Baker Hughes announced on Tuesday it has invested in Vancouver-based, growth stage company Ekona Power, which is developing turquoise hydrogen production technology.

The investment gives Baker Hughes a 20% stake in Ekona and enhances the Houston-based technology giant’s hydrogen and decarbonisation portfolio.

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“Ekona Power’s methane pyrolysis platform for the production of cleaner and lower cost turquoise hydrogen builds on our growing and diverse portfolio of decarbonisation technologies, including blue and green hydrogen, CCUS and emissions management solutions,” said Rod Christie, executive vice president of Turbomachinery & Process Solutions at Baker Hughes.

“Through the adoption of this technology, the industry can leverage existing and abundant natural gas reserves to produce lower carbon hydrogen and accelerate its use across the energy value chain.”

Turquoise hydrogen is produced from methane using pyrolysis, a combustion process that results in hydrogen and solid carbon. The process is meant to greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions compared to traditional steam methane reforming processes.

The solid carbon by-product has potential for a variety of uses, including in applications that involve graphite, carbon fibre, carbon nanotubes and other derivatives, and can be used in construction, transport, agriculture and other sectors.

In a recent report Kenneth Medlock and Rachel Meidl from Rice University’s Baker Institute said the classification of the solid carbon will determine how it is regulated and used. Different pyrolysis processes will yield different types of carbon by-product, which can cause barriers to the stabilisation of the sector.

While many companies have the goal to scale up various types of hydrogen production, a solid carbon by-product can increase the value of hydrogen production from pyrolysis if there is demand for it.

“The value proposition of methane pyrolysis relies on the availability of sufficiently large markets that can absorb the solid carbon output that will result from the scale-up of turquoise hydrogen production,” the report said.

Baker Hughes and Ekona will work to scale up their pyrolysis technology with pilot projects and utilising Baker Hughes’ turbomachinery portfolio.

“Our innovative technology has the potential to produce hydrogen at costs on par with conventional steam methane reformers, while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Chris Reid, chief executive officer of Ekona Power. "In addition, our solution isn’t reliant on CO2 sequestration, so it has the potential to be quickly and broadly deployed across various industries and market regions.”