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Shell Catalysts & Technologies launches the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Shell Catalysts & Technologies has announced that it is launching the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which integrates proven technologies to significantly increase the affordability of greenfield projects for ‘blue’ hydrogen production from natural gas along with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

Affordable blue hydrogen enables the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate heavy industries while creating value for refiners and resource holders. Shell claims that its new process can reduce the levellised cost of hydrogen by 22% compared with the best the market has to offer today.

Currently, hydrogen production is nearly all ‘grey’ (from hydrocarbons without CCUS). If hydrogen is to contribute to carbon neutrality, it must be produced on a much larger scale and with far lower emission levels.

Blue hydrogen production can be relatively easily scaled up to meet demand. With carbon dioxide (CO2) costing US$25 – 35/t, blue hydrogen becomes competitive against grey, even with its higher capital costs. And green hydrogen, produced from the renewable-energy powered electrolysis of water, may still be more than double the price of blue hydrogen by 20301 and not achieve cost parity until about 2045.2


This analysis is based on conventional steam methane reforming (SMR) and autothermal reforming (ATR) technologies. The availability of the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which integrates proprietary Shell gas partial oxidation (SGP) technology with ADIP ULTRA solvent technology, further improves blue hydrogen economics.

A key advantage of SGP technology over ATR is that the partial oxidation reaction does not require steam. Instead, high-pressure steam is generated, which satisfies the steam demands of the process and some other power consumers. There is also no need for feed gas pretreatment, which simples the process line-up. And SGP gives refiners greater feed flexibility, as it is more robust against feed contaminants and can thus accommodate a large range of natural gas qualities.

Compared with ATR, SGP technology gives a 22% lower levellised cost of hydrogen from:

  • 17% lower capital expenditure (higher operating pressure giving smaller hydrogen compressor and CO2 capture and compressor units).
  • 34% lower operating expenditure (excluding the natural gas feedstock price) from reduced compression duties and more steam generation.

Modelling shows that, compared with an ATR unit, a Shell Blue Hydrogen Process line-up producing 500 tpd of pure hydrogen would have:

  • A US$30 million/yr lower operating expenditure.
  • More than 99% CO2 capture.
  • A 10 – 25% lower levellised cost of hydrogen.

When compared with SMR, SGP technology leads to even greater hydrogen production cost savings from both the capital and operating expenditure perspectives.


  1. 'The future of hydrogen', International Energy Agency (2019),
  2. Zero Energy Platform, 2017. Commercial Scale Feasibility of Clean Hydrogen.

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