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Equinor and Pensana to study wind turbine recycling with hydrogen

Together, Equinor and Pensana will research the use of hydrogen to recover nacelles from retired wind turbines.

The 600 MW low-carbon hydrogen manufacturing facility known as “Hydrogen to Humber,” or H2H, is Equinor’s flagship project. It is being constructed near Saltend Chemicals Park.

The facility aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions at the Saltend site as a whole by almost one million tonnes annually, or 30% of the park’s entire emissions.

With regard to supplying an independent and sustainable supply of rare earth for the manufacturing of the magnets to be used in the nacelles of the wind turbines going into the 50 GW of offshore wind in the North Sea, Pensana is currently in discussions with major offshore wind original-equipment manufacturers.

It is researching alongside Equinor how to recycle the 7 t of permanent magnets in each of the 13 MW Haliade X turbines that will be erected in the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm using low-carbon hydrogen that will be generated at Saltend.

The H2H Saltend project served as the launchpad for the larger Zero Carbon Humber initiative, which is a coalition of 14 organizations dedicated to making the freeport the first net zero industrial cluster in the world by 2040.

Earlier this year, Pensana and Equinor inked a partnership agreement to exchange technical and business knowledge about creating a low-energy technique of recycling used magnets at Pensana’s rare earth hub.

Pensana seeks to recycle an addressable market of 4,000 t/y of permanent magnets after the end of their useful lives.

Permanent magnet recycling uses hydrogen, not as a fuel but as a reductant, and takes advantage of Saltend’s decarbonized power supply to provide a clean alternative that uses 88% less energy than making new magnets.


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