Ekona Power raises $79m to ramp up commercialization of hydrogen tech

B.C. cleantech seeking to produce hydrogen at low cost with minimal emissions

Photo: Xia Yuan/Getty Images

A B.C. cleantech specializing in hydrogen production will be counting on another $79 million in its coffers to help ramp up commercialization efforts.

Burnaby-based Ekona Power Inc. revealed Tuesday the close of the significant equity investment in its technology aimed at producing hydrogen at a low cost while minimizing CO2 emissions in the process.

 “Twenty years ago people were talking about hydrogen as a way to fuel cars,” Gary Schubak, vice-president of business development for Ekona Power and a former Ballard Power Systems Inc. (TSX:BLDP) engineer, told BIV last year.

“And that’s where the conversation ended.

“The fuel cell technology wasn’t really ready. Today, it’s ready. But more important than that, people are talking about hydrogen as a way to decarbonize our economy – not just our transportation sector, but our natural gas sector, our steel sector, our ammonia industries.”

Ekona Power has developed a process for making what might be called “turquoise” hydrogen: a methane pyrolysis reactor that can make hydrogen and solid carbon from natural gas, without the carbon capture and storage.

That the process would create pure carbon as a by-product, as opposed to CO2, is an important distinction. CO2 is a greenhouse gas; pure carbon isn’t. Pure, solid carbon can either be used for industrial purposes – added to asphalt, for example, to make roads last longer – or simply landfilled.

 “Hydrogen is a key component to decarbonizing all sorts of segments of our economy that electrification won’t be able to do,” Schubak said.

The funding round was led by Baker Hughes, with participation from Mitsui, Severstal, ConocoPhillips, TransAlta, Continental Resources, NGIF Cleantech Ventures and BDC Capital.

—With files from Nelson Bennett