This has been provided by the strong performance of a Fluidised Bed Reactor (FBR) Pilot Plant along with ongoing R&D testing.
Developing Hazer Process
The company is focused on producing synthetic graphite and hydrogen using the low-cost, low-emission Hazer Process spun out of the University of Western Australia by the university’s commercialisation arm.
This technology enables effective conversion of natural gas and similar methane feedstocks, into hydrogen and high-quality graphite, using iron ore as a process catalyst.
In a shareholder update, the Perth-based company’s new chief executive Geoff Ward said: “The second half of 2018 has been a very positive period for the company.
“We have achieved excellent test results from the FBR Pilot Plant and continue to progress with our R&D program including testing and analysis of our Hazer produced graphite by independent agencies and universities.
“Operationally the team has operated the pilot plant exceptionally well, managing the safety and environmental aspects very professionally and demonstrating improved performance in the pilot plant as we apply improvements learned from initial trials.”
Graphite produced in pilot plant tests.
With the final runs in the planned test program completed in early November, the pilot plant at St Mary’s in Sydney has been disassembled and packed for transport, with the first consignment arriving in Perth last week.
Hazer Group expects to have the FBR Pilot Plant re-assembled at its new home in Kwinana, near Perth in WA, by Christmas, and aims to resume the testing program in January 2019.
MinRes and Hazer working together
MinRes and Hazer have been formally working together since December 2017 as part of an agreement to commercialise the Hazer Process.
Ward said in the update: “The final runs of the pilot plant have delivered excellent results in the past two months, achieving some notable milestones and exceeding performance targets in key areas of hydrogen and graphite production rates, and hydrogen yields achieved.
“We have also made progress towards demonstrating fully continuous operations, with further testing of this anticipated in the 2019 program.
“The pilot program has demonstrated the robustness of the underlying reaction and our ability to make viable commercial products, providing myself and the Board with confidence to move into a commercial demonstration phase in 2019.”
Hazer Group’s R&D program continues to progress focusing on catalyst selection trials and testing of Hazer graphite to understand its properties and applications.
Independent testing of graphite produced from the Hazer process by Australian research institutions has demonstrated strong performance of the graphite in battery and dry lubricant applications.
This compares or in some cases exceeds, the performance of existing materials, thus providing the company with encouragement that it will be able to secure customers in these, and other, market sectors.
Work on FEED study underway
Work on a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study for a commercial demonstration plant (CDP) and a concept study for larger-scale commercial plants is underway.
The CEO said: “In parallel to these studies, we continue to see a high level of interest in our technology from potential offtakers and commercial partners.
“With completion of the FEED study for the CDP by the end of this year, we are looking to secure hydrogen offtake and funding agreements that would allow us to commit to this plant by early to mid-2019.
“This would be a significant milestone for our company.”
A CDP would be a continuously operating, small-scale plant producing commercial hydrogen for sale to industrial, transport or energy markets and commercial quantities of graphite.
The company’s current concept envisages a plant capable of producing approximately 300 kilograms of hydrogen daily, representing an annual rate of around 100 tonnes.
It would also produce approximately 1,050 kilograms of graphite daily, an annual rate of about 375 tonnes.
“This plant will allow us to demonstrate the safe ongoing operation of the Hazer Process, generate early revenue from hydrogen sales and allow us to grow graphite sales through having commercial quantities available to market,” Ward said.
“Based on our initial engineering studies we anticipate being able to build this plant for approximately $10 million.”
Opportune time to enter markets
The CEO believes it is an opportune time to be entering the graphite and hydrogen markets.
Ward said, “We are an example of ‘right technology at right time’ to take advantage of the long-term growth in this industry, driven by the value of our products, our anticipated low production cost, our low emissions profile, and capability to provide flexible, scalable hydrogen manufacturing.”
He concluded: “Myself and the team are fully committed to achieving the major milestones we have set out and taking Hazer into the next stage of its development in 2019, starting with securing the CDP in 1H 2019.”