SEOUL -- SK Gas, a leading importer and distributor of liquid petroleum gas, made an unspecified amount of investment in C-Zero, an American startup, to acquire technology for the production of turquoise hydrogen, as part of a group-wide strategy to create an ecosystem for hydrogen business.
SK Gas, a unit of South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, said it has signed an investment contract with C-Zero known for methane pyrolysis source technology that injects natural gas into a high-temperature reactor. C-Zero aims to pave the way for entering the South Korean market and expand its business area through strategic business cooperation with SK Gas.
Turquoise hydrogen that sits somewhat between blue and green hydrogen uses methane as a feedstock, but the process is driven by heat produced with electricity instead of fossil fuels. Methane pyrolysis produces hydrogen and a solid carbon material called "carbon black" that can even be used in other applications.
"Starting with cooperation with C-Zero, we will actively collaborate with various partners around the world as a leading domestic hydrogen business company to double global competitiveness and take the lead in creating a hydrogen ecosystem and achieving carbon neutrality," an unnamed SK Gas official said in a statement on December 8.
SK Group regards turquoise hydrogen as a strategic alternative to an energy shift from blue hydrogen to green hydrogen because it can be produced with less power than green hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is produced by applying carbon capture and storage to reduce CO2 emissions. Green hydrogen can be produced through electrolysis, a process of passing an electrical current through an electrolyzer to split water and release only hydrogen and oxygen.
In October 2021, SK Inc., an investment-oriented holding company of SK Group, expanded its partnership with Monolith, an American green energy company specialized in the production of turquoise hydrogen, and agreed to set up a joint venture. They will cooperate in carbon-free solid carbon material businesses.
Solid carbon or carbon black is widely used in the manufacturing sector as additives that enhance products' physical, electrical and optical properties. The most common products that use carbon black are rubber products. Natural and synthetic elastomers are blended with carbon black and other materials to produce vulcanized rubber (hardened rubber) products.
In January, SK Group made a $1.5 billion equity investment in Plug Power, an American company that provides hydrogen fuel cell turnkey solutions and operates a hydrogen highway across North America. Through a joint venture, they aim to build a production base and supply fuel cells and hydroelectric facilities to South Korea and other Asian countries.
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