Brazil Investigates Hydrogen Production in Sewage Treatment Plants

Byline: Hannah Wintle

The CEO of Brazilian water supply and sewage company Sanepar, Claudio Stabile, and the president of the German company Graforce, Jens Hanke, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to move forward with studies aimed at implementing a disruptive technology for producing renewable hydrogen from biomethane generated in sewage treatment plants in Paraná.

As well as enabling the production of renewable hydrogen, the innovative technology also makes it possible to obtain elemental carbon, a solid material with a high market value that can be used, for example, in the composition of biofertilizers.

The MoU was signed in the city of Kremsmünste, Austria, where Graforce installed the world’s first scale plant to generate hydrogen by plasmolysis of the methane present in natural gas. The plant is in operation at RAG, a leading natural gas exploration, storage, and distribution company.

President Stabile and Sanepar’s Research and Innovation specialist, Gustavo Possetti, visited the methane plasmolysis plant in Austria, accompanied by representatives from the German bank KfW, to discuss the unprecedented results obtained so far.

Sanepar, which was classified as one of the four finalists for the SDG 6 Champions Award at the Global Water Awards 2024, is in the process of completing feasibility studies on the production of renewable hydrogen in sewage treatment plants.

The studies are being completed in partnership with the German-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Rio de Janeiro (AHK-Rio), with support from the German government, through the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature, Nuclear Safety and Security (BMUV) and monitoring by the German public company NOW GmbH and specialized consultancy by the International Center for Renewable Energies (CIBiogás) and the German company BlueMove.

With the new partnership with Graforce, studies on the use of German technology will be consolidated, in line with the terms of the confidentiality agreement signed between the parties in November 2023.

President Stabile commented: “Sanepar is attentive to the global effects of climate change, as well as to the sustainable energy transition agenda.

In this sense, the partnership with Graforce is very important because Paraná could have the world’s second scale plant with methane plasmolysis technology, and the first of its kind to generate renewable hydrogen from biomethane produced in sewage treatment plants.

“We’re also jointly evaluating business opportunities in this area, which is very promising. It’s another step for the company towards the circular economy, in which we turn waste into products and protect the environment.”

President Stabile has a technical agenda in several European countries until next week. Among his commitments, he will be attending the Global Water Summit, the world’s leading event for the water sector.

Sanepar was classified as one of the four finalists for the SDG 6 Champions Award at the Global Water Awards 2024.