Hydrogen fuelled net zero asphalt production trial takes major step forward

Plans for hydrogen-fuelled net zero asphalt production at scale at our Criggion asphalt plant in mid-Wales have taken a major step forward. 

The ground-breaking project, part of our commitment to decarbonise our production processes, aims to demonstrate zero-emission asphalt production using nuclear power derived hydrogen. The £6.1m commitment by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to support the Bay Hydrogen Hub, pledged today (September 13), means that the trial could be up and running by early 2024. 

We are part of a consortium made up of EDF, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), and Vulcan Burners, which will match the Government’s funding. The hub’s pilot project aims to use nuclear power derived hydrogen from Heysham 2 Power Station in Lancashire to replace the mix of fossil fuels currently used in asphalt production at Criggion. 

The hydrogen will be created by diverting small quantities of electricity and steam from the nuclear power generation process at Heysham 2, via the construction of a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) electrolyser. Modern high-capacity tankers will transport the hydrogen for use as a fuel at Criggion. 

CEO Simon Willis said: “Nuclear power derived hydrogen has the potential to be a complete game-changer for decarbonising asphalt and cement production. Our involvement in the Bay Hydrogen Hub project underscores our commitment to lead the way by investing in cutting edge technologies to prove they can deliver in real-world situations and help us meet our net zero goals.  

“We have already successfully shown that hydrogen can be used as part of a net zero fuel mix at our cement works in Ribblesdale, Lancashire, but its use as a fuel at an asphalt site has not yet been physically demonstrated anywhere in the world. It’s an exciting time and we are hopeful that the project will demonstrate another key step forward towards the decarbonisation of our industry.” 

Combined, Government and industry funding for the project will exceed £15m. Initially work will focus on developing a final design for the hydrogen production, distribution, and end use technology. Fuel switching to net zero hydrogen asphalt production at Criggion will follow.