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HyNet launches demonstration at Unilever’s Port Sunlight site

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Global Hydrogen Review,

A central part of the North West’s industrial heritage, Unilever’s Port Sunlight factory has been manufacturing household brands and products since 1888. During the trial, believed to be the first large-scale demonstration of 100% hydrogen-firing in a consumer goods production environment anywhere in the world, Unilever products including TRESemme and Persil products will be manufactured using hydrogen.


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As part of the trial, both 100% hydrogen, and a blend of natural gas and hydrogen is being used to fire a boiler which provides steam for the production process. The demonstration of hydrogen technology at Port Sunlight will provide critical evidence to enable decarbonisation of a range of industry sectors, thus making a critical contribution to the UK’s journey to net zero.

The bulk production of low-carbon hydrogen in the North West is imminent. HyNet is the UK’s leading industrial decarbonisation project and has been fast-tracked by Government to begin operation in the mid-2020s. Vertex Hydrogen, a HyNet consortium partner, will supply low-carbon hydrogen into the UK’s first 100% hydrogen pipeline network, being developed by Cadent – another HyNet partner. The network will distribute low-carbon hydrogen to industry and power generation sites across the North West.

The HyNet partners are supporting wider industry sites in the glass, food and drink, paper, chemicals, automotive and metals sectors to enable switching from fossil gases to low-carbon hydrogen. In August 2021, as part of the HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching Programme, NSG-Pilkington in St Helens achieved a global first in the production of flat glass using hydrogen. The programme was awarded funding of £5.3 million from BEIS through its Energy Innovation Programme in February 2020.

As part of their climate action commitments, Unilever has set the target of achieving zero emissions from their operations by 2030. In addition to increasing their use of renewable energies, including wind and solar, and by introducing capability to generate renewable energy onsite, Unilever is exploring and supporting the innovation of new renewable heating technologies – including hydrogen – and building an understanding of how these could be integrated into their global operations.

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