Essar Oil to install £45m hydrogen furnace

Oil company Essar Oil UK is to install a £45m furnace at its Stanlow refinery on the banks of the Mersey that will be capable of running on 100% hydrogen. Tony McDonough reports

Stanlow, Essar
Essar Oil UK’s new furnace will be able to run on 100% hydrogen


Mersey oil giant Essar Oil UK (EOUK) is to install the UK’s first refinery-based furnace capable of running on 100% hydrogen in a £45m investment.

EOUK says the furnace will become operational in 2022 at its Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, close to the River Mersey. It will replace three existing furnaces at the site which will be decommissioned.

Initially, the furnace will be powered by gas although this will be burned much more efficiently than in the existing facilities. From 2026 it will be powered by hydrogen supplied from its own production plant at Stanlow.

In January EOUK announced a new £1bn venture called Vertex Hydrogen in a partnership with Progressive Energy. It will be part of the HyNet North West hydrogen project and will produce 1GW per year of hydrogen that will power the new furnace and will supply other industries and transport across the region.

Blue hydrogen is produced through the burning of natural gas, a carbon-intensive process. Under the HyNet scheme the carbon will be captured and stored in giant caverns under Liverpool Bay. However, carbon capture and storage on this scale is a big technical challenge and similar projects around the world have had to grapple with carbon escaping into the atmosphere.

Critics of blue hydrogen says its prolongs our dependence on the use of fossil fuels. HyNet says its ambition is to use green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy via a process called electrolysis. However, that process is not yet available at the scale required.

Stanlow, which employs around 1,000 people, is of strategic importance to the UK. It supplies around 16% of all road fuels used in Britain and supplies jet fuel to a number of airports including Liverpool and Manchester.

Furnaces are essential to an oil refinery as the process of refining crude oil means it has to be heated to around 470 degrees. EOUK says the new furnace, which is currently being fabricated in Thailand, has an improved energy efficiency of 4% compared to existing furnaces, which will save 16,600 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The decommissioning of the existing furnaces will see a change to the skyline around the refinery as the current 140m-high chimney will be demolished. It will be replaced by a new chimney that will be 71m in height. The furnace will be delivered on site almost fully constructed.

Deepak Maheshwari, chief executive of EOUK, said: “By affecting a significant and rapid transition to hydrogen, we are securing the long term future of this vitally important national asset whilst also playing a key role in supporting the UK’s plans for building the low carbon economy of tomorrow.”

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.