PowerHouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) has been busy over the past year, establishing its demonstration plant in the UK, signing deals to develop a hydrogen bus, and even trialling its technology in Qatar ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The waste-to-energy firm has now bolstered its executive team with the appointment of Bruce Nicholson as its Commercial Operations Manager.
Nicholson, who joins PowerHouse from Cinch Projects, an independent project management company, has worked with a wide range of organisations including multi-nationals, such as Thyssenkrupp, EDF, Tullow Oil and BHP, and also with smaller independents.
Powerhouse said his role is to accelerate the progress of the group’s commercial operations, business development and partner identification across the company's offerings.
At the start of March, PowerHouse updated investors on the successful demonstration plant at University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park where it has been processing waste to create a synthetic gas fuel.
The company’s DMG (or Distributed Modular Gasification) system was commissioned in the summer of 2017 and it has been operating safely and efficiently for more than six months.
An independent analysis of the gas - which is produced from ‘tyre crumb’ - has determined that the syngas can be adequately purified to provide a 99.999% pure stream of road-fuel-quality hydrogen. At the same time, excess syngas has been used for generating electricity.
Operations in 2018, to date, have focused the plant on plastic which would be the source of commercial feedstock.
“The results of the plastics testing have been very encouraging and allow us to feed valuable data into our rapidly advancing commercial process design,” said David Ryan, PowerHouse technical director.
In the next stage, the system will be connected to the micro-grid at Thornton Science Park, where work to make the connection is presently underway.
Powerhouse said the objective of that project is to install a number of low-cost, low-carbon, hydrogen refuelling stations to support potential fleets of hydrogen-powered buses, taxis, and other vehicles.
In February, the group inked a new deal with Wrightbus Ltd, a company that build innovative hydrogen-powered buses.
The idea is that the low-cost and environmentally responsible hydrogen-powered buses will be deployed in city centres.
Keith Allaun, chief executive at PowerHouse, commented at the time: “Together we offer a compelling proposition for transport providers such as a local authority in which they would be able to offer a zero-emission bus service at the same cost as diesel transportation, with zero emissions, and converting waste into hydrogen and electricity.”
Powerhouse’s DMG has the potential to enable hydrogen to be produced locally from small-scale plastic processing plants.
It believes the hydrogen can be produced at a cost that’s competitive with petrol and diesel.
The group noted that in the market to date production of hydrogen from natural gas has been prohibitive due to distribution costs, and at the same time the whole process produced considerable CO2 emissions. The company thinks its system can change those economics, with carbon neutral hydrogen.
In another high profile deal last year, Powerhouse signed a memorandum of understanding, with Qatar based consulting firm, Energy & Environment Holding (EEH), which could ultimately lead to the AIM-quoted group providing its technology for fuelling in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Through the MOU, the two companies will jointly investigate the potential of establishing a network of Powerhouse’s Distributed Modular Gasification (DMG) systems which convert waste to hydrogen
An early review of the project suggests it could comprise some 20 DMG systems in Doha and surrounding areas. It would provide sufficient hydrogen to supply several thousand cars and buses leading up to, and in support of, the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Keith Allaun, commented: “The recent successful testing of our reconfigured G3-UHt facility was a necessary and vital step in providing proof of concept of our technology and this MOU, with EEH, whilst currently non-binding, provides third-party validation.”
“While this is only in its early stages, this concept is precisely the vision we’ve held for the commercial roll-out of DMG - both in the UK and elsewhere.”
New chairman and cash raised
Back in August, Powerhouse also recruited a new chairman bringing on board Dr Cameron Davies, founder of gas-to-power firm Alkane Energy, which he brought to AIM and then subsequently helped sell to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners for £60mln.
At the same time the firm also successfully completed an oversubscribed City fundraiser, raising £1.6mln via a placing of shares at 1p each.
That price was at a 20% premium to a previous stock placing the firm did in February 2017, which brought in £2.5mln.
However, since the cash calls, PowerHouse shares have fallen back to around 0.52p as investors await the next big move from the FTSE AIM All-Share-listed group.
With its new board appointments and a number of high-profile projects, Powerhouse shares could soon be re-energised.