ENEOS Direct MCH® Demonstration Plant

GPA supported ENEOS and their EPC contractor, Chiyoda, to complete the design and construction of a demonstration plant for ENEOS’ Direct MCH® (Methylcyclohexane) technology. This culminated in the construction of a green electrolyser and supporting facility to demonstrate the viability of using this technology for hydrogen export from Australia.

As Hydrogen gas has a low energy density, it typically either requires very high pressures or to be liquefied at -253°C for transport. These processes are expensive and energy intensive.

Since MCH remains in liquid form at ambient temperature and pressure, it can be transported in a similar way to conventional liquid hydrocarbons, making use of existing storage and shipping infrastructure.  With the liquid form of MCH providing a much greater energy density, it has the potential to significantly reduce costs associated with the transportation of hydrogen.

Previously, MCH was manufactured by producing hydrogen through electrolysis and then reacting the hydrogen with toluene, an organic compound, to form MCH.  ENEOS’ new technology, Direct MCH®, uses electrochemical reactions (similar to electrolysis), to produce MCH from toluene in a single step, without hydrogen gas being produced in an intermediate step, thereby streamlining the production process. Proving technologies, such as Direct MCH®, for safe and cost-effective transportation of hydrogen is a very important step in the decarbonisation of the Japanese and global energy economies.

The Direct MCH® Process

GPA were engaged by ENEOS to provide project delivery support, including development and management of the project schedule, preparation of the project execution plan and cost estimates.  GPA also supported ENEOS with site location selection studies.  Following site selection, GPA prepared the development application and managed the DA process through to approval with the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Government.  GPA also supported ENEOS with, site early works including completion of required geotechnical and environmental studies.  Finally, GPA supported ENEOS with operator selection and support for operations readiness.

GPA were engaged by the project’s EPC contractor, Chiyoda to provide design verification for the detailed design engineering phase for all aspects of the facility.  This included verification of the Process, Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation, Controls Systems and Civil/Structural engineering designs.  In addition, GPA took responsibility for the detailed design of packages that required intimate knowledge of Australian standards and regulations, such as the site Civils, electrical systems and high voltage tie-in and hazardous area and ventilation control systems.  GPA managed the delivery of the ventilation and fire and gas systems through engagement and management of specialist contractors.

GPA provided project planning, scheduling and subcontractor engagement services, and risk reviews such as HAZOP and fire safety studies.  Lastly, GPA provided support to Chiyoda throughout the project’s construction phase, including through construction management and supervision, site engineering, installation auditing, vendor expediting, procurement support and technical query resolution.

GPA successfully supported the finalisation of Japanese design to the applicable Australian standards and local regulations. This included provision of local support to a client and engineering team based in Japan, despite the challenges experienced during the COVID pandemic.  By providing early stakeholder management for ENEOS’s project at the BP site, GPA successfully received the approval of the Development Application on first submission, ahead of schedule.

With the project requiring the installation of bespoke research and design technology, GPA’s proficiency in Hazardous Area design and compliance enabled the equipment to be integrated in a manner that is safe and compliant with Australian standards and regulations.

Throughout the construction phase, GPA was able to provide rapid advice on the suitability of alternative equipment and installation methods when the supply of specified equipment was impacted by extreme market shortages.

The completion of the Direct MCH® Demonstration Plant provides ENEOS and their partners with an opportunity to test the technology, adopt the lessons learned from executing a project at this scale within Australian and to use that knowledge as the foundation for a future larger scale facility.