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New hydrogen plant coming to Delaware City Refinery

Delaware Public Media

PBF Energy and its partner The Linde Group recently broke ground on a hydrogen plant at the Delaware City Refinery. The plant will help the refinery convert more crude oil products into higher quality fuels.  


The plant, a Methane Steam Reforming facility, will produce hydrogen from natural gas. The refinery will use that hydrogen to remove sulfur from the crude products left behind in other refining processes.

The Linde Group, which has an industrial gases plant in Claymont, will build, own and operate the new hydrogen plant at the Delaware City Refinery.

“The hydrogen is going to be used to convert some of their heavy feedstock that they process at the refinery to very clean fuels,” said  Dr. Raghu Menon, Vice President of Onsite Investment Projects for Linde Americas.

Menon says the more than $100-million project will create seven permanent, high-skilled jobs with Linde. He says Linde Gas owns and operates over sixty steam reforming-based hydrogen plants worldwide.

James Corbett, associate director of Marine Policy at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, says hydrogen plants are an example of technology that has allowed refineries to become more efficient.

“Over the last decades in the United States, the leftover part of a barrel of crude oil used to be around 20 percent of a barrel,” said Corbett. “Now it’s around three percent of a barrel. So they’ve done a really good job of converting the leftover parts into these higher value, needed parts like gasoline and diesel.”

He says Delaware City Refinery is not the only refinery taking this step.

“These hydrogen plants are some of the most advanced investments that some of the more complex refineries have been making over the last decade, and will be making over the next few years,” said Corbett.

The plant at Delaware City Refinery is expected to start running in 2020.

In 2020, International Marine Organization low-sulfur marine fuel standards go into effect.

Tom Nimbley, PBF Energy Chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the new hydrogen plant will expand the Delaware City Refinery’s ability to produce marine fuels that meet this standard.

Linde’s Menon says the 25 million-standard-cubic-feet-per-day hydrogen plant at the Delaware City Refinery will have Selective-Catalytic Reduction technology to reduce emissions.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Air Quality permitted the project for a reformer, a cooling tower, and a flare.

The permits set emissions limitations for nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, PM10, PM2.5, sulfuric acid, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and carbon dioxide equivalent.

A spokesperson for the state environmental agency says DNREC’s monitoring at the Delaware City Refinery is not expected to change once the hydrogen plant is operational.

According to DNREC, the Delaware City monitoring station measures sulfur dioxide and PM2.5, which is small particulate matter that is unhealthy to inhale.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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