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Solvay to make lower-carbon hydrogen peroxide in Italy

Rosignano is set to become Europe’s biggest hub for producing greener hydrogen peroxide

by Alex Scott
June 7, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 19

A beach and chemical plant in Italy.
Credit: Birgit Franke
Solvay aims to start producing hydrogen peroxide in Italy using green hydrogen.

In what it says will be a first in Europe, Solvay plans to build a green hydrogen plant at its site in Rosignano, Italy, and use the gas as a raw material for making hydrogen peroxide there.

In partnership with the Italian gases firm Sapio Group, Solvay aims to build facilities that will generate 756 metric tons of hydrogen annually, starting in mid-2026. A dedicated 9.5 MW solar plant will power electrolyzers that split water to make the hydrogen. “This project is the first example of green hydrogen peroxide production at such a scale in Europe,” Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri says in a press release.

Solvay estimates that the hydrogen will enable the firm to reduce by 15% the carbon footprint of the hydrogen peroxide and related products it makes in Rosignano. The regional government of Tuscany has awarded Solvay $17 million toward the cost of the hydrogen facility.

Nouryon, the chemical business formerly owned by AkzoNobel, announced last year that it plans to make hydrogen peroxide from green hydrogen in Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil. In Nouryon’s project, the hydrogen will be generated as a by-product of making sodium chlorate in a process powered by renewable energy from a pulp mill.

The environmental performance of the Rosignano site is a cause for concern among some Solvay shareholders. Potentially toxic effluent from the firm’s soda ash operations at the site have turned the sand at a nearby beach white. Solvay says it is working on a novel process for making soda ash that will not only eliminate this effluent but also substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.



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