, which reduces climate-altering emissions into the atmosphere. Electric blue hydrogen, which takes blue to a more advanced level, introducing process electrification with the use of renewable energy as an alternative medium for the thermal process of furnaces. Then green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis starting from renewable energy sources. Finally, the so-called circular hydrogen, the one that will be produced in Rome, the result of the chemical conversion of plastic and dry waste, which recovers its carbon and hydrogen content.
On Wednesday the European Commission approved the second “Important projects of common European interest” (Ipcei) for hydrogen, Hy2Use, after Hy2Tech, which received a green light in July. Hy2Use concerns 13 states including Italy and has public funding for 5.2 billion euros in its belly, to which will be added 7 billion in private investments. Hy2Tech’s previous program was worth € 5.4 billion. The companies involved with 35 projects to be completed by 2036 (however many will become operational as early as 2026-2028) are a total of 29. The Hy2Use project will lead to the construction of electrolysers for a total capacity of 3.5 Gigawatts and a production of 340,000 tons of renewable hydrogen per year. For Italy there are three projects to keep under control, in addition to the one starring Maire Tecnimont through the subsidiary NextChem. In the field there are also Sardhy Green Hydrogen (the newco formed by Saras and Enel Green Power), South Italy Green Hydrogen and Rina-Csm.